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Facing Covid-19: Increasing attention to Golden Visa programs

According to the Citizenship by Investment Index: “Before the Covid-19 crisis, investors looked to second citizenship as a platform from which to dive head-on into a world of greater interaction, travel, and globalization. Mobility rights took, almost inevitably, center-stage. However, by blocking international travel, the Covid-19 pandemic has had the effect of reminding investors and the wider world of the fundamental importance of ‘home’. In other words, Covid-19 has shifted investor priorities, refocusing them on places that are healthy, pleasant, and welcoming.”

In this sense, residency by investment programs like Portugal Golden Visa, Spain Golden Visa, and Greece Golden Visa has gained more importance than ever. As Assistant Professor Kristin Surak at LSE states: “… despite the Covid-19 travel restrictions, the majority of OECD countries were not only allowing citizens but also those holding resident status to enter. In other words: An RBI-investment in places like Portugal or Greece opened a closed border.” So, how could these countries achieve this?

More than 9,000 investors obtained residency through investment in Portugal

Recently, the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) has released its November data. Between October 2012 and November 2020, 9,340 investors obtained residence permits (ARI) in Portugal. Not to mention the additional 15,965 family members along with them.

So, why are so many investors interested in this program? The reason is that it provides several benefits through one investment. For example, when you obtain residency, you also obtain the right to visa-free travel within Schengen countries. You also include your dependent family members, and while benefiting from all of these, you don’t even need to stay there permanently. Furthermore, unlike some countries, it provides your dual citizenship. In this way, you can still keep your original citizenship.

The process is also quite straightforward. You choose one of the several investment options and invest in a certain area. Then, apply for Portugal Golden Visa, complete a documentation process, and get residency in the country.

Besides the above-mentioned benefits, the following developments have also contributed to the country’s recognition in investment.

Growing tech industry in Portugal

The 2020 EY Attractiveness Survey indicates that: “Foreign Direct Investment projects in the digital sector nearly tripled in 2019…  with the sector retaining its leadership position.” The survey also states that the number of jobs created rose from 1.610 to 3.766. The start-up sector also goes hand in hand with the growing tech sector. “In 2018 alone, Porto was noted as the “Best Startup-Friendly City of Europe” by the World Business Angels Investment Forum as well as Europe’s third fastest-growing tech hub, in Atomico’s State of European Tech report for that year.”

Demand in the tech sector is also increasing. “According to … the State of European Tech report for 2019, the number of tech job searches per capita in Portugal grew 45% between the first half of 2017 and the first half of 2019. This was the second-highest growth rate in Europe, only surpassed by Belgium.” Furthermore, the Digitalization Index 2020 shows that Portugal ranks 8th among 30 other countries.

So, it is clear from these data that Portugal indeed encourages foreign investors to invest in the country. The result of its endeavor can be observed in the numbers. According to SEF, a total of 54 investors invested in investment funds or venture capital funds in the last three years. As a result of this investment, they obtained residency in the country.

Stability in many aspects

In addition to the growing business market and a stable economy, Portugal is also quite stable regarding safety issues. It is the third safest country according to the 2020 Global Peace Index. This is an important criterion for investors who plan to move to the country.

Along with safety, healthcare in Portugal is also well developed. In fact, the Portuguese healthcare system ranks among the highest in the world. Waiting times, accessibility, and general benefits of the system are determinant in this. Furthermore, Portugal has handled the pandemic process well enough so far. In this regard, Forbes elected Alentejo, Portugal as one of the top ten safest places to visit post-corona virus. The company says: “Portugal has been relatively spared from coronavirus with up to 40 times fewer people infected than anywhere else in Europe.”

In conclusion, the pandemic has affected investors’ choices and it led them to invest in safer locations. Until now, Portugal has proved that it is a reasonable option to invest in, thanks to its stability in every area.