Can you ever trust governments to do what they say?
I’m always skeptical when government officials make announcements about big changes they’re going to make in the law, big infrastructure developments they’re going to launch, and so on.
I wait to see the proof… the hard evidence on the ground.
Politicians have a habit of making major announcements to grab headlines or when the TV cameras are rolling… hoping to attract voters’ attention… but when the time comes to follow through on the announcement—maybe what was announced isn’t such a big deal after all.
Anyone living in the States, I’m sure, is familiar with this sort of thing from their political representatives…
But, having lived outside America now for decades, I can report: Politicians are the same everywhere.
I never came across a politician—anywhere in the world—who wasn’t happy to make flashy announcements for the cameras… but when it came time for follow-through, that follow-through wasn’t everything we expected.
Of course, sometimes this political dithering and inaction works to our advantage… especially if we’re happy with the status quo and don’t want things to change too much.
Like I say, I always wait for evidence on the ground that things are changing—rather than trust the word of politicians.
Here’s a case in point…
Four months ago, Portugal’s government declared it was abolishing the country’s popular Golden Visa program—which allows investors to purchase property (from 280,000 euros) and in turn get a Portuguese residency permit.
There was mass confusion in the legal and expat community after the announcement…
At first, the government suggested no further applications to the program would be accepted after the date of their announcement (Feb. 16)…
They said existing Golden Visa holders would have to spend six months a year in Portugal—rather than the week-a-year they’d been promised—and that investors would be forced to rent their properties on the long-term rental market…
All big changes.
Four months later—and nothing has yet changed with Portugal’s Golden Visa.
In fact, the program just had one of its busiest months ever.
Portugal Golden Visa approvals hit a three-year high in May, 2023!
Of course, some of this demand is being driven by the fact that the government announced it would be closing the program. But the fact is: The program didn’t close in February and hasn’t yet closed.
A couple months ago, I had a reader write to me complaining that Live And Invest Overseas was still promoting the Portugal Golden Visa—after the government had closed the program. This was all over the news, the reader said. How could this reader trust anything I said when I wasn’t aware of this fact?
The fact is… the government had only announced the program was closing. The program, as of now, is still open.
And the government has had to backtrack—after threats of legal challenges—and has said it will honor all applications received before the law officially changes, under the existing terms of the Golden Visa. The program just had a record month!
And my contact says it will remain open for at least another few months… there is still time to apply.
Now, don’t get me wrong: There’s no doubt that the Golden Visa in its current form is ending.
But it turned out there was a lot more time still left to run on the program than a lot of people expected… and the changes were not as drastic for investors as had been feared. Existing Golden Visa holders—and anyone who gets in before the deadline—will not see any changes to the terms of their visa.
Like I say: Don’t trust what politicians say—anywhere in the world. Only what they do.
It’s now even expected that there will be some form of residence-by-investment program still in operation in Portugal going forward (for example, a Golden Visa for investing in Portuguese culture… the real estate option is still likely to be dropped, since Golden Visa buyers pushing up prices for locals was the supposed reason for canceling the program in the first place).
And of course, Portugal still has plenty of other visa options for foreigners looking to live or invest there—including the ever-popular D7 “retirement” visa…
Get The Full Story
Recently, I chatted with Portugal attorney João Gil Figueira about the closure of the Golden Visa… the reasons it’s shutting down… the government’s backtracking… and the window readers still have to take action (and what actions to take)…
João told me: “The left or center-left-wing Socialist government in Portugal… they have to push something forward in terms of affordable housing. It’s something that’s in the news… problems associated with a lack of affordable housing for many people in Portugal.”
João and I both agree that the Golden Visa is being used as a scapegoat for Portugal’s big increase in home prices.
“With the first proposal, the government said that… everybody that had a Golden Visa will have to abide by different rules than the rules that were there at the time that they applied for the Golden Visa and at the time that they got the Golden Visa.
“Saying, for instance, that they would have to rent the properties… Or, for instance, being forced to stay in Portugal more than 180 days, which is the rule for many if not all of the residency permits in Portugal, except for the Golden Visa, which is seven days per year. Technically seven days in the first year, 14 in the second and third combined. And again 14 in the fourth and fifth.
“So those minimum requirements were being completely taken away…”
João goes on: “The backlash was enormous in terms of legal advisors, lawyers, the real estate sector, even all of those involved in attracting foreign investment to Portugal were concerned and vocal about this. If you throw out a program like this all of a sudden, without grandfathering in many of the applicants, that’s a huge stain on Portugal’s reputation as a destination for foreign direct investment.
“And as such, the government back-pedaled and took out the need to rent the property or to live in it, and also said that whoever applies for the Golden Visa or whoever has the Golden Visa granted already, they are grandfathered.”
The story of the closure (or not) of Portugal’s Golden Visa is one full of twists and turns… and it’s not over yet.
Click to watch the video—and you’ll also find all the information you need to apply for the Golden Visa before your time runs out… with a special property offer for Live And Invest Overseas readers.
Editor, Offshore Living Letter