The Uncertain Future of Portugal’s Golden Visa Program: Exploring Alternatives

With the recent announcement by the Portuguese government to close the Golden Visa program, many potential investors are left wondering about the future of the program and what the alternatives are. 

In this blog post, we will explore what the Golden Visa program is, the path to citizenship, and the reasons behind the uncertainty of its future. We will also discuss some alternatives to the program that may be worth considering, given the current situation.

What is the Portugal Golden Visa Program?

The Portugal Golden Visa program was introduced in 2012 as a way to attract foreign investment to the country. The program offers residency to non-EU citizens who make an investment in Portugal and also provides a path to Portuguese citizenship. The program has been successful in attracting investment and has been popular with investors worldwide. 

Here are the key facts about the program:

  • The Golden Visa program offers residency to investors who make an investment in Portugal.
  • To be eligible for the program, investors must make a minimum investment of €280,000 in specific Portuguese property..
  • The program also offers alternative investment options, such as investing in Portuguese companies or funds and capital transfer.
  • Once approved, investors receive a residence permit that allows them to live and work in Portugal for a certain period of time. After five years of continuous residency, investors may apply for permanent residency or citizenship, although this is not guaranteed as we will explain in detail later.
  • The program has been popular with investors from around the world, attracting about 11,000 investors since its launched.
  • The program has been successful in attracting investment to Portugal, with over €6 billion in investment made through the program since its inception.

While the program has been popular with investors, many are under the impression that the Portugal Golden Visa Program offers investors a guaranteed path to Portuguese Citizenship, however, that is not the case. In the next section we will discuss further.

Not a Guaranteed Path to Citizenship

Even before the recent developments, obtaining Portuguese citizenship through the Golden Visa Program was not guaranteed, as that would truly depend on the ties the investor has built within those 5 years with the country. In other words, the stronger the ties built by the investor in Portugal, the more likely they will obtain Portuguese Citizenship.

Some of these ties include:

  • Learn the Portuguese language: Knowing the local language is crucial for building a strong connection with the local people and community.
  • Visit the country regularly: Frequent visits to Portugal show a commitment to building ties with the country and its people.
  • Obtain a driver’s license: Having a driver’s license shows a willingness to assimilate into the local culture and makes daily life easier.
  • Study in Portugal: Studying in Portugal not only helps with learning the language but also allows for a deeper understanding of the culture and society.
  • Donate to a Portuguese charity: Supporting local charities and causes shows a commitment to the community and its well-being.
  • Enroll in a Portuguese football club as a member: Football is a national passion in Portugal, and joining a club shows a willingness to participate in local culture and activities.
  • Open an active business: Starting a business in Portugal not only creates job opportunities but also shows a long-term commitment to the country.
  • Open bank accounts: Having bank accounts in Portugal can help with day-to-day financial transactions and shows a willingness to integrate into the local economy.
  • Invest in governmental projects: Investing in government projects shows a willingness to support the country’s development and growth.

In conclusion, the stronger the ties built by the investor in Portugal, the more likely they will obtain Portuguese citizenship through the Golden Visa program.

Portugal Golden Visa Closure Announcement

On the 16th of February 2023, the Portuguese government announced their plans to close the Golden Visa Program, including all fund investment, commercial real estate, and job creation options. While already-filed applications will be processed normally, no new applications will be accepted.

Renewals for existing Golden Visas based on real estate investments will also be subject to conditions. Golden Visa holders who qualified by investing in residential real estate will only be able to renew their visas if the property is their primary residence, that of their children, or if they are renting it out with a long-term lease.

Moreover, the proposed “More Housing” bill, which while discussing other topics includes the proposal to end the Golden Visa Program, has raised concerns about its constitutionality and legality. These developments have created uncertainty about the future of the program and its potential impact on those seeking Portuguese citizenship. The initial proposed date for the “More Housing” bill was 10th – 24th March 2023 now been extended to 16th – 30th March 2023.

Alternatives to the Portugal Golden Visa Program

The uncertainty surrounding the future of the Portugal Golden Visa Program has left many potential investors looking for alternative options. While the program may still be active for existing investors, the limitations and conditions placed on renewals have left many wondering whether it’s worth the risk.

Here are some alternatives to consider in light of the program’s uncertain future:

  1. Greece’s Golden Visa Program: The Greece Golden Visa Program is likely to be the most attractive option should the Portugal Golden Visa Program be completely closed. Greece’s Golden Visa program requires a minimum investment of €250,000 in Greek real estate. The program offers a 5-year residence permit that can be renewed indefinitely, as long as the property remains in the investor’s possession.
  2. Spain’s Golden Visa Program: Spain’s Golden Visa program requires a minimum investment of €500,000. The program offers a fast-track route to Spanish residency and citizenship for foreign investors. Once the investment is made, the applicant and their family can apply for a residency permit, which can be renewed for additional periods of two years.
  3. Italy’s Golden Visa Program: Italy also has a golden visa program, which requires a minimum investment of €500,000 in Italian shares or €250,000 if investing in innovative start-ups. The duration of the residence permit is 2 years, with the possibility of renewal for an additional 3 years. Additionally, Italy offers a special tax regime for new residents, with a flat tax rate of €100,000 per year on foreign income.
  4. Malta’s Individual Investor Program: Malta offers investors a permanent residency program which requires a minimum investment of €140,000, however, investors must have a minimum of €500,000 in capital (€150,000 of which must be financial assets). The time frame to obtain the residency is between 1-2 months, making it a relatively fast process.

It’s important to note that each program has its own requirements and limitations. Potential investors should thoroughly research each option and consult with one of our experts here at Imperial Citizenship before making any investment decisions.


In conclusion, the closure of the Portugal Golden Visa program has created a sense of uncertainty among investors and applicants seeking residency or citizenship in Portugal. While the program has been successful in attracting investment to the country, the recent developments have left potential investors looking for alternatives. 

Options such as Greece, Spain, Italy and Malta Golden Visa/Residency Programs offer similar opportunities for investors seeking residency or potentially citizenship. As Portugal’s government finalizes its decision on the future of the Golden Visa program, potential investors should explore all options and consult with professional advisors such as our experts here at Imperial Citizenship to find out which option will be best for them.

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