In Portugal, as in Spain, it is the Chinese citizens who lead the number of Applicants for the Golden Visa Program. However, there are 5 advantages of the Golden Visa Program in Portugal that the Chinese still see as crucial in their choice over the Spanish Golden Visa.
Both in Portugal and Spain, Golden Visa holders are entitled to five years: to enter and stay in the country where the investment was made; to move to the other countries that integrate the Schengen Area without the need for a visa; to family reunification; to access the permanent residence permit at the end of the five years of the Programme; and to the nationality of the country where the investment was made, fulfilling the legal requirements for that purpose.
Portugal, however, has greater advantages than the Spanish Golden Visa, the main reasons for Chinese citizens prefer the Portuguese Golden Visa are the following:
Portugal allows the holder to obtain a permanent residence permit at the end of the 5th year of the Golden Visa Program, even when the investor has only stayed in Portugal for the minimum required periods, in a total of 35 days over a total of 5 years. The Spanish Golden Visa requires legal, effective, and continuous residence in Spanish territory during those 5 years. This means that the investor will have to reside in Spain for at least 183 days per year, not being able to be absent for more than 10 months from Spain for a total of 5 years to obtain the permanent residence permit.
Obtaining European citizenship
Another of the main advantages of the Golden Visa Portuguese Program, compared to the Spanish, is the acquisition of Portuguese nationality at the end of the 5 years of the Program. Even having stayed in the country for the minimum mandatory periods of the Programme – 7 days, followed or interpolated in the first year; fourteen days, followed or interpolated in the subsequent two-year periods – investors will only have to demonstrate some basic knowledge of the Portuguese language. As for the Spanish Programme, investors will only be able to obtain Spanish nationality at the end of 10 years of actual residence in Spain (as indicated above), which is twice as long as the requirement in Portugal.
Even in the case of investors who intend to reside in Portugal, the Golden Visa Program presents a tax advantage over the Spanish Program, since foreign investors who intend to reside in Portugal can benefit from the Non-Habitual Resident Status (RNH), which allows its holders, for ten consecutive years, to be entitled: to the exemption of income obtained abroad from pensions, dependent, independent work, capital, real estate income and capital gains, intellectual or industrial property; and to the taxation of income obtained in Portugal at reduced rates in the case of high added value activities.
In Spain, there is no such tax status, there is only a similar regime called “Beckham” which has a duration of only 6 years and has more conditioning factors than in Portugal.
In both Spain and Portugal, there are several possible types of investment. However, over the years, the type of investment most chosen by investors is real estate. In Portugal, the minimum investment amount in these cases is €280,000, unlike Spain which has a minimum value of €500,000.
When analyzing the other possible types of investments, the minimum investment possible in Portugal to acquire a Golden Visa is €200,000, unlike Spain which has a minimum investment amount of €500,000.
When making any kind of investment in a foreign country, one of the most relevant factors for any investor is the analysis of the socio-political stability of the country in which the investment will be made.
Portugal presents itself as a safe and stable country both socially, politically, and economically, while Spain, in recent years, has presented an unstable political framework, already counting 4 legislative elections in the last 4 years. Moreover, the crisis in Catalonia presents a divided country, a very risky scenario for investment, especially when 44% of investors who have already opted for the Spanish Golden Visa, have chosen Barcelona to invest in real estate.
If Catalonia becomes independent (as the Catalan people desire), the consequent exit from the European Union may harm the investors who have invested there, and who may thus lose the greatest advantage that the Golden Visa presents, which is free movement in the European Space.