Combined with a thriving tourism industry, the popular residence program has been mixed bag for historic neighborhoods across Portugal’s capital.
Around €2.7 billion ($3.1 billion USD) has been invested in the country through the golden visa scheme, €2.4 billion of this through the purchase of real estate.
In October, reeling from the global financial crisis and facing harsh austerity measures attached to a €78-billion ($89 billion USD) bailout from the European Union and IMF, Portugal’s government needed money. A scheme was created through which wealthy foreign investors could gain a temporary residence permit in exchange for inward investment.
This investment could take a number of forms, such as donating €250,000 ($285,000 USD) to a cultural, heritage or arts institution or by transferring €1 million to a Portuguese bank. But the most popular way of gaining a foothold in Portugal, and by extension the 27 member nations of the European Union, was through the acquisition of at least €500,000 ($570,000 USD) of real estate.
To be eligible for a golden visa investors would have to spend at least seven days in Portugal, consecutive or not, in their first year, and 14 days in the subsequent two-year period. After six years of residency, they gain the right to apply for full citizenship.