Acquiring a Portuguese visa can be a real challenge. Unless you have 500,000 euros (US $682,000) to invest in property, that is.
Since Portugal started it’s golden visa program in 2012, an initiative that allows foreign investors to be granted a Portuguese visa, the country’s Foreign Ministry reports that 1,161 visas have been issued, and the majority – 80 percent – to Chinese nationals.
Following Canada’s recent cancellation of it’s own version of the program, Portugal and other EU countries are expected to welcome some 20,000 new Chinese investors.
Even though the visa comes at what many consider a high price, it may actually be a bargain. Bloomberg reports that since 2010, the euro has fallen 17 percent to China’s yuan. Such rapid depreciation has made real estate prices in Portugal comparable to those in top-tier Chinese cities like Shanghai.
The other benefit of the program is also becoming rather apparent. Timoteo Macedo, Lisbon’s Immigrant Solidarity Association president, said that it can take up to seven years for immigrants to be granted Portuguese a visa, while investors may have to wait only six months.
The golden visa allows for six years of travel in the EU as well as residence in Portugal. After that, residents may apply for the maroon EU passport from Portugal in order to gain citizenship.
“Europe is a new popular destination for Chinese citizens to move to. Most of these Chinese want a golden visa so they can travel in the EU and end up renting their properties for most of the year,” said Alystair Kung, associate general manager of CBIEC, a Chinese real estate firm in Lisbon.
The New York Times reports that many Chinese immigrants are looking to relocate not to big cities like Lisbon, but resort towns and beachfront communities. Joanna Leverett, associate manager of London-based property agency Savills International, said that Chinese clients are moving into villas, townhouses and new developments in the Troia Resort, and coastal towns like Cascais and Estoril.
image credit: francisco antunes