Portugal is considering scrapping its “golden visa” program aimed at attracting wealthy investors, Prime Minister António Costa said on Wednesday.
“There are programs that we are currently reassessing and one of them is the golden visa program, which has probably already served its purpose and for which there may no longer be any justification at this stage for maintain it,” Costa said during the Web Summit. , reported the Lusa news agency.
Under the program launched in 2012, investors from non-EU countries can obtain Portuguese residency if they invest more than €280,000 in real estate, or at least €250,000 in contributions to the arts. It is a popular program among investors from countries such as the United States, China and Australia, who, with residency, have access to EU visas and can buy profitable houses and apartments.
Portugal has already temporarily suspended the program for Russians following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Lisbon also came under fire when it was revealed that Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich was granted Portuguese citizenship last year claiming he was a descendant of Sephardic Jews. A rabbi who helped the billionaire obtain his Portuguese nationality is under investigation.
The European Commission and the European Parliament have long criticized golden visa and passport regimes because they provide a fast track to EU citizenship not on merit but on purely financial grounds.
‘Investor citizenship schemes undermine the essence of EU citizenship and have implications for the Union as a whole,’ Commission said when launching case against Maltese passport schemes earlier This year.
Portugal does not grant citizenship for investment, but once a person has residency they have the right to travel freely within the EU as long as they spend at least seven days a year in the country.