SEF re-opens application processing

The Foreigners and Borders Service (Servico de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras or SEF) has re-opened their online portal for the processing of the applications of the Portugal Golden Visa. This agency of the Portuguese Ministry of Internal Affairs has as its mandate to enforce immigration and asylum in Portugal.

The portal has been unavailable for several months due to a series of unfortunate events that began with a snap election in January 2022 that resulted in work stoppage at several government agencies.  In the meantime elections were held and political coalitions reassembled.  The war in the Ukraine has also hampered the operations of the SEF.  The Portuguese government has allotted the personnel and resources of the SEF to assist refugees from Ukraine fleeing to Portugal. Lastly, the backlog of applications that need to be processed have also contributed to the recent disruption of the SEF operations.

Fortunately, all these problems have been resolved and the agency, with an increased work force and resources, has re-opened and conducting business-as-usual. 

What is the Portugal Golden Visa?

Despite these drawbacks, the Portugal Golden Visa remains one of the more popular citizenship-by- investment program in Europe and has been attracting over one thousand main applicants each year and more than 10,000 applicants have already received their Portuguese Golden Visas.  For a minimum investment of € 500,000 in real estate in Portugal, the applicant will receive a residency permit for the entire family that will allow the holder visa-free travel throughout the Schengen area and about one hundred fifty countries all over the world.

After five years, the holder of the Portugal Golden Visa can apply for permanent residency or citizenship without the need to reside in Portugal full time. The applicant and their family need to visit Portugal for only two weeks every two years in order to renew the Portugal Golden Visa. Citizenship in Portugal and a second passport allows the holder to live, work and study anywhere in the European Union.

Portugal continues to have the most affordable real estate in Europe and Lisbon and Algrave remain the most popular.  However, since the Portuguese government is encouraging investors to invest in other areas in the country, it has lowered investment amounts to €350,000 for urban regeneration areas and €280,000 in a low density area.

Other non-real estate investment options are €350,000 in an investment fund or €1,000,000 in company shares, a deposit in a Portuguese bank account, or investment in a Portuguese company.