What is the change? Portuguese police are investigating corruption in the Golden Visa program and have detained for questioning several officials, including the director of SEF, Servico de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras.

What does the change mean? Applicants should expect delays in all immigration processing.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: All immigration services.
  • Who is affected: All companies and foreign nationals seeking services from the immigration and foreign affairs ministries in Portugal.
  • Impact on processing times: Services are delayed due to the upheaval.
  • Business impact: Delays will interrupt business schedules and add to the cost of assigning foreign workers in Portugal.
  • Next steps: Employers should plan for possible lengthy delays in the coming months.

Background: In raids across the country, Portuguese police have arrested several officials on suspicion of corruption in granting residence visas under Portugal’s Golden Visa program. Golden Visas allow non-European investors to obtain permanent residency in exchange for investing in business, financial instruments and real estate. Several European countries, including Greece, Latvia, Portugal and Spain, have offered similar visa programs to wealthy investors in recent years hoping to inject cash into their struggling economies. Under Portugal’s program, introduced in 2012, applicants who invest €500,000 in real estate can obtain temporary residency for five years, after which they are eligible to apply for permanent residency.

BAL Analysis: Companies and foreign employees should expect significant delays in processing, especially for ongoing applications at the Immigration and Border Service (Servico de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros).

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Portugal. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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