Portugal: legal changes that shorten the route to the passport

In early January 2024, the Parliament of Portugal approved a series of changes to the nationalization legislation that are of particular interest to those interested in the Golden Visa program.

Specifically, this reform will allow those with residence permits to reduce their naturalization period to obtain Portuguese citizenship. The 5-year period will now start counting from the day they applied for residence, rather than the date of card issuance.

In the current context, this could mean a reduction of several waiting years. Under the current regulation, an applicant can apply for citizenship five years after the approval of their residence permit. However, due to administrative delays in the immigration system, the time between residence application and approval can extend for 2 or more years.

This negatively impacts, for example, the time it takes for a Golden Visa investor to reach the eligibility stage for naturalization, which in practice can range from 7 to 8 years from the original application date.

This situation, affecting other visa types as well, contradicts the law, which states that the process should not exceed three months.

As a result, the legal reform states the following: “For the purpose of calculating the periods of legal residence provided in this law, the time elapsed since the moment the application for a temporary residence permit was submitted is also considered if approved.”

Regarding this, lawyer Adriano Vieira of AIM Global stated to IMI Daily that “the big question now is what will be understood as ‘from the moment the application for the temporary residence permit was submitted,’ which will be considered the new starting point of the count; whether it is at the time of biometric collection or at the time of online application.”

There is still no clarity on this point; some experts estimate that, although things may vary depending on the type of immigration, in the case of the Golden Visa, investors may be able to start counting their 5 years from the day they submitted their online application and paid the corresponding processing fee.

However, Vieira emphasizes that it is important to remember that these legal reforms have not yet come into effect. “They will go to the President, who can approve them, veto them, or send them to the Constitutional Court for analysis,” he states.

As experts in international mobility with offices in Santiago and Lisbon, the AIM Global team closely monitors legislative developments in Portugal. If you wish to apply for the Golden Visa in this country – or in Spain, Greece, or Malta – contact us.

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