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Portugal considers dropping Golden Visa scheme


Portugal is looking into doing away with its Golden Visa, according to Prime Minister Antonio Costa, a program heavily criticised for sending house prices and rents up.


The European Commission wants rules tightened on such national schemes offered in many countries, such as Greece, amidst suspicions that authorities are not conducting thorough checks to detect money laundering activities.


In Portugal, it has attracted 6.5 billion euros in investment by foreigners, mainly from China, Brazil and South Africa, with the bulk of the money going into real estate. Rules have changed this year to redirect investments from a red-hot property market in big cities to depopulated areas.


Second thoughts on Golden Visa

Speaking at Lisbon’s Web Summit, Europe’s largest tech event, Costa said several visa schemes offered by Portugal were currently being re-evaluated and the golden visa was one of them, Reuters reports.


“(It) probably has already fulfilled the role it had to fulfil and, at this moment, is no longer justified to keep it”, Costa told reporters.


An official decision would be announced when the evaluation is completed, he said.


Portugal targets digital nomads

Costa said Portugal wanted to continue to be attractive, with one example being its recent law, enacted on Monday, that created the so-called digital nomads visa. It gives foreigners with high monthly income from remote work to live and work from Portugal for a year.


The European Commission has called on EU governments to tighten residence for investment programs and end national plans selling citizenship to international investors in exchange for investments, which the bloc has long considered a security risk.


In September, Greece also announced changes to its Golden Visa scheme in a bid to help ease the country’s severe housing shortage.


In Greece, investors will have to double the amount of money needed to qualify for the five-year residency visa offered. The amount has risen to 500,000 euros from 250,000 euros previously.

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