The Portuguese government has published the final wording of the "Mais Habitação" bill, which will be debated in Parliament in the upcoming weeks. Several concessions from the original draft version of March 30th were made, making the final version much less controversial.
One of the major changes in the final text is the elimination of retroactivity. The government had initially proposed a cut-off date for the Golden Visa program starting on February 16th, which would have voided all applications submitted after that date. However, the program will now remain open for new applications until new legislation is published. This means that Golden Visa applicants will have until the new law is promulgated to submit their applications under the existing rules. This is a significant relief for many investors who had concluded their qualifying investments after February 16th with conditional clauses in their sales and purchase agreements.
Another important concession is the conversion of initial Golden Visas that have yet to be issued, as well as existing ones up for renewal, to D2 (Entrepreneur) visas. However, holders of these converted visas will not be subject to the usual 183-day annual presence requirement that applies to the D2 visa class. Instead, the government now proposes to retain the seven-days-a-year regime for these visa holders, which is a significant relief for investors who may not be able to meet the 183-day requirement.
In addition, the government is now proposing to allow investment-based residence permits for individuals who invest in support of "artistic production and the recovery or maintenance of cultural heritage." Such investments will need approval from one or more competent authorities to verify the adequacy of the investment. These authorities include the Portuguese Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade, the Development Bank, the Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation, the National Innovation Agency, the Office of Cultural Strategy, Planning, and Assessment, and other authorities deemed appropriate depending on the subject.
The final text of the bill states that the Golden Visa program will end on the day the law takes effect. However, the exact date is likely to be at least 45 days away, considering the parliamentary agenda. Legal experts recommend that investors proceed as soon as possible to benefit from the regime, as no transitory period has been established.
While the law’s final wording is seen as a positive development and a more lenient approach compared to the original proposal, there may still be further dilution during parliamentary discussions, where market pressure may be brought to bear to encourage the adoption of a transition period.
Overall, industry experts and stakeholders have welcomed the changes in the final wording of the "Mais Habitação" project, noting that it shows the government’s receptivity to market pressure and suggestions. Investors who are in a position to proceed with their investments and applications are advised to do so promptly to take advantage of the regime.