In 2022, the US became part of the top five nationalities that most apply for a Portuguese Golden Visa. A Golden Visa, also known as an ARI, is an authorization for entry and residence in Portugal that is granted to citizens from outside the Schengen area in exchange for investments done in the country. The goal of the program is to attract foreign investment. In exchange, the program allows people to reside in Portugal, travel within the Schengen Area without a visa, and access Portuguese education, health, and justice services.
In recent months, more Americans have started applying for these visas. According to data from the Immigration and Border Service (SEF) since the beginning of the ARI program until June 2022, Portugal has granted 10.903 residence permits for investment. The people who most apply for a Portuguese Golden Visa come from China (5139), Brazil (1104), Turkey (518), South Africa (459), and the USA (445).
6 reasons why are so many Americans applying for the Portugal Golden Visa
1. High English Proficiency
Portugal is the seventh country in the world with the best English proficiency level, according to the 2022 ranking by Education First (EF) which analyzed data from 2,2 million non-native English speakers from 112 countries and regions around the globe. Portugal is also amongst the only 13 countries with a “high proficiency level” score: this means that most people in Portugal can read advanced texts in English and negotiate contracts with native English speakers.
2. Tax Benefits
Portugal has Double Taxation Agreements (DTA) with many countries, including the USA. If a US citizen with a Golden Visa earns income outside Portugal and pays taxes (for that income) in the US, he or she does not have to do it again in Portugal. The protocol extends to pensions from abroad.
Golden Visa holders are also eligible for the NHR (Non Habitual Resident) program. The NHR entitles the holder to certain additional tax benefits for ten years: this includes an exemption from paying tax on gifts or inheritances received from family members.
If someone with an NHR performs a high value-added activity (for example, medicine) in Portugal he or she will be taxed at a special rate of 20%. The list of “high-value activities” includes doctors, dentists, teachers, investors, directors, and managers – the full index is available on Portugal’s online Tax Portal (Portal das Finanças, in Portuguese).
3. Home to several tech hubs
Portugal has become an attractive hub for startups, with several incubators and investment funds accessible in the country. The capital, Lisbon, is home to the Web Summit, one of the largest international fairs that brings together investors and creators of startups from all around the world. The Municipality of Fundão, in the Center of Portugal, has also been investing in strategies to attract investment and foster innovation.
Unbabel, Talkdesk, Outsystems, Uniplaces, and Codacy are some of the popular startups that started in Portugal.
4. Cost of Living
General living expenses are considerably lower in Portugal when compared to the US. For example, education, through public schools, is free for all foreign residents and Portuguese citizens. Private schools, including colleges that follow the curriculum of US schools, cost an average of 11 thousand euros per year. In the US, the price is three times as much.
In contrast to the US, the health care system in Portugal is also extremely affordable. Children and elderly people receive free health care.
5. Access to the Schengen Area
A Golden Visa gives people the right to work and study in Portugal for five years. During this period, it is also possible to travel freely within the Schengen Area without a visa. Whoever is in possession of a Golden Visa can apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years. The Portuguese passport allows travel to 188 countries in the world without the need for a visa.
The ARI includes the right to family reunification. This means that the rights of a Golden Visa holder extend to direct family members and/or dependents. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Spouses or partners,
- Minors or incapacitated children that are dependent on the couple
- Adult children that are dependent on the couple while they are studying
- Parents or siblings of the Golden Visa holder (or his/her spouse) that are dependent on the couple.
6. International Schools with a US Curriculum
US expats with children can easily find schools that follow US curriculum: for example, the Carlucci American International School of Lisbon, in Lisbon, and the International Christian School of Cascais, in Cascais. There are also several schools with classes in English that follow the UK curriculum: for example, St Peter’s International School (Setúbal), Oporto British School (Porto), and the Nobel International School (Algarve).
About Lince Capital
Investing in venture capital funds registered in Portugal is one of the routes to obtaining a Portuguese Golden Visa. Lince Capital acts in the constitution and management of venture capital funds and specialized investment funds. The company bets on diversification, working simultaneously in several business sectors (real estate, healthcare, technology, retail, etc), and is continuously looking for projects with high growth potential.
If you would like more information about Golden Visas or would like to explore how to invest in Portugal, please feel free to contact us.