Portugal Golden Visa Investment Fund Option: How It Works

Did you know that Portugal Golden Visa can now be acquired by participating in a Portuguese investment fund? It is a lesser known investment method, but it presents a number of benefits to the investors.

Check out how the Golden Visa by investment fund option works, its advantages and disadvantages, compared to other available investment methods.

Benefits of Golden Visa

Portugal’s Golden Visa (Residence Permit for Investors – ARI) is the most popular residence by investment program in Europe. It is structured to attract foreign investment to the country, granting a number of benefits in return:

  • Visa free transfer throughout the European Schengen Area,
  • Right to live and work in Portugal,
  • Possibility of extending the residence permit to family members,
  • Possibility of applying for citizenship in Portugal in only five years,
  • Low stay requirement of only 7 days a year in Portugal

Participating in Investment or Venture Capital Funds: How it Works

The legal definition of the option on the SEF Legislation is as follows:

“Capital transfer of the amount of 350 thousand Euros, or higher, for the acquisition of units of investment funds or venture capital fund of funds dedicated to the capitalisation of companies, capital injected under the Portuguese legislation, whose maturity, at the moment of the investment, is, at least, of five years and, at least, 60% of the investments is realized in commercial companies with head office in national territory; ”

Many Golden Visa applicants are more used to real estate investments and there is ambiguity surrounding the concept of participating in an investment fund.

In a nutshell, an investment fund is a financial instrument that collects money from investors, with the objective of investing the pool of funds in a portfolio of investments. The fund management makes the investments in accordance with a pre-defined strategy. The fund management is responsible for the administrative entity, while being regulated and supervised by the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM).

Types of Investment Funds

There are a number of different investment fund types available, which qualify for the Golden Visa. These types include:

  • Real Estate Funds; mainly invest in real estate
    Securities Funds; mainly invest in stocks
    Venture Capital Funds; mainly focus on start ups and other companies

The risk levels and strategies of each type of funds vary widely.

Advantages

The Portuguese government has two main objectives in enabling the investment fund method within the Golden Visa program. These are:

  • To attract international capital to tangible assets, companies, and the stock market through the various funds,
  • To encourage the formation of new funds, particularly in strategic sectors, stimulating the economy in Portugal.

The investment fund method of Portugal Golden Visa, apart from obtaining a residence permit in Europe, provides the Golden Visa investors with a series of advantages, compared to other possible investment types. These are mainly related to the minimum investment amount, the associated costs, and the ease of management.

1. Low Minimum Investment Amount

The minimum investment amount required for the investment fund option of Golden Visa is 350,000 Euro.

In comparison to some of the other popular investment methods such as the 500,000 Euro real estate investment or the 1,000,000 Euro capital transfer, the minimum investment required for the investment fund is rather low.

2. Ease of Investment and Management

The acquisition of subscription units in a Portuguese fund is simple and fast. Particularly when the process is compared to some of the other investment options like urban rehabilitation real estate investment, set up of Portuguese companies, or generation of jobs in Portugal.

It is sufficient to provide a document issued by the fund management to the SEF and apply for the Golden Visa. In each available fund, there is an authorized fund management company, which implements the fund strategy in assessing, closing, and managing the investments made by the fund. In other words, you can enjoy the passenger seat, while the car is driven by a professional. No tenants, termites, or unpaid rents to deal with.

3. Low Additional Costs

Subscription in a Portuguese fund has little additional costs, compared to some other investment options.

Buying real estate in Portugal involves a number of costs. These include the Municipality Property Transfer Tax (IMT), stamp duty, notary fees, and legal fees. Additionally, there is a Municipal Property Tax (IMI), which needs to be paid on an annual basis.

As for the funds, there will be no IMT or IMI taxes, nor any stamp duty. You will also be looking at relatively lower notary fees and legal fees. Some funds have an upfront subscription fee. Almost all funds have a yearly management fee. The annual management fees typically range between 1%-2%. Overall, this means the initial subscription to a fund saves you %7-%8 on top of investment amount.

4. ROI and Capital Gains

Depending on the risk appetite, the investment strategy, and the investment type, the funds may generate a handsome return. These returns may realize on an annual basis and/or at the maturity date of the fund.

The annual target return for investment funds differ between funds. However, it would not be unusual for the projected returns to range between 3% to 10% depending on the fund. Some funds choose to distribute annual dividends, while some choose to accumulate and distribute the earnings at the exit. Most funds, however, do both.

In most cases, if the fund manages to make a positive earning at maturity, the fund management will have a performance fee. This makes sure that the incentives of the fund management is aligned with that of the investors / subscribers.

Challenge

The investment fund option was always in existence. However, the minimum investment amount was lowered from 500,000 Euro to 350,000 Euro in 2018. With that, more and more qualifying funds started appearing on the market, as of 2019.

The real challenge is assessing and analyzing the available funds. It is particularly important to make a thorough due diligence of the fund managers, their products, investment strategies, and track records. It is highly recommended to work with a professional advisory firm in doing so.

Other Possible Investment Methods

Portugal’s Golden Visa program is strongly associated with residency by property investment. However, there are other available types of investments that are just as attractive, if not more. These investment methods include:

  • Real Estate Investment of 500,000 Euro or more in Portugal,
  • Real Estate Investment for Rehabilitation of 350,000 Euro or more in Portugal, provided that the property is older than 30 years old or located in an urban rehabilitation area,
  • Capital Transfer of 1,000,000 Euro,
  • Creation of 10 jobs,
  • Participation of 350,000 Euro or more in Portuguese Investment Funds or Venture Capital,
  • 350,000 Euro or more of an Investment in Scientific Research,
  • 250,000 Euro or more of an Investment in Artistic Production and Conservation of Cultural Heritage.

If the investment is made in a low density area in Portugal, some of the above requirements are lowered by 20%, including the minimum investment amounts in the real estate options.

To learn more about the program and other investment options in addition to the investment funds, you can check out our article on Portugal’s Golden Visa.

Expected Changes to the Portugal Golden Visa Portugal Rules

In February 2020, the State Budget Law was approved. One of the topics stated in the law referred to changing the rules of the Golden Visa regime. In light of the law, the Portuguese Government is authorized to change the Golden Visa program in regards to the following aspects:

  1. Increase the minimum requirements in the Golden Visa investment options, such as the minimum investment amount or the number of jobs required to grant Golden Visa. Accordingly, the current investment amounts stated in the previous section will most likely increase.
  2. Restriction of location in the real estate investment option pertaining to the Golden Visa program. In light of this restriction, the urban areas such as Lisbon and Porto will be excluded. Only property investments in interior territories of Portugal will qualify for the Golden Visa program.

The Portuguese Government has not used its legal right to make the above changes yet, thus the above changes are not currently in force. There are mixed statements being made by authorities in regards to the timeframe of implementing these changes. It is probable that the changes will take place on the Portugal Golden Visa Program in 2021.