The Golden Visa is one of the most popular choices for those applying for residence in Portugal. In January 2019, the Portuguese government announced it was expanding its investment immigration programme to include the new ‘Green Visa’. This category will focus specifically on environmental sustainability, renewable energy and eco-tourism.
Over the past decade, Portugal has made significant improvements in energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions, making a positive impact on their business environment. In May 2019, Eurostat advised that Portugal had made the biggest reduction in CO2 emissions in the European Union, down by 9% and more than triple the EU average of -2.6%.
According to Schroders’ Global Investor Study 2018, as many as 45% of South African investors are including investments in sustainable environmental projects within their financial portfolios. The report revealed that the importance of environmental investment is recognised in many other countries and that interest has grown substantially over the past five years, especially amongst younger adults aged between 18 and 44. Further research shows that 76% of South African investors had increased their sustainable investments over the past five years.
Since 2012, over 7,000 investors have been accepted under Portugal’s Golden Visa programme. South Africa is one of the top four countries applying for Portuguese residencies, with a total of 276 visas granted to date. The new ‘Green Visa’ would be an attractive option for South Africans seeking to migrate to Europe.
In order to qualify for the ‘Green Visa’ applicants will have to invest at least €500,000 (approximately R8million) in an environmental project in Portugal. Some of the areas that investors can put their money into are eco-tourism, organic farming, renewable energy and carbon neutral projects; however there are several other projects targeted towards environmental gains that are also available for investment.
Once the ‘Green Visa’ has been granted, applicants will need to keep their investments for a minimum of five years. They need only spend seven days a year for those five years in Portugal in order to keep their visa valid for this period. After those five years, investors can apply for permanent residency and, once they have completed a further year as a resident, they can officially apply for a Portuguese passport and citizenship.