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PORTUGAL – Possible Delays Due to Corruption Investigation at Immigration Department

The head of the Portuguese immigration department (SEF, Servico de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras), has been detained as part of an ongoing investigation into corruption and fraud relating to Portugal’s Golden Visa programme. This is likely to cause delays to all immigration processes, particularly those being processed in Portugal rather than at one of Portugal’s’ consulates/Embassies overseas.

What is the Golden Visa?

Portugal’s Golden Visa programme, launched in 2012, offers investors permanent residence in Portugal following the purchase of a property work at least EUR500,000, transfer of capital of at least EUR1,000,000 or via the establishment of a company employing at least 10 Portuguese nationals.

Holders of the Golden Visa may apply for citizenship after a period of six years provided they have been in Portugal for at least seven days a year while holding the visa.

The Golden Visa itself allows visa free travel throughout the Schengen area. For wealthy non-EU nationals wishing to acquire EU citizenship, the Golden Visa is an attractive option due to the relatively low investment bar and the relatively light requirement to actually be physically present in Portugal prior to the citizenship application.

What Is the Impact?

The head of SEF, Manuel Palos, has been detained and for obvious reasons, this is likely to have a knock on effect on efficiency at SEF and their ability to handle workload. Any applications currently in process may be delayed indefinitely.

Action Items

  • Warn applicants with applications currently in process that there may be delays due to the corruption investigation
  • Consider upcoming moves to Portugal with the aim of submitting applications as early in advance as possible, as delays are likely to be ongoing.

This alert was drafted using information provided by ERES Relocation.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.