Update February 2023: Portugal has announced it is canceling this program. For information on alternative Golden Visa programs or advice on obtaining residency in Europe contact our team.
Portugal’s Golden Visa is one of the most popular residency-by-investment schemes in the world, generating over €5.7 billion ($6.9 billion) since its inception in October 2012 and allowing thousands of foreign investors to secure European Union (EU) residency.
This article will focus on the Venture Capital (VC) Fund option of the Golden Visa scheme and discuss the benefits of this pathway. Following this, we will look into what to watch out for when investing in a VC Fund and present a short overview of the Rock Capital Fund.
Portugal’s Golden Visa
Portugal’s Golden Visa is a five-year residency scheme for non-EU nationals, providing incoming investors the ability to live, work and study in Portugal and an entryway to free movement within the EU Schengen area.
The most popular route has historically been the real estate pathway, but since the law changed in 2018, VC Funds have gained considerable ground as a viable option for foreign investments into the country.
Changes to the real estate pathway of the Golden Visa scheme will come into effect on January 1, 2022, preventing real estate investments in high-density areas, including Lisbon and Porto. In the face of these changes, there has been an increase in applicants turning to VC Funds as the turnkey solution to EU residency.
To qualify for the Golden Visa scheme, you need to be a non-EU, non-Swiss, or non-European Economic Area (EEA) national and have no criminal record.
A benefit of the Golden Visa scheme in Portugal is that there is a low-stay requirement. The incoming investor must spend a minimum of seven days in Portugal in the first year and at least 14 or more days in the following two years.
After five years of residency in the country, investors may qualify for citizenship provided they meet the requirements of a basic language test and show ties to the country.
The Golden Visa Investment Fund
Since November 2018, the government has included the Venture Capital fund as an eligible pathway for the Golden Visa Program in Portugal.
Venture capital is essentially a pool of investments managed by a group of corporate experts in the field. Portuguese VC funds are regulated by the local regulator, the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM), and offer a range of sector options including real estate, renewable energy, industry, and technology.
Each VC fund will have a defined investment strategy and will be regulated under its fund management agreement. According to Portuguese law, for a Venture Capital fund investment to be considered eligible towards the Portuguese Golden Visa, it must fulfill the following three cumulative requirements:
- Capital transfer amounting to a minimum of €350,000, intended for acquiring participation units of funds registered under CMVM and Portuguese law;
- Have a holding period of at least five years;
- At least 60% of assets must be invested in Portuguese companies.
VC Fund Investment vs. Real Estate Investment
Opting for a VC fund investment is a personal choice, as some will prefer to have a brick-and-mortar asset. The most notable difference between a VC fund investment and a real estate investment is the capital deployed for the two options:
- For the Golden Visa VC Fund, €350,000 will be required
- For Golden Visa Real Estate, €350,000 (minimum) will be required, although there will be additional costs for stamp duty, transfer tax, notary costs, maintenance, furniture, and so on.
The VC Fund option is more capital efficient and caters to a more hands-free investment.
Investment Fund Benefits:
- VC Funds are regulated and must comply with the CMVM
- Are handled by qualified experts in the chosen fund sector
- VC Funds are tax-friendly. Dividends and capital gains that are returned to the investor may be tax-exempt
- It is a diversified investment option. VC Funds allow you to get exposure to a more diverse set of industries or a less saturated part of the real estate market
- Save time on the scouting and acquisition of properties
- Save time on paperwork associated with real estate investments and securing real estate purchase approval for the Golden Visa.
VC Fund is a key consideration as part of your Golden Visa application
Note that not all VC Funds in Portugal will qualify for the Golden Visa program. You should ensure that your chosen VC Fund meets the criteria of The Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) and that CMVM regulates the VC Fund.
The three most important questions to ask when deciding which investment fund to opt for:
- Is the investment fund fully regulated by the Portuguese authorities (CMVM)?
- Is the investment fund fully eligible for the Golden Visa program, according to SEF?
- Does the fund have the necessary attributes to safeguard the investor’s Golden Visa status?
As mentioned, VC Funds will each have different processes and dynamics associated with them. Here are some of the due diligence checks that should be considered:
- The lifespan of the VC Fund: some will have a fixed horizon, such as six-ten years, whereas others are ongoing.
- The advisors of the VC Fund, their background, and experience levels.
- Leverage and liquidity: how is your investment used and how easily can it be converted into cash?
- Paperwork needed for the investment.
- Risk return profile.
- Preference on whether you want your VC Fund to have limited potential for capital appreciation but a safer investment profile, or vice versa.
- The investment thesis.
- VC Funds can offer an early exit but gains are realized after five-ten years, as a general rule
- Associated fees (subscription fee; annual management fee; fee to the fund manager at the time of exit; other associated costs).
- The VC Fund governance process.
- The exit strategy.
- The reporting strategy and the frequency of updates.
Rock Capital Investment Fund
The Rock Capital Investment Fund is a Venture Capital fund domiciled and regulated under Portuguese law CVCM 1614. The fund’s investment ethos is based on value investment, and it is focused on residential real estate projects in Lisbon aiming for attractive returns with the solidity of real estate. Rock Capital began in July 2020, and those wishing to co-invest can acquire participation units at the same opening price as the Fund Advisors until October 2021.
Rock Capital Investment has two main investment scopes:
- Redevelopment projects of old residential buildings in downtown Lisbon — accounting for 65% of the portfolio
- Acquisition and management of solid residential multi-family units in Lisbon Metropolitan Area — accounting for the remaining 35% of the portfolio
Rock Capital’s objective, as an entity centered around capital preservation, is to secure viable projects while maximizing shareholder value. To date, Rock Capital has made significant progress in both raising capital and securing promising investments.
If you are applying for the Golden Visa
For those wishing to apply for the Golden Visa alongside their investment, Rock Capital offers full Golden Visa eligibility throughout the lifespan of the fund.
Rock Capital provides annual information statements (AIS) and welcomes US Investors.
For more information: For Fund documentation, discuss strategy, Fund Governance, reporting, and answer all your questions. i[email protected]