Emigration consultants in Hong Kong and Macau reveal that the new rules, led to a rush for Portuguese golden visas at the end of 2021.

According to Jeff Yen Li Wei, a partner at the Macau law firm Nuno Simões e Associados, requests went from an average of ten processes per year, to 20 requests in the second half of 2021 alone, mainly from mainland China.

John Hu, founder and principal consultant of John Hu Migration Consulting, a Hong Kong firm specialising in emigration, also stated that he had local clients trying to start the process "just before Christmas". The reason for the surge was to anticipate the entry into force of a decree-law that prohibits obtaining a golden visa through the purchase of residential property in the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto and in most coastal regions.

The original change in the law had been planned for July 2021 and many Chinese and Britons based in Hong Kong took advantage of the extra six months to “speed up” the deal, said Jason Gillott, the co-founder of Golden Visa Portugal Limited, a Hong Kong company specialising in obtaining golden visas.

Until the end of 2021, the Residence Permit for Investment programme made it possible to obtain residence in Portugal by investing in real estate with a minimum value of €500,000, a value that fell to €350,000in the case of urban rehabilitation. After the December rush, Jeff Yen currently has no new clients, but said he believes "whoever was interested will continue to be interested."

New restrictions

The lawyer, who has lived in Portugal for more than two decades, argued that it will be more difficult to convince Chinese investors to buy real estate outside large urban centres. Buying property was the option in "80 percent of cases", but John Hu felt that transferring at least €1 million in capital could become a more popular choice for Hong Kong investors.

"Many of the clients already have a good idea of ​​where they want to invest", indicated Jason Gillott, pointing to the case of an American who wanted to buy a house in Évora to rent to university students.

The Briton said that there are still opportunities in real estate, namely on the coast of the district of Setúbal. "I was very surprised that the whole area, from Comporta to Santiago do Cacém, was on the list for the golden visa," he concluded.