On January 5, 2024, the Portuguese Parliament approved numerous amendments to the existing Portugal’s New Citizenship Law, addressing a wide range of aspects.

Changes to the Portuguese citizenship law

1. The five-year period path to citizenship

In the previous scenario, applicants encounter a considerable hurdle as they were mandate to meet a minimum residency period of five years from the issuance date of their initial residency permit. 

With the recent amendment, there has been a noteworthy change in the calculation method for the mandatory legal residency period essential for citizenship. The revise approach takes into account the duration spanning from the submission of the temporary residency permit to its final approval. 

In essence, these alterations are evidently design to enhance the efficiency and accessibility of the Portuguese citizenship acquisition process through naturalization. The primary focus is on mitigating the significant challenge posed by prolonged waiting periods, reflecting a positive step towards a more streamlined and accessible pathway to citizenship.

2. The new regime for descendants of Sephardic Jews

Under the recent amendments, descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews can still be eligible for citizenship, with specific exemptions from the requirements outline in lines b) and c) of article 6th, no. 1 of the law. To qualify, they must:

  • Demonstrate their affiliation with a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin, support by objective elements like surnames, language, direct or collateral descendants.
  • Have legally reside in Portugal for at least three years, with allowances for intermittent periods.

While meeting the residency requirement is straightforward, establishing the connection to Portugal involves a certification and approval process by a specialize committee appoint by the government. This committee comprises representatives from relevant services, scholars in Sephardic studies, and representatives of the Jewish communities in Portugal.

Before these changes take effect, proving affiliation with a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin can be demonstrate through property ownership receive via inheritance, shares in companies, evidence of regular trips to Portugal reflecting a lasting connection, or holding a residence permit for over a year.

3. EU and UN Restrictions on Citizenship Applications

The recent changes in the law also bring in new rules for citizenship applications, specifically for people considered potential threats to national security because of their involvement in terrorism or criminal activities. 

If someone is under sanctions from either the European Union (EU) or the United Nations (UN), their citizenship application will be paused until the sanctions are lifted.

4. The recognition of parernity of adult applicants

There have been noteworthy developments in the acknowledgment of paternity for adult individuals pursuing Portuguese citizenship.

Previously, applicants who had their paternity officially recognized after reaching 18 years old were ineligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship based on having a Portuguese parent. The recent legal changes now grant the right to individuals in such circumstances to submit a citizenship application if the acknowledgment of their paternity is either judicially determined or recognized by a court.

However, although the law has received final approval through a vote, it is still pending presidential ratification. It will become effective one month after being published in the official papers. Until then, the existing law remains in force.

Portuguese Citizenship Vs. Permanent Residency in Portugal

Portugal Golden Visa Key Changes

The amendments specifically tackle the extended waiting times and inefficiencies from AIMA associated with the residency application process that investors applying for Portugal’s Golden Visa have traditionally encountered

Before: The five-year residency condition for nationality applications commenced from the issuance date of the initial residency permit.

Proposed Revision: The calculation of the five-year duration will initiate upon submission of the residency application, contingent on its approval.

Consequence: This adjustment incorporates the waiting period (which can extend to two years in certain instances) for residency processing within the five-year timeframe, rectifying a longstanding imbalance in the system.

Portuguese Golden Visa Investment Options

1. Investment funds

Contribution of €500,000 or higher, for the acquisition of units of investment funds or venture capital fund of funds 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.

2. Business Investment

Minimum investment of €500,000 for constitution of a company in Portugal, combined with the creation of five permanent working jobs, or for the reinforcement of the share capital of a company already existing in Portugal, with the creation or keeping of minimum of five permanent jobs, and for a minimum period of three years. If the investment is located in a ‘low-density’ area, then a 20 percent discount applies.

3. Scientific research

Capital transfer with a value equal to or above €500,000 for investing in research activities conducted by public or private scientific research institutions involved in the national scientific or technologic system. If the investment is located in a designated ‘low-density’ area, then a 20 percent discount applies.

4. Cultural heritage contribution

Known as the Cultural Golden Visa, donation of a minimum of €250,000 for investing in artistic output or supporting the arts, for reconstruction or refurbishment of the national heritage, through the local and central authorities, public institutions or, private foundations of public interest. If the investment takes place in a ‘low-density’ area, then a 20 percent discount applies.

5. Job Creation

Incorporating a company and creation of at least, ten jobs positions. If the investment is located in a designated ‘low-density’ area, then a 20 percent discount applies.

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Local Expertise

We know Portugal. Due to our extensive local knowledge, we believe that concentrating our services in a single country destination is the best way to give you the most thorough and useful information. 

Holistic Approach

One single channel of communication for the entire process. We provide you with a comprehensive service that covers all aspects of your investment and Golden Visa application. 

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Frequently asked questions about the new Citizenship Law

How do the new citizenship law affects the processing times for residency applications?

The amendments aim to streamline the residency application process, with a focus on addressing delays. The calculation of residency periods for citizenship now considers the time between submission and final approval.

Is there expedited processing for Golden Visa applicants under the new immigration law?

The law addresses waiting periods for Golden Visa applicants, allowing the ‘application waiting period’ to count towards the five-year citizenship eligibility.

Can individuals facing EU or UN sanctions still apply for citizenship under the amended law?

Citizenship applications for individuals under EU or UN sanctions will be temporarily suspended until the sanctions are lifted, ensuring compliance with international restrictions.