SEF

In order to mitigate the consequences of the health emergency resulting from Covid-19 in the procedures for granting and renewing residence permits, the Government, through Order no. 5793-A/2020, is now adopting some exceptional and temporary measures that allow a recovery of pending issues at the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) and a gain in efficiency in the document management of foreign citizens. To this end, it has determined the following:

  1. The implementation of a simplified procedure for examining applications for residence permits with dispensation from the visa requirement under Articles 88(2) and 89(2) of Law No. 23/2007 of 4 July;
  2. That the pending applications for the granting of a residence permit for a reason other than that referred to in the previous paragraph, with the exception of those provided for in article 90-A of the same Law (ARI/Golden Visa), must be accompanied by the document that proves the purpose of the residence;
  3. The adoption of simplified procedures for the decision of applications pending renewal of residence permits, in which the Applicant will not need to go to a reception desk, by simply making the application at the SEF Portal;
  4. The provision of a means of electronic identification for foreign citizens residing in Portugal to access digital public services, namely through the possibility of joining the Digital Mobile Key at the SEF’s service points; and
  5. The exemption from the payment of fees for the issue of residence permits following decisions on applications which fall within the objective scope of this Order and which concern minors.

 

Within the changes that will come into force with this Order, there is the possibility that the documents presented together with the application for visa waiver (Expression of interest) prove the facts in the same certificates, regardless of their validity period, provided that they were valid on the date of that presentation, something that may constitute a substantial gain in the times of attendance at the SEF’s counter.

Please note that this Order does not affect the maintenance of the rights granted by Order no. 3863 -B/2020, of March 27, during the entire period of appreciation and processing of the respective processes.

 

Lamares, Capela & Associados (LACA) has become a partner of the Lisboa Empreende + initiative. This project of Lisbon City Hall (CML), which objective is to provide support to companies in the phase they are going through, is an adaptation of the already existing Lisboa Empreende initiative and responds to the economic crisis experienced. LACA has become a partner of this initiative, providing specialized support to businesses that need it.

With several lines of action, you can resort to the site https://www.lisboaempreendemais.pt if you are seeking for a detailed summary of all measures to respond to the COVID-19 launched by the Government or the Lisbon City Council or specialized support in areas such as: Management, Legal, Technology, Marketing, Communication, Digital Transformation, Human Resources, and others.

LACA has partnered with this initiative, providing specialized support in the legal area to those who resort to it.

There is also the possibility for companies to resort to discount programs, personalized technical support and access to a micro-credit line of up to 20,000 euros.

With these measures available, CML and its partners aim to ensure that the business fabric of the city of Lisbon is as healthy as possible, able to cope with the changes it has undergone and those that will come about.

Digital Modernization

The Portuguese Government’s priorities are modernization and digitalisation. As the world is going through a phase of digital transition, this is seen by Portugal as a powerful tool in the long-term goal of achieving carbon neutrality (in line with the guidelines of the European Ecological Pact and the strategic challenge of the government, which relates to climate change).

The aim is to put Portugal at the forefront of the countries that are best prepared to face the challenges and changes that the global transition entails.

Thus, the Government has taken measures to ensure greater equality and inclusion of citizens, increasing the competitiveness of the economy and attracting national and foreign investment, as well as creating value in the business fabric.

 

E-Residency

One of the measures approved as part of this government action is the development of the E-Residency programme. This measure aims to create the concept of “digital identity”, allowing national or foreign citizens to use Portuguese public services online.

The Portuguese e-residency programme is to be launched globally during the 2020 edition of the Web Summit, and will contribute significantly to stimulating entrepreneurship in Portugal by promoting the construction of business bridges in Europe, thus allowing as many people as possible to create a virtual home in Portugal.

The creation of the E-residency meets the needs of a new type of public: the digital nomads, who can develop their economic activity, in a legal and transparent way, from anywhere in the world.

The adoption of this measure also allows minimizing costs and administrative inefficiencies, highlighting Portugal as a digitally advanced country internationally.

A working group will be created, which objective is to develop the best proposal at a technological and functional level. To this end, international examples will be taken into account (as is the case of Estonia, a successful case in the implementation of E-residency).

 

E-Residency in other countries

Estonia is the first country offering the possibility to create a virtual residency, and allows Digital Nomads, Freelancers, Startups and Digital Entrepreneurs to have access to this program.

The bases of the Estonian virtual residence are the same as the Portuguese program: the possibility to work, from any point, having an online office and remote access to the public services of the state where the E-residency is established.

This program guarantees several advantages, which the Portuguese will also ensure, for example:

  • The possibility of having a company based in a European Union country
  • The ability to run a business 100% remotely
  • The possibility of moving from one country to another without also having to change the company
  • The possibility to sign, authenticate and send documents in an absolutely digital and secure way;
  • The creation of a valuable network of contacts, with people who are in the same situation, and which could expand throughout the world

Startup Voucher is a measure of StartUP Portugal – National Strategy for Entrepreneurship, and is an efficient support for intelligent, inclusive and sustainable growth of the Portuguese economy, which has been specializing and internationalizing.
It is part of the “Promotion of Entrepreneurial Spirit” support area and aims to foster the emergence of new entrepreneurs and businessmen, who promote innovative responses to the various challenges of society, through the dynamization, empowerment and awareness of the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

HOW?
It stimulates the development of business projects that are at the idea stage, and that are promoted by young people between the ages of 18 and 35.
A set of articulated measures is created to favour young entrepreneurs in their entrepreneurial project as a way of entering active life, making available several financial and technical support instruments, during the maximum period of 12 months, equivalent to the time of preparation of the business project.

WHERE?
This measure is intended for projects benefiting the North, Centre, Alentejo and Lisbon areas (NUT II). They may be located outside these areas, provided that they benefit the economy of these regions.

WHEN?
The submission period for StrartUP Voucher 2019 is taking place between 26 July 2019 and 26 November 2020 in four stages:
• – Until 26 November 2019,
• – Until 26 March 2020
• – Until 26 July 2020
• – Until 26 November 2020

SUPPORT INSTRUMENTS
The Startup Voucher has several typologies:
Grant: in the monthly amount of 691.70 euros, allocated for the development of the business project and for a maximum period of 12 months (up to a maximum of two scholarships per business project may be allocated);
Mentoring: Access to a network of mentors providing guidance to promoters;
Monitoring of the project by an accredited entity;
Intermediate evaluation award: award of 1500€ to projects that obtain a positive intermediate evaluation according to the fulfilment of the objectives of each phase;
Achievement prize: 2000€ to the achievement of the business project, through the creation of a company with the incorporation of a commercial company, provided that this occurs after the first 6 months of participation in the programme and up to 6 months after the maximum 12 months of participation in the Startup Voucher.

CONDITIONS OF ENTITLEMENT
In order to access Startup Vouchers, young entrepreneurs must meet the following cumulative requirements:
• To be between 18 and 35 years old
• To have Portuguese nationality or reside in Portugal
• Not benefiting from a grant for the same purposes
• To have no other source of income
• Not having a company already established

As for the projects, they also have a set of requirements with which they must comply. Thus, projects falling into the following categories are eligible for the programme:
• Projects of innovative and qualified entrepreneurship that promote innovative responses to social and societal challenges, contributing to the change in the productive profile of the economy, through the creation of companies with qualified human resources, developing activities in sectors with strong growth and/or sectors with higher intensity of technology and knowledge, or that value the application of R&D results in the production of new goods and services

• Innovative and creative entrepreneurship projects that promote innovative responses to social and societal challenges, and include the activities of cultural and creative industries, which make use of creativity, cultural knowledge and intellectual property the resources to produce marketable and internationalizable goods and services of social and cultural significance. Examples are: performing and visual arts, cultural heritage, crafts, cinema, radio, television, music, publishing, educational and entertainment software and other software, computer services, new media, architecture, design, fashion and advertising

Note: social and societal challenges are considered:
1. Health, demographic change and well-being
2. Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, research
3. Continuous, non-polluting and efficient energy
4. Intelligent, ecological and integrated transport
5. Climate action; ambient, resource and raw material efficiency
6. Europe in a world of change: inclusive, innovative and weighted societies
7. Secure societies: defending Europe’s freedom and security and its citizens

The outbreak of COVID-19, and the restrictive measures imposed by the government, affected all economic areas. Startups are no exception and in general have had a strong break in their performance.

To minimize the mortality of startups, by their nature highly vulnerable to risk, especially those with innovative business models, several support measures have been created:

 

Innovative and Specific Measures for Startups:

StartupRH Covid19

This measure aims to support early stage startups (founded less than 5 years ago), with an incentive equivalent to a minimum wage per employee, up to 10 employees, and aims to mitigate the immediate lack of liquidity, particularly with respect to operating expenses with Human Resources.

For Startups to be able to resort to this support, they must guarantee the maintenance of jobs in 2020, and they may not have already used the lay-off regime.

 

Startup Voucher Extension

Targeted to entities with active Startup Vouchers, which are extended for three months, in the amount of 2075 euros per entrepreneur. To resort to this support measure, it is sufficient that the startup already has a Startup voucher assigned.

The Startup Voucher is a measure that drives projects of young entrepreneurs, and is embodied in various support instruments, during the process in which the projects pass from idea to reality.

This measure arises as a way of making up for the immediate lack of liquidity on the part of start-ups, particularly regarding operational expenses and the fulfilment of long-term responsibilities.

 

Incubation ticket COVID19

Supports startups under 5 years old, providing a simplified incentive of EUR 1,500 in incubation services (which include rents, telecommunications, and other aspects). This support takes the form of a 100% non-refundable incentive.

These services will be provided by accredited incubators belonging to the National Network of Incubators.

In order to access this support, in addition to the proper records of all entities concerned, it is also necessary that no workers are made redundant in 2020.

 

 

“Mezzanine” funding for Startups Covid19

It is aimed at high-potential start-ups that have benefited from investments by Business Angels, venture capital investors or other partners, or have benefited from incentive schemes and have undergone technology transfer processes.

This measure intends to inject liquidity into these companies, through debt instruments (loans) convertible into share capital after 12 months and applying a discount rate that avoids the dilution of promoters.

This line aims to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic by supporting start-ups that are positively signaled by certified incubators and that present a plan to maintain their business and a recovery of their business in the post-crisis period.

To be able to make use of this support, Startups must:

  • Keep all the employees in 2020
  • Be registered at StartupHub
  • Present a statement proving the negative impacts of the pandemic on their economic activity
  • Have had previous funding
  • Have been involved in technology transfer processes
  • Preferably, have business that involves circular economy or energy efficiency
  • Have a mentor assigned to monitor the company’s activity, for a maximum period of 12 months (this cost is included in the investment)
  • Operate the financing line through Portugal Ventures

 

Launch of the instrument Covid19 – Portugal Ventures

It facilitates the reinforcement of the liquidity of the startups, in cooperation with already existing shareholders who hold at least 30% of the capital, through the Operation Follow-Ons of Portugal Ventures, for investments in strartups, with an amount of investments (tickets) from EUR 50,000.

This measure, aimed at startups in all sectors, is financed by the Development Finance Institution (IFD); Portugal Ventures; and Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda.

 

Measures already existing and adapted to startups:

200M Fund

This fund, which already existed before the crisis we are going through, makes it possible to provide technological start-ups with greater investment capacity, in late seed and Series A and B phases. It consists of a co-investment between qualified private investors and the 200M Fund, allowing rounds of 10 million euros or more.

This measure allows significant capitalization of companies, to support them in this phase of uncertainty, and boost growth after COVID-19.

To join this measure, startups should only be based in Portugal and have qualified and experienced private investors interest to invest in their capital, in at least EUR 500,000.

 

Co-investment Fund for Social Innovation

It aims to provide the social impact startups with greater investment capacity, in late seed and Series A and B phases.

It is, essentially, a co-investment, between private investors and the Fund for Social Innovation (a public instrument aimed at boosting social impact investment in Portugal). The minimum public investment will be EUR 50,000 and the maximum EUR 2.5 million.

This measure will allow for a significant capitalization of companies with strong social impact, supporting them during the crisis and boosting their post-COVID-19 growth.

Portugal is praised by the international press and foreign leaders for its response to the outbreak of COVID-19. Additionally, the country is at the top of the ranking of the safest countries in the world to travel in 2020, which should attract tourists and investors.

In several parts of the world, the national response to the pandemic is given as an example, with a low number of infection cases and the mortality rate being around 3%. There is a consensus in the international press that Portugal is one of the countries that has acted swiftly to impose a curfew, with the suspension of all events, the ban of non-essential travel, the closure of schools and non-essential trade have been pointed out as the keys to its success.

The country’s rapid reaction is even dubbed the “Portuguese miracle” and has reinforced Portugal’s image as one of the five safest countries in the world, with a very well-prepared National Health System that can provide an effective response during one of the most critical moments in its history.

For this reason, Portugal continues to be seen as a good travel destination in this period, as the French travel insurer Insurly pointed out, which placed Portugal in the top 10 of the safest countries for travel in 2020, which should continue to attract tourists and foreign investors. It should be noted that most hotel establishments and local accommodation are now seeking the “Clean & Safe” certification of the Portuguese Tourism Board, putting their practices in line with the advice of the Directorate General of Health, which gives even greater guarantees for travellers that all cleaning and safety rules are being complied.

Economically, as the Government has pointed out, the interest of foreign investors in Portugal remains. The country’s good response to the pandemic has also created increased investor confidence in the country’s overall stability and rapid economic recovery. The various compliments addressed to the response of the Portuguese government and people, both in the international press and by foreign rulers, have created the general notion that Portugal is well positioned to recover from this situation in a balanced and sustained manner.

 

Lamares, Capela & Associados (LACA) will participate in the Virtual Uglobal Immigration Expo 2020 China / Hong Kong. An unprecedented initiative by eb5investors that will count on the participation of experienced professionals in the field of immigration through investment.
LACA will have its own exhibition booth, which allows interaction with other participants and will be represented by partner Diogo Capela, who will participate as a guest speaker at this event.

Best Golden Visa Program

In Portugal, as in Greece, it is the Chinese citizens who lead the number of Applicants for the Golden Visa Program. However, there are 5 advantages of the Golden Visa Program in Portugal that the Chinese still see as crucial in their choice over the Greek Golden Visa.

Both in Portugal and Greece, Golden Visa holders are entitled for five years: to enter and stay in the country where the investment was made; to move to the other countries that integrate the Schengen Area without the need for a visa; to family reunification; to access the permanent residence permit at the end of the five years of the Program; and to the nationality of the country where the investment was made, fulfilling the legal requirements for that purpose.

Portugal, however, has greater advantages than the Greek Golden Visa, the main reasons for Chinese citizens to prefer the Portuguese Golden Visa being the following:

 

Obtaining European citizenship

One of the main advantages of the Portuguese Golden Visa Program, compared to the Greek one, is the obtaining of the Portuguese nationality at the end of the 5 years of the Program. Even having stayed in the country for the minimum mandatory periods of the Program – 7 days, followed or interpolated in the first year; fourteen days, followed or interpolated in the subsequent two-year periods – investors will only have to demonstrate some basic knowledge of the Portuguese language. As for the Greek Program, investors can only obtain Greek nationality at the end of 7 years of actual residence in the country. The Greek Nationality Law requires that the investor proves he/she is a member of the Greek community and that he/she effectively and permanently resides in Greece.

 

Options and Investment Amount

While Greece has only two possible types of investment – real estate and business creation – Portugal, in addition to having those types of investment, also allows obtaining Golden Visa through the transfer of capital.

When analysing the possible types of investments as a whole, we come to the conclusion that the minimum possible investment in Portugal for acquiring Golden Visa is €200,000, unlike Greece, which minimum is €250,000.

 

Possibility of working

The Portuguese Golden Visa allows investors to work in Portugal during the five years of the Program, unlike the Greek Golden Visa which does not allow this possibility for investors who choose real estate investment. This is a great limitation, once we know that most of the investors in the Golden Visa Program are citizens who want to obtain this residence permit exactly to establish their business and also their personal life more easily in the countries where they make their investment, being therefore “obliged” to create a company in Greece if they want to work there.

 

Tax Advantages

Even in the case of investors who actually wish to reside in Portugal, the Golden Visa Program presents a tax advantage over the Greek Program, since foreign investors who wish to reside in Portugal can benefit from the Non-Habitual Resident Status (NHR), which allows its holders, for a period of ten consecutive years, to be entitled: to the exemption of income obtained abroad from pensions, dependent, independent work, capital, real estate income and capital gains, intellectual or industrial property; and to the taxation of income obtained in Portugal at reduced rates relating high added value activities.

 

Family reunification

In Portugal, it is possible for the investor to reunite with his/her adult children (regardless of their age) as long as they prove economic dependence on the investor and continue to study. In the case of the Greek Golden Visa, the age limit for reunited children is 21 years, and it is only possible to reunite children after 21 years in more specific circumstances.

In Portugal, as in Spain, it is the Chinese citizens who lead the number of Applicants for the Golden Visa Program. However, there are 5 advantages of the Golden Visa Program in Portugal that the Chinese still see as crucial in their choice over the Spanish Golden Visa.

Both in Portugal and Spain, Golden Visa holders are entitled for five years: to enter and stay in the country where the investment was made; to move to the other countries that integrate the Schengen Area without the need for a visa; to family reuniofication; to access the permanent residence permit at the end of the five years of the Programme; and to the nationality of the country where the investment was made, fulfilling the legal requirements for that purpose.

Portugal, however, has greater advantages than the Spanish Golden Visa, the main reasons for Chinese citizens to prefer the Portuguese Golden Visa being the following:

 

Permanent Residence

Portugal allows the holder to obtain a permanent residence permit at the end of the 5th year of the Golden Visa Program, even when the investor has only stayed in Portugal for the minimum required periods, in a total of 35 days over a total of 5 years. While the Spanish Golden Visa requires legal, effective and continuous residence in Spanish territory during those 5 years. This means that the investor will have to reside in Spain for at least 183 days per year, not being able to be absent for more than 10 months from Spain for a total of 5 years to obtain the permanent residence permit.

 

Obtaining european citizenship

Another of the main advantages of the Golden Visa Portuguese Program, compared to the Spanish, is the acquisition of Portuguese nationality at the end of the 5 years of the Program. Even having stayed in the country for the minimum mandatory periods of the Programme – 7 days, followed or interpolated in the first year; fourteen days, followed or interpolated in the subsequent two-year periods – investors will only have to demonstrate some basic knowledge of the Portuguese language. As for the Spanish Programme, investors will only be able to obtain Spanish nationality at the end of 10 years of actual residence in Spain (as indicated above), which is twice as long as the requirement in Portugal.

 

 

Tax Advantages

Even in the case of investors who actually intend to reside in Portugal, the Golden Visa Program presents a tax advantage over the Spanish Program, since foreign investors who intend to reside in Portugal can benefit from the Non-Habitual Resident Status (RNH), which allows its holders, for a period of ten consecutive years, to be entitled: to the exemption of income obtained abroad from pensions, dependent, independent work, capital, real estate income and capital gains, intellectual or industrial property; and to the taxation of income obtained in Portugal at reduced rates in the case of high added value activities.

In Spain, there is no such tax status, there is only a similar regime called “Beckham” which has a duration of only 6 years and has more conditioning factors than in Portugal.

 

Investment amount

In both Spain and Portugal, there are several possible types of investment. However, over the years, the type of investment most chosen by investors is real estate. In Portugal, the minimum investment amount in these cases is €280,000, unlike Spain which has a minimum value of €500,000.

When analysing the other possible types of investments, the minimum investment possible in Portugal in order to acquire a Golden Visa is €200,000, unlike Spain which has a minimum investement amount of €500,000.

 

Political Stability

When making any kind of investment in a foreign country, one of the most relevant factors for any investor is the analysis of the socio-political stability of the country in which the investment will be made.

Portugal presents itself as a safe and stable country both socially, politically and economically, while Spain, in recent years, has presented an unstable political framework, already counting with 4 legislative elections in the last 4 years. Moreover, the crisis in Catalonia presents a divided country, a very risky scenario for investment, especially when 44% of investors who have already opted for the Spanish Golden Visa, have chosen Barcelona to invest in real estate.

If Catalonia becomes independent (as the Catalan people desire), the consequent exit from the European Union may harm the investors who have invested there, and who may thus lose the greatest advantage that the Golden Visa presents, which is free movement in the European Space.