Golden Visas: Portugal vs Dubai

Golden Visas: Portugal vs Dubai

by September 7, 2022

More than 20 countries around the world have introduced investor visa programs, providing wealthy people with a residency permit or, in some cases, even citizenship in return for a substantial investment.

Also known as “golden visas,” these programs offer the opportunity for rich investors to essentially buy the right to residency in a country, avoiding them the need to fulfil the same conditions as regular applicants, such as residency requirements or knowledge of the language.

In the European Union (EU), these programs have risen in popularity as people look to move away from political decisions like Brexit, embrace remote working and seek better living conditions. Passporting firm Get Golden Visa predicts that 2022 will be “its busiest year yet,” noting that there’s been a “golden visa frenzy” amongst Americans this year.

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Portugal’s golden visa

At least half of the EU’s Member States currently provide golden visas, or some form of it in their national legislation, but it is the Portuguese program has been amongst the most popular options.

Launched a decade ago, Portugal’s golden visa allows wealthy individuals to benefit from the country’s mild weather, laid-back and affordable lifestyle, and access to the whole European Union (EU) – all starting from EUR 250,000 in investment.

It’s a relatively affordable investment option with few requirements. Holders only need to spend a minimum of seven days in Portugal in the first year, and 14 days in the subsequent years. They can become a Portuguese citizen within five to six years, sponsor their family members, and travel across the EU area without the need of a visa.

There are also some tax benefits. Visa holders don’t have any tax responsibility unless they spend more than 183 days of the year in the country, which would ultimately make them tax residents.

For foreigners considering relocating to Portugal and becoming tax residents, the non-habitual residency (NHR) program offers certain exemptions from income tax for the first ten years of residence.

Applicants can opt for one of the following routes to get a golden visa from Portugal:

  • Transfer capital with a value equal to or above EUR 1.5 million;
  • Create at least ten job positions;
  • Purchase real estate property in specific locations with a value equal to or above EUR 500,000;
  • Purchase a real estate property in specific locations for refurbishing for a total value equal to or above EUR 350,000;
  • Transfer capital with a value equal to or above EUR 500,000 for investing in research activities;
  • Transfer capital with a value equal to or above EUR 250,000 for investing in approved artistic or cultural heritage initiatives, or to support the public sector;
  • Transfer capital of EUR 500,000 or above for the acquisition of units of investment funds or venture capital fund of funds; or
  • Transfer capital of EUR 500,000 or above toward a business headquartered in Portugal, combined with the creation of five permanent working jobs.

Eligible applicants must be at least 18 years old and hold a clean criminal record from your home country, as well as from Portugal. The funds must come from outside of the country. Portuguese, EU and EEE nationals are not eligible for the golden visa scheme.

Since 2012, about 10,000 investments visas have been issued by Portugal, showcasing the popularity of the program.

UAE’s Golden Visa and new favorable rules

A more recent program that has nevertheless gained notable traction is the United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s Golden Visa, a long-term residence visa which enables foreign talents to live, and work or study in the country.

The UAE first started granting five and ten-year-renewable visas to certain foreign investors, entrepreneurs, chief executives, scientists and outstanding students in 2019. But throughout the years, regulators have consistently extended these schemes to cover more categories and provide greater flexibility.

This year, a new set of executive regulations regarding entry permits and long-term residence will officially be enforced in September, further expanding the categories of applicants eligible to the scheme and providing more advantages.

Under the new rules, the UAE Golden Visa will grant ten-year residence to investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional talents, scientists, professionals, outstanding students and graduates, humanitarian pioneers, and frontline heroes, who meet certain eligibility parameters.

Visa holders will be able to able to sponsor their family members including spouse and children regardless of their age, as well as domestic helpers. Family members will be allowed to stay in the UAE until the end of the permit duration, even if the primary holder of the Golden Visa passes away. The new rules also remove the restriction related to the maximum duration of stay outside of the UAE.

Real estate investors will be able to obtain a Golden Visa if they either purchase a property worth no less than AED 2 million (US$545,000), purchase a property with a loan from specific local banks, or buy at least one off-plan property worth no less than AED 2 million (US$545,000) from an approved local real estate company.

For entrepreneurs and startup owners, they must either own or be a partner in a startup registered in the UAE that generates annual revenues of at least AED 1 million (US$272,000); obtain an approval for a startup idea from an official business incubator or a competent authority, or have founded an entrepreneurial project that was sold for a total amount of at least AED 7 million (US$1.9 million).

Professionals in all disciplines, including medicine, sciences and engineering, information technology, and education, will also be eligible, provided that they have a valid employment contract in the UAE, are classified in the first or second occupational level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation classification, have at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, and have a monthly salary of at least AED 30,000 (US$8,200).

For scientists and researchers, they must have at least a PhD or a Master’s degree in one of the disciplines of engineering, technology, life sciences and natural sciences from “the best universities in the world” and have “substantial research achievements.”

Inventors, innovators, and “exceptional talents” in fields such as culture, art, sports and digital technology will be able to obtain a Golden Visa upon recommendation or approval from a federal or local government entity.

High performing students in UAE secondary schools and universities, as well as from the “best 100 universities worldwide” will also be eligible, alongside “humanitarian pioneers,” and “frontline heroes.”


Featured image credit: Edited from Pexels