A Once-In-A-Lifetime Immigration Opportunity!

Even though we are still building out our English language website, we were recently contacted by a gentlemen who us found via our YouTube channel and were privileged to have the following email exchange which resulted in a natural Q&A session. This threw up a great opportunity to parlay some of the nooks and crannies of the Golden Residence Permit application experience en route to a European Passport. I trust you find the dialogue useful and educational.

I am wondering, should I have to purchase the property before the Golden Residence Permit application? In other words, what if, the application is unsuccessful?

Yes you have to purchase the property in advance. If you’re not successful, then you now own a property in Portugal. However, the only reason you would not be successful is on security grounds. The entire premise of the Golden Residence Permit programme is to have foreign nationals participate in the Portuguese economy. Consequently, the approval criteria are very liberal indeed. Hence it is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity (in my experience).

Do I have to travel to  Portugal to attend a personal interview before receiving the Golden Residence Permit approval? Some say yes, some say no, I watched your video which clearly marked no. Could you verify this. 

The answer is no.  The only time that you are needed physically in country is at the time of biometric data collection AFTER you receive notice of Golden Residence Permit approval. There is no ‘interview’ as such. We handle that on your behalf.

Of course, if you want to view investment property in person that suggests a trip there too, but as it’s a 30 days wait between submission of the application (including proof of property purchase) and the notice of approval (and thus biometric data provision) it’s likely you would make 2 trips.

I still want to ask a little further about the process. At the point of the Golden Residence Permit application approval (within 30 days of submission), when approved, should I go to the Portugal embassy to make a visa to travel.

Since you are in Hong Kong, I assume you have client from mainland China, how they have done this. As PRC citizen will need a visa to EU. So if we went to more details in these particular situation for PRC citizen, could you verify the process will be like the following.

 1. Purchase the property

2. Submit the application

3. Receive notice of approval (within 30 days)

4. Apply Visa to Portugal

5. Attend appointment in Lisbon submit biometric data, photos

6. Receive Golden Resident Permit in about 10 days 

 In the mean time, what will be the process for my dependents, my wife and child?

Shall we submit their applications at the same time, or do they have to wait for myself receiving the Golden Residence Permit then can submit their Family Regrouping application?

Yes – your analysis of the process flow is accurate, assuming no pre-property purchase inspection visit to Portugal. PRC Nationals will need a Schengen Visa which we can organise via the French Consulate in Hong Kong for Hong Kong residents and via a European Embassy in Beijing, depending on their preferred entry point into Europe en route to Lisbon. If they are planning a pre-purchase property inspection, they will need this Schengen visa before they embark down the path of the GRP application itself.

As for family, we prepare the application and documentation in a single bundle but submit only the principal application initially, finalizing ‘Family Regrouping’ in the wake of the approval of the principal application. For the moment the SEF have asked us to do this as they are concerned they may lose the family paperwork!

Thanks for the response. Still I would like to verify a detail, let’s say I am the applicant, my dependents will receive the residency through “family regrouping”, so the process will be I travel to Lisbon by myself to get the Golden Residence Permit first, so how long they can receive approval for their own Golden Residence Permit. 

ie. If I received notice of approval, so we all can apply Schengen visa to get to Lisbon, then I receive my GRP, then how about my dependents, you think they can get their Golden Residence Permits while in their valid time in Schengen. How long normally Schengen VISA will allow to stay as tourists. Is it one month, or three month. 

At least it should take 30 days (likely less) but could take longer depending on the nature of the dependencies you are seeking family regrouping for. In any event, it should complete within the 3 months Schengen visa period.

Another question is, after the 30 days wait and the approval of the Golden Residence Permit is received – is this conditional approval, or this is final?

I have heard from other lawyers that, this is likely pre-approval and still though applicant has to be in Portugal for personal interview. 

The approval is final subject only to the collection of biometric data. There is no ‘interview’ at all. The conditions for Golden Residence Permit issue are very straight forward. (1) Have you bought property (2) have you got health insurance (3) are you free of a serious criminal record (4) can your true present identity be confirmed (i.e. though you current legally issued passport) and (5) are any accompanying family members properly documented as being related to you.

I understand this is a new program, but it looks reasonable that, people should be interviewed at a Portugal diplomatic post, submit bios, photos, then VISA should be issued at the consulate before travel. I have read you had a long experience in immigration. How do you think?

One of the key things about this programme is the speed at which it was enacted by the Portuguese government in a time of economic crisis. The government consulted interested parties widely in Portugal before finalizing the legislation in October 2012 and then, even 2 months after that, amended it significantly in response to aggressive feedback from industry and the real estate profession (the time in country was adjusted down from one month – on average – to one week for each qualifying year of holding the Golden Residence Permit). The message from Portugal is clear: they want your participation in their economy and if you can afford 500,000 Euros and you have a clear criminal record – you’re welcome. Administration is kept to an absolute minimum. They want your money! In so far as the preparations go, it is reasonable to expect, in the future, the network of diplomatic missions to gear up to participate in the administration of the programme but for now it all happens at the SEF offices in Lisbon.

You think they can arrange biometrics etc, being made at a consulate place, like the Embassy in Washington DC. Other countries like the UK do this, so I know I have the VISA in hand before travel to Portugal. 

Please see the email below from earlier this year in the exact enquiry we made of the Portuguese consulate in Macau. A similar email to Beijing went unanswered unfortunately. Our partners in Lisbon have confirmed with SEF (Portugal Immigration Department) that, as a new programme, for the time being all biometric data collection occurs in Lisbon AFTER notice of approval has been issued.

De: Stephen D Barnes [mailto:sbarnes[at]hkvisacentre[dot]com

Enviada: quinta-feira, 7 de Fevereiro de 2013 13:52
Para: mail[at]macau[dot]dgaccp[dot]pt
Assunto: Biometric personal data recording equipment in your diplomatic mission

Dear Sirs,

We are an immigration consulting practice in Hong Kong.

We have clients who are preparing to participate in the Autorizacao de Residencia Para Actividade de Investimento which was enacted in October of 2012  (“ARI”).

As you are no doubt aware, a key element in the processing of this programme is the collection and attribution of bio-metric data from ARI applicants.

We have been advised by Servico de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras in Lisbon that, assuming an overseas diplomatic mission has the facility to collect and attribute such bio-metric data from ARI applicants, this will obviate the requirement for the applicants to physically travel to Portugal for this aspect of the completion of formalities.

To this end, I would be most grateful if you could advise of the following:

(a)    Does your diplomatic mission indeed possess these biometric data collection and attribution facilities?

(b)   If so, what is the cost associated with processing ARI applicants through the biometric data collection exercise?

(c)    If so, which days of the week is the biometric data collection service available and at what times?

(d)   If so, could you please provide a sample biometric data collection application and /or service request form in order that we may study the protocol and prepare our clients accordingly.

I thank you for your kind attention in this matter and look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully

Stephen D. Barnes,
Hong Kong Visa Centre

From: Consulado Geral de Portugal em Macau [mailto:mail[at]macau[dot]dgaccp[dot]pt]
Sent: Monday, February 18, 2013 11:05 AM
To: sbarnes[at]hkvisacentre[dot]com
Subject: FW: Biometric personal data recording equipment in your diplomatic mission

Dear Sirs,

In response to your query, we wish to inform that:

a)      This consulate doesn’t have biometric data collection facilities that could be used for the purpose of the ARI/Golden Residence Permit. For the time being, biometric data will have to be collected in Portugal at “SEF – Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras” in Lisbon.

b)      An ARI/Golden Residence Permit application carries a 500 EUR fee. The issuance of the actual permit carries a fee of 5000 EUR.

c)      The Consulate General is open all working days (excluding Portuguese holidays) from 9:00am to 12:30pm and from 01:30pm to 04:00pm. The address is: Rua Pedro Nolasco da Silva 45, Macau. We strongly recommend that an appointment be set previously (please call +853 8394 8137 or e-mail info[at]macau[dot]dgaccp[dot]pt)

d)      Please see the attached application form.

Please note that the Consulate General of Portugal in Macau and Hong Kong only handles cases of persons that are resident in either Macau or Hong Kong or who have otherwise a work permit or a Chinese entry permit (“tong xin zheng”).

Best regards.


The Secretariat to the Consulate General of Portugal in Macau and HongKong presents the best regards
Rua Pedro Nolasco da Silva, No.45 Macau
Tel: (+853)28356660/1/2; 28356632
Fax: (+853) 28356658

More Stuff You May Find Useful or Interesting

Pathway to a European Passport Via Portugal’s Golden Residence Permit

The Golden Residence Permit Property Tour in Portugal

Buying Property to Qualify for a Golden Residence Permit – A Straightforward, Transparent Process

Why the Golden Residence Permit is a Once-In-A-Lifetime European Passport Opportunity

March 24th, 2014