More South Africans are applying for these ‘green’ and ‘gold’ visa programmes

The Portuguese government has widened its residency-by-investment programme to include a new “Green Visa” investment category, which requires investment into environmentally focussed projects to qualify for a Golden Visa.

According to John Dunn, citizen & immigration manager at Sable International, the visa forms part of Portugal’s popular Golden Resident Permit Programme (GRPP).

“The GRPP, also known as the Portugal Golden Visa, is a residency-by-investment programme that allows non-EU citizens to make a capital investment into Portugal and receive a five-year residency visa. With this visa, you and your family can live in Portugal and travel visa-free throughout the European Schengen Area,” he said.

“To be eligible for a Green Visa you need to make an investment of €500,000 (R8 million) in environmental projects. These projects can range from non-intensive organic agriculture and ecotourism schemes, to renewable energies and other environmental initiatives.”

Specific areas of investment include:

  • Eco-tourism;
  • Organic farming;
  • Renewable energy;
  • Carbon neutral projects.

What happens once you’ve been granted a Green Visa?

Once you’ve been approved for a Green Visa, you’ll need to keep your investment for a minimum of five years and spend just seven days in each of those five years in Portugal.

This will ensure your visa remains valid over the five-year period, said Dunn.

After five years you will be allowed to apply for permanent residency. Once you have been a resident for a year, you will be able to apply for Portuguese citizenship.

This enables you to hold a Portuguese passport, which has consistently been ranked as one of the most powerful in the world.

How popular is the Golden Visa programme?

According to statistics released by the Portuguese Immigration Services in January this year, over 7,000 investors have been issued with a Golden Visa since the programme’s launch in 2012.

South Africa is currently placed in fourth position with a total of 276 Golden Visas granted.

“The many benefits of the GRPP, as well as the fast and efficient way in which the Portuguese government has been processing applications, has led to a sharp rise in interest from South Africans, said Dunn.

“With the potential to earn EU citizenship (and an all-important EU passport), we expect to see the number of South African applicants to increase over time.

Dunn said that a general shift in focus towards sustainability and awareness about climate change – as well as scandals and disasters such as Volkswagen’s “diesel dupe” and BP’s oil spill in 2010 – has spurred investors to become more conscious of investing in companies with good governance practices.

A 2018 Global Investor Study by Schroders revealed that 45% of South African investors are putting a significant amount of their portfolio in sustainable investments, he said.

“As much as 76% of South African investors increased their sustainable investments over the past five years.

“Interestingly, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange was the first emerging market as well as the first stock exchange globally to introduce a sustainability index – measuring companies on indicators related to environmental, social and governance or ESG practices.”


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More South Africans are applying for these ‘green’ and ‘gold’ visa programmes