Hong Kong security law drives demand for Portuguese golden visas

  • Lusa
  • 3 June 2020

The law that China wants to impose on Hong Kong has resulted in a sudden interest in Portuguese gold visas: "The number of requests for information has skyrocketed."

A company specialising in obtaining golden visas in Portugal told Lusa that requests for information from Hong Kong residents skyrocketed after the announcement that Beijing would impose the law on national security there.

“The number of requests for information has skyrocketed, we have dozens of people calling every day” because everyone is very concerned about what is happening, said the co-founder of Golden Visa Portugal Limited, Kieron Norris, a company specialising in obtaining golden visas in Portugal through the sale of real estate.

The law in question prohibits any act of treason, separation, rebellion, subversion against the Central People’s Government, theft of state secrets, the organisation of activities in Hong Kong by foreign political organisations and the establishment of links with foreign political organisations by Hong Kong political organisations.

The company said that the confidence that its clients have in Portugal is much greater than that which they now have in the Chinese city, which has autonomy in all areas until 2047, except diplomacy and defence.

Before the announcement by Beijing, the company had some calls from people with many questions and took a long time to make a decision, but now there are many people putting up money to secure the process, founder Jason Gillott said.

Gillott said he cannot quantify the value this can mean in properties because there are so many requests coming in.

Hong Kong’s customers, Kieron Norris stressed, are prepared to sell their properties in Hong Kong quickly, losing 10% to 15% because they think the market there will not come back, because of the fear that this Beijing law could cause in the semi-autonomy of the former British colony.

The company is confident that property prices in Portugal will not fall due to the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, not least because, given the current uncertain situation, many people are looking to invest in Portugal and to start the golden visas process, they are looking to open accounts in Macau and Portugal.

Gillott said Portugal was one of the best-positioned countries for the post-Covid-19 world – the country, in his opinion, has dealt with the Covid-19 crisis very well, having one of the lowest numbers in the European Union, is politically stable, has good relations with China, with the United States, is open, has a good tax system and good quality of life.

Not only are traditional Hong Kong residents interested in acquiring property in Portugal, but also many English expatriates living in Hong Kong, who due to the uncertainties in the city, but also from Brexit, do not want to return to their country of origin and see Portugal as a safe and quiet country, they said.

The investment through golden visas fell by 46% in April, compared to the same month in 2019, to 28 million euros, according to accounts made by Lusa based on data from the Foreigners and Border Service (SEF).

In April, the total investment resulting from the granting of golden visas, Residence Authorisation for Investment (ARI), reached 28,084,721.28 euros, a drop of 46% in comparison with April 2019 (52 million euros), and practically in line with March (+0.35%).

In the first four months of the year, investment raised through ARI amounted to 147,734,585.61 euros, down 40% on the same period in 2019 (249 million euros).

ARI is a type of residence visa in Portugal that grants the authorisation to live in the country, benefiting from the advantages of being part of the European Union, for foreigners who prove that they have made certain types of investments in the country.