Monday, July 7, 2014

Portugal luxury homes come with residence visa

For the African construction worker Mamadou Diallo, Portugal's success in attracting investors to its real estate market is full of bitter irony.

The Guinea 38 years said he lives in the country for seven years, working in various construction projects and paying your taxes. That was not enough to obtain residence in Portugal. However, if the buyer of a property of more than 500,000 euros (U.S. $ 682,000), the guy who helps build Diallo, the visa can come with writing.

"If I had half a million euros to buy a house all my problems would be over," Diallo said in fluent Portuguese during an interview in downtown Lisbon. "It's very unfair."

Fairly or unfairly, this practice was announced by the governments of Southern Europe as a much needed boost for economies seeking to leave behind the financial problems of the continent.

While Malta attracted the attention of the European Union this year to implement a program that, in practice, selling citizenship, Portugal is the country that seduced newest residents.

The country granted 1,161 visas since it began its program in 2012, representing 699 million euros of investments, especially Chinese, said this week the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal.

In Spain, 72 visas to non-EU country property investors were issued, newspaper El Pais reported on May 17, citing data from the Department of Immigration. Greece granted 100 visas, according to figures from the Ministry of Interior. Both countries started their programs visas last year.

Luxury Homes

"There is no doubt that the program has achieved the golden visas promote the sale of luxury homes in Portugal," said Jose Brandao de Brito, chief economist at Banco Comercial Portugues SA Lisbon. "The problem is that most of the assets they need to sell are cheaper apartments on the outskirts of the cities that are unemployed due to high unemployment."

Opposition to the peculiar programs can forge political alliances: the anti-immigration party, which received unprecedented support in the European parliamentary elections in May, and organizations that defend the rights of immigrants.

Timothy Macedo, president of the Association of Immigrant Solidarity Lisbon, leads a group of 25,000 members of 97 nationalities. Estimated that an immigrant can expect up to seven years to be granted a residence permit in Portugal since many find it difficult to have a stable job. However, the waiting time for an investor who acquires a golden visa is less than six months, he said.

"The golden apartheid visas are the worst in modern history," Macedo said this week. "These golden visas granted to immigrants first level, while overlooked the poor immigrants and workers who risk their lives to reach Europe."

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