The Latest News – January 2024
AIMA – The new agency for immigration, main challenges, and plan of action
The Agency for Integration, Migration and Asylum (AIMA) will have in 2024 the great test of its existence, with several promises to regularize pending cases that will depend on the migration policy of the next government.
As a result of the merger of part of the functions of the extinct Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) and the High Commission for Migration, the new agency came into operation at the end of October, with great promises from the Portuguese Government to significantly improve the levels of service.
Since succeeding SEF, AIMA has operated with 740 employees in 34 offices across Portugal and inherited around 350 thousand pending cases.
AIMA has been overloaded because of the huge workload and the number of personnel is deficient.
To try to solve the situation, the outgoing government promised to invest in the modernization of the computer system, with a portal already open to requests for granting and renewing residence permits, one of the problems of SEF, which could not respond to the requests made and had several structural problems.
At the same time, in the first quarter of 2024, the executive said that it would launch an operation together with municipalities and immigrant support offices, to help jointly to solve the pending cases.
Additionally, AIMA will open an additional 10 offices as well as launch an online appointment scheduling portal for resident permit applications. Furthermore, it will add 190 more human resources.
Portuguese Citizenship Law – recent amendments
Last week, new amendments to the Portuguese Citizenship Law were approved in the Portuguese Parliament.
Among several changes related with the exclusion of effective ties to Portugal in case of violent crimes or terrorism, further restrictions to the naturalization of Sephardic Jews, affiliation at the age of minority, the new amendments brought some good and important news on the counting of legal residence which is a very important criteria for the eligibility for applying for citizenship.
The amended rule states that for the purpose of counting the legal residence, the time elapsed from the moment the residence title was requested, is considered as been approved.
In our view, this is a way to mitigate the significant delay in the immigration services, before the SEF and now the AIMA, to issue the first residence card. This means that for instance a Portugal Golden Visa applicant that submits on a certain date, his/her application in the AIMA portal and pays the respective analysis fee, the 5-year period to be able to apply for the Portuguese nationality would start to count on that date.
2024 Government Budget has approved the partial termination of the non-habitual resident tax program with a one-year transition period
The State Budget Law for 2024 (“State Budget Law for 2024”) was approved by the Portuguese Parliament and confirms the end of the Non-Habitual Resident (“NHR”) regime, starting in 2024.
The State Budget Law for 2024 contains grandfathering clauses, which allow taxpayers who already hold NHR status to maintain the benefits of this regime until the end of the respective 10-year period. In addition, those who became tax residents in Portugal until December 31, 2023, can still apply and enjoy its benefits for a period of 10 years.
The State Budget Law for 2024 includes certain exceptions that allow taxpayers who already have previous ties with the Portuguese territory, suggesting an ongoing process of change, to move to Portugal by December 31, 2024, and, thus, benefit from NHR status.
Additionally, a tax incentive is created for scientific research and innovation, applicable only to taxpayers who move to Portugal and obtain income from specific jobs and activities. The real scope of this option can only be assessed after the publication of the thin detail regulation.
Golden Visa, new funds coming to the market to meet the additional investors demand coming from the elimination of the real estate route
On last October, a new law was published, introducing significant changes to the Golden Visa program framework.
Real estate investment has been excluded, but Eligible Investment Funds like Private Equity Funds (PEFs) are still a valid option.
Due to the significant interest from investors that seek to obtain the most desired Golden Visa in EU, new fund options are coming to the market.
The funds investment scope varies from more well-known sectors like tourism, renewable energies, and IT to less usually explored areas like AI, sports and commodities.
Investors in those funds benefit from diversification, not just within one fund, but across multiple Eligible Investment Funds.
Funds are managed by experts who typically outperform the average individual investor.
In the case of Private Equity Funds, income from funds isn’t taxed, and income paid to non-resident investors remains untaxed (unless they reside in a “tax haven”).
We’re closely monitoring these new developments to ensure our clients receive top-tier information to guide their investment decisions.
The Blue Portugal team has unparalleled insights into the Eligible Investment Funds domain. Our founding members, with extensive financial and real estate sectors careers spanning through different countries, have deep-rooted ties with Portugal’s primary players in this sector.
Our team and lawyers have also a very good coverage of other immigration visa options if you want to come to live in Portugal.
For more information on the different options, please contact The Blue Portugal. Embark on a seamless and successful journey with us!
Wish you a great 2024!