Portuguese Golden Visa – Termination now or after summer vacations?

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There has been an intense debate about the future of the Golden Visa and Local Accommodation in Portugal regarding the package of laws designed to promote affordable housing (“Programa Mais Habitação”).

Despite many news reports on this topic, it is not yet possible to draw conclusions concerning when and how the amendments to the Golden Visa program will come into force.

The Portuguese Parliament take the final global vote on the diploma that will dictate the future of the Golden Visa and Local Accommodation, encompassed in the Mais Habitação Programme. In an informal conversation with the Parliament, we were told that the actual version that will be voted on tomorrow will be available only today afternoon.

It is possible the Golden Visa will not be terminated until the Parliament returns from summer recess. It all depends on whether or not the following stages of approval of the bill run smoothly or whether the Portuguese President requests a Constitutional Court review of the bill.

To understand when the new bill comes into force, it is essential to trace the winding road to its inception and map the foreseeable next steps ahead until it is passed into law.

After receiving approval from the Council of Ministers, the bill was introduced to the Parliament for its first reading. The title and main objectives of the bill are read out, and a general debate occurs. MPs expressed their initial views on the bill’s content and potential impacts.

Following the first reading, the bill was sent to the relevant parliamentary Committee. The Parliament has several specialized committees that cover various policy areas, and such committees are responsible for conducting a detailed examination of the bill. The committees often hold public consultations or invite experts and stakeholders to provide input on the bill.

During the Committee review stage, MPs proposed several amendments to the bill, which were discussed and voted on within the Committee. Currently, the bill is, at this stage, being prepared to be voted on tomorrow.

After tomorrow’s expected vote, the bill returns to the Plenary session for a second reading. During this stage, MPs thoroughly debate the bill’s content, considering the Committee’s report and the proposed amendments. The bill will proceed to the second voting after the plenary debate. MPs vote on the bill as a whole, considering any amendments made during the committee review or the plenary debate.

If the bill is approved, it moves to the next stage and is passed on to the Portuguese President, who can accept its promulgation, veto it or send it for Constitutional Court Review. If the President finds the bill to be in breach of the Constitution, he may request the Constitutional Court to review it.

Assuming the President does not veto the bill or it successfully passes constitutional review, the President promulgates the bill, and it evolves into law. The new legal diploma is then published in the Republic’s Gazette. Depending on its provisions, the law enters into force on a specific date or immediately.

We are now at the end of the Committee Review stage. Assuming the process goes smoothly today, the Committee will be ready to present the bill to Parliament tomorrow or the day after. If this bill is approved, according to our experience, there will be a three to five-day delay in drafting the final text before it is sent to the Plenary.

Only after the final text is approved will it be published on Parliament’s website for three days. If no claims regarding this final draft are filed, it will be sent to the President.

Assuming the bill takes the most direct path to approval without taking a longer detour into the Constitutional Court, one can only expect it to become law in mid-August.

On the other hand, if:

  1. a) the Plenary debate takes longer than usual; or
  2. b) if the President vetoes the bill or refers it to the Constitutional Court for review;

the final approval of the bill would not take place before the Parliament is adjourned for summer recess on July 28th.

It is worth noting the Parliament approved on June 7th the extension of the normal functioning period of the Parliament until July 28th, 2023. Per the Portuguese Constitution, the normal functioning period of the Parliament runs from September 15th to June 15th.



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