Hong Kong citizens’ requests to reside in Portugal with a “notable” increase – Consul

The Consulate General of Portugal in Macau and Hong Kong has registered a “notable” increase until May this year in the number of requests from citizens who live in the former British colony and want to reside in Portugal.

The growth has already taken place “for a long time, basically since June last year”, since Hong Kong registered large-scale and some times violent pro-democracy demonstrations that had a great social, financial and economic impact, explained consul Paulo Cunha-Alves.

“This year, we saw an increase again, which was remarkable”, he stressed.

“People have to apply for a criminal record and for that they have to use the services of the consulate and it is on this basis that we have some statistics on the number of people who have ‘gold visa’ and residence requests in Portugal that, between January and end May, it will have been around 1,100 ”, said the Consul.

The diplomat, however, stressed that “it is not yet noticeable” if these data reflect a reaction to China’s announcement that it will impose on Hong Kong the national security law, which has already resulted in more street protests and is seen by critics as Beijing interference in the semi-autonomous territory.

But, “the feeling exists: people who have financial means, obviously, try to do for their lives and look for other alternatives”, argued the head of the Portuguese diplomatic mission in Macau and Hong Kong.

Earlier this month, a company specializing in obtaining ‘gold visas’ in Portugal told Lusa that requests for information from Hong Kong residents soared after Beijing’s announcement.

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

The national security law proposal is set to prohibit “any act of treason, separation, rebellion, subversion against the Central People’s Government, theft of state secrets, the organization of activities in Hong Kong by foreign political organizations and the establishment of links with political organizations. Hong Kong political organizations”.

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 uncertainties in the city, but also from Brexit, do not want to return to their country of origin and come to Portugal as a safe and peaceful country, they said.

The investment captured through ‘gold’ visas almost tripled (192 per cent more) in May, compared to the same month of 2019, to 146 million euros, according to accounts made by Lusa based on statistics from the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF).

Last month, the total investment resulting from the granting of Residence Permit for Investment (ARI) reached 146.1 million euros, which represents an increase of 192 per cent year-on-year when compared to the 50 million euros recorded in May of last year.

May recorded the highest monthly investment amount raised since March 2017, when 192.4 million euros were raised in ARI. In relation to April (28 million euros), the investment raised more than quintupled (421 per cent higher).

In the first five months of the year, the total investment raised through ‘gold’ visas totalled 293.9 million euros, 1.7 per cent less than a year earlier. Between January and May, 529 ‘golden’ visas were issued, more than half last month.