LISBON - Multiple investors who have waited too long to get Portugal's Golden Visa are taking the immigration authority to court over the incessant delay, it has emerged.
A legal battle has started against the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) which deals with Golden Visas over the delays which have reached to dozens of months. In particular, the delays in scheduling – a necessary step to obtain a Residence Permit for Investment (ARI) – have left the investors with no option than to utilize the legal channel for help.
Apart from the delays, there are hosts of issues. For instance, the ARI platform was frozen between January and mid-June, preventing foreigners from even submitting their applications for golden visas. The issue of delays in scheduling appointments to obtain golden visas, was exacerbated even after the resumption of platform as the process could take up to two years when the law provides for a period of 90 days.
Scheduling with the SEF is done after the application for the program has been previously approved by the specialists of that entity for Golden Visa. At this stage, the legally required documentation is delivered and the biometric data of foreign investors is collected but for this to be possible, a meeting with the SEF is a must.
Amongst other examples, a British investor decided to take SEF to court with the help of lawyer Bettino Zanini and filed the case on April 11, last year. The lawyer received judge's final decision according to which SEF would have to analyse and decide on his client's request for golden visas and if the application fulfilled all the required criteria, it would have to make an appointment available to the investor within 10 days, Idealista reported.
Statistics portray a gloomy picture as SEF has already lost a total of 18 court cases caused by delays in scheduling to obtain golden visas; One of the lawyers, Bettino Zanini has already won four cases and is waiting for the decision of another five.
The process of obtaining Golden Visa for Portugal is complex considering that to book appointments with SEF, foreign investors have to look at the vacancies made available by the platform but after the pandemic, the vacancies became scarce. Now investors with approved golden visa applications wait months before receiving an email to schedule an appointment.
After the application is analysed by SEF specialists and is approved, the entity must indicate which dates are available to schedule the appointment as the next step. As per the law, the deadline is 60 working days, that is, 90 days in a row, although there are cases in which an extension of the period is allowed due to the need for additional data but lawyers say the delay was stretched to 18 months after the pandemic.
The courts have relied on the deadline to award favourable judgment for the applicants who, after making large investments in the country want to obtain gold visas quickly. The investment has surged in Portugal after the launch of Golden Visa but the delays are causing stress to the investors.
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