2 de May, 2023
The Portuguese Parliament is scheduled to debate on May 19th the Government’s program “Mais Habitação”, which contemplates, among other measures, the end of the Golden Visa program. Many investors already know that this is possibly the last chance to obtain Portuguese citizenship by investing in Portugal. What some do not know is how the legislative process that will decide the future of the program in the country works. What are the steps involved in the process of creating and changing a law in Portugal? How is the voting done? And, most importantly: how much time is left for interested parties to file their Golden Visa applications?
It is worth pointing out that while the change in the law does not occur, the program is still valid and accepting new subscriptions.
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A law starts with an idea, which can be proposed by the government, by deputies, or by citizens, provided they gather 20,000 signatures. In the latter case, the assembly must decide whether to admit it.
In the case of the law that establishes measures under the Mais Habitação program, and that can close the Golden Visa, it is a bill proposed by the government and that will be debated in Parliament.
When the idea is accepted, a bill (or bill proposal) is drafted and forwarded to the President of the Parliament, who sends it to the Parliamentary Commission.
The process of law consideration in Parliament has two stages:
When a bill is presented, it is voted on in its first phase, called general discussion, and can be voted on together with other bills with the same theme. If the bill is rejected, it is terminated. It can also happen that, at the request of the proposing party, the texts are sent back to committee to seek a new wording.
If it is approved in generality, it is then forwarded to a second phase, the discussion in speciality . In this phase, MPs can propose amendments to the project, and the commission can construct a new substitute text that is approved by the majority. At this stage, committees can also hear contributions from citizens to improve the bill. While this phase is important, it often gets no attention because it does not take place in the plenary. It is common for the process to drag on in this phase and may not even be completed.
The discussion regarding the Golden Visa is at this stage of the legislative process and will take place on May 19th, and may or may not already have the final vote on the same day.
After the consideration in the specialty, the bill with the changes approved in the Committee returns to the plenary to be ratified and voted on in its final phase. Only the bills that pass this stage have a chance of becoming law. The approved bills are sent to the President of the Republic for enactment.
It is the bill’s turn to be evaluated by the President, who either enacts or vetoes it. In the latter case, the document returns to Parliament for review. If he has doubts about its constitutionality, he can consult the Constitutional Court to verify the bill’s constitutionality. If it is found to be unconstitutional, the President is obliged to veto it and the document is returned to the origin, the government or the assembly.
If it is promulgated by the President, the text is sent for publication in the Diário da República, and then assumes the status of a law.
We don’t know whether the law that could end the Golden Visa program will actually be enacted. And if it is, it is also difficult to estimate precisely how long it will take for the process to be completed. Even if the bill is passed and sent to the President, there is still the possibility that it will return to Parliament for readjustment, or even be sent to the Constitutional Court.
The average period for the law to be published is 60 days, in this case, counting from April 14, when the proposal was officially published. This way, the interested parties would have until June to approve their requests.
Moreover, it is worth noting that even if the bill that extinguishes the program is approved, it is possible that a transition period for this purpose is also approved in Parliament. That is, a longer legal period from when the legal change comes into effect, that is not immediately after its publication, as occurred in the previous change of the Golden Visa law.
How to consult the processing of a law in Portugal
In Portugal, the population can follow the progress of legislative initiatives and see what stage the process is at via the Internet. Click here and find out what stage the Golden Visa vote is at. You need to choose the option “Proposta de Lei” and number 71.