Chinese nationals have been the main beneficiary of Portugal's year-old residency visa program, which offers a visa in exchange for a property investment.
Of the 318 visas issued since the program was launched last October, 248 went to Chinese nationals and 15 to Russians. Angolans and Brazilians accounted for the bulk of the rest of the visas issued, Bloomberg reports.
Countries around the world are turning to residency visa plans to lure real estate buyers. In addition to Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and, most recently, Spain offer visa plans for foreign property buyers.
Portugal and Spain both offer a path to a visa for foreigner buyers investing a minimum of €500,000. Portugal expects to raise €300 million through the visa program, and 80 percent will come from real estate deals, deputy prime minister Paulo Portas told reporters.
Maria Antonia Cameira, a lawyer processing visa applications in Lisbon, told WPC News earlier this year that all her clients were Chinese.
"Because of the financial crash and economic problems there are lots of opportunities for acquisition of very interesting assets at very attractive prices," she said. "I've heard investors say that for many of us it is Christmas time because you are able to buy such attractive assets at a sales price."
The Foreign Ministry expects to issue about 400 visas this year.
The Portuguese visa program has provided a "decisive stimulus to the real estate market's recovery," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Francisca Seabra told Bloomberg.