LISBON (Reuters) - Chinese are leading the way among non-European new residents in Portugal, whose investments have helped fuel a property boom under an advantageous “golden visa” scheme that is also creating political tension at home.
Interior ministry figures issued on Wednesday showed that the 6,498 non-Europeans granted residency since Portugal launched the scheme in 2012 had generated 3.97 billion euros ($4.7 billion) in investments, mainly in property.
The Chinese represented the biggest group with 3,936 residencies granted, followed by Brazilians with 581 and South Africans 259. Turks accounted for 236 and Russians 227.
The program has brought criticism from the far left Communists and Left Bloc, two small parties which support the ruling minority Socialist government.
But there has been no indication the government intends to end a lucrative scheme which has generated a steady flow of investment particularly into real estate.
Portugal’s scheme gives access to residency through a property investment of at least 500,000 euros, allowing visa-free travel through Europe’s Schengen area.
Spain, Malta and Cyprus also have their own golden visa programs.
Reporting By Axel Bugge; Editing by Richard Balmforth