The Azores have witnessed several migration waves. In the seventeenth century, many Azoreans emigrated to Brazil, Uruguay, the USA, and Canada. In the middle of the twentieth century, a quarter of a million local residents moved to Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Later they went on to the San Joaquin valley in California.
Migrants from the Azores founded settlements in the south of Brazil too (Porto Alegre and Florianópolis). An especially great number of Azoreans went to Brazil in the 1960s.
At the end of the nineteenth century, many residents of the islands emigrated to Hawaii and the San Diego region.
Between 2011 and 2013- when Portugal was going through a terrible recession and unemployment rates grew, people left not only the Azores but the continental part of Portugal as well. Some of them moved to more secure western European countries while others went to America.
Since the Portuguese ‘golden visa’ program (legal residence program for foreigners) was launched in 2021, the situation started to reverse. An increase in the number of foreign investors in the Azores is expected to occur beginning 2022. The reason for the increase is the fact that large Portuguese cities (Lisbon and Porto) and the southern coast of the country have been taken off the list of places where foreigners can buy property in Portugal thus qualifying for legal residence in the country. Priority will now be given to rural areas and such remote underdeveloped regions of Portugal as the island territories: Madeira and the Azores. Foreign investors are welcome to put their money there and nowadays it's very easy to flight directly to The Azores.
Real estate has been the most popular investment object in Portugal since the ‘golden visa’ program was launched. Even though the amounts of required investment into other types of property have been changed, the price that you can buy real property to qualify for a residence permit remains the same.
You have to invest at least EUR 500,000 into real property located in the cities to become eligible for a golden visa. You can invest at least EUR 350,000 if the property needs repairs. You can invest at least EUR 280,000 if the property is located in rural/ sparsely populated/ underdeveloped areas of Portugal.
The restrictions that are going to be applied beginning 2022 are geographical ones. The property located on the southern coast of Portugal as well as that located in Porto and Lisbon will NOT qualify for the ‘golden visa’ program. That is to say, you will not be eligible for legal residence in Portugal even if you buy property worth EUR 500,000 in these places.
All other regions of the country including Madeira and the Azores still qualify for the ‘golden visa’ program.
It is also important to note that the geographical restrictions do not apply to commercial property and tourist facilities.
The reason why these restrictions have been introduced is the impact that the foreign investments have had on the real estate market in the aforementioned regions. When the immigration program was launched, Portugal needed foreign investments badly, as it tried to overcome one of the worst crises in the history of the country.
The local Government was doing its best to promote tourism development and attract more foreign direct investments. As a result, the sales and rent prices rocketed. This fact drove many local people away to more remote districts, as they could not afford the increased housing costs. Ironically, the foreign investments made locals suffer!
The fact that foreigners are no longer able to buy property in the most popular regions is going to increase the demand for real estate in other parts of Portugal including the Azores. Experts expect that the prices for property on the islands are going to grow together with the demand. This is why we recommend that you should not postpone purchasing property on the Azores for two long. The best part of the autonomy is classified as an underdeveloped territory so currently you can purchase property there at the lowest cost that will make you qualified for legal residence in Portugal and in the rest of the EU.
How to acquire legal residence in Portugal by investing in the Azores
If you make an investment in the Azores in the required amount, you will be issued a golden visa that is going to be valid for one year. After that, you can extend it for two years again and again if you keep the property in your possession. Another condition is that you should spend 14 days in Portugal every two-year period.
After purchasing property on the Azores, you can apply for a golden visa to Portugal by submitting documents to the immigration authorities. In addition to the official application form, you will have to submit the following papers:
Passport or an equivalent documents;
Proof of legal entry to Portugal (a valid Schengen visa, for example);
Medical insurance policy (issued within the last three months);
Police clearance (issued within the last three months);
Portuguese tax ID;
Bank receipt certifying payment of the state duty.
In addition to that, you have to demonstrate your commitment to keeping the property in your possession for at least five years and supply proof of investment. You can provide the following documents, for example:
Bank receipt certifying that you have made a deposit with the bank;
Employment agreements certifying that you have created jobs in Portugal;
Purchase agreements certifying that you have purchased some real property in the country.