A common question that gets asked with regards to the D7 visa is: can I apply with just savings? The answer–and a very unhelpful one at that–seems to be: maybe.
In writing this article, I spoke to several people who had successfully applied for the D7 with just savings and no other form of income, such as income from a pension, rental income from a property, or a remote job. But I also spoke to plenty of people who had been rejected or whose lawyers had told them not to apply — despite them sometimes having hundreds of thousands of Euros worth of savings, which would be more than enough to cover their living costs for the duration of the visa and many years beyond.
“We only showed savings… no income. We are a family of two adults and one eight-year old. After setting up our Portuguese account we transferred 30,000 USD to that account for the three of us which converted to a little over 25,000 Euro. For US savings, we showed a savings account with an additional 39,000 USD along with a CD account where we have 100k USD. I am not sure it was necessary but we did not want to take the chance of getting rejected and having to appeal.” – Charli
“I was advised by immigration lawyers in Portugal that the passive income/remote work option is really the only way to get the D7 Visa. I have 400k in just cash savings and was told that would not be sufficient to obtain the D7 Visa alone. I’m 54…I am applying through the San Francisco, CA Consulate and apparently they are more picky than others.” – Natalie
Although some people manage to successfully apply for the D7 with just savings, successful applicants normally have some form of regular income such as a pension, rental income, or a salary from a remote job. A regular income is seen as more stable as it can’t all be spent at once, unlike a lump sum of a few hundred thousand which could easily be spent on a property or just frittered away.
The golden visa: a better option?
The golden visa, on the other hand, is designed for those with a lump sum. You can purchase an eligible property for €500k, €350k, or even €280k, for example, and qualify. You could invest similar sums in a commercial property scheme such as a hotel redevelopment program, qualify for the golden visa, and then (depending on the scheme’s terms and conditions) use the buyback option to sell your investment once you are able to apply for Portuguese citizenship.
Doing so ensures you successfully obtain a residency visa rather than gambling on obtaining the D7. And you get the main benefit that the golden visa has over the D7: you only need to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal. It’s perfect for those that want to move to Portugal but also want to be free to travel as much as they want.
Creating a dividend-paying asset
Another option again would be to take your savings and invest in something that provides you with a passive income. A rental property is one example, but there are other options that are less hands-on.
“One option we would look at,” says Jason Swan of Holborn Assets, “would be a dividend-paying company as dividends are commonly accepted as passive income for the D7 and can be beneficial for the NHR tax regime. Essentially we would create a company that would regularly pay out in the way the D7 requires but at the same time grow those savings through managed investing.”
Combining savings with other income
Savings may be sufficient if you’re applying with another form of income for example, income from a remote job or a freelance job.
“We did have some income, but it was just a $500 USD/month for a freelance graphic design job – not enough to support a family of four (we’re in our 40s and our children are teenagers). We showed approximately $120K USD in liquid money – savings, investments, brokerage accounts and $200K USD in retirement accounts. We only showed a transfer of €250 to our Novo Banco bank account.” – Tara from Vegan Family Adventures
“My husband and I decided to take the chance and send in our applications to VFS in DC. We are in our early thirties with two little ones. They received our applications on Thursday, Jan 21st and we received an email from them the following day requesting information regarding passive income. We told them we did not have any and wished to apply based on our savings alone. On Monday, Jan 25th we received an email stating: ‘In order to apply for a residency visa you need to prove you have a passive income or that you work remotely. Unless you prove you work remotely and receive a steady (regular) income, the request cannot be accepted. Please provide the missing documents not later than 24 hours. Otherwise we will need to return you applications.’” – Yanira
Just applying with savings
Another option again is simply to just apply and hope for the best. While some applicants are rejected for having savings, others manage to get their applications approved. Some applicants notably showed large savings amounts, enough to comfortably sustain themselves and another dependents even if they splurged on a house or other large expense, but others showed a much more modest amount of cash.
“We had savings of around $3 million and transferred €50k to a Portuguese bank account. I was 70 and applied for my spouse and myself.” – Julio
“We applied as a family of four – my husband and me plus two kids, ages 47, 49, 13 and 10 at the time. We didn’t need to transfer to a Portuguese bank. The accounts we submitted with our application were all liquid (a combo of checking, savings and money market accounts – we didn’t include any stocks, partnerships or retirement accounts whose value could decline or that we couldn’t access easily). There’s so little information on how much they want to see (if you’re not showing regular income), I wasn’t sure what to include. I figured if we showed enough liquid assets to support ourselves until retirement age they would hopefully be comfortable approving us. In total we were in the mid six figures.” – [Anonymous source]
“Curt and I are 65 and 66, we did not show SS income as we were not collecting any. We only showed our individual IRA accounts with enough money to fill their requirements to live here for 2 years. We only transferred the required amount to live here for one year, which was about $13,000 US. We did not share our bank accounts or any other proof of income or savings or home ownership. We figured if we were questioned we could appeal and show them more, but it never came up.” – Cathy
“We showed 600k in our retirement accounts. We had already purchased a home in Portugal. We transferred €18k to a local bank. I’m 50, my wife is 48, my daughter is 10, and the three of us moved.” – Bruce
“I showed enough to live by Portuguese standards for the remainder of my life.” – Danna
“We had about 1.2 million USD in savings, almost all of it in the stock market, and about 25k in cash. We transferred 15k euro to our Portuguese bank account. I was 35 when I applied with my spouse and two kids.” – Freddy
One challenge is that different consulates often have different requirements. Just because one person was able to apply with savings, and perhaps minimal savings, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to do the same. This is where having a lawyer, and one that regularly deals with that consulate or VFS Global offer, can be incredibly useful.
Other reasons for discrepencies between applications include:
- The amount of savings you have versus versus your age (and whether those savings would be enough to live off for the rest of your life)
- Whether you show the minimum amount to cover you for the length of the visa (roughly €8000 per year) or significantly more, which shows a dedication to live in Portugal and is likely seen as more stable
- Whether or not you have children (a government office is going to want to make sure that you can support your children until they become adults)