Up until November 2014 Golden Visa applications took on average 2 months to be processed, whether initial or renewal applications. Then an embezzlement scandal at SEF, the border agency, broke up and this was followed by a full audit of their procedures and then by a full rewriting of their procedures manual. This naturally disrupted the normal functioning of the institution. In the Summer of 2015, the law governing the Golden Visa programme underwent some changes, including the opening up of additional investment options, but it took a couple of months for the new regulatory framework to be approved, which resulted in a temporary suspension of the processing of applications. Finally, SEF workers' union, unhappy with all these disruptions to their service, conducted some zeal strikes during this same Summer.
The accumulation of such circumstances resulted in severe delays and in a considerable backlog in the processing of Golden Visa new and renewal applications. So, although the law provides for a maximum of 3 months for the processing of initial applications and of 2 months for renewals, these time frames have not been complied with for some time now.
In order to quickly clear the backlog and phase out the current delays, the Portuguese Government has now announced the formation of a special task force, whose aim is to help SEF with the processing of pending applications and get the ship back to a normal speed, as provided for under the law. It is therefore hoped that this will now not take long to happen.