Ten On The Weekend is a semi-weekly feature in IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each time, we ask the same ten questions of a different industry figure, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might in an ordinary business setting.
Our guest this weekend is Sara Sousa Rebolo of Caiado Guerreiro.
How do you spend your weekends?
In pre-pandemic times, the weekend used to serve to catch up on hours of sleep, as well as television series (I’m a huge fan of a good investigation or medical series) having lunch with my parents, a night of eating out and board games with friends, getting out of the dynamic of the city with my husband to breathe a different air and give attention to my Labrador. Now, with the pandemic, the boundary between the working week and the weekend is much more blurred, but I try to maintain the same routine, in a digital version, with video calls and online dinners.
What are your top three business goals this year?
The main objectives I have this year are related, in the firstinstance, to the consolidation of PAIIR – the Portuguese Association of Immigration, Investment and Relocation – an association over which I preside, incorporated in 2020.
Second, to have a more active voice in the immigration industry, specifically in Portugal, contributing to the development of this area of activity with the presentation of some concrete proposals that can bring new migratory flows to the country and enhance the sector. I think the migration industry can be one fundamental pillar for economic recovery in Portugal and that now is the ideal time to innovate in this sector with bold new ideas, focused on the future and on the new priorities and needs that the market is beginning to demonstrate.
Last, but not least, a growing objective with respect to the metrics achieved last year in my firm Caiado Guerreiro, which will be a challenge given the restrictions and fears on mobility that COVID-19 still imposes for who knows how long.
What’s your biggest business concern right now?
In addition to the already tiring pandemic and all the difficulties and additional stress that it adds to those who work in this area, until a few days ago, the biggest concern was the uncertainty about the changes that the government was about to introduce to the Golden Visa program. Now that the changes have been published and we know that the program will remain stable without significant restrictions, the main concern is the competitiveness that Portugal can gain, or lose, compared to competing programs.
Investment flows in Portugal are still very volatile due to the small size of the country and the little official promotion of immigration programs, so it is important to maintain focus and continue to brandish the whole set of arguments that make Portugal a great destination country for corporate entities, HNWIs, pensioners, entrepreneurs, digital nomads, or even students.
Which book is on your night-stand right now?
Origin from Dan Brown. There is nothing like a good mystery in the context of a conspiracy associated with the greatest myths of humanity. I also recently read the Marquis’ Curse (a Maldição do Marquês), which dates back to the 18th century. It is a book based on true events and tells the story of the reconstruction of Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake at the hands of a controversial (but certainly one of the most intelligent and pragmatic) politicians that Portugal has ever had.
How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry?
In 2013, the year in which the Portuguese immigration law was changed in order to make Golden Visa investment options more flexible and Portugal became a destination country for investor migrants, largely due to Asian investors who saw in Portugal a country with great corporate and real estate opportunities and cordial relations with China, due to the Portuguese presence in Macau until 1999.
What was your proudest moment as a service provider?
The immigration lawyer profession is very challenging, namely because the final decision is always made by third parties, in this case the Borders and Immigration Service. Each delay, each controversial interpretation, each cancellation of diligence is reflected on us because we are the ones who face the client. So, in the team that I run at Caiado Guerreiro Law Firm, I insist that we celebrate all victories, however small. Each approved process always deserves a collective round of applause.
Even so, perhaps I should highlight a recent case where we managed to bring an international sports figure to Portugal to film an ad in the middle of a pandemic, at a time where consulates and borders were closed and mobility between the Schengen area and third countries was (and still is) a challenge. It was very difficult to articulate but we successfully achieved resorting to legal provisions that we rarely have the opportunity to use in normal circumstances.
Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?
Well, in 2020 we noticed a reversal of the flow with respect to the United States. In any conference or event it is almost impossible to compete with EB-5 because not everyone knows Portugal or knows where it is or even that it is an independent country from Spain or that Portuguese is the 5th most spoken language in the world, and 3rd most spoken in the Western Hemisphere. I remember going to LA and being asked if we had elevators or air conditioning in our buildings…
In 2020, due to the political and social situation in the USA, we saw a change in demand from Americans who began to discover the advantages of this European country, politically stable, the 3rd safest in the world, and one of the most welcoming and respectful countries in terms of races, genders, and beliefs where, in 20 minutes, you go from the capital city center to the beach or in two hours you go to the mountains in the north or the warm plains of the south. In 2021, the phenomenon is British and a clear consequence of Brexit. Portugal was already a favorite holiday destination for British citizens and now it has become the best, cheapest, and closest way to maintain European residency or citizenship, in addition to being a tax-friendly country for cryptocurrencies.
If you could go back 10 years in time, what business decision would you change?
None. Incredibly, I started my internship as a lawyer in the corporate department of Caiado Guerreiro Law Firm, the office where I still work and of which I am now a Partner. However, the first issue that came to me on the very first day of work related to an immigration case, and thereafter, it seems that it was destined to be my path. The initial training in corporate and labor law ended up making me a more complete professional and attentive to the various legal perspectives of the cases.
What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?
I would like to highlight someone from Portugal so I chose Vanessa Lima. She was my trainee lawyer in 2013 and her professional career makes me very proud. She is a very dedicated, proactive, and careful professional. Her work capacity and fearless character were attributes that I noticed from an early stage so it was a pleasure to share with her the passion for this area and see her also becoming a reference and reliable professional in this industry.
If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?
Any short or long-term plan at this moment only allows me to think of sunny days and vacations on a yellow sand beach, starting in Algarve as soon as I can at least leave my municipality of Sintra, taking into account the restrictions that we have been experiencing. But, apart from that, and focusing on the business, I will definitely continue to work in this area and I hope to be doing so with an active voice with regard to legislative policies and training new professionals in this area so that investment immigration in Portugal can gain its own space and socio-economic recognition.