After deciding to move to Lisbon, I did extensive research on the immigration and D7 Residence Visa process. I was lucky to find a Facebook group, Americans in Portugal ~ The Expats Group, where hundreds of folks were sharing their stories and advice on how to get there and what to do. I am grateful for this group and their help.
Below is the post I made to that group. It includes a timeline of the steps in getting my Visa approved as well as info on securing accommodations. If you’re planning a similar path, I hope you can find some useful info.
My Visa has been approved! I am finally moving to Portugal!!!!
Submitted – 9/15 (Day 1, FedEx docs to DC, VFS Global)
Forwarded to DC Consulate– 9/16 (Day 2, email from VFS and Consulate confirmation)
1stDC Consulate response – 11/4 (Day 49, Consulate requested the requirement for local bank account & funds) This period was long and stressful, as I’m sure many of us needed to exercise extreme patience.
Portugal Bank Account – 11/12 (Day 56, The account was opened and necessary required funds were wired. Bank is Banco BPI.
Approved – 11/13 (email from DC Consulate requesting date for arrival in Lisbon)
Total Process time: 58 Total Days, 42 Business Days
Visa Type – D7
FBI Check – Actually did this 3 times, 3 different ways
1. Early-July: Atlanta, GA USPS for digital fingerprints, results emailed back within one hour. Sent via USPS to DC State Dept to be Apostilled with USPS return envelope with 4 stamps! FBI- $68 total cost.
2. Mid-August: With 6-8 week expected Covid delays for Apostille, decided to submit using NationalApostile.com in DC. $179 (Did this hoping one of the two would come back sooner with the State department Covid delays)
3. Late August: Saw on the AFPT FB group that FBI reports were being accepted in unopened envelopes. So, USPS fingerprints once again, with mailed copy instead of email. This is the one I ended up using as it was mailed back to me in 4 days, prior to the others being apostilled. I am keeping the other two as souvenirs of my process!
Accommodation – Utilized a service to “hunt” for apartments in the neighborhoods of Campo de Ourique or Baixa. Used Zoom sessions to review the 6 that I chose to have looked at. Signed a 6 month lease starting October 23rd – April 30th. I did this to utilize my initial time there to see if I would want to continue the lease in the same neighborhood, find a new neighborhood or buy a house.
Application – Assistance provided by agency,
NIF: This was actually the first thing I obtained in late August.
Passport Copy: Notarized copy of passport with pictures of all pages.
Occupation Listed on Visa – Retired. Provided 3 months of Bank Statements, Retirement Funds and 401K’s.
No more than 3 pages each, just the summary pages. No concerns with what was submitted.
Travel Insurance: Bought a 6-month travel insurance policy from AXA Schengen.
Personal Statement/Reference Letter – I had the assistance of a local service that I had hired and provided my own personal input. Emphasized that I had lived in Europe for 8 years in the 90’s (The Netherlands), that I am a surfer, I speak 3 languages, and that it has been my dream to retire in Portugal.
Flight Information – I realized this wasn’t necessarily a requirement, but I had originally purchased a ticket leaving Oct 23rd, then changed it to Oct 26th , then to Nov 13th and finally to Nov 30th. Yes, I was totally optimistic seeing how so many in the group were being approved so quickly. And, luckily, I was able to not incur one flight change increase, and in fact, upon my last flight change to Nov 30th, I received a $50 credit! (UPDATE: Changed my flight from Monday, Nov 30 to Friday, Nov 20 since I will have my Visa sooner!!!!!! Also, Covid section updated below. On my way! I am giddy!!)
1. Covid Test: Plan your Covid test accordingly. 72 hours in advance. Atlanta, Ga.
- I scheduled Stage Zero Life Sciences, who will come to your home and provide a test personally. 11/18 3pm administered. Email results returned 27 hours later. Result: Negative.
- Also used Pixel, which you can register and mail in at the appropriate 72-hour advance period. Self-administered 11/18 11am. Email results returned 48 hours later. Results: Negative.
- Also used Primary Care Pediatrics, Cumming, GA. 678-208-2050. Drive up Dr’s office. 11/18 8am. Results back same day 6pm via phone call and email. 10 hours later. Result: Negative,
2. US Housing: I put my condo up for sale using #GeourgianHomerealty (Kim Delaney) on Aug 20th, Day 33 and it closed on Oct 28th, two weeks later. Luckily, I had a neighbor in my condo complex who was going to spend the winter season in her FL home and I was able to stay there. I was very happy about this as I did not have to rent an AirBnB. Also, as much luggage I planned to carry on the plane, I would not have to transfer all of it multiple times.
3. Decluttering and selling household goods: I was astonished that I was able to use the mobile neighborhood app “Nextdoor” in Atlanta to sell almost every single item I wanted to sell, donate or give away in my Condo. Small to big. Lamps to Bedroom sets. Furniture to appliances. Picture frames, vacuum cleaner, and even cutlery. Everything! Use it. It works.
4. Car: I drove from Atlanta to Columbus, OH the weekend of Oct 10th, to sell my car to my nephew’s best friend and to see my family for a retirement going away party. Flew one way back to Atlanta.
5. Phone: I am not going to have time enough to port my AT&T phone number over to Google voice as I leave in 5 days. Therefore, I am a bit concerned about phone verification with my US Bank. Trying to work that out this week. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
6. THIS Group: Has been wonderful, informative, responsive, encouraging, necessary, responsive, invaluable, supportive and really just special.
Huge Tip: Just mentally prepare to hear back in 60 days. If it happens sooner, awesome! But if not, don’t worry! It’s the process that we all go through, some faster than others and that’s OK. Just keep your eyes on the prize and have PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) and it WILL happen!
Thanks to all in this group and those who have personally helped me! I hope to meet A LOT of you as we enjoy our time in Portugal! Obrigado!