Today was our SEF appointment, which will give us a Portuguese residency card. This will, among other things, give us access to the health care system in Portugal (which is a whole other blog post that we need to write), local resident rates on things like parking and car rentals, and so on. The residency card will be good for two years, and then is renewable for three more.
Basically when you get your passport back with your visa in it, on the visa that gets put into your passport is a date for your SEF appointment. You don’t really get much say in it, and the URL is printed on the visa in the teeniest imaginable font. (Not even kidding – I had to take a photo and zoom it in just to read it.) Why this couldn’t be a clickable link in an email, you might ask? Dear reader, I have no idea.
Anyway, you can’t pick the date and you also can’t pick the location of the SEF office that you have to appear at. I’ve heard some folks say that there isn’t a date listed on their visas at all, so your mileage may vary here.
They had originally scheduled Brady and I for the same exact date and time (July 12) but in two different SEF locations. This was a problem because our immigration lawyer cannot be in two places at once. She petitioned SEF to get it rescheduled, and was able to get it moved to June 1 at different times but the same location, which is why we ended up in Portugal a lot sooner than we expected. (I’ve mentioned this in previous blog posts, so I won’t rehash it here.)
We took an Uber to the SEF’s Cacém office today and met our lawyer there. The appointment was at 10:30AM, but we didn’t get called up until after 11:30AM, as they were apparently really backed up. The lawyer said the appointments usually take 20 minutes or so, so she was frustrated that she had to cancel a meeting since everything was taking so long. She also managed to get us both squeezed in under Brady’s appointment since mine was 4 hours later and she didn’t want to have to come back again, but I don’t know how easy that is for non-lawyers to pull off. It might be one of those things only lawyers can get away with.
Once we actually got called up, the process was fast. We didn’t have to do very much ourselves since we had a lawyer – she basically just walked over and told us where to sign, asked us a few additional questions, specifically our parents’ names (though why they need that and how they would check to see if they were true is pretty unclear.)
We then had to take a photo and get fingerprinted again. While I’m NOT a fan of giving over biometric information to governments, we already had to be fingerprinted for our FBI background checks just to apply for the visa, so that ship kinda already sailed and we knew it was something we were going to have to do. It sucks, but it’s part of the process, and I sort of get that Portugal wants to know who we are in case we get arrested or end up dead.
Unfortunately, in the chaos of moving, galaxy-brain me somehow managed to forget a hairbrush, so my official SEF photo that will be on my residence card makes me look like a deranged muppet on meth, but the lawyer assures me the photo is very small. 😂 😩
Here’s the fun part: They evidently changed our visa type from D7 to D8 without telling us. D7 was the “passive income” visa, and while that didn’t exactly apply to us as we’re still working full-time, Portugal used to allow it for self-employed or foreign-employed workers as well. A month before our visa appointment, the D8, or “digital nomad” visa came out, and I guess they decided that one was a better fit and didn’t bother to let us know. (The paperwork we filled out for the visa didn’t even have D8 as an option on it yet.) The visa itself only says “D-series” visa (in that teeny tiny font), so it was only today we even learned that our visa was not what we thought it was. We’re still getting clarification on exactly how that impacts us, if it does at all. Since they changed the visa, we need to provide them with additional paperwork (that I’m certain we already gave them for the visa application) such as proof from our employer (me) that we have permission to work remotely, pay stubs (again), etc. Our lawyer informs us that this stuff at least can be emailed to them and we don’t have to go back in person.
To make all of this even better, the Portuguese government has recently decided to dissolve the SEF altogether and instead create two new agencies, so EVERYTHING I just told you will likely be irrelevant soon enough.
In its place it will create the new Agency for Minorities, Migrations and Asylum (APMMA). The measure was approved at a meeting of the Council of Ministers this week and the changeover should be completed “over the next six months”.Essential Business: https://www.essential-business.pt/2023/04/07/government-dissolves-borders-and-immigration-agency-sef-and-creates-new-organisation/
The new agency will absorb 680 staff from SEF according to the Adjunct Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Ana Catarina Mendes in a press conference held on Thursday.
The renewals of Portuguese residency permits held by overseas citizens will now become the responsibility of the Institute of Registers and Notaries (IRN) with some SEF staff being transferred to that institution.
At the start of this year, a Decree-Law was passed that defined the restructuring of SEF, with the transfer of its responsibilities to five different bodies. The Portuguese Minister for Home Affairs, José Luís Carneiro said that SEF would continue its normal functions until World Youth Day which will be held in Lisbon in the first week of August from 1-6 – well beyond the initial dissolution date of March 31.
The Government took the decision to dissolve SEF because it was simply overloaded, understaffed, and didn’t work – a conclusion borne out by the thousands of complaints over the years.
The dissolution date was literally the day before we moved here. 😂 😩
Our lawyer says she’s seen residency cards come in as quickly as two weeks after the appointment, but given the additional information they need and huge delays in today’s process, I’m not necessarily hopeful.
Since it’s an official document, they will ring our doorbell and we’ll have to sign for them, but we don’t know when that will happen. 🤷♀️
Oh, Portugal. 😂
Alison (aka “snipe”)