Apostille and document preparation for US GV investors

I am preparing my documents for the Golden Visa and had real difficulty figuring out how to get them apostilled (and even what that meant, since I had never needed it in the past). SO, I thought I’d start a new thread on here to be of help to others in the future.

First, what does it mean to get an apostille?
Documents in your home country are valid in that country. However, in order to make it valid internationally, it needs to be verified according to international convention (the Hague convention). This is what an apostille does - usually at a state’s Secretary of State office or at a country consulate/embassy. They verify that the ORIGINAL document that you submit is in fact valid. They can stamp the original document and/or attach a verification to the document.

How do I get a document apostilled?
You can mail or hand deliver the original document to the state’s SofS office where it was issued or you can hire a service to do it for you. More info on this below. It usually takes several days, sometimes weeks, to get this back to you so begin the process as soon as you can. For Portugal however, keep in mind also that the apostille has to be done within 3 months of submission for your visa. So, timing is key here.

What needs to be apostilled?
Just about everything you are officially submitting for a visa. Birth certificates, marriage certificates in particular. Also Power of Attorney need to be 1) notarized and then 2) submitted to the state SofS for verification/apostille of the notary, in essence. The strangest I came across is the FBI background check, which you print out the pdf the FBI sends you and send it back to DC to get apostilled.

What needs to be translated?
Just about everything, including the apostille statement itself, most of the time. Ask your lawyer. Note that it needs to be from a certified translator.


How do I get a background check?
Most countries, like Portugal, require a federal FBI background check. This can be obtained here: https://www.edo.cjis.gov/#/
You submit your information and pay the fee.
Then you take your verification email and get fingerprinted. The easiest way to do this is to bring it to a post office which does fingerprinting. It is submitted rapidly and I got by results back within 12 hours.

I got a pdf emailed back to me with my results. Then I had to print out that document (on regular paper) and send it to get apostilled. I had great results using a family owned company in DC who submit it in person to the FBI the next day.

Due to COVID, it is currently taking +/-5 weeks to get the apostille back. And there is no express service now.
There are other services but MonumentVisa only cost $55 each, which was far lower than other services I found.

Who to use for apostille services?
You can do it yourself and submit documents to your state Secretary of State office on your own. I ended up doing this in the end because I could manage it. It was also MUCH less expensive. This cost between $2 and $15 per document. Many states allow you to walk in and get it apostilled while you wait - or you can mail it.

However, you may not have time to do it on your own or your documents originated from several or far away states. I looked at the MANY of comprehensive services online which are offering apostille services. I have no way to verify how good or legitimate they are. Hoping to share the experience of others on this board.
Here is who I looked at detail on:
https://globalapostille.us/ - $120/document. $60/2nd document from the same state
https://onesourceprocess.com - $150/document. $75/2nd document from the same state
There are also local notaries/apostilles and you should look for those where you live. Mailing all the original documents made me nervous so the prospect of dropping them off seemed safer.

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Who did I use for certified translation?
I needed the documents for Portugal, so I specifically needed them translated into European Portuguese.
Sometimes the lawyer assisting you with visa services will offer document translation. Ask if this is possible.
Many of the comprehensive apostille services offer translation. I found these to cost $40-50/page, which adds up quickly (between $800-1000 total at the end of things). And that includes the apostille page as well.
In the end, after I received the apostilled document back, I sent to a separate website which specialized in certified translation and offered European Portuguese, with a 24 hour turnaround at only $20/page. I was very happy with them.

Another option I did not use was https://immitranslate.com/pricing. They are $25/page for certified translation.
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Now this is useful. Thanks. Does Languex provide certified translations?

Yes they do. Looks good to me and got back in less than 24 hours. Good customer service too.

Does the certified translation need to be legalised by PT Embassy for GV application purpose?

Not that my lawyers have told me

Much love to drlward! I learned of Apostilles when I did a foreign adoption, but it’s great to have all this info in one place!

The long lead time of all my documents was the apostille of the FBI background check. I sent it in on July 19th and today was told that it would be processed on October 19th. As for the translation of this document, the Portuguese Consulate in SF charges around $47 for the translation. My lawyer did not require a translation.

The only other long lead time item was ordering a birth certificate and marriage certificate. That took 12 weeks, but the apostille was super quick if you expedite. California and Kentucky were literally overnight.

Oh my. Your FBI background check was received at the Dept of State back in July and they told you it won’t be handled until October 19? I’ve been watching their webpage, and I could have sworn that the estimated turnaround time was just recently updated from 10 business days to 12 business days. I just sent mine there last week and was hoping it would be done within the time frame stated on the webpage.

You are correct Alan. What they do not mention is that “Plan ahead. The average processing time for mail-in requests is approximately 12 business days from the date of receipt by the Office of Authentications.” What they do not mention is that they did not receive it into their system until October 4th. I have no idea why it took so long. I had called back in July and was told that it was 6-8 weeks processing due to Covid. I wish it was sooner as I have had everything else for 4 weeks now. I just want to start the process so I can plan my trip to Portugal for the biometrics. Spring Break would be perfect.

Ugggh. I would have done just a simple “like” to your post, but I don’t like the answer. LOL.

We’ve heard from our Lisbon attorney that the first SEF appointments were out to May 2021, and that was a month ago. No telling what it is now.

Thanks for your info.

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I am told that the FBI apostille is taking +/- 5 weeks. I submitted over a week ago, so we will see.
My birth certificates from Pennsylvania took less than a week.
Marriage certificate from Maryland took about 10 days.
Clearly it varies by state so the sooner the better is suggested.

Found a different board that stated he following (note this is from last year - 2019 - but still an interesting thought: “According to the article 82 of Law 23/2007, the application must be decided within 90 days after submitting the application. However, due to the increased amount of applicants for resident permits in cities like Lisbon or Porto, the immigration office lacks the necessary staff to carry out all the applications, so recently it was decided that the applicants could submit applications at any immigration office within Portuguese territory, including the Azores and Madeira. In my opinion the delay has nothing to do with the type of real estate you bought, so either you submitted your application at Lisbon or Porto and your attorney needs to follow up the situation and request that the immigration office issue your resident permit, or he should see if the application is missing any kind of document or (worst-case scenario) that your application was rejected by the immigration office and you were not informed by your representative.”

That is not good on the front that SEF appointments are in May 2021. Argh! I reached back out to my attorney who informed me that I will need redo the FBI background check as the 90 day window for submitting them to SEF will have passed. Also, I need to get recent copies of the NJ birth and marriage certificates as they are original from when we got married and had a child. Ordered new ones in July and they arrived today.

@drlward I did some documents in PA while I was out there. Super quick and cheap. I can’t get around the NJ state ones.

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I spoke with a representative at the US State Department Office of Authentications today. The current estimate is a 6-8 week turnaround. They are just opening the mail from the first week of August. :frowning_face:

A huge thank you to drlward. This is such an amazing write up.

Seconding rj2002cc’s info. Spoke with Dept of State Office of Auths last week and was told minimum 8 weeks from date of arrival of docs. :frowning:
Fingers crossed it’s faster!

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It sounds as though you are navigating the process on your own? Aside from the apostillizing of the US documents, how much of this overall process could be done by a Portuguese immigration attorney?

In terms of apostille - zero. That is all on your end. Some might have contacts and advice, like I shared above but they will leave it all to you in the end. The PT lawyers will do everything on the PT end of things but they can not help with this process, unfortunately.