Awaiting Biometrics (Stage 3)

That’s what I had thought. But we were out of status for many months after our first card expired and we renewed. Now our second card is up for renewal and we have been told that even though SEF is barely processing GV’s and there will be a long wait to get the new card after the current one expires, that time doesn’t count. We also can’t travel in Schengen during the months between cards because we now live in Portugal so would be out of status if we left.

I think the statement here is that while legally the dates on the cards are what’s valid, a lawyer should be able to argue to MoJ at the time of application that the time between expiry and renewal was SEF’s fault and should be considered anyway, whether or not there was a DL extending validity. I think there is plenty of room to argue that if an applicant has made all valid efforts to attempt to comply and continued to meet all terms and conditions of their permit, the time should count anyway, since all that is at issue is paperwork - there is no real change in circumstance nor any substantial actual process to the renewal. This seems a perfectly valid argument. Just that of course it isn’t written in law and presumably has not yet been tested.

(I would not see the same argument applying to pre-approval, since there is substantiative work that still has to take place through the approval process and a significant change in standing that takes place, even if the delays are SEF’s fault.)

If it were me in the situation I would certainly go find a lawyer willing to go make the argument and defend it. You would also need to find a way to substantiate attempts to renew even if their systems aren’t letting you do so - e.g. certified letters sent, etc - and be able to ex post facto substantiate continued compliance with terms throughout the expired-renewal period. I just imagine a lot of lawyers may not want to do the work involved. Or you might need to pay them additional billable hours since it is above and beyond.


I thought the benefit of the GV was that you did NOT have to reside in Portugal full time - just a couple of weeks a year - what am I missing?

Yes, that is correct for the GV, i.e. once you receive your GV with a start date, your ‘legal residence’ will follow the GV rule of 14 days per 2 years.
However, there is also a rule of legal residence of 5 years across any types of residences that would qualify for the naturalization. It does not have to be solely 5 years of GV.
Hence my suggestion to count towards 5 years the period of “legal residence” between your pre-approval and your first GV card start date. This can only be counted if you reside physically in Portugal during that time, as normal GV allowance for the ‘remote residence’ does not start until the actual GV card is issued.
Hope this makes sense.
In any case, this is purely my speculation on the basis of what my lawyers told me about the overall naturalization requirements. When I asked what can be possibly done if I cannot get the GV renewed for any reason - what is the possible path to citizenship then? They advised that any legal residence of 5 years combined within the last 15 years would count towards naturalization.


Except that the law is very clear that this is not the case…

That’s disappointing. Do you have an authoritative source on this you can share?

Does that mean that it’s possible to reside in Portugal if you have been pre-apporeved?

See this thread


Does anyone know about new appointments?

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Unfortunately no sign of them yet.
My previous forecast of mid-September reopening of the next appoitments window got derailed by the very slow pace of pre-approvals. I was expecting SEF to have finished their 2021 pre-approvals by now but they are sadly still on the first week of Dec 2021…
These processes may not be related though, it was just my guesswork that they want to finish all of 2021 pre-approvals and then reopen the appointments.
So it looks to me like November the earliest…


Here’s my biometrics experience yesterday - we are ALMOST one step closer! We got to our 10:30 appointment at 10:10 and the SEF security guy took our passports, did something with them, and returned them. We waited for our lawyer and visited with a Chinese family whose appointment was right before ours. Thy were very nice and their friend spoke excellent English - she is also Chinese but lives in Lisbon. She said it was an easy 30-minute in-and-out exercise for the family.

Our local lawyer arrived and asked if we had any paperwork for him - which struck us as odd, since we met with the firm in Lisbon on September 26. We confirmed that he actually had everything, and then we went in and waited. He went upstairs and discussed stuff with the SEF official and after a while called us up for the biometrics. We did our photo and fingerprints without any issue except I had to retake my photo because you’re not supposed to smile.

Then the SEF lady checked our passports to see the entry stamp date. These days, US citizens can enter electronically (sort of like Global Entry) but they still stamp your passport after that. My stamp was so faint as to be invisible, and my wife’s almost so. HINT NUMBER 1 - BE SURE TO ASK THE IMMIGRATION GUY TO STAMP YOUR PASSPORT REALLY HARD.

Apparently, because it was so hard to see the stamp, she wanted copies of our boarding passes from our arrival. We didn’t have those, and the e-ticket in my Apple wallet did not have a date on it. HINT NUMBER 2 – BE SURE TO PRINT YOUR BOARDING PASSES AND KEEP THEM HANDY. Ultimately, the SEF lady seemed to agree that a copy of our airline itinerary would be OK, so I emailed that to the lawyer right then and there, but it wasn’t a pdf. She wanted a pdf and we couldn’t accommodate that at that moment, so that became item 1 we have to provide within 10 days. Then she kept asking about what hotels we stayed in during our trip, but didn’t really want any documentation about that. ??

THEN she wanted my Portuguese social security documentation - which I do not have. This was completely out of left field - this was never in any checklist or discussion with our Lisbon-based lawyers. Our local lawyer explained that “everyone” has to have a social security number (which is different from your NIF (tax ID)), and everyone must provide a declaration that they are not indebted to the social security service for anything. I kept saying, “nobody’s ever said anything about this to us” but they both insisted that this is just “standard”.

So my lawyers now have a letter that tells me to provide my airline ticket (hopefully itinerary will suffice) and Portuguese social security info within 10 days. I emailed the Lisbon office and told them about this, and they said, “yeah, sometimes that happens”. However, they also said this is not a requirement, and they will provide a declaration that I don’t have a Portuguese SS number, don’t need one (since I am not a physical resident), and don’t owe Portugal any money. I’m a little frustrated by the fact that this wasn’t addressed up front since I’ve been in regular contact with the law firm for months to be sure we had all our ducks in a row.

I’ve seen a lot of info on this site about these appointments, and today’s experience confirms what I’ve read - it all depends on the person you’re dealing with. I’m betting the Chinese family had a different person and it went like clockwork.

Good luck to everyone!


Social security declaration is always required at biometric appointment and my lawyer was not able to get it, which tooks about 15 working days to obtain in my case, before my appointment in mid July. During appointment, we also received a letter from SEF stating this missing doc. My lawyer submitted it within 1 week afterwards.


Yes, as @rogergan68 already mentioned, the Social Security no-debt declaration is a well-documented standard GV requirement, so how your lawyers missed that I cannot tell.
I obtained mine directly by just turning up at the local Social Security office and asking for such paper. Got it in 5 minutes or so - it is basically a statement confirming that I am not registered in their systems therefore “no debt”. Please be aware it is only valid for 45 days.


mine also scrambled in the last couple days before the biometric appointment to get the required social security documentation (she said is was because I had obtained my NIFs separately so they couldn’t access). I signed declarations as well. My attorney had lots of dox with her.

@edandmegan frankly I would wonder about your attorney.

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Hello all, at what stage of the GV process can an applicant who wishes to relocate to Portugal start to live there legally? We have been pre-approved and awaiting our biometrics appointment, but wish to stay back after our appointments till our cards are issued. We would be coming in on a Schengen visa which would have expired before our cards are issued. Would it be okay to remain in Portugal on an expired Schengen visa while we await our final approval and card issuance?

3 Likes is a recent topic on this

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Thanks for the response. I’ve gone through the thread but there are different opinions about it. Some said it’s okay to stay back, and some others said it would be a problem. Seems there are no clear laws about this issue.

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Do not know the official answer and I am not an immigration expert…but in your own words you are on an expired Schengen visa…and that is never a good idea …IMHO…would seem risky to base your stay on the hope of getting your card “quickly” after actual biometric appointment…

Full disclosure…i am 7 weeks away from an official GV application submission because of the back log at US Depart of State for apostille of the FBI report.

I am so going to be ready for the months of waiting in this game…

Have a great one…

I think officially you cannot relocate there until you have an issued residency card. I have a friend, however, who has been living there, coming and going, for nearly a year now while he awaits his GV (he submitted end of 2021 so hasn’t had biometrics yet). His attorney told him he may have a small fine if he is caught on his expired Schengen but there shouldn’t be any other issues.

Personally I would not do anything to potentially jeopardize my GV (and maybe eventually citizenship) after investing so much in it, but that’s me.


A lawyer who does not arrange or ask you to bring the “no debt letter” or “nao divida” to biometrics is totally incompetent for the PGV process.