Biometrics for Renewals

Are the biometrics for GV renewals as difficult to book as the initial appointments?

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Yes, they are. I’ve been trying to schedule an appointment for the last 6 months without luck. I fulfilled my legal requirements (7 days in Portugal every year) and gave my lawyer all of the receipts, an apostillled criminal record issued 3 months before the renewal date, and signed a power of attorney in case she is able to apply for the renewal without my presence (probably unlikely). Like this, I can prove that I fulfilled all of the legal requirements, and if I’m lucky, my lawyer can apply for the renewal without me having to fly all the way to Portugal just for the biometrics. Honestly, I don’t understand why SEF needs to take biometrics again every one or two years, and why they need to reissue new cards instead of just extending the validity date. It would save everyone a lot of time and reduce the waste of resources…

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I’ve been trying to get a renewal appointment since March 2021, my GV expired in April. They have started chronological scheduling for first time GV applications but as far as I can tell they haven’t started anything like that for renewals. Hopefully once they are caught up on the first time applicants they will start with the renewals?

My understanding is that you have nothing to worry about.
They did in fact already extend your visa according to various degree laws they have passed.

For example, decree law 119-A / 2021, the admissibility of documents and visas regarding the residence of foreign citizens in national territory whose validity has expired until 31 March 2022 from december 22th
Thus, visas and documents, the validity of which expires from 22 December or the 15 days immediately prior, are accepted on the same terms until 31 March 2022.
These documents continue to be accepted on the same terms after 31 March 2022 provided that the holder proves that he has already booked his renewal.

In this case, since you cannot book renewal you need to check with your lawyer if this would still apply to you.

Yes, but they do not give any documents proving this. I moved to Portugal in June last year and I have no legal document proving my right to reside here and therefore cannot travel outside of Portugal. I cannot even apply for any travel visas (for business or leisure) without a valid residence permit.

You don’t have the original expired permit?

There aren’t any cases I can think of where, in the case of such an extension, anyone would be sending you documents to the effect that “your expired document is still valid”, since that would involve yet more work when they’re trying to shed work by issuing the decree in the first place.

If you are having to submit the residence permit to some third party, you could try sending the text of the decree with it, but I can see where that may not be satisfactory.

Thank you for your advice. I am not so worried about the validity of my card/visa. I am just not too happy that I will need to make an extra trip to Portugal just to get my biometrics taken for the renewal, or so it seems.

Warm regards,

I do have the expired visa but nobody will accept an expired document - even here in Portugal. I’ve tried using it to open a cell phone account etc and it is useless. My lawyer said that they may not even accept it at customs - should I leave Portugal and return there is no guarantee that they will let me back in.

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Yeah, I get it. You could carry around a copy of the decree and that might help some. But you are kinda stick. That sucks.

For those who have not yet been able to get appointments for renewals of their residence card (ie have an (expired, or soon to expire residency card) this notice on the SEF site may be of interest. SEF enables unscheduled appointments in Coimbra: The SEF will implement from 8 January a pilot project of interviews without prior appointment, for renewal of the residence permit with a limited number of vouchers for renovation of residence, under the community residence regime and for permits under the ARI regime/investment activity (concession, renewal and family reunification). This is a test project in order to increase and make appointments more flexible. The Loja de Cidadao of Coimbra will now provide services on Saturdays without prior appointments, from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm, with three branches open and with a capacity for 30 people.15 for EU community residence and 15 for the ARI regime. In Portuguese only - Notícia SEF

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Thank you!! Guess where I’ll be on Saturday!

With 200 other people in Coimbra jockeying for 15 spots?? :laughing:

The biggest challenge will be getting my lawyer to go with me !

Given your situation maybe it’s worth going even if they can’t? What’s the worst that happens?

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@supermoira You may already have this, but just in case:

Once you login to the ARI portal (ari.sef.pt), there is a QR code button on the right, which was added around April 2020.

Clicking that leads to a page which says

You are about to issue a document that certifies that you applied for a investor’s residence permit under Article 90º-A of Law 23/2007 in its current version This document may be presented to public and private entities in accordance with Order No. 3863-B/2020. Confirm that you want to issue the registration certificate using the next button.

I confirmed with my lawyer that this certificate is meant for people in your situation (living in Portugal), and they can use this to show their legal residence status and access national health system, sign leases, open bank accounts, etc.

Google translate of the relevant bits of the order

2 — The documents attesting to the situation of the citizens referred to in the previous number are the following:
a ) […]
b ) In other situations of processes pending at the SEF, namely concessions or renovations of residence permits, whether under the general or exceptional regimes, through document proving the appointment at the SEF or receipt proving the actual order.
3 — The documents referred to in the previous number of this order are considered valid before all public services, namely to obtain the user number, access to the National Health Service or other health care rights, access to social support agreements, signing of leases, signing of contracts of work, opening bank accounts and contracting essential public service

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Wow! I did not know about this, only my lawyer has access to my ARI portal. I have asked her many times (after April 2020) how I can get a document like this.

I am going to follow up on this with her immediately.

In theory this document will help me immensely!
I cannot thank you enough!!!

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You’re welcome! Do keep us posted on how it goes, it will be very helpful to others in the same situation. I think this will work well enough for signing up for stuff inside Portugal, but not sure about how well it will be accepted by airlines flying into Portugal or indeed immigration staff at the Schengen entry point.

I will let you know how it goes! Our lives have been on hold since April 2021 because we have not been able to register a new business or open certain types of bank accounts and in some cases we haven’t been able to accept international parcels through customs without a valid residence permit.
Even for my tax return in South Africa, I need to provide a copy of a valid visa to avoid double taxation - so this document would be very useful! Of course travel will still be limited, but I could use it to apply for another type of visitor visa for other countries - since a valid visa is something you need for this.

May I ask how you knew about it? I asked my lawyer many times over the last year for some kind of proof of my legal status here but she said there was nothing I could get. I’m just wondering if this is an indication of her professional abilities? I would be very hesitant to change lawyers at this stage, as I am pretty much “pot bound”.

My lawyers and I have independent access to my ARI application page. I kept checking it on a daily basis on the off chance that some status update on our application would be posted. One day in the middle of April 2020 I noticed this new button and asked them about it. They confirmed my guess that it was for people staying in Portugal to be able to prove their residence status.

I remember being pleasantly surprised that the Portuguese government and SEF acted so promptly and rolled out a feature on the ARI website barely a month into the pandemic, when so many other things might justifiably have taken precedence. I guess it was not publicised widely enough.

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@minimaxr You likely have a very old application. Anyone applying after March 2020 will not find this feature so useful or available.