GV renewals: are there really no appointments?

I know this topic is sort of covered in other posts, but my situation combines several issues. I received my initial GV residency card in November 2018. I’ve been living full-time in Portugal since December 2022. Since my 5 years of residency are complete, and I passed the language exam, I’m just waiting for one more criminal certificate and will put in my nationality application, hopefully within this month (and then possibly see that application fail; see my posts about my birth certificate). Meanwhile, my residency card expires in May, but my residency is valid until June 30 under the decree.

That’s the situation. Here are my questions. I’ve asked my lawyer and I really don’t trust her answers, based on past experience. She can be quite dogmatic and extreme.

  1. Although I am now within the 90-day-prior-to-expiry period when I’m officially entitled to apply for a renewal appointment, my lawyer won’t do a thing. She says they’ve terminated the online renewal system (where you don’t need an in-person appointment) as of this year, and that renewals can only be done the old way, in person by appointment. She says the GV appointments can only be booked online, not by phone, and that the online system has been closed since 2022, with no sign of opening. Is this correct? Has nobody here had their GV renewed by biometrics appointment since 2022? Do I waste my time spending day after day trying to phone AIMA, or simply wait for the next decree of extension and the one after that and so on, until the citizenship process completes? (Please note that I can’t try the online booking myself, since my lawyer will not share the login with me, a whole other topic).

  2. Regarding permanent residency, I don’t intend to do the GV permanent residency due to the expense and processing time. My lawyer claims it is no longer possible to switch to “regular” PR, despite the fact that I now live here. Yet I continue to see people on this forum claiming it’s possible. What is the actual situation?

  3. Another doozy from my lawyer: she warns me that the moment my card expires in May, I should never set foot outside Portugal, not even to Spain or other EU countries, for fear of being caught and deported as an overstayer. I’ve read two recent accounts that seem to confirm this, people being refused entry or deported from Germany. My lawyer also advises me not to travel outside the EU, such as to England where my daughter lives, even if my return point of entry is Portugal. Is she exaggerating the risk? Am I stuck within Portugal for the next two-plus years?

  4. Finally, considering the above, is it time to fire my lawyer and find someone who will file a lawsuit so I can feasibly get an appointment to renew? I am getting the impression lately that a lawsuit is now a first resort, not a last one, to get anything done in the continuing chaos.

One last remark: another thread here asks if knowing what I know now, would I have applied for the GV? Answer: F-- NO!!! I see Americans on D-7 visas living in my town who spend a couple mornings phoning AIMA until they get through, then waltzing down to AIMA and getting their THREE-year renewals, all in a matter of just a few months, and for one-fifth the fees we pay for the GV. Should have waited until I was ready to move and did the D-7. I am so SCAMMED by the Golden Visa.

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Of course there is a theoretical risk. You have an expired document and other countries’ officials may or may not know about Portugal’s issues and may take the card at face value.

That said, it also depends on what your base nationality is (e.g. what passport you can wave) and whether or not it is in and of itself Schengen-friendly. If you have a friendly passport then you are likely to get a wave anyway because no one is really likely to care. Manage your stamps correctly and move on. If your passport is from the Wrong Parts Of The World, then you are best to step carefully no matter what.

I think there is enough evidence that there is no risk for entering or leaving if your point of entry is Portugal itself.

I can get where a lawyer may take an extreme view. It’s the safest approach. And let’s face it, some people are more informed than others and better able to judge risks. You’re clearly fairly sophisticated and can understand the nuances I just spoke of. Not all of her clients are going to be the same, and I can’t speak to your relationship with her to know how likely she is to be aware of your knowledge base.

Not what I’ve heard. Mine says “we don’t know, we are waiting” but nothing about “online renewal is dead” and they don’t actually believe it is. Just a “be patient, we are talking to them, meanwhile the DL has been updated til June so don’t fret about it”.

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If I were you, I would try to apply GV PR immediately at the same time with citizenship. We all know that GV PR costs more money, but it gives you ease of mind for 5 years. Who can guarantee that the citizenship’s outcome will come out within 2 years? What happens if it takes 3.5 years or 4.5 years? If you only have normal GV, you will be facing another danger to renew your GV again. If it happens, then it will cost more and bring up the same hassle that you have been dealing with since the beginning. Why not just paying some few extra $ and get the ease in mind in return? My GV is going to expire in Sept 2024 and I wish I could pay double the fee now to get my new card right away.

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Since GV PR apparently takes longer than citizenship, even my lawyer, for all her faults, advises me that it isn’t worth applying for PR. She says if I apply for PR I’ll be in a situation with an expired residency card for up to three years.

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  • Do you think that your lawyer is reliable? How many times has she predicted things wrongly? Personally, I do not believe in what lawyers say. Although we need to use them, but we also need to do our own due diligence. If she says it might take 3.5 years for GV PR, ask her why ? Which stage causes that much of time? It is difficult to book appointment? How long does it take to get the card after submitting the application of GV PR?..i mean the more you ask the more infor you have to analyse. Based on all information given by the lawyer, we then can decide if it makes sense or not…

  • Having only GV with validation of 2 years, what are you going to do when it expires and there is still no outcome of citizenship? I am interested in your lawyer’s answer. In next 2 years, do you want to come back to this group and ask for the same advice as you are doing now ? I believe not.

Instead of relying 100% on lawyer, maybe you can start bombarding AIMA with emails and research other FB group to book for GV PR appointment. Just keep bombarding. Process is exhausting but that’s the way. Or you can proceed the summons. Taking it to the court and let the court force AIMA giving you the appointment to complete GV PR…
We have several tools and it is worth to execute all our weapons.

I’m not saying what you should do, but what I would do in your situation is attend the walk-up inquiries line at AIMA in Lisbon:

Av. António Augusto de Aguiar 20, 1069-119 Lisboa, Portugal

I believe it’s open from 10-noon and 2-3:30, but that knowledge may be wrong or dated. The line grows during the two hour lunch break, and the security guard is usually present to answer questions and maintain order.

The security guard is knowledgeable, helpful, patient, and reassuring, and the person inside at the walk-up window knows the system. They spend all day, every day, helping a boiling mass of frantic people with expiring residence cards.

Caution: the person inside, at the window seems to understand English, but replies only in rapid-fire Portuguese, and your turn at the window is brief. Bring an interpreter if you are not fully fluent in spoken Portuguese.

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I agree about not entering or leaving Schengen except directly through Portugal. I have trouble in Frankfort even with my VALID card, and there’s no way I’d risk it with an expired card. Coming and going in general with an expired visa is tricky - during the pandemic it wasn’t a problem, and the border folks seem pretty chill here in Lisbon, but they can also be a bit capricious.

However, I’m under the impression that if you live here, you can apply for the regular PR.

Well, some things your lawyer said are correct

  1. Autorenewals online so far were for cards expiring in 2023. Autorenewals were not opened yet for 1Q 24 and nobody knows if they will be at all
  2. To renew, people with normal permits are making appointments online to IRN now and them visit them with full docs package. However, it is written on AIMA site that people with GV could not do it via IRN, but should do it via AIMA. However, at the moment it is not possible to make such an appointnent at AIMA neither online nor via phone. So it is not clear yet how to renew GV expiring in 2024. May be your lawyer could write a request to AIMA for explanation how to renew GV?
  3. It is not possible to apply for normal PR after GV. Your lawyer is right about that. It is not written anywhere, but I know people who tried to apply for normal PR and were refused. Many people here still believe that if someone is living in Portugal than it could do it, but unfortunately nobody knows successful cases recently. All normal PRs received after GV were mostly before Portugal invented this special ARI PR.
  4. For naturalisation, person needs to have a valid residence permit (NOT prolonged by law but before expiration date printed) at the time of application and on stages 3/4 (docs checks). So it is better to apply for naturalization before the card expires in May if possible and continue to try to renew.
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Hello everyone here, I appreciate all the useful comments, because my resident card will be expired in August this year, so I am collecting information about renewal but my lawyer is not very responsive.
After reading several comments on this thread, I have a feeling that it is safer for me to stay in Portugal during the renewal period, even though I hold a quite strong passport which allows me to travel most of the countries for 90 days without a visa…

Apologies my basic question (regarding the first renewal);

  • Should I create an account of AIMA portal by myself, and access to the portal to proceed renewal?
    OR
  • Will the lawyer normally do this process for me? (If so, I pay some fee?)
    OR
  • Is it my choice?

Awaiting any comment,

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You are 100% always better off controlling your own online immigration account.

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Thank you so much, Mark.
OK, I recognized the importance of handling the renewal on my own… (My lawyer once told me that she will do it but has to wait until July as the window is now open for the applicants who are facing expiry of Apr-Jun, while my expiry is Aug.)

Not sure if I should wait until July, but just tried to make an appointment at the IRN entry page. It says “no appointment times available” for all three locations (Expo/Marvila/Saldanha). I guess I have to wait until the website shows availability…?

I believe this is the first step, then visit an office with required documents (current resident card, passport, proof of subsistence/housing/tax status/social security).

Thanks for any advice,

To clarify, in many cases it’s super helpful to get help from a lawyer for interactions with immigration, and even to let them access your accounts directly when needed, but motivated and diligent folks who had their own online accounts tended to have better luck with online appointment scheduling. And last year’s online renewal process was a simple and easy self-service solution.

I can’t speak for the current situation but in 2021, obsessive motivation was the key to success for making appointments, via checking and checking again.

  1. You could not submit docs for renew earlier than 90 days befor expiration. It should be considerred before scheduling appointment
  2. You could try IRN, but new rules say that we, holders of ARI, could not renew via IRN

So I would call AIMA and request to explain how ARI holders could renew if my expiry is in 1h 24. For August expiration it is worth to wait. May be they announce new procedure.

P.S. IRN slots remained available about 30 seconds. To get them it is almost full time job, and nobody cares that the office is close or far. People are taking whatever is available - North, South etc.

You are right, Mark. There is a gap of motivation between a lawyer and myself. I started to move proactively, therefore this community is precious.

I heard that people could renew easily online last year, but I didn’t know this year’s situation is different. Thank you again.

Thank you, Olga, for sharing your experience. OK, it seems I have to wait, but still strange because the message of “no availability” was shown even before entering my expiry date…
As you said, I hope AIMA will announce a new procedure.

Please kindly keep posting if you could hear any news. (It is always helpful to know someone’s experiences, while trying to get information by myself…)

Thank you so much,

Questions below. I’m truly disheartened (as we all are to varying degrees) by the above conversation. In my case, my lawyer has my AIMA login credentials as part of a broad account which includes all her firm’s numerous clients, so she steadfastly will not share the login with me. She warned me that if I took over my own account, she would then be unable to check for appointments because her office has set up some computer macro to constantly refresh and check appointment openings (cancellations etc.) through their all-client account. But whether or not the AIMA online scheduling system is functioning, I want control of my online account with AIMA.

I live in Setúbal. I’ve been to the AIMA office here with its two famously unfriendly women receptionists, to ask about changing my login credentials and, despite my speaking in Portuguese, all they did was point to the e-mail address taped to the window. Big help.

Questions for the experts here:

  1. I’ve tried sending e-mails to AIMA to request a change of credentials, but of course no answer. Does anyone have advice about how to accomplish this?

  2. The SIGA website comes up with openings numerous times a week which last for around 30 seconds. Several D7 holders I know have successfully booked renewal appointments this way. Do I take it that these are only for non-GV applicants? Should I stop wasting my time checking the SIGA site?

  3. I have so many phone numbers noted down for contacting SEF/AIMA/IRN/etc. Can someone please clarify which specific phone numbers apply to us?

I can’t be of much help in your situation, except to let you how I got any response from AIMA: I have written a letter and posted it via CTT as Registered / Return Receipt (costs about 4.80 €). That is the only way you could get AIMA to at least pay attention to your enquiry.

Of course, they still did not help me in the end… :frowning:

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So for you people who have managed to actually get a card issued, is there no way to renew them now? You’re just stuck in limbo until AIMA decides to make renewals available?

Yes, I am in the same boat. It feels that the Portuguese govt has created hurdles on every single step. I filed a lawsuit to get biometrics appointment, then another one for my family. Now planning another lawsuit to get approvals for family, and a new one myself to get an appointment.

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HI

Is there any new update I am in same boat my card is expiring mid May. Any suggestions.

Thanks