I fully agree with @mmtravelguy. This process is full of twists, turns, obstacles, delays, annoyances, fees, more fees, paperwork, gratuitous express overnight international shipments of pen-signed documents that will be scanned in when they arrive (as if that somehow differs from scanning it here and saving the $160), getting documents translated and apostilled and getting the apostilles translated and the translations apostilled ad infinitum. It’s a giant bureaucratic quagmire. That’s how it’s intended to be. It’s a growth industry for the people who translate and apostille and review paperwork and scan documents and so forth.
I am observing, and cautioning, but not complaining. Portugal is most gracious to provide this opportunity to join their wonderful society. There are delays and obstacles and costs, and that’s it. I consent. I will politely comply and cheerfully anticipate victory six or seven years from now. I will have earned it, and I will cherish it.
I think it’s a risky strategy to wait for the last minute, and to assume that deadlines are flexible and advantageously permissive. The likelihood of success if you wait to the last minute is very slim. I’m doing everything I can to politely expedite things. Even now, with eight months left in the year, I feel like I’m cutting it too close for comfort. What if they arbitrarily decide that I have to complete my (unavailable) SEF appointment and have my issue in hand, stamped with an entry stamp, by the end of the year? Maybe that’s a worst-case overkill scenario, but I’ll be happier when I’m on the glide path to success.