Moving to Portugal right after pre-approval

I’ve heard from some lawyers and read in some articles that it’s possible to move to Portugal right after pre-approval and before biometrics. Has anyone actually done this and knows this to be true? Thank you!

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We did and still here. As long as you don’t plan to travel you’ll be ok to stay. Biometrics now done today too.

Thank you! That’s reassuring. If you do travel, what are your options? Can’t you enter back with a valid schengen visa?

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When I booked my biometrics appointment, my attorney told me I would need to show I was in the Schengen legally at the time of my appointment, meaning I had not overstayed my tourist visa.

My attorney told me something entirely different. I received pre-approval in October of 2021. I have been in Portugal since March 15 of this year. My tourist visa ran out in mid June. My attorney insists that because of the delays at the SEF, people with pre-approval are allowed to remain in Portugal while awaiting their biometric appointment. He also says that I may return to the US if needed (I have a two week teaching commitment in November) and return to Portugal with my Atestado de Residencia, NIF, and copy of the notice of pre-approval. Of course, I cannot travel to other Schengen countries until I receive the residency card. Sadly this seems to be a common issue: different answers from different attorneys.

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Hi Maxine, What is “Atestado de Residencia” and how do you get this document ?

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That is what my attorney told me as well: you can travel in and out of Portugal and remain in the country with pre-approval and certification letter from an attorney that you are waiting on further document processing with SEF.

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Info here: What’s an Atestado De Residência? – Portugalist

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Thank you for the link - very informative!

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“Atestado de Residencia” is a document you get from your municipality which registers your Portuguese address. You bring a copy of your NIF your lease or sale document and your passport. The office confirms the validity of your documents and issues the Atestado, either the same day or the next day.

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Maxine, did you have to show your “SEF pre-approval” to your local Junta de Freguesia people before they issued the Atestado? If yes, what paper did you show? Slight problem I have is that SEF never sent me their pre-approval email.

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No and they did not ask for the email from the SEF informing us of the pre-approval. I brought my lease, my passport, my NIF.
I believe that you can register your Portuguese address even if you are on a tourist visa and do not intend to live permanently in Portugal.
Of course under those circumstances, you can only stay in Portugal for up to 90 days at a time separated by 90 days outside of the Schengen zone.

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Excellent, thanks!
I’m going to go ahead and ask for this Atestado at my local Junta de Freguesia, as I hope it would help me to support my ISV exemption process.

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I moved here a few months after preapproval and have been living in lisbon for 8months now. I did my biometrics in Jan and still haven’t received my residency card. I have not travelled out since coming here because of the uncertainty. Now I have a need to travel to another Schengen country. I have a 5y validity Schengen visa but I have stayed over the 90d/180d rule. I am wondering if I can argue that my stay in Lisbon is not part of Schengen stay and still travel using my still valid Schengen visa. Would greatly appreciate any insights here. Muito Obrigado!

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Pardon my ignorance, but I thought travelling to another Schengen country would not require any passport check, such that you would not need to disclose where you’re coming from? I would think once you’re in the area, you’re generally good to go unless you’re very unlucky. Haven’t had any experience once in the Schengen area of anyone checking my details but I have always been there as a tourist and not for an extended period of time.

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Of course you might get away with it. That doesn’t make it legal, merely not super well enforced. There are however now more officers at borders and there are random stops between countries now, and you are waving some sort of ID at people to get on planes. So whether you get away with it, well.

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I’d ask a qualified immigration lawyer. IMO you can probably make that argument, yes. However since the people you have to make the argument to if you are stopped in another country ARE in another country and thus maybe not super aware of what is going on with SEF in PT, it might be problematic - all they have is the passport in front of them and whatever stamps it has in it.

If you have a long term schengen visa, does your passport get stamped every time you enter/exit still? If not, then it probably doesn’t matter because in most cases you’ll pass a cursory check and there is no obvious negative data. If it does get stamped, and you get caught, you may have a valid stance that I’d even agree with, but dealing with the resulting situation it is likely to be super problematic. I do think you’re better off having a 5-year visa versus a single-use one, but well.

What you might want to consider is an GPS tracker app such as Followmee. (I know, I know, privacy and all that… but they aren’t Google, they’re a small private company that seems to care.) That would give you a very simple audit trail - yes I was in Portugal for the last 8 months, I just left two days ago, see. That plus a letter from your lawyer explaining your legal stance on the matter (written in a relevant language) gives you a lot of CYA.

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Very interesting thought on “Followmee” App. Thank you for the idea.

Technically you haven’t broken any law since you have already given the biometrics and waiting for the residency card. Living and travelling inside portugal should have no problems for you, as you do have a requirement to travel within the Schengen area, consider using a full service carrier and avoid Low-cost carriers (Wizz, Ryanair, easyJet, Transavia et al). Low cost carriers do check for the visa and validities during the boarding process and they have no clue about the legality of your case and highly likely you shall be denied boarding. Second, any hotel can check you in across the region with your passport and they do not care about your entry/exit stamps… Better to be prepared for the worst case scenario (god forbid) , do carry all the papers and any sensible officer shall be able to understand your situation and let you pass… Avoid using your Schengen visa, the moment you flash that document you are on the wrong side. Happy travels

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Hi, has anyone actually left Portugal and returned there while still waiting for the residence card?

We have the same issue - having passed the biometrics in February we thought we would have the cards by August. We want to move to Portugal already, but still be able to travel after staying more than 90 days.

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