Portugal Golden Visa Holder, But Never Entered Portugal With It

I applied for a Portugal golden visa in January 2019, but it was only approved, and I received my first card in April 2022. Late 2019 , my family and I moved to Spain, where my wife and children obtained Spanish nationality, although I did not pursue Spanish nationality as I was unsure about relinquishing my current nationality to Spain. We visited Portugal several times before my golden visa was approved, and after approval as well, but spending 4 days during the first year and 15 days during the second year, always entering and departing from Spain by land.

I have two questions:

1 - Since my initial card is valid for two years, my lawyer advised me that spending 4 days during the first year and 14 days in the second year is sufficient, and it doesn’t need to be 7 days in the first year. Is that correct?

2- I’ve always used my Spanish residency card for travel and never relied on the Portuguese Golden Visa to come in and out of the Schengen area. Right now, I still have two months before I need to renew my Portuguese GV. I’m kind of unsure whether I should use my Portuguese card to enter Portugal again from outside the Schengen zone and kickstart that 14-day clock all over again. My main concern here is how this move might mess with my Spanish residency status. Also, with the recent changes in the renewal process for Portuguese cards, which is paperless and online, I’m worried SEF or whoever might shoot down my application if they can’t verify my entry and exit records in Portugal’s immigration system. I do have all the necessary receipts and paperwork for proving my stay, but I’m looking for some advice on what to do next with no stamps on my passport and no record of ever using PGV

I have heard that this isn’t really required in practice - i.e. you have to declare to Spain that you renounce other nationalities, but you don’t have to renounce them in any legally binding way.

That sounds similar in the USA, when you become a US citizen you must renounce all loyalty to other countries, but plenty of immigrants to the US become dual citizens, because there’s no requirement of legally binding renunciation. (Unlike stricter countries e.g. Singapore where you must actually show them your renunciation document to naturalize there.)

Since you live in Spain, you should ask other immigrants, and maybe consult a Spanish lawyer specializing in nationality, since they should be aware of the latest interpretation of the law.

I only mention this, since if you are eligible for Spanish citizenship, and can get it without losing your original citizenship, that might be much less effort than going through the whole Golden Visa rigmarole.

You’re absolutely correct about Spain and the US. I’ve noticed that everyone is doing the same thing without any problems for years. However, I can’t afford to take any chances because my family is Spanish, and with the new law in Portugal, I’m so close to getting it too. I’d prefer to get the Portuguese Citisenship rather than listening to my wife’s tantrums about how I got Spanish because of her, haha!

1 - Since my initial card is valid for two years, my lawyer advised me that spending 4 days during the first year and 14 days in the second year is sufficient, and it doesn’t need to be 7 days in the first year. Is that correct?

My lawyer said the same, however some lawyers advise 7 days each because the regulations (which were written when 1st card was only 1 year) still say 7 days in first year. It remains to be seen if it matters.

I believe they plan to continue auto-renewal until June 2024, which you should be eligible for, and I heard auto renewal they didn’t even ask for proof of residence so far.

I have heard of people being refused GV because they already have a residence status in another Schengen country and this caused a conflict. If that happens to you, I imagine you are out of luck (assuming you don’t want to leave Spain just to maintain your GV).

Since you have Spanish citizenship as a backup option, I wouldn’t stress too much, view the GV as a fun project but if something goes wrong, just get the Spanish citizenship.

Many of us wish we could just have Spanish citizenship without the endless paperwork and biometrics imposed by the GV!

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I believe that’s because they view it through immigration records.

I may need to consider that option, then in future reapply for a residency permit in Spain, and wait there. I’m uncertain whether it’s permitted to wait outside of Portugal after submitting my application.

Spanish citizenship doesn’t allow dual citizenship though, big problem

Do you have any other proof of the time you were in Portugal? Eg using your NIF when you buy things, hotel receipts etc?

Are there even any border checks at all when crossing from Spain to Portugal (I’ve never done it). If not then it’s not even relevant if you’re a resident in Spain, as you could be a resident somewhere outside Schengen, and arrive in Spain and travel to Portugal over land. If there are border checks, then it’s not unusual to show the passport / residency card of the country you’re leaving to that border guard, and the passport / residency card of the country you’re arriving in to that border guard. This is what people with dual nationality do when travelling between their two countries.
If you don’t have any evidence of time in Portugal I’d go back again before your first card expires and get some.

So are they incorrect upthread when they say its a non binding renunciation? “I renounce!” isnt gonna cut it for Uncle Sam, so unless Spain forces you to actually give it up…

I don’t generally like violating the spirit of the law if I can help it, especially if it’s something as major as citizenship

I could be a worrywart over nothing but it seems like a big deal to me

I wonder what they say at Spanish customs when they find Spanish and American passports in your wallet!

I would not agree that receipts and invoices with NIF are strong proof of stay. Because NIF is just a number and you can give it to anyone (friends) then ask them to buy something at Mc Donal, supermarket and put your NIF on the receipts while you are not physically in the country.

Not solely, but when bookended by plane tickets and passport stamps, receipts tell part of the story.

  • Long distance train tickets in Portugal you have to book with passport numbers.
  • Hotels will ask for your passport to register guests with SEF (now AIMA)

We entered via another Schengen country (which didn’t even look at my GV card since I have a US passport), but between boarding passes for domestic flight to Portugal, hotels reporting to SEF, registering NIF with hotel, daily NIF shopping receipts, local train tickets, not to mention tons of photos of us walking all over Portuguese cities, I think we have some solid evidence.

Have also heard from lawyers the photos might come in handy for proof of “connection” come naturalization.