SEF Appointment: Sharing Status (?)

At the moment there is an appointment available in Acores at 10am tomorrow.

@Bisho Did you see many slots opening, or there were just few - most likely from cancelations?

Azores has different Covid control protocol for one without EU health cert. It is not even possible if you are already in mainland PT, to attend tomorrow appointment.

One more piece of information to share: I was told by my lawyer that sometimes slots appear, you click and book, but you do not receive confirmation email - which indicates that the appointment is not confirmed. So just watch out …

It was just one slot. And it was the only slot I came across over the last 4-5 weeks.

It IS possible. There are a couple of places that will do a PCR test in ~ 10hr, if you pay for emergency service. I forget exactly where but there are a couple options. There is a 6am flight out of lisbon, and it’s set up so you can do a round-trip in a day for around $400 IIRC, apparently people do it often enough (according to lawyer). You can always get on the flight and receive the email with the results when you land as well - you need it for entry into the Azores when you get there, you don’t have to show it at departure. Of course if you do test positive, you’ll be taking an unexpected vacation in the Azores… but you could take a TRAg test at the same time as your PCR so you have a result before you actually get on the plane, to reduce the likelihood of that extended stay.

I think one of the PCR places is the airport testing facility. There’s another chain of labs that can do it overnight, they have places all over. You pay around EUR 100-150 depending.

So it can be done. I didn’t actually do it - by the time I’d put the chain of events together, it was too late to get to the lab which closed at 8 (and my lawyer found a slot in Faro), but I did all the digging on it and put the necessary chain of events together. It’s just not going to be cheap and not going to make for a very pleasant evening or day. :slight_smile:

Your lawyer of course can just get on the 6am flight with you without the overnight hassle. Or they will have a partner firm they work with in the Azores. (That is, if they are one of the good, responsive firms. YMMV.)

It’s was October and November slots opening.
All regions were open…it’s definitely not cancelations.

@Bisho : Possible to have a screenshot of your Nov SEF appointment? My lawyer still believes that Nov spots have not opened yet …

I would like to get some advice on how often one should interact with/push one’s lawyers. While I am realistic that he (or his assistant) cannot possibly always catch the slots that existed a couple of minutes, I am also anxious to know how much they are trying …

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Same boat!

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I would really appreciate if someone who has ‘offloaded’ your individual account from your lawyer to share how this can be done …

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:warning: PSA: There’s a Russian spammer claiming to help with booking appointments for a fee, please do not engage with him! :warning:

I’ve already shut down three accounts, but I’m sure he’ll continue trying. Whatever you do, do not send him any personal information, SEF logins or anything like that! Do not message him on Telegram or email him.

If someone like that private message you please report it using the flag icon or send me a PM so I can deal with it. Thank you :pray:

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So after investing loads of money into Portuguese economy based on a certain promise from the government, we are all here either wasting our days with refreshing SEF appointment site or chasing our lawyers to do the same. What is more frustrating, we all know that with today’s technology this problem can be fixed in no time if someone was willing to do so.

Now the question is; what else can we do to make things better apart from sharing our frustration here. We don’t really have any leverage on SEF however I believe that our case is a little different than other immigrants/expats who are at the mercy of SEF. We were presented with a golden visa scheme which had certain rules and conditions. It was very clear: “make this investment and get this permit”. We bought into this scheme. We fulfilled our commitment and made a significant financial contribution. There must be a legitimate way to demand that other party also fulfil their commitment. Unfortunately we all know that in order to move things within a bureaucratic organization, you must have leverage. Your actions must either help or politically hurt someone of power so that your voice is heard. What can we do to have such leverage?

Here are a few ideas that come to mind. I am sure we can collectively come up with better ones and maybe pick one of these alternatives and put them into action. We have some lawyers reading this who might be willing to advice as well.

  • Start a social media campaign specifically as golden visa applicants. Increase global publicity about our situation.
  • File a formal complaint with SEF or maybe even with the relevant ministry. It could be a letter with our signatures.
  • Sue SEF for damages. Due to time value of money, we are losing every single day that our application is delayed.

I hope I am not going too far but there must be a way out of our misery…

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I realize this might be a frustrating answer, but:

Exactly how much sympathy do you expect a bunch of rich people (and on any global scale, if you can afford a GV, you are rich) to receive over the minor issue that their visas aren’t being processed quickly or that they are “losing money”?

A formal complaint could be made, certainly, but what is the channel to do so?

I imagine there are a bunch of people there all wondering what the fuss is even, and saying “look, we increased the allocation of slots to ARI, what else do you want us to do”. I would GUESS that what someone has done is looked at the size of the backlog, adjusted the allocations, said “in 3-4 months, this will all sort itself out” and called it good enough. And I quite imagine that, in the grander scheme of how they think about things, that IS good enough.

As a side note, the law says nothing about timeframes. The government made no commitment to you about when anything would happen, just that it could happen. Lots of private individuals have done so, certainly, but shrug that’s not the same thing. I would be curious to know if there is a government web page anywhere where the government even “markets” the GV. I’m sure some politicians have said something here and there but any more they’re probably busy defending the continued existence of the scheme at all.

This is Portugal. Things happen when they happen. Just ask anyone who lives there…

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I agree @jb4422,

I have a 3 year GV, and have had alot of patience. I knowingly selected Portugal based on the ability to receive a PR while working outside the country, even though I was warned that timelines are not “as advertised”

This benefit definitely out weighs the lengthy process, and the bureaucracy. I am still sure it was the right choice…Portugal is beautiful and quiet.

Keep in mind there are only 10,000 GV main applicants to date, and this number is not enough to create a community sizable enough to influence change.

The appointment booking is only one aspect, and seems the only one in focus now…but once on your GV journey, more roadblocks will come. It’s just the way these things go…not to discourage the program, but it seems the allotted resources for such a program are doing so on top of their existing underpaid jobs…hence the continuous strikes.

Just to let you know, 3.5 years back you could not book an appointment online, it was by phone and it took me 6 months to schedule my appointment…and there was no Corona!

COVID did impact the entire system and It definitely impacted Portugal’s economy, I think the GV program will be a lifeline that the Portuguese lawmakers should cherish.

In summary, I would recommend patience as any other escalation would be immediately debunked as a result of the COVID situation.
I am sure the Program has targets to achieve, and this delay is not helping in attracting potential investors…who will probably head to Spain and Greece…and who knows, a new European country might take the spotlight with shiny new GV…forcing competition.

I wish everyone luck in their journey…

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Dear Jeff,

Thank you for your comments.

We don’t need sympathy from the public. Actually we don’t need sympathy from anyone. What we need is the attention of at most only one or two people up in the chain of command and with interest in making GV a successful program. That’s it. The government still markets the GV (there is a direct link on SEF homepage) and the scheme is still valid so presumably someone with decision making power believes that this is a good thing for the country (or for their political career). I suspect they must have targets and KPIs too. And now with other countries like Italy, Greece, Spain they do have some sort of competition. If we can show that unless they fix this problem they may not be able to achieve those targets because the lengthy timeline scares new applicants off, they may be willing to do more than “good enough”.

Regarding the law; you are right, usually no specific timeline is mentioned in the law for such processes however there is a principle of reasonability as well. For example you and I can enter into a contract wherein I agree to sell you a car. We may chose not to specify when I should deliver the car in the contract. But once you pay me I must deliver the car within a reasonable time frame. I can’t possibly say “I will deliver it some day in the future”. As long as there are damages, there must be a case.

I’m not sure that’s enough any more.

COVID put a kink in the “supply chain” of appointments, of course. You don’t just make new appointments out of thin air.

Bureaucracy moves slowly to fix anything, including or especially technology. Someone would have to fund any changes or updates to the system, for example. Make a proposal, define parameters, get it into the next budget request… a friend of mine is senior staff at NIST, which you might think of as highly technically savvy, and guess how quickly their internal IT moves? And that would be the -good- example. Apply this to Portugal where everything moves 50% slower.

Let’s not talk about the pain of adding staff to get more appointment slots, either.

SEF is roiled internally, being re-organized, etc etc. The staff aren’t happy. There is at least some antipathy internally to SEF over GV amongst the rank-n-file, it seems. So I’ve seen, and so my lawyer says. There’s only so much anyone is going to do over the resistance of a disgruntled rank-n-file that you can’t fire due to labor laws.

Anecdotally, I think we DO have that attention - but their hands are simply tied.

Just wanted to ask what people are experiencing now re SEF biometric appointments. I got preliminary approval last year in November. It’s been a year and my GV company has not been able to get an appointment for me and my wife. Granted, I’m very limited in when my vacation can be for me to go to Portugal… I gave them four or five different weeks in the year and none of them have worked.

They tell me that it is not an online process and someone calls and stays on hold for hours and may get a spot for one person. My brother did the GV and he said he can go any time. He too got the preapproval in November of 2020, but was able to get a SEF biometric appointment in August.

Any thoughts you have would be most appreciated. Thank you.

Sire mad
Currently the situation is not good. If you are a single person and you can travel to Portugal at any time your chances are much better - but even then not easy. That would explain your brother’s situation.

If you have family members, spouse, children , then it is nearly impossible at this time. Your lawyers are not finding appointments because there are virtually none to be found. If there are any to be found, it is a single appointment at an inconvenient time or inconvenient location.

My suggestion is to be patient because at this rate things should improve by March 2022. Not what people want to hear, but it is what it is.

Yeah I can’t imagine trying to do this with limits on when you can go. Too picky.

I’m surprised to hear them say it is only able to be booked by phone - isn’t that the whole point of making an account yourself on ARI or whatever it is to f5 for appointment slots yourself and take the load off your lawyer?