Timing of Portugal Golden Visa in COVID-era 2020 (and risks)

Updated 2021.04.12 : I am updating the timeline below based on anecdotal data from applicants periodically.

The current timing as I understand it, is the following, assuming you have everything fully lined up already on Day 0:

Day 0. Pay Money to Fund or Purchase Real estate
Day 15. Get Letter from Bank and Fund/Real Estate Company confirming that you have made qualifying investment.
Day 16. Submit Pre-Application to SEF with all documentation.
Day 90. Obtain Pre-Approval from SEF. (Confirmed - 3 months is the magic number)
Day 406 (13 months from pre-application). Have in-person biometric visit with SEF and submit Application. * This milestone is the unknown as it can change drastically.
Day 496. (3 months from in-person appointment). Get Approval
Day 526 (+30 days). Visa is Issued.

Everything is slowed down significantly due to COVID.

There is risk involved due to COVID delays and the risks increase as the timeline drags on.

If anyone has any information about the timing please comment, particularly if you have already had your pre-application or biometric appointment during COVID times.

*2021-04. Hearing more reports that approval given 3 months after biometric appointments.

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Just to share my recent experience, I purchased an apartment in Lisbon start of March 2020, and due to Covid lockdowns etc, my required paperwork wasn’t completed till end of July 2020, and finally my SEF application was submitted around 18th August 2020. I received the initial SEF acceptance on 4th November 2020 and now the first available slot for bio-metrics is July 2021. So yes, incredibly time consuming and the upcoming changes to the rules regarding purchase of real estate in Lisbon and Porto will add incredible uncertainty to potential applicants.

everything has slowed down due to covid. But if you submit your application in locations other than Lisbon or Porto. You may get an approval and appointment a few months ahead!!!

Thanks. This confirms sort of what I have been hearing. But the delays now are even worse.
It raises some concern about the 5 year GV investment. If you can’t get even an appointment until +1 year from the investment, it is possible that one would not have 5 full years of the investment during the applicable period. Hopefully they will get this straighten out soon and put more resources towards GV applications. I am hearing that a LOT of D7 applicants are getting their visas approved start to finish within 8 weeks so it seems that is where SEF focus lies.

The deadline of end Dec 2021 should apply for online SEF application submission, not the approval.

Is history repeating itself? Perhaps they need to reinvoke the “task force”

(I cut and paste from a Facebook forum).

Harinder Janjua
Hello. As part of my Golden Visa application (more on that in a separate post) I bought an apartment last year in central Lisbon. It’s been sitting vacant as we closed during the pandemic but I’d like to now get it rented. A couple of other units in the building were marketed by Christie’s but my initial call with the agent didn’t go as well as I would have liked. I’d be grateful for any recommendations on realtors and property managers. Thank you.

Harinder Janjua
15 hrs ·
Hello. I applied for the Golden Visa in May of 2020. After some back and forth between SEF and my lawyer, my online application was ‘accepted’ in early July. Since then, my lawyer has been unsuccessful in scheduling the interview/biometrics appointment as apparently, availability of appointments is extremely limited. That said, applications are being processed by SEF, albeit at a slower rate due to COVID. I’m quite frustrated at this point, particularly given that there will be more waiting after the interview before I’m actually registered in the program and the 5-year clock starts ticking.
Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do? Thank you.

Yep. I am in the same boat. I wonder if the Portuguese Government can be a little pro-active and flexible and dispense with the bio-metric requirement or perhaps defer it until after the resident permit is approved and issued. Surely, they have taken other emergency measures such as extending all expiring resident permits in the pandemic.

I hope so. I read that Portugal has initiated another lockdown and that telework is mandatory. I guess this applies to SEF biometric interviews. I dont know if they can process applications while working from home or if everything is just on hold. It does discourage real estate purchase in Portugal if there is little chance of getting a visa even in 2021 you will pay 500k or more for real estate that you can only visit 3 months a year at most without a permanent visa. I wasn’t considering real estate anyway in part because of these concerns but I do feel for people that made that investment and now are effectively locked out of their properties.

SEF should proceed with biometric interviews as all government services continue to work (if you have an appointment). My concern is what happens before you get the biometric appointment…would they still process the applications or put everything on hold… :man_shrugging:t2:

Yes, all government service is still open, and you can still do the biometric with appointments. Appointment in Lisbon and Porto is very tight. If your lawyer is flexible enough, you can ask he/ her to submit your application/ book your appointments in less popular city. I changed my lawyer, and cut the time by 3 months and did mine in Coimbra instead of Lisbon (before covid). some people even go to Madeira, Braga…However, many lawyers won’t do that for you as it cost them time.

we have written something about the timeline. Sorry, can’t post the excel table here. The main issue is the the deadline is for online application submission, not approval. This is specifically for property in Lisbon, Porto, and coastal areas.

How to Catch the Timeline to Submit Your Golden Visa Application Before July 1st, 2021

  1. Is there still enough time if I am starting from ground zero?
    The short answer is yes, there is still enough time.
    The deadline of June 30th, 2021 is the time for submitting your Golden Visa application online, not getting your approval from the SEF (immigration office).

  2. What are the steps and procedures to get the golden visa?

We can separate the process into 3 different areas

Step 1 - Initial set up
This includes opening a bank account, getting your NIF (tax payer ID) and a tax representative. This basic set up is essential for all types of visas in Portugal. Getting a NIF doesn’t mean you are liable for paying tax in Portugal. You can get your NIF months, even years, before you actually submit your visa application. It is recommended to get this as soon as possible.

If you travel in person to Portugal, the setting up of bank account, applying for NIF/ tax representation can be done within 1-2 day.

If you choose to do so remotely, you would need professional help.

Step 2 - Buying your property
Ideally you would have already been looking into the real estates market; narrowed down your search to certain areas and criteria; seen some eligible properties and short list some of them.

If you travel in person to Portugal, viewing of your short-listed properties and choosing the property can typically be done in 2-3 days. You would need to get a lawyer for the purchase of the property. With a power of attorney, all other process can be handled by the lawyer, so you do not need to be physically in Portugal during the purchase process.

It is crucial to shortlist your properties and pre-arrange with viewing date and time with your agent ahead of time before your trip to Portugal.

You can also choose to view properties remotely. If it is an off-plan development, you can get all the necessary information to make the decisions. Or you can arrange a virtual property viewing.

Step 1 & 2 can be combined into a single trip to Portugal. And 3-4 days is all it needs for you to be in Portugal. You do not need to be back until the appointment with SEF is set up to take your biometrics (after initial approval).

Step 3 - Getting your application documents ready
You need to gather your documents for the online application to the SEF website. The critical one is the criminal record. Countries differ in how they issue the criminal record for their citizen. Some countries even require a request letter from the Portugal Consulate to in order to process the issuance of the criminal record, so a trip to the nearest Portugal Consulate to where you live is an extra steps.

Do also take into consideration the time to get the documents. It is not the sooner the better, as a lot of the documents have only a 3-month validity period (from the issuance date to the online submission date). In between this 3 months, you would also need to get those documents apostilled in your home country, and then translated in Portuguese and certified. We recommend you to research on the time needed to get the documents, and for them to be apostilled in your home country. The translation in Portuguese and getting it certified is not difficult, and usually take less than 1 week.

Refer to the below table to the validity period of the documents and requirements for apostilled.

Note: This is not the full list of documents, as other documents may be needed for your dependents

Other than documents from your original country, you would also need to get documents in Portugal. With a power of attorney, your lawyer should be able to prepare the documents for you here. The validity of the documents is usually 2 months.

Applicant’s permission for the authorities to access his/her Portuguese criminal record.
Certificate of no debts from the Portuguese tax and national insurance offices.
Signed statement by the applicant that he/she will fulfil the investment requirements.
Evidence that the minimum investment has been made (this consists of a certificate issued by the appropriate registry office and, where applicable, a letter from a local bank confirming the transfer of the required funds)

  1. How long does a typical property purchase takes?

There are 2 steps to the purchase of a property - the promissory contract and final deed. Usually we need to wait around 15 days between both, to allow the City Council to exercise the rights of purchases preference (just as a standard procedures) and if the property has a current mortgage, it takes around 10-15 days for the bank to prepare the mortgage distract. So the quickest timeline would be 15 days.

  1. How long does the whole process takes?
    Let’s take a look of at the timeline of the whole process. This is an example for someone who would be coming to Portugal to do the initial set up and the property viewing. If you wish to do the whole process remotely, it is advisable to do the initial set up as soon as possible.

The whole process, from start to finish, can be done in 3 around months as with the below timeline.

No response from your lawyer? Sounds like not a bank issue, but rather lawyer is MIA.

Banks can take time to reply.

Somebody here once posted a link to a Portuguese law stating that if Ari (GV) application is not given a decision in 3 months of application then it is presumed to be approved. unfortunately, I do not have a citation to it. Does anyone know if this legal provision can be relied upon to force a favourable approval from the government?

On the SEF website it states that

"Order n. º 10944/2020 of 8 November provides that every foreign national with applications pending before SEF, submitted between March 18 and October 15, is deemed temporarily regular in national territory. Foreign nationals in that situation have guaranteed access to every public service, specifically with regards obtaining the National Health Service user’s number and access to the NHS, as well as access to social benefits, rental contracts, employment contracts, opening of bank accounts and hiring of essential public services.

It is not an automatic legalisation. The procedure remains suspended, during its appreciation and processing period, ensuring an equal treatment for foreign nationals."

The above i guess is mainly for purposes of letting those who are in Portugal access services while processing on their applications is slow / suspended. However, in the context of ARI /Golden Visa, shouldnt this apply too, and if so, shouldnt some sort of accommodation be given to such applicants ?

Order No 5793-A/2020

Summary: Implementation of a simplified procedure for the investigation of applications for the granting of residence permits.

I am not exactly sure, but I believe this provision may be intended for D7 and similar visa applicants who are granted a temporary D7 visa to enter the country. It makes sense that if they arrive in Portugal and then their SEF appointment is cancelled they should not be out of status through no fault of their own.

But as this is worded it seems it would grant you, as an ARI applicant, temporary resident status with full benefits. The problem is that, even if that is the case, good luck getting anyone to recognize that status without a big fight from your lawyer, and they are not likely to want to fight that battle when it serves no real purpose in connection with your application.

Hi, this is not true .
The presumption is only for some administrative decisions but not for residence permit such as ARI ( GV)

Ok. Good to know.

I have messaged other GV applicants who applied pre-covid and received their visa only after 13 months. With extra delays due to COVID i would now expect visa issuance times to be closer to 15-18 months after application date. And even that may be too optimistic. …