I've wanted to write to share our SEF experience in Lisbon on April 23rd. First, I was expecting an email from SEF letting us know when our appointments were scheduled. I knew from vlogs and other expat experience the appointment would be set automatically once we were approved through VFS/Consulate in San Francisco. When I didn't get that email, I finally realized I needed to login to the SEF website and create a SEF account nce I did, I could see our appointments were set under the appointment tab: 23/4 10 am. My husband and I had separate appointments 30 mins apart.
We went to the location and found a short line outside. The guard limited entry due to Covid social distancing. We were only about 10 minutes early, we waited about 10-15 minutes when the guard came back verified our appointments and allowed us to enter the waiting room. We each got the obligatory Portugal number out of the machine and waited about 30 seconds before Bob was called into his meeting. I made sure we each had separate folders with the documents: copies of our passports (not needed), more passport photos (not needed), the entire package of VFS documents submitted (also not needed) and 3 months of Portuguese bank account statements (needed) We made sure we had 35k euros in there to be safe. They wanted NIF confirmation and housing documents. Our housing docs were a little tricky. We are in the process of buying a home, but no signed contract yet. We are staying with our family until the house is ready, but that could be a very long time with remodeling etc. We got a nice letter written by our attorney stating our intention to buy and one from our daughter stating we would be staying with them in the interim. They weren't interested in anything else. Bob got a little hassle from the woman at the window when he first sat down, she asked why he wanted to move to Portugal without speaking the language. She softened immediately when he explained our daughter and only grandchild live here in PT. All smiles from then on. I was called to a different window and was ready to get on with it when the woman helping Bob called me over. We concluded the appointment easily. We had our biometrics and photos taken right at the desk.
Next step, paying for the visa, 159 Euros each total and they did take my Millinium debit card.
Here's the shocker, our appointment was on a Friday, I got my residency card on the very next Wednesday, less than a week. Bob got his a few days later, say 10 days later.
One last comment, the process and the woman at the counter were efficient and eventially friendly. We promised that when we came back we would do the next appointment in Portuguese after learning how to order food. She laughed. Lucky for us it's in 2023!
I'm sure I'll have plenty to say about renovating a Quinta in the Algarve, scared and excited for the adventure to continue.