Get your residency visa in Portugal as an American
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Americans Applying for a Resident Visa

The Portuguese embassy will be opened again for face to face appointments on July 8, 2020. You must have an appointment, You must wear a mask and you must follow social distancing.

If you are a US citizen and wish to go to Portugal for tourist or other purposes for trips up to 90 days, you do NOT need a visa. EU residents with EU passports do NOT need a visa. If you are a resident of Great Briton, check with the Embassy. The Embassy of Portugal in Washington looks after its own jurisdiction, so if you live in the following areas you can apply through this office:

States of: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, District of Columbia.


Types of Schengen Visas Offered

There are 2 types of visa that are available from the Embassy of Portugal in Washington and the one you need will be determined by how long you are going to Portugal for.

Schengen visa – this short-stay visa is for a duration of a maximum of 90 days and can be issued as single, double, or multiple entry.

National visa – this long-stay visa is for a period of longer than 90 days and can be issued as single or multiple entry.

Then, there are different categories of visa and this depends on your reason for travel: tourism, business, visiting family and friends, study, medical reasons, residence, employment, EEA/EU and Swiss national family member, airport Transit, minors.

Check the embassy’s website before you begin the application process, so you get to know the requirements and how to apply for your Portugal visa.

The procedure for Schengen & National visas is different, so pay attention to the following steps in order to apply in the correct way.

Whichever visa you are applying for, you must apply at least 4-6 weeks prior to your departure date. Processing times are around 15 days. Applications will not be processed at the last minute and there may be a delay in issuing visas depending on your nationality. You can apply up to 90 days before your trip, so apply in plenty of time.

Step 1: Complete your application online

National visa applications are dealt with by the Embassy of Portugal in Washington, so go to their website and click the CONSULAR SECTION tab and go down to VISA INFORMATION and then click on NATIONAL VISA.

On the next page, scroll down to the link for the application form – and you will be able to download it.

Next, input your login details if you have them or, if this is your first time using this system, you’ll need to create an account. You’ll then be able to log in and book your appointment: remember COVID-19 IN-PERSON RESTRICTIONS APPLY. Be prepared!

Step  2: Make an appointment with the embassy

For National Visa application appointments, go to the Portuguese Embassy’s website and click on the CONSULAR SECTION tab and go down to MAKE AN APPOINTMENT.

On the next page, scroll down to the form for making appointments and complete the information requested. Make sure you specify that it is for a National Visa application. Or, you can email the Embassy at

Making appointments with the embassy is free and can be done yourself. However, If you are running short of time or not sure which consulate to apply to or have no idea on how to get this done yourself, there are private companies that can help.

Step 3: Preparing your documents for submission to the Portuguese Embassy in Washington

It’s very important to prepare everything that is required for your visa application. Missing documents will result in your application not being processed and/or visa denial. Check with the Embassy’s websites for further information.

Documents include:

  • Application form for visa fully completed and signed (The Embassy request you sign this in front of a consular official)
  • Passport or other travel documents with two free pages, issued within the last 10 years, and valid for three months past return date
  • Alien residence card or valid US visa with I-94, I-20, -I-AP 66 or I-512 valid for two months past return date
  • Passport photo not older than six months
  • Proof of current occupation: Employee: employer letter OR last three payslips;  Student: university/school/college letter; Self-employed: cover letter plus business license and tax return; Unemployed/Retired: proof of pension income/marriage certificate/proof of employment and funds/spouse’s passport
  • Proof of funds three bank statements
  • Proof of travel flight booking or other proof of transport
  • Proof of accommodation hotel booking and/or host’s ID and permit to stay
  • Travel health insurance valid throughout the Schengen area. Must be for a minimum of €30,000 to cover medical costs, hospital care, emergency treatment, and repatriation
  • Birth certificate
  • Parental consent form/parent’s ID/declaration of consent (for minors)
  • Proof of sponsorship
  • FBI record check
  • Portuguese Work contract OR proof of enrollment/ownership of property etc

Step 4: The visa interview

On the day of your appointment, don’t be late. In fact, arrive early so you can make sure you have everything with you. It’s also a good idea to dress appropriately to make a good impression. Most importantly, do not forget your documents. You’ll also need to provide photocopies of everything.

The visa staff will review your application and supporting documents and if need be, they will ask you additional questions if they want to clarify anything. If they do, just answer them honestly. Typical visa interview questions may be:

  • Is this your first time traveling to a European country?
  • What do you know about Portugal?
  • Are you meeting anyone there?
  • What is your job is the US?
  • We don’t think you will return, what is your answer to that?

You will also pay the fee for your visa application. This is non-refundable even if your application is denied. payable to Portugal Visa Application Center, Washington. The fee can be paid to the Embassy of Portugal by cash, certified check or money order payable to the Consulate of Portugal.

If you have never applied for a Schengen visa before, you will have to provide biometric data which includes fingerprints and a photograph taken.

Step 5: Receive your visa

Once you have submitted your file, you can track the status of your application. Enter your reference number and date of birth and click on SUBMIT.

If a decision has been made, you can collect your passport from the Embassy of Portugal. You will need your receipt, ID, and a copy of your application in order to pick it up. If you prefer, you can also arrange for your passport to be returned to you. The Portuguese Embassy requires you to provide a pre-paid, self-addressed envelope for this service. Hopefully, you’ll see your Portugal visa in your passport, but there may have been a reason why your application got refused. Common rejection reasons include:

  • Purpose of the trip could not be determined
  • Invalid passport
  • Application form missing
  • Applied to the wrong embassy
  • Bank statements not provided
  • Employment letter does not have an official letterhead

To prevent any of these refusal reasons, first, make sure you are applying at the correct visa authority – check the website for the areas that they accept applications from – every consulate, Embassy, or application center has different jurisdiction. It is vital that you do not omit any paperwork when you submit your application. This results in a delayed application or, even worse, refusal of your application completely. Also, check to see if your passport is valid as per the requirements of the Embassy. In addition, any additional documents you need to provide must be on official letterhead with employers name and address.

Contact details for the Portuguese Embassy in Washington

Address: 2012 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20036

Email: or

Telephone: 202 332 3007

Fax: 202 223 3926

Hours: Monday to Tuesday, 8.30am to 3.30pm; Wednesday to Friday, 8.30am to 1.00 pm

Permanent Residency Visas

Residency Visas are issued to persons who intend to resettle permanently in Portugal for:

  • Retirement
  • Independent living
  • To establish an independent business
  • To set up investments
  • To establish themselves as independent professionals in their field

Note: All residency visas are valid for a period of 120 calendar days. Once in Portugal, all residency visa holders need to report to the nearest office of the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) to apply for a Permanent Residency Card.

How to Apply

Completed applications with all required documentation must be submitted to the nearest Portuguese Consulate for processing. The application is then forwarded to the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras in Portugal for consideration. Applicants may relocate to Portugal ONLY after they have secured the proper visa.

Make your appointment with SEF as soon as you arrive. It can take up to three months to get an appointment.

About the author: Peggy moved to Portugal permanently in 2019 from Kentucky USA. She now lives near Pêra, Silves on the Algarve. You can connect with Peggy via the forum. Her username is @peggyl

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