We are a little behind the blogging game. I’m just now starting this blog, as we are waiting to hear back about our D7 visa. When I first started looking at applying it was very overwhelming. I read as much as I could about other people’s experiences. I joined a Facebook group called americans & friendspt. That group was immensely helpful. Their files section has everything you need to figure out how to apply.
We currently live in South Carolina, which means we apply through the VFS DC office. Since we live over 150 miles away we can apply by mail, which is what we did.
The first thing we did was get our passports. We applied in early February. Kyle and I renewed ours by mail and we brought Sofia and Leo to the local post office to apply for theirs in person. We got an extra copy of their passport pictures and they are so cute. Baby passports are adorable. It took a few months to get our passports.
From their we got our NIFs. The NIFs are tax ID numbers, essentially like a social security number. I got them for all four of us. You can get a NIF for free in Portugal, but to apply for the D7 you need to have a Portuguese bank account already opened and funded, and in order to get that bank account you need a NIF. We used nifonline.com to get our numbers. It took about a month, so if you’re in a hurry, there are other places to contact to get it quicker.
Next we opened an account with Abanca. It was pretty easy. At this point I don’t remember all of the required documents, but we sent in my paystubs, our 2020 tax return (just the first page), a copy of our main passport page, and a bill showing proof of address. There might have been other things. We scanned it all and we had to physically mail it using DHL, UPS, or FedEx. We sent it via DHL for $70, which was the cheapest option. Opening the bank account only took a week. I’ve heard that it can take a lot longer, so we feel really lucky. We had to transfer 250 euro from our bank account. After that we used Wise to transfer the rest of the money. For two adults and two children the requirement is 15,900 euro (that was the requirement when I applied, double check the current amount before you apply), so we just transferred over 16,000 euro. It’s nerve wracking to have that much money sitting in a foreign account since I can’t take the money out until I go to Portugal.
From there we did our FBI background check. The post office can take your fingerprints and send them electronically to the FBI, but there are no post offices near us that will do that. We got fingerprint cards at a place nearby and mailed them to the FBI. We never got any kind of email confirmation, so I was kind of worried we might not get them back, but they showed up a month later. Remember, don’t open the FBI envelopes. If you open them you will have to get them apostilled.
While all of this was going on, I also applied for birth certificates for the kids and a copy of my marriage license from vitalcheck.com. I had read that all documents, including birth certificates, need to be less than 6 months old. I think the issue date on all of mine was April and I applied in July.
Once we got the FBI background check and birth certificates we went to the UPS store to get passport pictures taken and print out some color copies of bank statements. My color printer annoyingly does not print in color, so we had to use UPS. We got things notarized at our bank and at a local store since our bank couldn’t notarize the copy of our passport.
The official checklist for the D-7 visa is:
Application for Visa (if applying by mail, make sure it is notarized)
Color copy of main passport page, notarized
Proof of financial means
Proof of a funded bank account in Portugal
FBI Criminal Record Certificate
Release/Request for Portuguese criminal record check
Proof of private health insurance or travel insurance (we used Trawick International)
Proof of Accommodation (we used a 5 month lease on Flatio and 1 month through booking.com)
Copy of marriage certificate and children’s birth certificates
That is the official checklist. We also included our NIF paperwork. I created a packet for me, one for Kyle, one for Sofia, and one for Leo. They were pretty much identical, except that children as young as Sofia and Leo don’t need to FBI background check or the Portuguese background check. I also changed our personal statements around a bit to make them more personal, but I referenced everyone in each letter so they knew we applied as a family.
Some people included airline tickets, but we did not. I haven’t bought them yet. I was really torn about what to do, but ultimately I decided to wait. Buying our tickets would be another $2000+ and we already have some non refundable accommodations that we would lose money on if we don’t get approved.
I contacted VFS DC and they sent me 4 invoices for $35 each. I paid them and they sent me 4 overnight labels. Some people have said that they only paid one $35 fee and just sent everything together. I also included original birth certificates for Sofia and Leo, and our original marriage certificate. That was probably overkill, but I figured better safe than sorry. I had ordered multiple copies back in April, so I might as well use a few of them.
We sent the applications overnight via FedEx on July 15 and they were received on July 16. On July 20 we got an email that they were being forwarded to the Portuguese embassy. I was happy that we made it through one hurdle. And now we wait. Anxiously and impatiently, lol. I know we qualify, but part of me is still worried that we will get denied. Our lease is up October 31. The planned travel date we put on our application is October 13.