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  • Writer's pictureFIO Legal Solutions

Digital Nomad Family's Journey: Relocating from the US to Portugal

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

A family composed of parents and two minor children, all citizens and residents in the USA decided to migrate to Portugal and sought our assistance.

Upon initiating our engagement with a comprehensive consultation, we take the time to thoroughly understand the particularities of their case. Following this understanding, we then provide our clients with a customized list of documentation according to the respective Consulate’s needs. Subsequently, we adeptly transition into the legal proceedings.

Our first Legal step, as in all cases of temporary residence visa applications, is requesting the client’s Tax Identification Number ("NIF") with the fiscal representation of all family members in our office.

The next step is proceeding with the opening of a bank account in Portugal. The bank account holder could be either the main applicant or the joint.

The requirement to present bank statements from a Portuguese bank showing the transfer of minimum amounts for the subsistence of the applicant or the household for one year (12 months), has become an unwritten and entrenched rule of the practice of the consular services for all temporary residence visas.

This step was the most challenging since the banking institutions in Portugal have been establishing increasingly restrictive rules for opening bank accounts for foreigners who are not residents of Portugal.

In this case, both adults are established professionals, on one hand, he runs his own company, and she works as an employee in a US company. we have contacted several traditional banks, without success. In some cases, we were informed that the bank no longer opened bank accounts for non-resident foreigners or in other words, those who did not hold a valid visa or residence card.

In other cases, they demanded the deposit of substantial amounts and the contracting of other bank services, such as life insurance. In our understanding, this is a case of "tying", a practice prohibited under Portuguese law.

This is a very challenging issue for those who are advising international clients applying for residence visas, as it is one of the requirements demanded by Portuguese Consulates for the issue of visas, even though there is no express legal or regulatory provision in this sense.

The clients' joint bank account took approximately 3 (three) months to be operational.

Regarding the type of residence visa most appropriate to this case, our advice was to apply for a residence visa as a digital nomad for the wife, as the main applicant, and for the husband and minor children, as accompanying family members.

One of the main requirements by the Portuguese Authority to apply for a Residence Visa is proving substantial means of subsistence. For this, we advise the family to present an updated employment relationship proof, the following pay slips, and any bank statements in her name showing her regular activity and income.

As they are married to each other, the incomes of both spouses are taken into consideration in their totality for the purposes of proof of means of subsistence of the family unit. In this sense, the documents about the constitution and operation of the husband's company, his bank statements, and the Tax Return (IRS) declaration of the couple were also presented as proof of means of subsistence.

Furthermore, it’s also important to present to the Consulate that the family has accommodation to stay in for at least a year. In this specific case, the document presented for this purpose was the invitation letter signed by a couple of friends that have been living in Portugal for some years, stating that the family unit will stay in their place until they find a suitable long-term residence for the family.

Other important documents to be presented to the Consulate were: i) the Certificate of Criminal Records of the adult applicants. ii) travel insurance for all members of the family, iii) a motivation letter presenting the reasons for the family unit moving to Portugal and describing the fulfillment of the legal requirements for obtaining the residence visas.

The appointment for the submission of the visa application was obtained through the “VFS”, which is an online platform that works as an external partner of the Portuguese Authorities. Since Portugal is receiving many immigrants from the United States, the VFS USA portal is not able to meet this demand quickly, and therefore, it is becoming more and more difficult to make appointments. In this specific case, it was only possible to obtain an appointment for about 2 (two) months after the expected appointment date and even then, only after a few weeks of daily attempts, with no vacancies available.

As we do in all cases, we were in contact with the consulate and with the VFS agency about the specific case and we were informed that there would be no possibility for postal sending of the documents or event of scheduling for another date and time, even taking into consideration that the family resided in another city and that the minors had important commitments in that period.

We were also informed by email by the competent consular section that in that case it would not be necessary to present a return ticket to the USA, as is usually required in most cases and consular authorities. Anyways, the response from the VFS was in the opposite direction and they indicated to us that the return ticket would indeed be necessary. Our indication to the client was to observe the consular guidance.

Thrilling times ahead! The family's visa application is just around the corner, and we can't wait to see them start their new chapter in our adored Portugal.

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