I think that I finally reached the end of my process for obtaining the Portugal D7 visa and working remotely in Portugal. Just to clarify for anyone who is just getting started in terms of applying, the D7 visa is specifically granted for those who are looking to retire in Portugal and live off of passive income. However, there are definitely ways to continue working remotely while keeping the D7 visa. More information about what is needed to apply for the D7 visa can be found in my previous post where I list all the visa pre-requisites and other useful things related to the visa.
Two warnings are given by the Consulate General of Portugal in New York
My original goal of getting to Portugal has come to a stop because of one roadblock which I am uncomfortable with confronting. First, the Consulate General of Portugal in New York gave me two warnings via e-mail after I submitted all the required documents which I thought was helpful for those applying. The first notice was titled, "Portugal - Visa Application - PENDING," and it stated the following:
"Your visa application is under review of the competent authority - Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras. Please be notified that you are required to provide the following documentation:
– Proof of available funds/ financial assets in Portugal
You may email the above to email@example.com or contact VFS Global to schedule an appointment to submit the required documents at VFS Global New York Centre."
I definitely tried my best and looked into ways to obtain a NIF in order to open a Portuguese bank account, but given the current pandemic, everything was backed up. I waited in the hopes that the bank requirement would potentially change as some people who were in the process of applying as well told me that they were optimistic that certain rules might change in my favor of no longer requiring the bank account. This didn't happen.
Getting the second warning
About a month after I received the first warning, I received a second warning from the consulate which was a forward of the first e-mail warning I had gotten. I responded by explaining that I had physically went to Portugal twice during the pandemic. I had had a local apply for the NIF for me, but the Serviço de Finanças (Portuguese government office for processing NIFs) was unable to open it for me at the time. In addition, I told the consulate that I was no longer able to get into Portugal due to travel restrictions for Americans. I asked if there were any alternatives in place to which the consulate responded with the following:
Please be informed that you may obtain a Tax Identification Number in Portugal by a Tax Representative (residing in Portugal), you don’t have to be in Portugal.
The request for TAX IDENTIFICATION NUMBER(NIF) is now temporarily available online. The measure, taken by the Tax and Customs Authority, arose due to the exceptional situation caused by COVID-19.
Foreign nationals no longer need to go to a tax office to make their NIF request. Therefore, as long as the exceptional situation persists, NIF requests by foreign citizens are made through the e-Balcão, (E-Desk) by a tax representative (citizen residing in Portugal).
In this response, the consulate also included a link to the ePortugal website's section for requesting the individual tax identification number.
Why did I not open the NIF?
While I felt like the consulate was very helpful and informative, I just did not feel comfortable with the final requirement at this point. I had already had a bad experience attempting to open a Portuguese bank account online, and I felt like working with someone who would have my power of attorney virtually from a foreign country was just not something I wanted to risk. I did find a service through YouTube videos about obtaining the NIF that seemed okay called bordr.io (not sponsored!), but my fear was that by the time I completed getting the NIF from them, I would still need to worry about opening the bank account virtually, and by the time the bank account would be opened, my application might need to be resubmitted which would be a nightmare.
Addressing my Portuguese food withdrawal
I had really been looking forward to moving to Portugal, but I guess some things are not meant to be. The consulate and those who provided support along the way have been fantastic, however, the NIF and opening of a Portuguese bank account really deterred me from continuing.
Now it's finally spring, and I think the only thing I can hope for is that through some sort of incredible magic, my visa is granted even without the Portuguese bank account. Since that's quite a long shot, I've resorted to simply enjoying the pleasant contrast to New York's rather cold winter by checking out the opening of local restaurants and food courts. Most recently, my friend and I headed to Flushing in Queens, New York which is known to be a foodie's melting pot of ethnic cuisines. I guess that since I knew that I wouldn't be able to have amazing Portuguese food in Portugal for a while, some delicious Chinese food would be the next best thing while practicing my Polish again.