VFS San Francisco
A (sort of) anniversary celebration
Today, June 2, 2022, marks exactly one year since Paul and I went to our VFS San Francisco appointments to apply for temporary residency in Portugal. It’s hard to believe one year has passed and that now we are really living in Portugal! In fact, I’m writing this post sitting on our enclosed top-floor Portuguese condo veranda with the sun shining, in a comfortable 76 degrees with a light breeze. If I look out the windows to the left, I can see the ocean. There are quite a few sailboats out today.
Actually yesterday, June 1st was an even more significant day for me and Paul, as it marked our 42nd wedding anniversary. Time has certainly flown by, and we’ve had many, many adventures together – some happy, some sad - but we’re especially grateful for the privilege of still being together (and still in love), laughing, meeting people, having new adventures, and enjoying our lives in our new country.
Documenting our personal experiences.
The initial goal of Our Portugal Journey was to write about a typical American couple’s experiences in moving to and living in Portugal. If you’re reading this post, you may be in the process of obtaining a D7 resident visa or other type of visa for Portugal. Or you may be considering a future move to Portugal and are curious about the steps that are required or even if it’s possible to make such a move. So, as Paul and I were going through this process, I began to document our personal experiences in the hopes that at some point, I could create a blog to help others succeed in their own Portugal journey.
Since timing for a visa is important (some documents can only be a certain number of months old), we created a timeline, starting with the date we wanted to be in Portugal and working backwards, adding the type of document we needed to obtain and by which date. This helped to keep us focused.
But there were moments of doubt.
Many moments of doubt. We had moments when we felt extremely stupid when asking questions on Facebook expat forums or when trying to decipher what exactly we needed to do. For example, for some reason, I had the most difficult time trying to figure out what we needed to do for an FBI criminal background check. There were moments of frustration. Moments of despair. Moments of feeling like the timeline kept moving further away. I took those feelings personally. I thought I was a failure for not being able to figure it all out.
One year ago …
On June 1, 2021, we spent our 41st anniversary still in Covid-mode, getting all our paperwork for our next-day VFS appointments in order – checking, double checking, triple-checking each and every piece of paper to be sure we had all the documents we needed and in the correct order. We were excited. We were nervous. We were scared.
On the morning of June 2nd, we boarded a plane from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport for San Francisco. Our appointments went smoothly, and it was such a relief to have this part of the process over and done with. We were hopeful and felt confident that our applications were solid. We had done our due diligence. We had reviewed all the information we could find. Now, all we had to do was wait for our passports to be returned to us with those precious visa stamps inside. (During this waiting time, I admit - we consumed more wine than usual).
And then our passports arrived.
It took about four weeks to get our passports returned with the temporary resident visas stamped inside! We were ecstatic! All our hard work had paid off! We were actually going to Portugal!
No shame here. It was hard.
In truth, I think this process was one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do but also one of the most rewarding.
We did most of the steps ourselves but hired professionals to help with some of the tasks like obtaining a Portuguese bank account, or getting a NIF (fiscal number), or finding a one-year apartment lease and reviewing visa documents and the lease contract. But it was still hard.
So, today we’re (sort of) celebrating.
We have been living in Portugal for nine months – so it’s not time yet to celebrate our one-year anniversary in Portugal. But we’re sort of celebrating today because one year ago, sitting in the VFS San Francisco office like two nervous kids sitting in a school principal’s office, we never could have imagined that we would pull this off!
If you’re thinking about a move to a new country…
Final thoughts to motivate you.
If you have the dream of moving to Portugal (or another country), go for it.
If people look at you strangely or criticize you because you’re moving to another country, ignore them. It’s your life. Live it to the fullest.
Even if it sometimes seems impossible, keep at it.
Don’t get overwhelmed. Concentrate on one task at a time.
Do not let fear override your dreams.
Ask a lot of questions (and don’t feel stupid asking them).
Research and read (several times) as much as you can about moving to another country. Knowledge is power!
Do. Not. Give. Up.
Don’t wait for the perfect time to move – there is no perfect time and time has a habit of slipping quickly away.
Let me know if I can help – I’m not an immigration expert, but I have personal experience! If you sometimes feel you’re ‘on the ledge’ hanging by a fingernail during this process, drop me a message – maybe I can help or at least be a sounding board. If you need a resource, I may have one to share. Don’t be afraid to ask me a question.
Enjoy the journey!
Until next time…