Wow!! I started this post on November 15th and didn't realize how much time has gone by. We have been traveling between Boise and Oregon and I think I got overwhelmed by everything and lost all motivation. Got a very helpful reminder from one of the wonderful people who I've been lucky to have as a reader and a now a friend. It was just what I needed to get back in gear!
We finally made it to a Visa appointment! Those of you that have been following us since the beginning know how much we needed this. We started our overseas journey wanting to go to Spain, selling our house, and applying for the NLV in June.
After months of stressing, 1000s of dollars wasted on hotels, etc., and three separate submittals, we gave up and switched to the D7 visa. After a little over a month gathering paperwork etc., we finally made it to our Visa appointments on November 9th at the VFS in San Fransisco. We are so relieved but also gun-shy hoping it doesn't go the way the NLV visa went.
Adapt or Die (I mean not really but you know)
The D7 visa appointment varies depending on the consulate/VFS office you use. At this point, I believe only the DC consulate allows mail submission, and the rest do in-person appointments at the VFS Global office assigned to their area. Here is the VFS link to find your consulate https://visa.vfsglobal.com/usa/en/prt.
Once you find your VFS consulate you will need to create an account on their website. In that account, you can schedule appointments for yourself as well as the other people in your party. Each person needs their own individual appointment even when applying as a family. They also are pausing the family reunification process at this time, so each person will have to have their own application, even minors.
The VFS site can be temperamental. The way I made our appointments is by adding a person and doing each one at a time vs adding them all at the same time. This way you will need to see available appointments and find the amount you need in the day and quickly book each person individually before they fill up. To be more clear you only need one VFS account to schedule all the appointments for your family. This will make sense once you are scheduling.
D7, The San Francisco Treat
The consulate we are assigned to is the San Francisco Portuguese Consulate. We are currently staying in Oregon, so we bought a flight to and from. The flight landed on Monday the 8th and left Tuesday the 9th a few hours after our appointment. It was a little rough doing this with a toddler, but coming the night before the appointment definitely helped reduce the stress.
To get to the airport from where we are staying is about a three-hour drive. We got up, drove to Portland, and ended up getting there pretty early so kicked back and relaxed. Had some yummy food and a mimosa which totally helped my hatred for flying. It combines many things I don't enjoy: heights, trusting others to not let me die, confined places, etc.
The flight went well and Jackson was awesome, thank you technology! The only hiccup is literally something I do every time I fly which is getting so anxious walking through the scans that I forgot to take my shoes off. This ended up being no biggie but you have to laugh to keep from crying right?!
We made sure to set up a driver for pick-ups and drop-offs to save us the stress of figuring everything out. Our driver picked us up and we made it to our hotel around 6:45 pm. The man who checked us in is literally like the creepy old dude who checks you in during every horror movie. The hotel is this cool retro place which also adds to this place is haunted vibe. The bathroom and beds were out of this world though so I would have taken a good haunting for all that!
Once we were checked in we found a little restaurant that was within walking distance. Luckily it was within walking distance because San Francisco had just recently mandated you had to show your vaccine card to enter restaurants. The sweet husband ran through the rain back to the hotel (no umbrellas or raincoats because we were not prepared for non San Diego weather) and grabbed our cards.
One thing that my husband and I have tried to do over the years to keep it fun is to try "weird" foods aka foods we have never had that seem different. We haven't traveled much so it's not too hard to find foods that are new to us, which will be very interesting when we move to Portugal. Anyways, as you see pictured above we decided to try escargot.
The waitress was really sweet and encouraged us to compare the texture to eating a mushroom. They were cooked in a buttery garlic sauce that was really yummy. Johnny loved his. I on the other hand could not get past the chewiness. I kept telling myself they are like mushrooms, and my mouth would be like b***** these are not mushrooms! I would have stopped after the first but Johnny encouraged me to give it another try. Still nope! I would love to try them in a country that specializes in them and maybe I will have a different take but for now, I think I will pass.
We finished the rest of our meal which was awesome and went back to the hotel. I took an amazing bubble bath which was fantastic. I headed to bed as we wanted to get a good night's rest to prepare for our appointments which were set for 9:30am, 10am, and 10:30am.
Portugal or Bust
The day of the appointment had arrived! We had everything done except for one thing we had been debating. We were not sure if we needed the notarized passport page. I had heard mixed perspectives about whether we needed it or not but after the malarky that was the Spain Visa we decided to just get it and cover our basis. Apparently, google maps is not updated at all so when we headed to the UPS store the morning of, that was supposed to be open at 7am, it was not ahhhh.
We find this lovely cafe to eat some breakfast and get out of the rain while we strategize. It was around 8:30 and while we were eating Johnny called a mobile notary who said they would meet us at the Chase bank by the consulate, since we needed to go there to get our money order.
The notary was amazing!! He came to the bank and completed all three of our notaries in about 5 min. For those who aren't sure what to have the notary do here we go. You need to have a color copy of your passport. On the copy the notary will have you right: This is a true and accurate copy of my passport. The notary will stamp it and sign it as will you. I know there are differences per state on what they are allowed to notarize, which is why we waited until we were by the VFS to get the correct one.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
At the bank, I got our money orders. We were told, and it was confirmed at our appointment that the consulate fee has to be a money order and the VFS fee could be debit or credit. The fees change so make sure to check the fees each month to determine the price. We weren't sure if we could get one money order for all of us or separate ones. We went with one which was not right.
(edited 01/05/2022) The next paragraph is wrong. You have to pay an application fee for everyone even children under 5 (ill explain in the next post). Heads up if you have any minors that are applying with you, if they are 5 and under they are not required to pay the consulate fee. Every person will have to pay the VFS processing fee. At the time of our appointment, the consulate fee was $106 per person and the VFS fee was around $50 something. The San Francisco VFS also has you pay a fee to have your stamped passport shipped back to you which was around $30 something. I believe the fees may be different for minors etc. so again check the VFS fee page to make sure.
Some people I have talked to said they paid the consulate fee for their minor child. I believe that if you don't point it out to them and have the check ready they will take the check. When we went up I clarified if we needed to pay for our son and had a printout of what the webpage said just in case. The lady who processed us checked a form next to her and confirmed that Jackson did not have to pay the fee. (we were told later that this was not correct...see next post).
I'm So Nervous I May Pee Myself
Now it was time for the appointment. We leave the Chase bank which is next door to the VFS office and head to our appointment. Oh! I forgot to tell you, we were planning on leaving for the airport from the VFS office so we have our luggage in tow. We were definitely not a subtle group.
When you enter the building there is a desk with a person at it that directs you where to go. The person at the desk was very pleasant and directed us to the elevator to head to the VFS office. Once we get out of the elevator there is a security guard by a table where they have you fill out a form, which will be what they use to prepare the prepaid package to send your visa back to you.
We filled out the form and found a spot in the corner to unload all of our stuff. The room has about 4-5 windows with each window representing different countries. The woman at the Portugal window called me up. I am the worst at names. Honestly, I was so focused on doing everything perfectly that I didn't even think to look or ask. Based on what people have said online she is really nice and I think is named Sandra.
She was really patient and thorough. I had more paperwork than I needed because I added a few things just to cover my ass and she let me know a couple of items that weren't necessary. The next appointment was for my son and then my husband. The woman let us pull up another chair, and as I am the one who organized the paperwork, she let me help them and answer questions.
Like I said above we discovered during my appointment that we need a money order for each person. Luckily again Chase was right next door and we had just talked to them about the money order and going to Portugal, and we are both on my account. I asked the woman if Johnny could run down real quick and switch the one money order to two money orders (at the time we believed we only needed 2 and not one for our son).
Surprise You Have a Stamped Passport
Once the application is approved and scanned, the VFS office will print out a prepaid mailing label for each application that will be used to ship wour stamped passport once the visa is approved. They will have you take a picture of your return Fedex label with a random date (it means nothing), that you can track on the Fedex website. Once the application is sent to the consulate the Fedex website will update and it will say pending shipment date. I signed up for Fedex email updates so when the consulate ships the passport to our house the date will be updated on the Fedex website and we will be email notified that it shipped.
Back to the waiting game bum bum bum. This is going to be a no news is good news situation. If there is an issue with your application you will be emailed by the consulate to send supplementary paperwork. We are trying not to freak out since we never got past this part during the Spain saga.
I have been hearing you will get your passport anywhere from 3 weeks to 2 months from the date it arrives at the consulate with no idea when they are actually processing it. And of course as you know we always have freaking holidays when we are waiting on things to process, so why not submit it during the 2 months with the most holidays haha. If we're not making it harder on ourselves than we wouldn't be us huh?
About a week later, on the 15th, we received an email that our application was being forwarded to the consulate and would get there on the 17th. It appears that VFS office collects a few weeks of applications and then forwards them all in one big group. Oh, and not everyone gets the email notification so it can be stressful. Another heads up! Some people are able to track their application on the VFS website and some aren't.
*** Very Important the first questions that we were asked were: 1)Do you have an NIF? 2)Do you have a 1 Year Lease? 3)Do you have a funded bank account in Portugal? So these are a must. In my last post I listed all the other things I had in my application but if you have any questions please let me know!
Time to get all deep and stuff
These past few weeks have really been a trip for me. I think I have been on such high alert and tense that once we had our visa appointment my body just shut down. I have pulled my crap together enough to work but other than that I have been pretty down and on autopilot. This whole process has made me feel like I have grown up a lot, or at least really learn to prioritize things in my life.
I know this probably sounds silly, but for a bit there I think I got a little lost. I had this whole plan to go to Spain and we were supposed to be there in JULY!! Once that got killed we switched gears so fast that we didn't take a second to breathe. I am happy how much easier this process has been and I think is actually a better fit overall, I just don't think I realized I was as stressed as I was.
This journey has given me an opportunity to put myself out there and try things I have always wanted to do, like this blog. I'm not saying this blog is some huge phenomenon but it has been really special to me. I was bummed when I had to change it after working so long on the Spain Visa, and was afraid my hard work so far would get all messed up. With that said it means so much to me for those of you who have supported me through all of this.
A big thank you for hanging in there with me. Honestly I have thought of giving up on the dream of moving overseas, writing our story, etc. more times than I can count and I don't have a whole lot of support except from my husband's wonderful family. It's a lot less scary knowing I have a lot of amazing people to meet up with when we get there, and it's definitely, a win we get there! (see what I did there haha)
Hopefully I have you all warmed and buttered up to cue the self-involved plug! If you like the blog please share and subscribe. It looks like we have a few weeks before any news, so I''m not sure what I will write about in the meantime so hopefully something interesting happens! Until next time boils and gouls!