What Happens At My AIMA Visa Renewal?

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Last updated on June 4, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

For those who’ve taken the leap and secured residency through AIMA (previously known as SEF), the time will inevitably come to renew your visa. Previously, this would take place after just one year of residency in Portugal but, these days, it more commonly takes place after two years.

According to Sandra Gomes Pinto, a Lisbon-based lawyer and seasoned immigration expert, this process is significantly more straightforward than the initial application for a residence permit.

The AIMA Visa Renewal Process: A Brief Overview

When it’s time to renew your visa with AIMA, the primary objective is to verify that you continue to meet the initial requirements of your residency.

For example, if you applied for the D7 visa, one of the requirements would be that you show a regular passive income that’s equivalent to the Portuguese minimum wage. At the renewal interview, you would need to show that you still have that.

Similarly, golden visa holders are normally asked to show that they still have their initial investment, for example an investment in a fund.

Sandra notes that this check is considerably less complex than the original application process, saying “They simply want to confirm that you still meet the requirements.”

The good news for residents is that the renewal can be completed within Portugal itself. There’s no need to return to your home country or travel elsewhere, a convenience that simplifies the process for many. However, getting an AIMA appointment can be challenging and sometimes people travel to other parts of Portugal where that are available slots.

A Note on Days Spent in Portugal

While there is a requirement for residents to spend a certain amount of time in Portugal to maintain their residency status, Sandra notes that the scrutiny of days spent in-country is not as stringent as some might expect. However, it’s important to approach this aspect honestly and be prepared to demonstrate your presence in Portugal if asked.

“Within the first two-year period, you should not leave Portugal for more than six months in a row or eight months in total. This is something that’s only checked when you renew rather than when you leave each time.

“In practice, this isn’t something that has been checked in great detail. To date the authorities have mainly wanted to check that your life and new home is in Portugal rather than counting the exact days.” 

Looking Forward

As you approach the end of your first few years in Portugal, it’s a good idea to begin thinking about the five-year mark. It’s at this point, that you’ll be able to apply for Portuguese nationality.

In fact, as of 2024, you may be able to apply earlier, as the time spent between applying and obtaining your residence permit will count towards citizenship.

This means that it’s a good idea to start thinking about the documents you will need but, more importantly, getting at least an A2 level of Portuguese and thinking about ways you can show ties to Portuguese society.

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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

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