Student Visa Process for Portugal

You are required to obtain a student visa to participate in the API Lisbon program. It is your responsibility as a student in this program to obtain a student visa before departure. 

We strongly recommend you start this process IMMEDIATELY.

How to apply for a visa: You must apply for your student visa directly through the corresponding Portuguese Consulate. To determine which consulate you should be working with, we have included a list of consulates for you to verify which consulate is located in your home jurisdiction or that of your home university.

Step One: Request Criminal Background Check from FBI & Start Looking at Visa Appointments!

As soon as possible, start the visa process by requesting a Criminal Background Check from the FBI (one of the requirements for your student visa from Portugal). This process can take six weeks or more and is sometimes complicated by the necessity to provide perfect fingerprints. 

Start the FBI background check as soon as you receive word of your acceptance to the program (!!). You CANNOT wait, because it can take up to 6-8 weeks and sometimes the FBI rejects the application because the fingerprints are not sufficiently legible. Because the FBI background checks can take a long time, some consulates will accept a background check through an FBI approved channeler. Please contact your consulate to find out if this is an option for you. 

Access the following link to request the FBI Criminal Background Check: 

Once you have your background check you will be getting an apostille. An apostille essentially provides international authentication for seals and signatures of documents. Think of it as an international notarization that helps foreign governments verify the legitimacy of documents. This process is usually quite quick* and you can actually mail in your document to get it stamped. Here is one service that students used in the past: 

Please check with your consulate if you can bypass the apostille by submitting your FBI Background Check unopened (sealed). 

*Please note that processing times may be delayed due to Covid-19 rebound travel. It’s important to submit everything as soon as possible. 

Step Two: Schedule An Appointment – This can be done while you wait for your FBI Background Check to come in! 

Next, we encourage you to make a schedule of when and how you will collect all of the necessary documents, schedule an appointment (if necessary) with the consulate in your jurisdiction, and make travel plans to visit the consulate well in advance of your travel dates. 

You must submit your visa application to the consulate within your jurisdiction a maximum of 90 days prior to the start date of the program abroad but no later than 31 days prior to the start date. If you do not follow this strict guideline, your documents may be returned to you unprocessed. In many cases, submitting your visa application requires an appointment.  It is critical that you do not wait until the last minute to apply for your student visa – schedule an appointment right away!

API will provide the following documents for you to submit with your visa application: 

  1. API Letter of Enrollment 
  2. Letter of Acceptance from the Portuguese Institution 
  3. Student Insurance Letter
  4. Housing Verification Letter 

API is only able to send these necessary documents once students complete all Onboarding Step 1 forms and pay the confirmation payment. 

These documents will be sent together to the student’s permanent home address by regular mail, unless otherwise requested.  The Letter of Acceptance is requested from the host institution overseas as each student is accepted into the program. If you need these documents expedited, please contact your Program Coordinator immediately. We may be able to expedite for an additional fee.

Step Three: Research and Review 

Carefully review all of the API provided documents. Visit the website of the consulate in your jurisdiction. Consulates may change student visa requirements at any time. It is extremely important that you verify the document requirements with your local consulate before submitting your application. You should also verify the number of copies of each document you are required to submit and the visa processing fee. Incomplete applications will not be processed by consulates. 

Research the following components: 

  • Application requirements 
  • Processing times and recommended timeline guidelines  
  • Submission requirements (personal appearance or submission by mail)  
  • Appointment requirement / procedure 
  • Open days / hours if drop in appointments are accepted 
  • Return requirements (Is a personal appearance required to collect the visa once it has been issued?) 
  • Personal travel plans that will affect your ability to obtain a visa before leaving the U.S. (Remember that API discourages students from making plans to travel internationally before the program.) 

Step Four: Collect and Submit Documentation 

Gather the necessary documents and submit them to the appropriate consulate according to the specific consulate’s rules. Consult API’s sample documents, as well as the documents provided on the consulate’s website. The average processing time for a student visa is 30 days but there may be additional delays due to Covid-19.  When submitting the application, please be sure to keep a copy of the tracking number of the return envelope so that you can track the package at a later date. 

  • Instructions for completing the visa application form: click here
  • For the English version of the Visa Application Form or if you receive a 404 error: click here.
  • Means of Subsistence information: click here.
    • You’ll want to be sure the bank account is in your name and not your parent or guardian’s name. 
  • Request for Portuguese Criminal Record: click here.

Step Five: Follow Up With the Consulate 

If you do not receive your visa within 30 days or less, you should start tracking the return envelope to see if it has been sent or not and you may want to begin contacting the consulate to check the status. 

Portuguese Consulates do not have an expedited visa processing service. You must apply on-time or you risk not receiving a visa before your program start date. 

Students whose passports and visas have not been returned to them prior to their scheduled departure date will have to wait for their passport and visa to be returned to them before traveling. They will not receive a discount for missed orientation activities from API. 

List of Portuguese Consulates in the U.S: 

WASHINGTON, NEW YORK OR SAN FRANCISCO: If your area of jurisdiction is Washington, New York, or San Francisco, you will need to apply for your visa through  to VFS Global. Please click HERE to review the VFS application process.


*Please note that we have not received confirmation that they will accept an FBI approved Channeler. Please reach out to the consulate for more details. 

Phone: +1 305 704 2172

AREAS OF JURISDICTION: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, District of Columbia. 


*Please note that we have not received confirmation that they will accept an FBI approved Channeler. Please reach out to the consulate for more details. 

Chancery: 31 St. James Ave., 3rd Floor – Suite 350
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
Phone: 617 536 8740
E- mail: [email protected] 

AREAS OF JURISDICTION: States of: Maine, Massachusetts (except the area covered by New Bedford), New Hampshire and Vermont 


*Please note that we have not received confirmation that they will accept an FBI approved Channeler. The Consulate recommends presenting a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information from the state of Massachusetts if you are still waiting for your FBI record check. Please reach out to the consulate for more details.) 

Chancery: 628 Pleasant Street, Room 204
New Bedford, Massachusetts 02740
Phone(1): 508 993 5741
Phone(2): 508 997 6151
E- mail: [email protected] 

AREAS OF JURISDICTION: States of: Rhode Island and Massachusetts (see counties and cities below)

  • Counties of: Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket and Plymouth 
  • Cities of: Acushnet, Dartmouth, New Bedford and Fall River 


*Please note that we have not received confirmation that they will accept an FBI approved Channeler. Please reach out to the consulate for more details. 

Phone: +1 305 704 2172

AREAS OF JURISDICTION: States of: Connecticut, Michigan and New York Territories of American Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Puerto Rico 


*Please note that we have not received confirmation that they will accept an FBI approved Channeler. Please reach out to the consulate for more details. 

By appointment only
Chancery: The Legal Center at One Riverfront Plaza, Suite 40
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Phone(1): 973 643 4200
Phone(2): 973 643 2156/58
E- mail: consulado.[email protected] 

AREAS OF JURISDICTION: States of: Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania 


*Please note that we have not received confirmation that they will accept an FBI approved Channeler. Please reach out to the consulate for more details. 

Phone: +1 305 704 2172
E- mail: [email protected] 

AREAS OF JURISDICTION: States of: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming 

DISCLAIMER: VFS and the Consulates may change their rules, fees, and regulations at any time.  Be advised that API does not have any control over consular procedures, and requirements vary greatly between consulates.  For this reason, your primary source of information regarding visas should be your local consulate and the VFS website. API can offer advice based upon our past experiences working with participants, but please be aware that each situation is unique and immigration rules are constantly evolving. The ultimate authority on the visa process will be representatives of the consulate for your jurisdiction. 

The information outlined here pertains specifically to participants who are U.S. citizens. Participants who are not U.S. citizens are advised to consult with their local consulate for requirements. API can only offer limited advice for students who are not U.S. citizens, but in many cases, non- U.S. citizens will have additional requirements for visas in terms of required documentation and locations where they are eligible to apply for their visa. Additionally, students who plan on traveling outside of Portugal during their study abroad session may require additional documentation beyond the student visa for that travel. 

To summarize: 

  1. You are solely responsible for obtaining the proper documentation for your study period in your host country.
  2. The university you will be attending requires that all students have the proper documentation for their period of study. Students who do not follow the correct procedures may not be eligible to complete their semester or obtain credit for courses taken abroad. 


  • Chat with us using the chat feature on our website,
  • Email your Program Coordinator, or if you don’t have one yet, email [email protected]
  • Call the API main line at (512) 600-8900