Hello! I have a question that I'm having a hard time getting answered, including by the appropriate authorities. I'm turning to this forum in hopes that someone out there may have had the same issue, or knows someone who has. I'd love to talk to you if so!
This is my situation: My husband and I are Americans who are living in Portugal while pursuing post-graduate studies in Lisbon. We applied for and obtained temporary student visas in Portugal (non-Schengen) that are Class D. Our studies will finish in July 2016, at which point we will leave Portugal. We arrived in the Schengen Zone August 19, 2015 and our current visas expire December 31, 2015.
To extend our visas, we needed an appointment with SEF (the Portuguese immigration authorities) which we made and attended on December 1. Part of our paperwork was incorrect--not our fault, not the worker's fault, but incorrect nonetheless and therefore our visa extension was denied. Frustrating, especially because the next available appointmentto rectify the situation was APRIL 19, 2016!!! They will not accept our corrected paperwork without an appointment. Fine. Appointment is made, and we're told we are allowed to remain in Portugal to study because we're making a "good faith effort" to rectify the situation, which is true. Nonetheless, as I said, our visas expire December 31st and we would really like to explore Europe in January, February and March when we have breaks. I would love even more to venture beyond the Schengen Zone, but I am afraid I won't be let back in. I am heartbroken.
I am trying to determine when our "Schengen Zone clock" officially began. I am fully aware of how the 90/180 day rules work, so no need to go over that again. I suspect that, as of now, it began August 19 when we first arrived, despite having had the valid student visas. However, I've read that you can "reset" this clock by crossing out of the Schengen border prior to the visa expiration and then returning (again, while the visa is valid). Thus, creating a new stamp for immigration officials to determine when we actually entered the zone. We happen to be traveling at Christmas to Italy (Schengen) and were considering a jaunt over to Croatia (non-Schengen) so this is entirely feasible for us. Does anyone know if this is true? I've read a number of cases where it has been true, but none of them pertain specifically to Portugal (in fact, it was France where I saw this works). Does having a long term but temporary student visa mean that my clock actually DIDN'T start in August? I have also read that this also only applies if you haven't traveled to any other Schengen Zone countries for the 6 months prior to your "re-start." As luck would have it, our one jaunt out of Portugal was supposed to be to Brussels and it happened to be the weekend the city got shut down for fear of terrorist attacks. We cancelled. So, the only country we've visited during our time here is Portugal and its territories.
I have been in contact with SEF numerous times as well as the US Embassy here in Lisbon. I have messages in to the Italian consulate here in Lisbon, as well as the Portuguese embassies in both Rome and Zagreb. If you have had a similar situation or know who can answer my questions, I would be eternally grateful for your expertise. MUITO OBRIGADA!!!