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Securing visa appointments in Portugal has become a pressing concern for many travellers and expats alike.

Our straightforward guide delivers essential insights into booking your appointment, preparing the necessary paperwork, and overcoming current system complexities. We provide targeted strategies to ensure your process is as smooth and stress-free as possible without the hassle of navigating the AIMA transition alone.

Key takeaways

  • The transition of immigration and asylum services from SEF to AIMA in Portugal has led to challenges for visa applicants, including delayed appointments and a backlog of cases.
  • RHJ Law offers comprehensive legal assistance for navigating visa applications in Portugal, providing services such as document preparation, scheduling support, and accompaniment to consulate appointments.
  • Accurate completion of the visa application process requires selection of the correct visa type, gathering current supporting documents, and completing the application form with attention to details such as travel insurance and financial means.

Navigating the AIMA transition for visa appointments

Illustration of visa applicants waiting in line at a visa application center

When SEF handed over the baton to AIMA, the landscape of immigration and asylum services in Portugal underwent a significant transformation. AIMA’s emergence was envisioned to streamline and humanise these services, a beacon of hope for a smoother visa process. As the new gatekeeper, AIMA inherited a myriad of administrative duties that were once under SEF’s umbrella, from managing border controls to issuing documentation, now shared with various national agencies. However, despite the promise of a new dawn, the transition to this new system has not been without its hurdles for hopeful applicants.

The shifting sands of this transition period have seen many visa seekers face postponed appointments and a tangle of new procedures, leaving them in limbo as they navigate the uncharted territory of AIMA’s system. Language barriers and a lack of clear guidance have further compounded the challenges, making what should be the exciting start of a new chapter into a daunting odyssey. But as with any epic journey, there are allies ready to lend their expertise and support to guide you through these trials.

Understanding AIMA’s role in visa processing

AIMA now stands at the helm of key administrative procedures for foreign nationals, overseeing everything from entry and stay to the issuance of residence permits, as well as handling asylum cases. The anticipation for a new portal, under AIMA’s stewardship, to facilitate the scheduling of visa appointments is palpable, but a definitive release date remains on the horizon. In response to the backlog of cases left in its predecessor’s wake, AIMA has announced a ‘mega operation’ to expedite the processing of these pending applications, a glimmer of hope for many awaiting their turn.

Despite the challenges, understanding AIMA’s role is a crucial step in securing a visa. The agency’s commitment to improving the process is a testament to Portugal’s welcoming spirit, ensuring that the beauty and opportunities within its borders remain accessible to those wishing to explore or call it home. The promise of a more efficient system is on the horizon, and with patience and the right guidance, navigating this new terrain can be a rewarding part of your journey.

Challenges faced by applicants post-transition

In the wake of AIMA’s takeover, applicants have encountered a maze of new hurdles. Pre-scheduled appointments have been pushed back, leaving many in a state of uncertainty, their plans hanging in the balance. With a significant backlog of applications to contend with, AIMA has been racing against time to clear the bottleneck and restore a sense of normalcy to the process. The added complexity of language barriers and a new system to master have only heightened the anxiety for those eager to set their plans in motion.

However, in these challenging times, resilience and resourcefulness are your best companions. Seeking out expert guidance can illuminate the path forward, transforming obstacles into stepping stones towards your destination. As AIMA works to smooth out the wrinkles in its operations, those who navigate the system with patience and careful preparation will find themselves at the forefront when the tide finally turns.

Assistance with visa appointments by RHJ Law

Illustration of a person reviewing visa application documents

Amidst the uncertainty of the AIMA transition, RHJ Law emerges as a lighthouse for those navigating the choppy waters of visa applications. With a seasoned crew of legal experts at the ready, RHJ Law offers a lifeline to clients, guiding them through the legal intricacies of various Portuguese visas. Their suite of services includes:

  • Scheduling AIMA appointments via telephone & online requests
  • Preparation & review of supporting documents
  • Professional guidance when attending appointments with clients

These tools are like a well-stocked captain’s chest, brimming with the tools needed for a successful voyage.

Clear communication is the cornerstone of RHJ Law’s approach, ensuring that clients are never adrift, with their application statuses promptly updated, and a steady hand provided throughout the visa process. The firm underscores the importance of attending SEF appointments, offering navigational charts to ensure these critical meetings are never missed. Even amidst the shifting currents of the AIMA transition, RHJ Law’s comprehensive support remains steadfast, assisting with finding appointments, reviewing documentation beforehand, and if necessary, accompanying clients to the consulate.

Scheduling support and documentation review

In the realm of visa applications, RHJ Law understands the value of being well-armed with the necessary documentation. We recommend keeping all essential documents in one accessible place, like a digital treasure chest, to ensure nothing is overlooked or misplaced. The services may encompass document checks and assistance with submitting visa applications, ensuring every piece is in order for the journey ahead.

This meticulous approach to documentation is a beacon of hope for those who have faced the tempest of postponed or difficult-to-schedule appointments. With RHJ Law’s support, applicants can rest assured that their paperwork will withstand the scrutiny of any visa application centre, with every document accounted for and every form filled with precision. Our expertise is a compass that leads applicants through the fog of requirements and into the clear skies of a successful application.

Accompaniment services to consulate appointments

The consulate interview stands as a formidable gate on the path to obtaining a visa, but with RHJ Law by your side, you can approach this threshold with confidence. The legal services extend to accompanying clients during this critical interview, to see you through every step of the process. Preparation assistance can be apart of the process, ensuring clients are armed with the right answers and a polished presentation for the interview at the consulate.

Imagine walking into the consulate with an experienced advocate at your side, ready to translate the complex language of visa requirements into actionable steps. This level of support can make all the difference in demystifying the process and elevating an applicant’s case. RHJ Law’s accompaniment service is more than just a guiding hand; it’s a partnership that stands with you at the consulate, ready to navigate any challenges that arise.

Comprehensive service proposal from RHJ Law

RHJ Law’s offerings are as diverse as the travellers they assist, with services tailored to meet the needs of:

  • Individuals
  • Companies
  • Students
  • & many more!

Whether managing a single application or steering a large group through the process, RHJ Law is equipped to handle the task with efficiency and care. Clients are invited to request a detailed proposal, which serves as a nautical chart outlining the specific services provided to aid in their visa applications and appointments.

In an ocean of uncertainty, a comprehensive service proposal from RHJ Law stands as a pillar of clarity and direction. It is a testament to their commitment to navigate the complexities of the visa application process, ensuring each client’s journey is tailored to their unique destination. The goal is not just to reach the shores of Portugal but to do so with an experience that is as seamless and stress-free as possible, a true reflection of the tranquility and welcoming spirit that the country embodies.

Tailored approach to each client’s needs

RHJ Law’s approach is akin to a master tailor crafting a bespoke suit, with each detail meticulously shaped to fit the client’s professional and personal circumstances. The services are not confined to the walls of an office; instead, they come to you, whether at home or workplace, ensuring a visa application experience that is as smooth as the finest silk. For those embarking on this journey with a larger party, RHJ Law offers group application processing, weaving together a service plan that balances cost-efficiency and convenience.

This tailored approach is not just about providing legal assistance; it’s about understanding the individual stories and aspirations of each client. RHJ Law’s services are designed to align with your goals, whether it’s for professional training, a highly qualified activity, or simply the dream of a new life under the Portuguese sun. Each step of the way, RHJ Law ensures that your visa application is not just a formality but a personalised path to your future.

Transparency and clarity in service offerings

RHJ Law’s compass of services guides clients through the international waters of moves and business setups with transparency as its true north. Their unwavering commitment to clear communication ensures that clients are well-informed about the extensive support available, from untimed advice sessions to a comprehensive application process. The firm leaves no stone unturned, with their service package covering the entire visa application journey, including meticulous document checking to support the process.

The clarity of RHJ Law’s offerings extends beyond the initial consultation, providing peace of mind with additional services like secure passport return via courier. This transparency is the beacon that guides clients through murky waters, ensuring they are never left adrift in the sea of bureaucracy. With RHJ Law, travellers and expatriates alike can set sail on their Portuguese adventure with a clear horizon ahead.

Extended support besides appointment scheduling

RHJ Law’s support extends far beyond the horizon, offering assistance for those moving abroad, whether for business expansion, retirement, or startups, and not just for securing AIMA appointments. For applicants who find themselves relocating abroad, RHJ Law still provides a compass through their visa application and supporting documentation review service, ensuring every detail is charted correctly before submission.

Even without facilitating AIMA appointments, the firm can attend previously scheduled visa appointments with clients, offering guidance and support like a steadfast co-captain. This extended support underscores the firm’s dedication to making every client’s journey to Portugal as smooth as possible, regardless of the type of assistance required. It’s a commitment to ensure that every traveller, every dreamer, every hopeful expatriate has the wind at their back as they steer towards their new life.

Pre-appointment documentation checks

One cannot overstate the importance of a well-prepared dossier for a visa application. RHJ Law ensures that all documents are up-to-date, to satisfy the stringent visa requirements. Original documents are the cornerstones of your application; although photocopies are submitted, having originals on hand is essential unless otherwise specified. Besides the paperwork, proof of travel and accommodation must be indisputable, displaying your meticulous planning during your stay.

A crucial component often overlooked is the medical travel insurance, which must be all-encompassing, covering the entire Schengen Area with a hefty sum assured for unforeseen medical exigencies. A signed printout from an online application form is the flag that signals your readiness to embark on this journey. With RHJ Law’s guidance, the timing of your submission will be as precise as a chronometer, ensuring you apply up to six months before travel, accounting for the two-week minimum processing time — a period that can extend during peak seasons or for certain nationalities.

In-person support at already scheduled appointments

Navigating the currents of a visa application can be daunting, but with RHJ Law’s in-person support at already scheduled appointments, clients are never left to steer through these waters alone. Their presence can clarify procedures and resolve any issues that might arise, acting as a seasoned guide through the labyrinth of bureaucratic checkpoints. This support is invaluable for those who find themselves at the mercy of the tides, ensuring that no storm, no matter how sudden, can capsize their visa application journey.

The firm’s commitment to accompanying clients at these crucial meetings is a testament to their understanding that the journey to secure a visa is often fraught with uncertainty and anxiety. RHJ Law’s assistance at visa appointments is more than just a service — it is a pledge to be by the client’s side, providing a steady hand and a clear voice when it matters most. This level of support is the beacon that leads to a successful application, illuminating the path towards the dream of a life in Portugal.

Step-by-step guide to securing a visa appointment

Illustration of a person holding a Portuguese visa application form

Securing a visa appointment in Portugal is a voyage that begins with the first step of contacting the nearest Portuguese Embassy or Consulate. The online seas have made this quest more accessible, allowing applicants to request a Schengen visa through digital channels or in person. Once the interview is scheduled, the applicant must present themselves in person on the designated date to submit their application. The waters can get choppy during peak seasons like Easter, summer, and Christmas, making securing an appointment more challenging due to high demand and potential delays. It is wise to apply for a visa at least three weeks before the travel date to account for processing times, ensuring you catch the favorable winds for your journey.

With the right knowledge and preparation, the process of securing a visa appointment can be as smooth as the calm seas on a clear day. This guide serves as your navigational chart, providing you with the landmarks and navigational buoys needed to make the journey a success. From identifying the right visa type to gathering the required documents and completing the application form, each step is a crucial leg in the journey to your Portuguese destination.

Identifying the right visa type

The quest for the right visa type, such as a temporary stay visa, is akin to selecting the correct sail for your vessel; it must be suited to the distance and purpose of your journey. For short sojourns, travellers can explore Portugal and other Schengen countries visa-free for up to 90 days within a 180-day period, while British citizens and others will need to apply for a visa for longer stays. Those seeking to drop anchor in Portugal for the first time must submit their visa application in person to provide biometric data, a crucial step in charting the course of future travels. The application form, available in several languages, can be downloaded from the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, a compass to guide applicants through the initial stages of the process.

Choosing the correct visa type is imperative, whether you seek the winds of business, the solace of retirement, or the adventure of travel. Each visa, be it a Schengen, national, or residency visa, comes with its own set of requirements and allowances, tailored to the length and purpose of your stay. By selecting the right visa, you ensure that your journey to Portugal is not only legal but also tailored to your individual aspirations and needs.

Gathering required documents

Every navigator knows that a successful voyage requires thorough preparation, and gathering the required documents for a visa application is no different. The standard documentation for a Schengen visa is a treasure trove of information, including a signed application form, a valid passport with room for new stamps, and a UK residence permit or other form of visa if required. Short-stay visas demand a specific set of documents, from valid identification to proof of financial means and a return ticket reservation, while long-stay visas require an even more comprehensive collection, including medical insurance and proof of accommodation.

It’s crucial that the documents are current and provide an accurate picture of the applicant’s situation, as outdated information can lead to delays or rejections. Additional proof, such as a marriage certificate or a spouse’s national passport, may be necessary to establish relationships, and passports older than ten years are typically not accepted. Prior to the visa appointment, it is advisable to have all documents reviewed by a knowledgeable party, such as the legal team at RHJ Law, to ensure a smooth sail through the application process.

Completing the visa application form

Completing the visa application form is the rite of passage for every hopeful traveler to Portugal. The form must be downloaded from the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website and submitted with the applicant’s signature, a solemn oath of their intent to visit the country. Accuracy is the guiding star in this process, as any deviation can lead to processing delays or a journey cut short. Applicants must display knowledge of Schengen visa rules, such as the 90-180 rule, and demonstrate financial stability to cover their voyage. Fortunately, those who have previously docked in Schengen ports can take advantage of biometric data reuse for future visa applications within a 59-month period, easing the burden of repeated submissions.

Even in the face of a visa refusal, there is no mandated waiting period before setting sail again. Applicants can correct their course and reapply immediately, provided they address the reasons for the initial denial.

With the form completed and the sea of paperwork navigated, the final step is to submit the application and await the winds of approval to carry you to the shores of Portugal.

Visa fee and payment process

Illustration of various currency symbols representing visa fees

The journey to securing a Schengen visa comes with its own price, a visa fee that serves as the financial anchor for your application. For purposes such as tourism, visiting family or friends, or business, the general fee is set at 80 euros, a small levy for the promise of exploring Portugal’s riches. The fee is a non-refundable tribute to the guardians of the realm, the Portuguese visa authorities, who require it for the analysis of your application, a token of your commitment to the journey. Payments can be made through the E-Visa portal, a modern convenience that facilitates the application process and ensures that your funds reach the right harbor.

The fee structure is a reminder that the path to obtaining a visa is not only about paperwork but also about the investment in your future travels. While the fee does not guarantee the issuance of a visa, it is a necessary step in the process, a testament to your readiness to explore the shores of Portugal and beyond. With the fee paid and the application submitted, the next leg of the journey awaits, bringing you one step closer to the adventure that lies ahead.

Exemptions and reduced fees

In the realm of visa applications, not all travellers are required to pay the full visa fees. Certain voyagers, such as family members of European Union, EEA, or Swiss nationals, are granted passage without a complex process. Additionally, EU nationals don’t even need to request a visa; just a simple visit to the local Town Hall is sufficient enough to request a Certificado de Registo de Cidadão da União Europeia (CRUE).

These exemptions and reductions in fees are like the favorable winds that propel ships faster towards their destination, providing relief to those who qualify. They are a recognition of the diverse circumstances and backgrounds of travellers, ensuring that the journey to Portugal is not hindered by financial constraints for the young, the connected, and the dedicated. With the knowledge of these financial navigational aids, applicants can steer their visa application process with confidence, knowing that the path ahead may be less costly than anticipated.

The importance of travel insurance in visa applications

Illustration of a travel insurance policy document

Travel insurance is the safety net of any voyage, and in the context of visa applications, it is an indispensable part of your travel arsenal. Without it, the gates to Portugal remain firmly closed, as visa authorities require this assurance of your preparedness for unexpected events during your travels. The coverage provided by travel insurance is a bulwark against unforeseen circumstances such as illnesses, accidents, and trip interruptions, offering a lifeline in the face of adversity. This inclusion in visa applications is not merely a formality; it is a testament to the importance of safety and reliability in your travel plans, a reflection of Portugal’s concern for the well-being of its visitors.

The requirement for travel insurance is a reminder of the unpredictable nature of travel. It is a declaration that while you may be ready to explore the beauty and culture of Portugal, you are also prepared for the storms that may arise. With travel insurance in hand, applicants can embark on their journey with peace of mind, knowing that they are protected against the tides of chance.

Requirements for insurance coverage

When setting sail on your Portuguese adventure, your travel insurance policy must be as robust as the sturdiest ship, with coverage for medical expenses reaching at least €30,000. This coverage must span the entire duration of your trip and extend its protective embrace to all 29 Schengen Zone countries, without exception. The insurance must be watertight, offering no room for exclusions or gaps in coverage that could leave you vulnerable in the Schengen Area’s waters.

For those seeking a more comprehensive shield, policies that provide coverage up to €10 million are available, along with specific add-ons tailored to the nature of your trip. Whether you’re diving into the vibrant streets of Lisbon or exploring the serene landscapes of the Algarve, your insurance should reflect the activities you plan to undertake. It’s not just about fulfilling a requirement; it’s about ensuring your voyage is secure from port to port, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the wonders of Portugal with confidence and ease.

Selecting a suitable insurance provider

Selecting the right travel insurance provider is as crucial as choosing the right crew for your journey. For Schengen visa applications, the insurance must provide a minimum coverage of €30,000 for medical expenses and emergency evacuation, a lifeline in the vast ocean of potential risks. Coverage must be comprehensive, including costs related to:

  • medical repatriation
  • trip cancellation or interruption
  • lost or delayed baggage
  • emergency medical expenses
  • personal liability

This ensures that should you need to return to your home port under unfortunate circumstances, you will be supported.

Our insurance partners at RHJ Law have access to several insurance providers. Even if you don’t need the support of AIMA appointment scheduling or attendance, the team are happy to review potential health insurance options for you. Just get started by submitting a request to our team!

What to expect during the visa interview

The visa interview is often the final leg of your journey towards obtaining permission to enter Portugal, a brief encounter where first impressions hold immense weight. Typically lasting no more than 20 minutes, this meeting is a concentrated moment where your responses and demeanour can have a profound impact on the outcome of your application. It is here that the immigration officer weaves together a picture of your credibility, relying heavily on the integrity of your responses and the supporting documentation you provide to support your residency application.

Approach the interview with the same seriousness and preparation as you would a voyage across uncharted seas. Honest and clear answers, coupled with the necessary documentation, are your compass and map, guiding you through the questioning and towards a favorable decision. The interview is not just a procedural step; it is a chance to demonstrate the strength of your case and your genuine intent to visit or reside in Portugal.

Typical questions and how to answer them

During the visa interview, you will be at the helm, steering the conversation through the waters of the immigration officer’s inquiries. Here are some tips to help you navigate the interview successfully:

  • Speak truthfully and with confidence
  • Present yourself neatly to create a positive impression that resonates with your audience
  • Be prepared to answer biographical questions that probe the consistency of personal, employment, and family details provided in your application
  • Articulate your purpose for visiting Schengen countries clearly

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of a successful job seeker visa interview.

Proof of financial means or sponsorship is crucial, as you must demonstrate your ability to fund your trip without burdening the host country. A positive travel history, evidenced through stamps and visas in your passport, can serve as a favorable wind, indicating that you have previously adhered to visa regulations and are a trustworthy traveler. Answering these questions effectively is like navigating through narrow straits; precision and clarity will lead you safely to the open waters of approval.

Presentation of supporting documentation

As with any port of call, presenting the correct documentation is essential for gaining entry. Bring original documents to the interview, but be prepared to submit only photocopies unless an original is specifically requested. Organise your financial documents, like bank statements, in a way that allows for easy retrieval during the interview process, ensuring you can swiftly set sail through any questions regarding your means. Have evidence such as accommodation bookings or invitations from within the Schengen area at the ready, as these documents help verify the purpose and credibility of your trip. Any documents not in Portuguese should be officially translated into Portuguese or another widely accepted language to ensure that the immigration officer can navigate the information you provide.

The presentation of your supporting documentation is like unfurling your sails before the wind; it should be done with care and attention to detail. The information you provide during the interview must correspond with the documents presented, painting a coherent and convincing picture of your travel plans. With your documents in order and your answers prepared, you can confidently face the immigration officer, ready to secure your passage to Portugal.

Addressing common concerns and queries

At the heart of every traveler’s concerns are the logistical nuances of scheduling and attending visa appointments. Platforms like VFS Global offer a streamlined approach to this process, allowing for appointments to be made through their online system for general consular services. For those who navigate the digital realm with ease, the ‘Autenticação GOV.PT’ section is the go-to harbour for appointments if holding a Digital Mobile Key. Special arrangements, such as consular visits to less accessible locations or house calls for applicants unable to travel, can be requested via dedicated channels, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to set their visa application in motion.

As the journey progresses, clients receive timely updates on the outcome of their applications via SMS and email, a modern-day message in a bottle keeping them informed every nautical mile of the way. Understanding the provisions for visa fee exemptions in Portugal can also steer applicants towards smoother seas. Information regarding exchange rates and service fees is readily available, guiding applicants through the financial aspects of their application. By addressing these common concerns, the process becomes less daunting, allowing travellers to focus on the excitement of their upcoming trip rather than getting caught in the undertow of administrative tasks.

Resolving issues with multiple entries and stays

The flexibility of Schengen visas caters to the varying tides of travellers’ needs, offering options for single, double, or multiple entries with corresponding durations of stay. In cases where the sea of circumstances turns stormy during a trip to Portugal, visitors may seek harbor in an extension of their stay, subject to the approval of immigration authorities. Should travellers find themselves having overstayed their visa, it is imperative to reach out to immigration services posthaste to navigate away from potential penalties and towards possible legal remedies, such as a visa extension under exceptional circumstances.

These situations, while less common, are important considerations for any voyage, whether it’s for cultural or sports events. Having the knowledge and resources to address them ensures that travelers remain in compliance with visa regulations, even when unexpected events extend their stay. It is a reminder that while the journey may not always go as planned, there are mechanisms in place to adjust the sails and correct the course, ensuring safe passage through Portugal’s welcoming waters.

Dealing with special cases for family members

The journey to Portugal can often involve the entire crew, and family members of Portuguese residents may be eligible to join the voyage through family reunification. This process allows those with a valid residence permit to bring their loved ones aboard, provided they can demonstrate adequate housing and subsistence means. Qualifying family members extend beyond spouses and minor children to include adult children dependent due to health reasons and first-degree relatives in the ascending line who rely on the resident’s support. For young sailors embarking alone, a letter of consent from non-accompanying family member or legal guardians is their passport to adventure, along with any additional supporting documents required by their country of origin. In duly justified cases, such as those requiring humanitarian protection, Portugal’s borders may open to other family members not typically covered by standard family reunification processes, ensuring that families can weather the storms of life together.

Navigating the special cases for family members requires an understanding of the legal currents and a respect for the nuances of each individual situation. Whether it’s for family reunification or the travel of unaccompanied minors, the process is a testament to Portugal’s commitment to unity and support, allowing families to embark on their new life together with confidence and legal assurance. It’s a reminder that every journey is unique, and the paths we take are enriched by the companions who travel alongside us.


Our journey through the visa appointment process in Portugal concludes here, with the hope that the knowledge and guidance provided serve as reliable charts to navigate this complex course. From understanding AIMA’s role in the post-SEF landscape to leveraging the tailored assistance of RHJ Law, each step has been carefully mapped out to ensure a successful voyage. The step-by-step guide, fee insights, travel insurance significance, and interview preparations are your compass, logbook and essential tools for this nautical adventure.

Let this guide stand as a beacon of hope, illuminating the path toward your Portuguese aspirations. Whether your journey is for leisure, work, or permanent relocation, remember that patience, thorough preparation, and expert assistance are your steadfast allies. May the winds be favorable, your documentation in order, and the shores of Portugal welcoming as you embark on this exciting chapter of your life.

Frequently asked questions

Can I attend my visa appointment without travel insurance?

No, travel insurance is a mandatory requirement for all visa applicants. Without it, your application may be automatically rejected.

How far in advance should I schedule my visa appointment?

Unfortunately you won’t be given the opportunity to choose a preferred date or time, the selection is given to you by AIMA.

What should I do if my visa appointment gets postponed by AIMA?

If your visa appointment is postponed by AIMA, it is important to stay patient and seek support from a legal service, such as RHJ Law, to help with the rescheduling process. Contact us for assistance as soon as possible.

What happens if I overstay my visa in Portugal?

If you overstay your visa in Portugal, it is important to contact immigration services immediately to discuss potential legal remedies and avoid penalties. Applying for a visa extension under exceptional circumstances may be an option.

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