To many, this process is pretty stressful, not me personally, but I can completely understand why to some.
So you understand better, here's why for me the overall experience was not that stressful :
1.) I've been a real deal out of college, paying my own bills (student loans) adult for two years. Stress to me is trying to figure out how to pay about 2 grand in bills and also trying to eat on one teacher salary.
2.) To some this was stressful because you had to depend on the Spanish government to provide important documents and they were not in a rush. This was not stressful to me because I'm a teacher in a standardized testing world- you just wait for everyone to tell you what you're suppose to do, do what you feel needs to be done and keep moving.
3.) There are only 9 Spanish Consulates in the 50 United States. The one I happen to report to is about an hour away in Houston, TX. As you'll see from the list below there are many states that report to this one consulate, which means plenty of people had to schedule flights or bus tickets or road trips. I only had to wake-up early, complete my nanny duties and then beat traffic.
4.) The Houston location does not make you schedule appointments and allows you to sign a waiver so you can have your VISA mailed to you when it's complete. I believe every other consulate requires you to make an appointment, which means first come first serve AND heaven help if your flight or traffic interferes with your arrival time.
5.) CIEE, thank goodness for them! Seriously, I have no clue what information the other programs or the Spanish Government provide, BUT mine prepared me well. I know in the groups many people had some unanswered questions, but I did not and therefor everything went smoothly. CIEE provided website addresses for all consulates, what you need for each, and contact information. Also, they provided an outline for what to put for each question on the VISA application form.
All of these factors lead to a good experience that only held one panic moment- losing my debit card at the gas station, but nothing that lead to sleepless nights or tears or tense phone calls with customer service.
As I said before I went through the Houston, TX Spanish Consulate, so I'm going to provide information for that one, BUT please know the paperwork is pretty much the same for all ( not all so check with your consulate first).
Houston, TX Spanish Consulate:
- New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas
- Address_ 1800 Bering Drive, Suite 660, Houston, TX 77057
- Phone_ (713)-783-6200/6205/6214
- E-mail_ firstname.lastname@example.org@compcast.com
- Visa website_ http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Consulados/HOUSTON/en/InformacionParaExtranjeros/Pages/Visas.aspx
- CIEE note_ * Use San Fransisco's Requirements Page if all else fails*
- 2 Original Application Forms ( please use black ink and write in capital letters)
- 2 Passport Photos ( UPS or CVS can do these for you for about $8.00)
- Passport ( The book, not the card AND you will leave this at the consulate)
- Letter of Appointment ( From the Spanish Government, will have a signature)
- Proof of Financial Means ( Provided by CIEE for me, thank goodness)
- Proof of Health Insurance ( Also provided by CIEE, thank goodness)
- State Level Background Check ( MorphoTrust USA website will direct you to a fingerprinting location. Also, in Texas this automatically returns notarized)
- Apostille of the Hague_ An International notarization, done by the State of Texas
- Medical Certificate_ Must be on the doctor's office letterhead AND be signed by your doctor
- Here is what it must say: " This medical certificate attests that Mr./Mrs. ______________ does not suffer from any illness that would pose a threat to public health according to the International Health Regulations of 2005. Mr./Mrs. ____________ is of sound mind, body and mental capacity to fulfill all duties required.
- While at the doctors have him write out all your prescriptions because insurance only allows up to four months of prescriptions and this way you can show your Spanish physician exactly what you need.
- $160.00 Money Order ( The post office)
- Self-Addressed stamped USPS Express Mail Envelope ( this is how the VISA is returned, choose the 14.99 flat rate choice the other cardboard option is 19.99)
- This Consulate does not require an appointment and accepts applications in order of arrival from 9a-1p, Monday-Friday.
- Applications will be accepted from 3 months to 1 month before departure.
- The VISA can be returned to you by mail if you bring a self-addressed, stamped USPS express mail envelope to your appointment.
- The months of June and July have such a high application rate that the earliest you can expect your VISA is a month from you appointment date.
- Make 1 copy of each form, so that you can keep the original.
Hope this information helps you out, for more information check-out the following website for further aide:
This is the guy who guided me along with CIEE: Trevor Huxham, also applied in Texas.
This website can direct all other Spanish Consulate Application folks that could careless about Houston, TX requirements.
As, I locate more information about other consulates I will add a link to help all the others out.
Sorry for the long post, just a heads up the next few may be pretty long since I'm going to be providing information to help the transition of moving to a completely different country for a year smoother for those following.
Update: I applied for my VISA on July 8th and received it back in the mail July 23rd. The Spanish Consulate provided me with an extension past the end of the school year which means I can stay in Spain for awhile. Also, they returned my application, verification of a job and Background check.
Until next time . . . Adios, Hasta Pronto, Be Blessed!