The Application Process
Truth be told, applying for a visa does require a ton of paperwork but if you plan ahead, it’s easy to avoid needless headaches. As a participant in the auxiliares program, I needed a long stay student visa which requires different (meaning LESS) paperwork than someone applying for a long stay residence visa to work or reunite with a family member in Spain. I am technically a resident of New York State, therefore I had to apply for my visa from the Spanish Consulate in New York. Here’s what I needed for my visa:
- An appointment at the Spanish Consulate in New York City. This is very important and in my opinion, should be made first before gathering the other required papers. You don’t want to be stuck with an appointment that’s too late and if you happen to book one that’s too early, you can always move it to a later date.
- 2 National Visa Application Forms
- A passport
- Driver’s License/State ID Card
- 2 passport-type photos which I took at Wal-Mart. It cost me about $9.00.
- Carta de nombramiento – This is my school placement letter, which also serves as proof of health insurance and proof of financial means as needed for the visa.
- A money order for $160 made out to Spanish Consulate New York (if you’re reading this after 2014, double check this fee).
- Medical certificate in either English or Spanish that had to be printed on my doctor’s letterhead and signed.
- New York State background check bearing the Apostille of the Hague. This process took the longest out of anything required. For the background check, a state background check or a FBI background check will suffice, but the state background check takes less time and is less invasive (so I’ve heard). The only time a FBI background check is required is if you’ve lived in more than one state during the past five years and it can take up to three weeks to arrive in the mail. I went the NY state background check route which cost $60.75 and required a fingerprint appointment. I received it in the mail a week later. For the Apostille (a form of verification) I brought my background check to their offices in the Financial District, paid a $10 money order and in about 20 minutes had the Apostille.
- A self-addressed, prepaid UPS label for my passport/visa to be sent to my home.
- 1 copy of all of the above
I know it sounds like a lot but if you plan ahead, it really isn’t. It took me about a month to gather everything and that was only because I moved at a lazy pace. Once I had all my documents together, I kept them in an envelope until my appointment at the consulate.
I was SO nervous about this appointment and I have no idea why. The staff at the New York Spanish Consulate could not have been more helpful and nice. Once my name was called, I handed over my passport, the carta de nombramiento, the application form as well as a copy, a copy of my background check with the Apostille, my passport pictures, the medical certificate and my money order. I brought my driver’s license, but the staff member I worked with told me he didn’t need it. He also stamped a certification of my original Apostille/background check then gave it back to me, stating that I will need the original when I apply for my residency card once I’m in Spain. I then gave him my self-addressed UPS label which he attached to an envelope right in front of me and clipped it to the rest of my paperwork. Then I was done! There was no “interview” and the entire conversation took place in English. The best part about my experience is that all of the staff members are well versed on the Auxiliares program, therefore intent on making the process as seamless as possible. I was told that my visa will take two weeks to process it, meaning I should have it in my possession by early-September. What a cinch!
Have you ever applied for a visa? What was your experience? Let me know below!