How to Apply for a Spanish Student Visa: Chicago Consulate

Paperwork. Bureaucracy. Confusing Instructions.

Now, doesn’t that sound like fun, especially after all the excitement of being accepted to the auxiliar de conversación (North American Language and Cultural Assistant) program to teach English in Spain! Well, this is everything the Spanish Student Visa process appears to be. However, I will try and dispel this myth and layout the blueprint for applying to for a Spanish Student Visa at the Chicago Consulate.


My Spanish Visa application was through the Chicago Consulate because I live in Wisconsin. The Chicago Consulate also covers people who live in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Dakota.

Not located in any of these states you say – well, find your Spanish Consulate here.

Getting Started.

To begin, go to your Consulate’s website, find the Visa section, and then find the Language and Culture Assistant Visa. That will tell you everything you need to know and what you all need to bring to your Visa appointment. Every consulate has different requirements, so make sure you get everything that your consulate requires. For instance, the Chicago Consulate does not require anything to be translated and you do not need to bring your flight information.

Next, you’ll need to schedule a Visa appointment on their not-too-official-looking scheduling site. These spots will fill up fast as more and more people receive their placements, so schedule this right away, and remember that it will take about 4 weeks to get your Visa after the appointment.

Also, look at the Visa Application Manual as it explains quite a bit, especially with regards to the Spain National Visa Application Form.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia overlooking the Consulate waiting area

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia overlooking the Consulate waiting area

Gathering the Paperwork.

Your appointment is scheduled, and the countdown begins to your trip to Chicago. Here is a list of everything the Chicago Consulate requires as of July 2013:

  • Complete the Spain National Visa Application Form.
  • Original Passport – Original + 1 color copy
  • ID proving state of residence (US driver’s license, US state ID card, or Voter’s registration card) – Original + 1 color copy
  • One passport sized photo with a white background glued to the first page of your Visa Application.
  • School placement letter – carta de nombramiento. (This document counts for the “letter of acceptance,” “proof of health insurance,” and “proof of financial means.”)
  • An FBI or State Police Criminal Background Check legalized with an Apostille of the Hague Convention from the U.S. – Original + 1 copy
  • Medical Certificate: A doctor’s recent statement in the doctor’s or medical center’s letterhead, signed my an M.D. stating: “the applicant (identified by Passport’s First and Last name) has been examined and found free of any contagious diseases according to the International Health Regulation 2005’.Original + 1 copy 

*For school year 2014/2015 you do NOT need the medical certificate notarized or apostilled for the Chicago Consulate.

  • $160 Money Order for a non-refundable Visa fee
  • Non US Citizens need to present evidence of immigration Status in the US of “Alien Registration Card” or a US Visa with I-20/IAP-66 (except B1-B2).
  • You also have to bring a self-addressed USPS express envelope to your Visa appointment. Mine cost me $19.95 at my local post office.

This all seems simple enough to gather in a timely manner. I scheduled by appointment around for the end of July, which gave me a few months to get everything ready – more than enough time.

For 2014/2015 you do not need to have your doctor’s signed medical certificate notarized or apostilled. This eliminates the most complicated part about the process, so feel free to skip over the next few parts with the strikethrough font. Lucky you!

The Most Complicated Part.

In order to get the Apostille of the Hague Convention on a document that document needs to be notarized.

The Medical Certificate, however, was not so simple. I scheduled a doctor’s appointment and explained to them everything I needed (i.e. the letterhead, doctor’s signature, notary, and exact language). They could do all of it except the notary because there was not one in the doctor’s office. Thanks to Olivia of Travels Untranslated, I was able to use and get a mobile notary. Basically, you call a notary that is in your area and they will meet you at the doctors office. Mine cost me $40, but was on short notice. I’m sure it’s cheaper if you give them more of a heads up though.

I had to go to Madison, Wisconsin for my background check and apostilles. Luckily, Madison is only an hour from Milwaukee, so it didn’t take me long. If your state capitol is too far away, most states should have a mail-in way to do the background check and apostilles.


Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison

Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison

The State Background Check was fairly easy. All you do is search “[Insert your state] state background check.” In Wisconsin, I had to go to the Department of Justice Criminal Investigation Bureau. They are about to do it all right there in about 15 minutes for $12. Make sure to ask if you can get it notarized because you need it notarized in order to get the apostille.

Background check in hand, I walked around the state capitol to the Secretary of State’s office to get my apostilles on the background check and medical certificate. I filled out a brief form, paid them $35 $70 for same day pick-up and took a stroll around town. In about 2 hours, I got a call saying they were ready to be picked up.

Memorial Union Terrace at UW-Madison

Memorial Union Terrace at UW-Madison


Outside of General Consulate of Spain in CHicago

Outside of General Consulate of Spain in Chicago


With everything organized and copied, I headed down to Chicago. I found the General Consulate of Spain right away just so I knew where it was. It’s on the 15th floor and surprisingly was rather uninspiring room. There was only one other person in there and I was about an hour early for my appointment. I waited for her to be done and then went up to the counter and asked if I could go early. They were fine with that. I presented all my documents and 10 minutes later was all done! Now I just have a 4 week wait!!!

Consulate waiting room

Consulate waiting area

After my appointment, my mom, her boyfriend, and I explored downtown Chicago and then went to have lunch at Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen. It’s a little southwest of downtown and the Consulate, but is a delicious restaurant that has been a Chicago staple since 1942. The place is truly slice of life as there were all people from all walks of life enjoying their delicious meals.


My Rueben sandwich from Manny's

My Rueben sandwich from Manny’s

My Mom & I at Manny's

My Mom & I at Manny’s

It’s a slightly complicated process, but hopefully this simplifies it a little. Hopefully in about 4 weeks, I’ll be updating this announcing the arrival of the Visa!

How did your Visa application process go? 

48 responses to “How to Apply for a Spanish Student Visa: Chicago Consulate

  1. You’re done! woohoo! that must be a relief to have that all finished. And I have to say that the Houston consulate has that exact. same. portrait. of the King and Queen, plus another dated one of just the king looking, uh, stoic. I love how these consulates are just random suites in office buildings. 😛

    • It’s a huge relief to have it all done! That’s great they have the same portrait haha! It is such a stoic photo that just stares at you and peers into your soul as you nervously wait there hoping you have all your documents done correctly.

  2. Great information. The only thing I need clarity on is why do you need a Student Visa if you’re going to teach? Wouldn’t you need an Employment Visa instead?

    • It’s a student visa because even though I’m teaching as a language assistant, I’m being paid through the Spanish government on a scholarship and am classified as a student. It’s weird, but I suppose if that’s how they want me to do it I’m alright with it.

  3. You have it lucky! I have heard that Chicago is one of the more ‘easy going’ consulates….they even mail your visa to you! It might have changed though, as regulations often do. I had to make two trips to Boston, one to pick up the visa. It wasn’t terrible for me, but I can’t imagine being from Northern Maine or something and having to drive down…twice!

    Now you can breath easy and prepare for your journey!

  4. Thanks for the shoutout! I’m glad you survived the visado process, a.k.a. the seventh circle of Hell. I also love the photo of Juan and Sofia. Have you received your visa yet? I applied May 24, I think, and got mine back in exactly three weeks.

    • You’re welcome! I haven’t got it back yet. My appointment was only a week ago so hopefully in the next few weeks. It’s weird not having my passport since I was always double checking I had it before heading to Chicago.

    • I know! I’m very excited! The hassle will undoubtedly be worth it though. If you were still in France I’d definitely try and visit.

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  11. Hey, sorry to pull you back to this article a year later. but as you probably know it’s the paperwork time of year and I was led here haha. Do you know if Chicago still accepts background checks from the State Police department? Their wording is pretty confusing to me: “a) State Department of Justice. Original Conviction Information Request Form (from all the States where applicant has lived during the past 5 years). Legalized with the Apostille of the Hague Convention by the corresponding Secretary of the State.” I’m afraid of showing up to my Visa appointment with a State Police check and wasting all that money.

    • No problem, Nathan! I believe that the State Police Department background check will suffice for the Chicago Consulate. I have not completed my VISA for this next year yet, but that is what I’m planning on doing.

  12. Thanks for sharing! Quick question: Where did you get the info about not needing to notarize/apostilled the letter from the MD?

    • Hey Gil! Glad it was helpful! It says on the Language and Culture Assistant Visa Checklist that I linked in the post that it only needs to be signed by the MD, not notarized/apostilled.

  13. Thank you so much for explicitly saying the medical note doesn’t need to be notarized/apostilled. My visa appointment is next week, and I almost had a heart attack!

    • You’re welcome! It needed to be last year, but does not need to be this year. I’m glad that this helps! Good luck with your visa appointment! Mine went well. I just had to wait a little since I showed up early.

    • No problem, Dylan! Last year, my visa took 4 weeks to arrive back at my house. This year, I just had my appointment on Monday, so it hasn’t arrived yet. They did tell me that it would take up to 4 weeks though.

      • Hey Gil! I have not received it yet. They said it should take about 4 weeks, so I have about another week to week-and-a-half to go.

      • Just curious, was it exactly 4 weeks? And was the 4 weeks including shipping time?

      • Last year, it took about a month, so about 4-5 weeks. They said that it takes about 4 weeks to process plus shipping. This year, I applied on July 14th and have not received mine yet.

      • Thanks…I applied a week after you so fingers crossed we both get it on time. I live close to Chicago so I’m picking it up instead of having them send it to me. Where are you going to be in Spain?

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  15. Hey Mike,

    I’m also going to be teaching in Spain and will be needing to go to Madison, Wisconsin for my background check as well. Do you need to set up an appointment before you go down there? Also, I read that they need your fingerprints. Do they do that there as well? This whole experience of applying for a student visa is completely new to me, so I’m trying to get all my documents in order now before my visa appointment on September 2.


    • Hi Megan! You do not need to set up an appointment for either the background check or the apostille. If you want to receive everything back on the day your turn it in, do your background check right away at 8am (it takes about 15 min), and then head over to the apostille office and turn that in before 10am. They had mine all done before noon. Also, you do not need fingerprints for the Chicago consulate. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask! It can definitely be a confusing process.

  16. Hey Mike,

    Just went on Monday morning and dropped off my passport and documentation. They did ask me for travel itinerary. Luckily, I had brought pone just in case! Now, the wait starts… 🙂

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  18. Great news! Congratulations! How many days in total did it take from the time you dropped off your passport to getting it in the mail? Did you get an email notifying you of the approval?

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