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.
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.
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 123notary.com 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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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?