Hey everyone! I’m very excited to be writing our first post on our blog. Before we could even think about packing or planning our trip to Spain, we had to worry about getting a long-term student VISA. It was certainly a process and I’m here to offer some advice for anyone out there looking to get one.
Since we live in New England, we had to go through the Consulate in Boston. Although some requirements vary from consulate to consulate, they are mostly similar! In order to attain a VISA, you must make an appointment online in advance. It shouldn’t be any later than a month before you leave. You first have to register with the Consulate and then you must check the calendar to find a time-slot. For the Boston Consulate, they only made appointments Monday-Friday from 9am-1pm. If you cannot find a date/time that works for you, I suggest checking daily, since there are always cancellations opening up spots. (Make sure you select the correct VISA you are applying for in the top left corner drop-down box).
It is important you have all of your documents together before your VISA appointment. Some of the documents can take a while to attain and get organized, so the key to success is being prepared and planning in advance!!
Here is a list of documents you need to collect in order to apply for a Long-Term Student VISA:
- Two National VISA applications (printed so they are double-sided) and both filled out!
- One supplement application (written in all capital letters)
- Both of these documents can be found on the Consulate’s website
- 2 Color Passport photos with a white background
- I suggest going to a CVS or Walgreen’s. They will take and print the pictures within 10 minutes. It usually costs around $10.
- Letter of acceptance from your program or school
- If you are studying abroad, or teaching English, your school or program will mail/ e-mail you a letter of acceptance that states everything the Consulate needs on it.
- Health Insurance Letter with international insurance coverage for health or accident (including Repatriation coverage)
- This can be done by calling your health insurance company and requesting a letter that states you have international coverage.
- **Be sure to check if they cover Repatriation costs!! If they do not, you will need to find alternative travel health insurance.
- This summer (2016) we discovered, Allianz Travel Insurance, which is the cheapest option. (We paid around $36 for their basic plan). They e-mail you all the documents you need for your VISA appointment right away.
- In the past we have used, International Student Insurance which will provide you with coverage (depending on how long you stay) for anywhere from $150-$300 depending on your length of stay. They also you an e-mail with all your necessary documents to print.
- Notarized letter from parents assuming full financial responsibility (at least $1,000 per month you are living in Spain).
- They also give you a few other options to show you are financially stable but this one is easiest in my opinion. All you need is a typed letter from a parent stating that they will be financially responsible for you in Spain, giving you an allowance of $1,000 per month you are there. Then your parents need to have the letter notarized (which usually can be done at your town/city hall.) This doesn’t mean your parents WILL give you an allowance but it is to reassure Spain that someone is financially responsible for you in case of an emergency.
- Another option to the financial responsibility part is producing a bank statement that shows you have at least $1,000 per month in Spain saved up to cover room/board/food, etc. If you don’t have that type of money saved, a letter from your parents works just as well!
- Certificate of Absence of Police records issued by the State or FBI police. This document must be legally translated into Spanish and must bear the Apostille of the Hague Convention stamp on it.
- We were mistaken in an earlier post about what needs to be done here! Here is the updated (& easier) advice:
- You can request a background check online from your State. (In MA we use the Cori system). For us, it only took a day for them to e-mail the background check.
- Once you print the background check, bring one copy to a translator (who will translate it into Spanish) and another copy to your State House. Here you will get an Apostille of the Hague Stamp on your document. It cost us $6. (You must go to the office of your Secretary of State for this to be done).
- Medical Certificate from your Doctor
- Call or stop by your Doctor’s office to ask them to type a letter stating: “This medical certificate can attest that Mr./Ms. _____ does not suffer from any illness that would pose a threat to public health according to the International Health Regulations of 2005”. You might need to make an appointment for this, depending on your doctor. It must be signed by your doctor (not a nurse practitioner) and printed on letter head from their office.
- Money Order payable to the Consulate of Spain for $160.00
- Valid Passport
You must make copies of all your documents (the applications, supplement sheet, letter of acceptance, health care letter, notarized letter from parents, Background check with Stamp/ translation, and medical certificate). Be sure to bring a colored copy of your passport as well! You might also want to print out the e-mail the Consulate sends you after making an appointment with them.
If you go to your appointment with all your documents together, the process for a VISA usually takes a month. The Consulate keeps your Passport so they can print the VISA stamp into the book. If for some reason, you are missing a document or something is incorrect, the people at the Consulate may begin your VISA process but ask that you bring in (or e-mail) whatever is missing to them as soon as you can.
In all honesty, it’s a difficult process…but in the end it’s worth it! Feel free to comment with any questions you may have if you are going through the same process and I would be happy to help.
PS. If you plan on renewing your VISA for a second year, as long as you are not going to be out of Spain for longer than 90 days, you can renew it before you leave Spain very easily.