August 10th "Getting
A trip to Washington DC to visit the Spanish consulate gave us a taste
of Spain in the U.S. I was there to get my visa and finally become a legal
resident in Spain. I learned quickly that the possibility of a “fatal”
error in the visa process can send you back to where you came from in
a hurry. I say fatal in the sense of those people who must drive from
long distances to apply for their visa in person who forget a critical
piece of information and then must go back home and come back another
day. This is a small problem if you live in the D.C. area, but a much
larger one if you are coming from North Carolina or another destination
hours away. A few pointers for those of you planning to get your visa
in the Washington consulate, many of which apply to other locations as
- Under no circumstances
are partial applications accepted. If you lack something plan to come
back, unless it is a photocopy or something you can get done in an hour
and then return with the complete set of information.
- Call ahead of
time, several times if needed. Make sure you understand everything you
need and follow the instructions word by word and letter by letter.
If someone on the phone is unsure of what you need then politely ask
if they can verify it while you wait on the phone. Do not rely on the
website as the exact list of what you need, rather make use of it as
a guide before you call to verify the details.
- Office hours to
the public are from 9am-12pm Monday through Friday.
- Only 15 numbers
are given out before the office opens at the reception area. They only
take 15 visa applications per day, so get there well before 9am. We
arrived at 8:45 and received number 13. Another 15 minutes and we would
have had to return for another 5 hour trip on another day.
- Some visas may
not require taking a number, such as reagrupación familiar,
which you request if you have recently married a Spaniard, are trying
to get a visa for immediate family or naturalize a child.
- Different processing
times exist for different visas. If you are studying at a public university
then your application will take about 3 weeks (plan for more). If you
are studying at a private university or program then it will take 45
days (plan for a little more). So be careful about buying your plane
ticket and then showing up to get the visa, because…
- There is no mercy
and no way to speed up the process no matter how much you complain or
no matter how dire your case may be. I saw so many applicants who pleaded
and all got the same answer – “This is the process and that
is how long it takes to get the visa”. No more, no less. They
also are very particular about the papers you must hand in, and one
little error means you may be coming back another day.
- For return envelope
so you get your passport with the visa you must provide US Priority
or Express mail pre-paid envelope. They will not return your info via
Fedex or UPS or any other carrier for that matter.
- Bring cash and
a little extra, as some costs depend on the visa. Posted in the consulate
itself was: “Residency Visa: cost depends on type”. Don’t
expect them to make change, so try to have the exact amount if you can.
- You can petition
the consulate to apply by mail, but I do not know any of the particulars.
If you are a student in many situations your parents can submit the
paperwork for you.
Seems like I am being
a little too specific, but consider these situations we witnessed:
- One person left
all the photo copies at home thinking they needed only the originals
at the consulate. However the need only to see the originals and then
keep copies after verifying the originals. All except the passport,
which they will keep until finished with your visa.
- One person of
another nationality booked an electronic ticket and had no paper ticket.
They were unable to process the visa without a physical ticket.
- One person leaving
in 25 days tried to get their student visa to study at a private school.
They were informed they would likely have to change their ticket to
a later date because it takes 45 days for the student visa when at a
- One person brought
a fedex envelope and had to go to the post office for an Express one.
- Someone mailed
their paperwork in after getting the ok from the folks at the consulate.
They then received a call that they had to present themselves at the
consulate the finish the process. They showed up only to find that the
paperwork they had mailed was sent back to them in the mail the day
Depending on which
visa you apply for you may be waiting a little or a lot. Even though I
was promised to get mine in 10-14 days (the shorter end of visa timetables)
I am still waiting after 15 and they have no idea in the office what the
status of mine is. They just know it hasn't been mailed!