Written by Elle
Let me begin by letting you know that we “started” the visa process in the second week of June, and B and I just mailed our envelopes full of documents and our precious passports on July 19th. It was a detailed, lengthy, annoying process that kept us coming back to the same question: “how the hell do 22-year-olds straight out of college do this?” No offense meant to college kids, but we are grown ass adults and we struggled with parts of the process. In hindsight, it really wasn’t that bad, but here’s the low down:
(You can make up your mind about its difficulty)
Step One: Background checks. Go get fingerprinted at your local police station (“sorry, we only do those for concealed weapons permits” WTF) local fingerprinting service and pay $30 for prints. Then, research “chanellers” online to send your prints in order to get a background check. Pay $40ish and ship them. Wait. Get the background checks in the mail and then go back to the post office to send the checks to the US Department of State to get “apostilled”. Pay $8 per document and $15 for the envelope it will be sent back to you in. Wait a couple of weeks and receive the apostille in all its glory stapled to your (hopefully clean) background check.
What should have been Step One: Make a visa appointment with your regional Spanish consulate. Our closest was San Francisco (we live in Seattle). According to the website, we needed to make appointments in person. Wait, what?! A plane ride, uber, and potential hotel stay just to get our visas? Other consulates simply had you mail your documents, but we were the lucky west-coasters. So…we made our appointments in late June, and the earliest available were on August 28th, two weeks before our anticipated departure, and with no guarantee that we would leave our appointments with our visas in hand. “Allow for 4 weeks” the super helpful website stated. Well damn. I guess we’ll just wait for August 28th to roll around and hope for standby tickets!
In the meantime, we still had some questions for the consulate like: “Can one person be a liaison for the others and bring their documents to the appointment for them?” (we had heard this was an option but there was no mention of it on the consulate website). Also, “What are the exact requirements for a spouse (B-Rizz)” (again nothing on the San Fran website about this, only Chicago and LA, which differed from one another). I decided to call and ask my (perfectly reasonable, right?) questions. I called the phone number on the website and selected “English”, which transferred me to someone’s voicemail extension saying he was “unavailable”, and then without an option of leaving a message, the other end hung up. Cool. I guess I’ll try again tomorrow.
I must have called at least 10 times with the same outcome. I even pressed the “Spanish” option and got a different extension with another hang-up voicemail system. Okayyyy, I’ll try emailing. I sent my questions and received a response that read: “The information you are looking for can be found on our website, here’s a link!”. I quickly responded saying, politely, that no, the info wasn’t on the website and asked my questions again. I got the same exact response. Okay, Elle, one more time, maybe a bit bitchier more direct this time. Same response. Ughhh I guess we’ll just figure it out and hope that the Rizz luck brings us something!
Well, it did! According to the aux Facebook page, someone informed the masses that the San Fran consulate had just updated with a new PDF all about language assistants saying…drumroll please….
We can mail our shit in!! Omg, relief on relief!
Okay, back to the actual steps of the visa process.
Step Two: Get passport photos at a drugstore. $9 for two photos, easy peasy.
Step Three: Get a medical check stating that you are in good health and free of diseases. $30 copay on my insurance. Done. Oh, and bloodwork costs in case they need to check anything. Probs another $70 when I get the bill.
Step Four: Print all of your ish and compile it nicely. This is extra fun when both of your printers broke earlier in the year and you are 1) no longer getting access to amazing school printers and copiers, and 2) too cheap to buy a new printer you’ll just end up giving away in a couple of months. Many trips to the local library made this part of the process particularly delightful. Here’s what you need to print/copy:
- The visa checklist
- The visa application (then copy and glue your photos on each)
- Passport color copy
- Driver’s license color copy
- Acceptance letter (carta) with insurance info, dates of employment, etc.
- Medical certificate (in English and Spanish)
- $160 money order (BECU didn’t do these, thankfully Fred Meyer did)
- Power of attorney granted to the San Fran consulate lady who would be “applying” for us. This had to be signed by a notary public (BECU did do this)
- A trip itinerary to Spain (not bought yet, just a printout of a possible one…who knows why?)
And that’s it!!
Unless you are bringing your spouse. Let’s add a few more steps and a lot more dollars!
Spouse Extras: (B already had to do all of the first 9 requirements, and these are additional)
- Insurance for the length of the contract. We used Cigna, and got some relatively good coverage with an evacuation add-on. It came to just under $1000 for 12 months.
- Proof of adequate funds (able to cover $400/month). With plenty of our savings to cover this we just printed out 3 months of savings statements.
- Marriage certificate. First, get a certified copy for $7. Then send it to get apostilled by the Secretary of State (in your home state) for $8 (plus the $7 priority envelope). Lastly, pay $25 to send a PDF to a certified translator to have it translated into Spanish.
Okay, that’s really it! We sent all of this with our passports to San Francisco with a $23 envelope for each of us to have it sent back to the honorary consulate of Spain in Seattle for pick-up.
As we wait, we are moving into our current chapter: getting rid of stuff so we can actually feasibly move to Spain!