Applying and getting my visa for Spain was relatively easy
After the acceptance letter, it was visa time. The visa process was rather easy. I don’t know if having me on their system, from the time I visited Spain in 2003, had anything to do with the speedy processing. But I showed up at the Spanish Consulate General in late August and got my visa in less than two weeks.
The required documents to obtain the visado to España (as well as the types of Spanish visas) are listed on the Web site of the consulate with jurisdiction over your state. Here’s the Website for the New York consulate, which is the one I had to report to.
Whether you have to go to the embassy in person or not depends on the type of visa being requested. For the language assistants program, they told us we had to request a “Student Visa” because this program is still considered a “practicum”.
After I had all the necessary documents in order, I went online on the embassy Web page and set up an appointment—and this year was hot for appointments since they have a lot of students going to probably every region in Spain for the program. Everything was completely booked, so I just kept checking every morning for cancellations (until I lucked out). My original appointment was set for July, but then I realized that I had not followed the right instructions for the FBI background check—which by the way was a pain in the back this year!–and so I had to reschedule a couple of times more.
Getting the FBI background check and the Apostille
In 2003, I was able to send and receive my FBI background check in less than four weeks (maybe even less) and everything was smooth. Now they require you get what’s called an “Apostille “ (and I’ll explain that next) and that can take several weeks. But first, the background check.
I did everything correctly, except that I sent the background check back to have it apostilled by the FBI, when in fact they don’t apostille. I misread the fine lines.
The process to apply for a background check are listed on the FBI website and this is the form that I had to fill out. If you take a look, you’d realize that it’s quite simple form, right? The only thing I didn’t like about the process was having to pay for fingerprints again when I have been fingerprinted for the FBI a countless amount of time. (Shouldn’t they have my fingerprints in their system by now? When I called and asked, the agent said they don’t keep them, but if I committed a crime I bet those prints would come up in 1, 2, 3!)
Anyway, some people recommend mailing your info through some sort of certified mail, such as UPS or FedEx. However, I can say that I sent mine through US Postal Service (though I did ask for certified) and it was much cheaper than what I would have paid for FedEx, and it got back to me in record time, compared to most people who have been complaining about not getting it on time.
So that was it. What got me confused was the apostille, even after I had read the instructions over and over again. Instead of sending my background check to the US Department of State (DOS), I sent it back to the FBI. Quickly realizing my mistake, I called the FBI so that they could send it back to me and THEN I could forward it to the DOS. It took longer than the initial background request to get it back (about three weeks) and that delayed my visa appointment again.
I then followed the instructions for getting the apostille with the DOS. It was simple—it’s just the wait time that made me nervous because I didn’t know if it was going to arrive on time for my next visa appointment.
But, I still went to my visa appointment and explained my situation. They said they couldn’t process my visa without it, but at least they did enter my information on the system, and by the time my Apostille arrived—within five weeks—my visa was ready for pick-up.
So the whole process combined was longer than it should’ve been only because I misinterpreted the instructions. Derp Derp. But I now know better, AND I got my visa! Just in time because I’m leaving very soon!