So about two weeks ago, I got my carta de nombramiento for the Auxiliares de Conversacion teach abroad program. I’ll be teaching in a Primary/Infantil in a neighborhood just southwest of Madrid called Leganés. Needless to say, I’m very excited and have been frantically gathering materials for my student / language and cultural assistant visa nonstop. Not gonna lie, it has been a slightly overwhelming process. Perhaps it’s because my carta arrived so late that I feel so terribly anxious and pressed for time.
Anywho, with the help of the past and future auxiliares, limited personal experience, and the internets, I was able get my documents prepared and schedule my appointment fairly quickly. Now I want to be an equally nice person, and share a few of my own tips with the inquiring universe. Perhaps you’re doing a similar English teaching program in Spain, or you’re planning to study abroad for a semester or two. Either way, I hope my little 2 cents of hindsight help you on your journey.
Quick Tips for the Spanish Student Visa
Tip 1: Print out the list of visa requirements (pdf) and keep it for your records. I drew a little box next to each item and physically checked them off one by one as I got them. It is extremely reassuring to be able to track your progress, and it is very convenient to be able to see in one glance what you documents you already have, and what you still need.
Tip 2: Fill out the Student Visa whether you are studying abroad or working abroad with BEDA, Auxiliares de Conversacion, MEDDEAS, or any other similar program. Even though you are working and getting paid through these programs, you are technically still a student by definition. Some consulates do offer a Language and Cultural Assistant visa application. There is absolutely no difference between the two.
Tip 3: Do not overthink the visa application questions. This was particularly hard for me, as I am a Virgo with a degree in Psychology (who allowed this lolz). I overanalyze EVERYTHING. It took me days to finish the application because I just couldn’t be precise on which exact answers to use. Place of birth? What does that mean? Do they want me to write the name of the city? City and state? Just the state? Or do they want the address of the hospital? Yeah, I’m THAT type of person. So, here’s my guide on how to fill out the trickiest application questions for ye anal folks like me.
– Question 5: State, Country (e.g. Arizona, USA)
– Question 12: “Ordinary Passport”
– Question 19: Job title
– Question 20: “Studies”
– Question 21: Select a date no more than 10 days before the start of the program
– Question 22: “Multiple” or “More than two”
– Questions 23 & 28: Address of the school you work/study at
– Questions that I skipped: #2, #10, #11, #24-27, and the last half of #28
Tip 4: Do not do more work than required. You do not have to go above and beyond the requirements listed on your official visa requirements pdf. Save yourself the headache of unnecessary labor and unnecessary spending! As of July 2016, the Chicago Consulate of Spain does NOT require translations of ANY documents, and the only document that must be notarized and apostilled is the State and/or FBI Background Check.
Tip 5: For a speedy turnaround, get the state background check instead of the FBI (if you have lived in more than 1 state for the last 5 years, you must use the FBI check, sorry). You need the one with fingerprints. I used LiveScan, located in downtown Chicago. It was $40 cash ($42 if you pay with credit/debit) and I got my results in the mail within 1 week. You can get the document notarized at your bank for free, or you can go to a currency exchange or public notary and they will usually charge $1. I got my document apostilled at 17 N State St for $2.
*Note for Auxiliares in Madrid starting 2016 and after – supposedly the new Certificado de Delitos de Naturaleza Sexual requirement can only be fulfilled through the FBI background check. I am not 100% sure on this, as it is a brand new requirement, but it has been confirmed by a current auxiliar in the Facebook group. If you have already gotten a state background check like me, I’d advise you email the program and ask for clarification and further direction.
Tip 6: Check the visa appointment scheduler everyday. When I was ready to book my appointment, there was nothing available until 3 weeks later. I freaked out because the date was barely a month before I planned on leaving for orientation. I confirmed the appointment just for security, but the next day I logged and found an appointment for 2 days later. I’m pretty sure my boss saw me dancing at my desk for about 25 seconds.
And that’s it! Have you ever gotten a student visa before? What do you wish someone told you before you started?