I just bought my oneway ticket! It was only $588.00 with taxes. I swear up and down Skyscanner is the best website to get tickets for flying overseas. I will leave Austin, Texas, in the evening and will be Spain bound! This is my 3rd time doing a Trans Atlantic flight. I am not to crazy about being 7 hours on a plane, but that’s why I do over night flights. I can sleep and forget I am on a plane. I am excited about this chance to live and work in Europe.
I left Austin, Texas, early in the morning to make it to the consulate by 8:30 a.m. The drive from Austin to Houston took 2 and half hours. I stopped and got coffee at the only coffee shop (Starbucks) opened. I needed my redeye and extra shots of expresso to get me through the drive. Caffeine is my best friend for early morning trips out of town. The drive was great because I had my music to make the trip bearable.
I arrived in Houston about 8:00 a.m. I was worried about the traffic being worse than Austin’s traffic. I was wrong about the traffic in Houston during morning rush hour. It was smooth sailing coming in on I-10 going Eastbound. No bumper-to-bumper traffic like my hometown!!!!!! WOW! I made a quick pit stop at a bank to withdraw some money. (Tip: the consulate only excepts cash or money order.)
About 8:30 a.m. I made my way to 1800 Bering Dr, Houston, TX 77057. I found parking in the parking garage on the 1st level. (Tip: get there early to get good parking. Also, you never know what the wait will be like. It could be like the DMV!) Next, I proceeded to walk into the building. I found the building directory:
The Spanish Consulate is on the 6th floor in office 600. When I got to the consulate’s office, the office was still closed. I arrived 15 minutes early, so I took pictures for this blog post and wasted time checking e-mail and Facebook. The consulate opened at 9:00 a.m. sharp. There were 5 other people waiting to get into to consulate. I was 3rd in line.
When I went up to the window, I turned in my paperwork to the clerk. The only issue I had was that I did not make a copy of the background check and apostille. I explained to her that the clerk at the Texas Secretary of State told me not to remove the stamp and that I was worried about tampering with the document. The consulate worker said, “Don’t tell anyone that I made a copy for you.” I said, “Okay.” Last, I handed over my USPS (United State Postal Service) per-posted envelope.I left the consulate, but within 20 minutes of me leaving I got a phone call from the clerk telling me that I needed to come back and pay. Both of us forgot about the $160.00 fee for the visa application. Rats!!!! I was about to get my visa for free. Just joking. (Tip: make sure you get your printed receipt for your records and don’t do what I did!)
I returned to the consulate once more to pay my visa fee and get my receipt. I was told it would take 3-4 weeks for my visa to be processed. Now the waiting game for the visa to be mailed to me starts. I hope I get my visa around mid August! That would be an awesome birthday gift from Spain!
The Application Process for Visa
The purpose of this blog post is to shine some light on getting everything together for the visa and my adventure to the Spanish Consulate in Houston, Texas. I applied to be in North American Language and Culture Assistant Program in Spain for the 2014-2015 school year. I am a believer in sharing my knowledge and experiences with others. I hope someone will find this post helpful in getting a student visa for Spain. Best of Luck to future Auxiliares! I promise you will make it through this process. If you want to contact me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @cw1363! I will be happy to help answer questions.
I got my placement letter from Spain on the 29th of April and waited nearly 2 months for my carta. There’s so much you can accomplish; before, Spain sends the carta to your e-mail inbox. I would advise you to get some of the required documents/paperwork out of the way. By getting some of the required documents/paperwork done early, you are creating less stress on yourself.
*****NOTICE: Because each embassy/consulate is different with their requirements, I would research what you need to do to have a correct visa application. Click on this: Spanish Embassies and Consulates in the U.S.*****
What You Will Need:
- 1 passport ($165.00 check here for prices) that’s not expired and has pages that are blank. If you have either of these issues, please check with the US Department of State on what do with your expired passport or how to request new pages.
- Bring 2 color copies of your passport and ID (great idea)
- 2 passport pictures ($11.99)
- 2 application forms and one photo copy (FREE)
- 1 medical certificate and 2 copies ($35.00 & depends on copay)
- 1 background check ($25.00) and apostille ($15.00)
- $160 dollars or money order for payment of visa application
- Driver’s License or ID (School ID or Voter’s Registration)
- 2 School Placement Letter copies in color
- 1 prepaid US Postal envelope ($5.60& optional) and depends on your consulate
TOTAL COST: $252.59
The total cost of the visa is the cost of my personal visa application. Please note that the price and requirements could vary on what embassy or consulate you go to. Do your research before you apply for the visa.
The Start of the Rat Race to the Visa
Background Check and Apostille
If you have a passport, you are one step ahead of the game. If you don’t have a passport, I would apply for one ASAP. If you are already have a passport, you can get your background check and apostille done. I live in Texas and was able to go to the website for the Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS). After I went to the TXDPS site, I was lead to another site MorphoTrust USA’s website where I scheduled fingerprinting appointment for $25.77. My appointment was May 9th and a week later I received my state background check in the mail. (NOTE: the background check and apostille are only good for 90 days.)
Next,the background check will need to have a apostille done. The apostille is a international notarized document. I live in Austin, Texas, the capital of Texas. All I had to do was to drive downtown, find parking spot, and just walk into the Secretary of State of Texas Office. It cost me $15.00 to have the apostille done. If you don’t live in Texas, I would find the current Facebook Auxiliares de Conversacion en España group page or Google your state’s Secretary of State Office for information on how to get the apostille done. After this part is done, there are a few more things that need to be done; before, you go to your regional embassy or consulate.
When you have some down time, I would go into a Walgreens or CVS to get your passport size photos done. It should cost you about $11.99 for the pictures. I would Google for a $2.00 off coupon, so you save some $. Getting a visa is not cheap! You will need two of the pictures for the visa application. WHATEVER you do DO NOT stamp the photos to your visa application. Leave them in your passport photo holder and see what the requirements are at the embassy/ consulate.
You will need to visit the doctor and ask them to write and sign off on a letter stating that you are mentally and physically in good standing for living and working aboard. You can visit the doctor for a yearly physical and get this done. Below is the template that the Spanish Embassy/Consulate will want for the medical certificate.
This health certificate verifies that Mr./Ms. _____ is free of drug addiction, mental illness and does not suffer from any disease that could cause serious repercussions to public health according to the specifications of the international sanitary regulation of 2005.
These contagious diseases include, but are not limited to smallpox, poliomyelitis by wild poliovirus, the human influenza caused by a new subtype of virus and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), cholera, pneumonic plague, yellow fever, viral hemorrhagic fevers (e.g.: Ebola, Lassa, Marburg), West Nile Virus and other illnesses of special importance nationally or regionally (e.g.: Dengue Fever, Rift Valley Fever and meningococcal disease.)
Mr./Ms. _____ is a very healthy individual in all senses, she/he has no pre-existing medical conditions, and she/he is capable of traveling abroad.
- Don’t have a Nurse Practitioner make the medical certificate. You need a M.D. to create this letter. I did this the 1st time around and had to make another appointment to see a M.D. to redo my medical certificate.
- The letter is only good for 90 days, so make sure you get this done closer to June.
- The letter needs to be signed and dated by the doctor, have a letterhead, and the medical template above. However, I will note that some embassies/ consulates will require a Spanish translation. I would check with your embassy/consulate or the Facebook group page for the Auxiliares de Conversacion en España on the requirements.
The Carta de Nombramiento (The Golden Ticket to Spain)
I received my carta eight weeks and five days after receiving my regional placement in Madrid. The carta should be sent to your e-mail inbox. Once you receive your carta, print it out in color and make 2-3 copies. Your carta covers the requirements for “letter of acceptance,” “proof of health insurance,” and “proof of financial means.” This letter is very important to have with your visa application.
For this program a student visa is required. The Spanish Government classifies the program as “continuing education.” The application was not that hard to fill out. I have to give Trevor Huxham credit for his amazing blog post on applying for a student visa and process on getting to the consulate. Here’s the link for the application and instructions on how to fill out the form:
“Select “studies” for “20. Main purpose of the journey” and “More than two” for “22. Number of entries requested,” and put your school’s information in “23. Applicant’s address in Spain” and “28. Data of the educational establishment or research centre in case of applying for a student or research visa (Trevor Huxham).”
- You will need 2 copies for turning in. I would make an extra copy just in case. It never hurts to have more than 2-3 copies of something important.
- You can use either the Spanish or the English Version of the application.
- Make sure you follow ever step and proof check everything before you turn in your paperwork. Also, check with the consulate you will be going through on their requirements for the visa.
After you have successfully completed all the documents/ paperwork, you can now start looking into when you will go to turn in your application. Some embassies/ consulates require you to make an appointment and others will allow you to walk-in or send your application via mail. I live in Texas. I will have to drive to the consulate in Houston and show up for a walk-in appointment. I will be posting a Part 2 to this post on my trip to Houston and my experience at the consulate. I am leaving July 17th, 2014 at 5:00 a.m. in the morning to go to Houston and turn in my visa.
How Did I Decide to Teach in Spain:
The year of 2013 was a difficult year for me. My grandmother passed away on April 13th and I was in my last semester of graduate school. I wanted to throw my exit portfolio (a collection of work from graduate school) out and forget that graduate school ever existed. 2013 was a year of change and growth for me.
On May 14th, 2013, my college days ended and I entered into the real adult world. I was not aware of the changes that would manifest during my first year out of college. It took me seven months to be hired on at grocery store as a Cashier. Finally, I found a nice part-time job as an Administration Assistant. I was unhappy with my post college life because I thought I would have an amazing full-time job with benefits and not be living at home. In my real life, I was living at home as a poor post college graduate who was suffering from a bad case of depression. One day I was reading articles online and came across an article on what to do with your life after college. I thought about the possibility of living and working aboard and the idea clicked!!!!
I discovered different programs that allowed Americans to teach and live aboard. I spent most of October-December researching different English teaching programs. I was grateful for finishing school with a B.A. in English and a M.A. in Technical Communications and Irish Studies. I thought of all the different reasons why moving to Spain would be good for me. I made a list and here are a few of the reasons why I decided on Spain:
- New friends, place to call home, and life
- Improve my Spanish and resume (I live in Texas and there are a lot of Spanish speakers)
- Travel around Europe
- Memories and experiences
- Food, culture, and wine
- Just because it’s Europe
- Get experience to maybe one day join the U.S. Peace Corps. (It’s been a life long goal)
I decided at the start of 2014 that I was going to apply to the North American Language Assistant Program and teach in Madrid, Spain, for a school year. I thought that I had nothing holding me back in the United States like children, a partner, or other obligations. I knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The Process to Getting my Visa:
On January 8th, 2014, I submitted my application and paperwork for the program in Spain. My inscrita number was 364 and I survived an application form in Spanish. I did not hear anything from Spain for about a month. About February 3rd I received an email with a solicitud admitida status (this status basically means you have successfully turned in all your paperwork and there’s no problem). On April 24th, I received my assignment offer e-mail to teach in Madrid, Spain, and I had to accept the assignment within 5 days of the offer. I accepted my assignment and began the loooooooooooooooong wait for my school placement carta (letter). I remember waking up at 3:00 a.m. to check my e-mail to see if Spain had sent my carta. It took nearly 2 months and so many days for Spain to send that letter. During that time frame, I was worried I would never get my carta and would be stuck in Austin, Texas, working two-part time jobs and living with my father.
I received my carta on June 30th. Before, I received my carta I had gotten my state background check with an apostille, passport pictures taken, visited the doctor for my medical certificate, and application forms per-filled out. On July 17th, I drove to Houston, Texas, to submit my visa application to the Spanish Consulate. I bought my one-way ticket to Madrid the following day for the 17th of September. I now have two months remaining in the U.S.A. and there is still so much to do. I need to thin down my wardrobe, spend time with friends and loved ones, get my affairs together, and start packing. I have to remind myself to take one deep breath and handle one thing at a time. I am moving to Spain!!!!!!
Helpful blogs to read more on North American Language Assistant Program: