Visa Tales

As many of you may know, I recently received my Spanish visa. It is great news, and I am both excited and anxious about all that needs to be done before I depart.  If you have never had the experience of applying for a visa, it is kind of like those obstacle courses dogs do at shows.

Jump through this hoop, run through that tunnel, jump over that fence,…wait…jump over that fence again, you didn’t do it right the first time.

When the experience is recounted for others, it never sounds as fun or as interesting as it was while it was happening.  So to make it somewhat bearable for you, my dear reader, I have decided to share my experience in story form.

Sit back, get comfortable, here we go……..

Spanish Visa: A Short Story

Once upon a time, in the land of Evergreen, there lived a young   there lived a fair,  there lived a woman.  This woman, wanted to start a new life in Spain working with the fair pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago.  Before she could embark on her new life, she had to get her Spanish papers (visa).  She inquired of her fearless leaders and fellow workers, what it was that needed to be done.

“Well, young….uh…fair…er…ma’am, you need to look in the magic box, Dell.  It will give you the answers you seek,” they said.

The woman searched in her magic box, Dell, and found a very helpful tool called Internet Explorer that showed her many great things and told her of vast useless knowledge.

Through this tool she found information for the Spanish consulate, and how she could get her Spanish papers.  The problem was, there were many different kinds of papers she could apply for; student, work, exempt of work, retiree, religious activities, or non-lucrative residence.

Through some process of elimination, and correspondence with her leaders and fellow workers, the woman decided to follow the requirements for the “exempt of work” papers.

Thus the requirements decreed…

  1. All requests shall be heard, in person, and by appointment ONLY.
  2. Thou shalt apply at the proper consulate of thy permanent address.
  3. Thy criminal and medical papers must be drawn up within 3 moons (months) of thy request.
  4. Approval (or rejection) for papers may take 2 to 5 moons (months).
  5. If approved, thou hast 30 sun cycles (1 month) to obtain thy papers.

Then there were the paperwork requirements…

  1. Application form, plus 2 copies of the application.
  2. Three recent portraits.
  3. 2 copies of your passport papers.
  4. Official invitation and documents describing activities to be performed from sponsoring organization, translated in to Spanish, plus 1 copy of paperwork.
  5. Papers certifying that the organization in Spain is accredited by the Spanish authorities (Ministry of Justice), plus 1 copy.
  6. Proof of medical coverage, plus 1 copy.
  7. Health certificate, written on doctor’s stationary and signed by doctor, decreeing that you are clear of disease as according to the International Health Regulation 2005.  Paperwork must be translated in to Spanish, and not written later than 3 moons (months) from application date.  2 copies must also be had.
  8. Criminal record clearance from the office of the FBI AND legalized with the Apostille of the Hague Convention from the US Department of State.  Paperwork must be translated in to Spanish, and not written later than 3 moons (months) from application date.  Oh, and 2 copies must be had.
  9. Authorization form M790 C052, plus authorization fee.
  10. Processing fee.

“Shut the front door!” exclaimed the woman, “Perhaps I should promise my first born!”

Thus her journey began.

(For your sanity, dear reader, I shall simply bullet point the rest of the tedious process below.)

  • February:
    • Fearless leaders gather and send off paperwork to the Ministry of Justice in Spain.
  • March:
    • Woman sends fingerprints to FBI.
    • FBI confirms woman is not a (known) criminal.
    • Woman has eight portraits done. (one never knows)
    • Fearless leaders receive word that they need to redo their paperwork, because the Ministry of Justice has decided they want different language reflected in the letters regarding some matter.
  • April:
    • Woman sends FBI clearance to US State Department for Apostille.
    • Woman receives Apostille.
    • Woman receives paperwork from sending organization with medical coverage confirmation.
    • Woman receives paperwork from doctor confirming she is not disease ridden.
      • Note: interestingly the consulate did not provide any guidance on how the medical paperwork needed to be written.  Even when the woman asked, the gentleman at the consulate simply replied, “We do not have any example to give.”  Thankfully, the woman’s fellow workers provided their letters to use.
    • Ministry of Justice approves woman’s paperwork from Spanish organization.
    • Woman sets appointment with consulate for the date of June 4th.
  • May:
    • Woman has sending organization letter, medical letter, FBI clearance, and apostille translated in to Spanish.
    • Many copies of all documents are made and many piles of paperwork are gathered for her coming journey to the land of the Golden Gate.
  • June:
    • Woman ventures off to the land of the Golden Gate (or San Francisco), where her consulate was located, to turn in her paperwork.
    • Woman is joyously attended with by her friend from the land of the Phoenix, where they tour the land with great huffing and puffing, and almost perish from exposure while riding the great red tour carriage across the bridge of the Golden Gate.
      • View from Room

        View from Room

        Anne & the Presidio

        Anne & the Presidio

        The friend from Phoenix who is not happy about almost dying of exposure.

        The friend from Phoenix who is not happy about almost dying of exposure.

        A rest after much huffing & puffing.

        A rest after much huffing & puffing.

        View from room at night.

        View from room at night.

        • The day of the interview, the woman was questioned by a handsome Spaniard (seriously, he was pretty cute) who only asked where she was going and what she would be doing there.  Then after reviewing her paperwork, he kindly informed her of the following:
          • The application fee had since gone up in the last 3 days. Thankfully, the woman’s friend had paid for her portion of the lodging with cash and so the woman had enough to cover the difference of the cost.
          • The proper zip code for the Spanish organization was not located anywhere on the Ministry of Justice paperwork.  Again, thankfully, the handsome Spaniard would allow her to message the zip code information.
          • The rest of the paperwork was ok, and the woman was given a receipt and told she would hear their response in 2 to 5 moons (months).

The woman returned to the land of Evergreen to wait for word on her Spanish paperwork and to prepare for her journey to Spain to work with the fair pilgrims.

44 sun cycles later (July 18), the woman received a message from the consulate.

“Rejoice! young…fair…ma’am, thou hast been approved!  Bring forth thyself and thy flight itinerary in the next 30 sun cycles to claim thy Spanish papers.”

“Wait,” thought the woman, “flight itinerary?  I didn’t know I had to have a flight itinerary.”

The woman inquired of her fellow workers about this matter, to which they replied, ”No, we had no requirement for a flight itinerary.”

“Oh joy,” declared the woman, “Another change.”

This news posed a few problems for the woman.  (1) the woman could not book her flight to Spain until her monthly support team was at 100%, and (2) the woman had to be in Spain before 3 moons passed, else, the paperwork would become invalid.  So, the woman spoke with her sending organization to see what could be done.

“Let us discuss when thou dost arrive in the land of Wind & Humidity (or Chicago) in a fortnight.”

When the woman arrived in the land of Wind & Humidity, for her final tutoring, she discussed her situation with her organization.  After a few days, she was given word that she was granted leave to pick up her Spanish paperwork!  Also, she was told of an agent who can conjure up flight itineraries without payment. The woman inquired of the agent, and he was able to create the needed itinerary to Spain.  He also created one for her journey to the land of the Golden Gate, where she would pick up her papers.

The very next week (August 15), the woman again journeyed to the land of the Golden Gate.  She arrived early, and was able to turn in her passport paperwork (to the same handsome Spaniard no less) that very morning.

“Return 3 hours hence, and thou mayest be given thy paperwork,” said the handsome Spaniard.

The woman then returned to her place of lodging (which was generously granted by friends who used a curious system of “points” to pay for the bed), to get settled and eat some food.

3 hours later, the woman returned to the consulate.  Half past one, the clock read.  For at the stroke of two, the window for picking up paperwork would be closed, and she would have to return the following day.  So, she waited.  And waited.  And waited.

At quarter past two, a woman poked her head out of a side door, “Ma’am?  I am sorry for the wait.  Can you please review this document and verify the information is correct?”

The woman did so, and all was well!

“Hurrah!  I have my Spanish papers!” the woman exclaimed.  (In her mind, though, as it would be improper to make such passionate exuberances in public.)

Anne with visa.

Anne with visa.

The woman again returned to the land of Evergreen to work feverishly at gathering her monthly support team, as she only had 3 moons to arrive in Spain.

Or else she will have to go through this all over again.

The End.

 Have you had to apply for a visa?  Share your interesting, funny, frustrating, experience in the comments below.  I look forward to reading them!


About Anne

I moved from Seattle, Washington to join a project in Santiago, Spain called Pilgrim House. The Pilgrim House is a place where pilgrims of the Camino can come and find community, conversation, and prayer.
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12 Responses to Visa Tales

  1. litlfish18 says:

    Loved reading about your adventure in story form, especially since I just watched the first season of “Once Upon a Time” and currently reading “Game of Thrones”, so I’m in a very fantasy state of mind. I too had a handsome Spaniard go through my papers and give me my visa. I figured it was my reward for jumping through all the hoops 🙂 Can’t wait for you to get here!

    • amhughes01 says:

      You too? Too bad we can’t take pictures inside the consulates to compare. 🙂 I read ALL of the Game of Thrones books. Crazy long, but good stories. Can’t wait to hear how you like them!

  2. Becca says:

    Well written and very humorous, it will be a story to hand down to generations. Well, maybe, …at least you can now safely sail thyself in a shiny metal sky-stallion (plane) to the land of fair pilgrims and begin sharing that sweet smile with all who grace the Pilgrim House!!! Way to go Anne!

  3. paul musser says:

    great job, sister – helping us understand the process! 🙂

  4. Gabi says:

    I just wanted to tell you how well written this is. I get to read a lot of stuff written by “writers” and you’re good. Add the link to buttons at the bottom, though, so linking is easier for those of us on Brother Bill’s watch list.

  5. Shannon Smith says:

    This was a most enjoyable tale. And the pictures are a plus!

  6. Pingback: The Road to Impossible | sANNEtiago Story: Life Along The Camino

  7. Katherine Henson says:

    Dear Anne,
    A smile on my face and some pressure off my heart, if only for a brief moment. There was a referral to some useful links that I do not see.
    I would like to comet that if Spain is in such financial straights it might reconsider making this process so arduous for moderate income folks.
    Last but not least. Where can I find a dually recognized attorney to process the paperwork? The money might be worth while to cut out the journey’s to the gate keepers?

    • Anne says:

      Hi Katherine,
      Thank you for stopping by! Are you considering coming to live in Spain? I’d be happy to try and answer any questions you may have about the Visa process. I am not sure how much cost savings there would be if you choose to use an attorney to help you process the paperwork, it would depend on your situation and what type of visa you are wanting to apply for. Each visa application has it’s own list of requirements and each consulate (seems) to be slightly different. I had teammates apply in two different consulates in the States, and each of our experiences were different. It is a good introduction to what you will face when you actually come to live in Spain. 🙂

      I am not sure if I have helped you much. Please, if you have any more questions feel free to contact me.


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