How To: Apply for a Visa (Generally)

Every consulate is different.

I’m going to say that again because everyone gets confused and panics or prepares the wrong documents so one more time with feeling

Every. Consulate. Is. Different.

But at first everyone will have to do the same things. 

Find Your Consulate

There will probably not be a consulate in your state as there are only 9 in the whole country.

Los AngelesCalifornia (only the counties of Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Barbara and Ventura), Arizona, Colorado, Utah.

San Francisco – Alaska, California (all other counties), Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Pacific islands (Guam, American Samoa, Mariana Islands, U.S. Minor Outlying Islands)

Houston – Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas.

Chicago– Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin.

Boston – Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont.

Miami – Florida, South Carolina, Georgia

New York- New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey

Washington DC – Maryland, Virginia, West Virgina, District of Columbia, North Carolina.

Puerto Rico- Puerto Rico, the Islands of Culebra and Vieques, and the Virgin Islands.

Find Your Requirements

Do NOT look at the Study Visa requirements until you are absolutely sure you have looked for a specific page for the Language Assistants Visa. Many times the Language Assistant (Auxiliar Program) visa has slightly different/easier requirements.

It can be a little hidden (if it’s even there). For example on the Los Angeles consulate page you go Visas > Long Stay Study Visas > then at the bottom of the page is the Language and Cultural Assistant Visa. Obviously follow those instructions instead of the generic study visa.

General Requirements

  • The Visa Application Form – filled out in block letters
  • At least 1 passport photo affixed to the form
  • Your passport (obviously)
  • Your ID (or if you’re mailing it in a copy of your ID) – to prove you live in a state represented by your consulate
  • Your Carta de Nombramiento – this should serve as proof you have arrangements in Spain as well as proof of funds and proof of insurance. The other general visa requirements ask for this but the Carta should prove all three. Check with them though.
  • A medical certificate. Many consulates seem to be different. Many ask for one in Spanish – in which case you can probably print this out and have your doctor sign it.
  • An apostilled background check
  • A money order or some other way to pay them for the visa
  • A USPS (almost always) pre-addressed and prepaid envelope so they can return your documents and passport to you.

Of course they all have different requirements. Some want everything photocopied, some want 2+ passport pictures, some follow the medical certificate I linked while others have specific requirements based on the WHO. Some are strict about where you background check comes from while others only need a state check. So read everything carefully.

Look At Your Options

Do you have to go in to the consulate in person or can you mail it in? We are in Colorado and cannot/will not make the drive to go hand deliver the papers. Other consulates will require you to go in.

If you have to go in then immediately make your appointment. They fill up fast with other Auxiliares and people going in for visas. Most of the links above should bring you to an option to book one. Again, some consulates don’t even need appointments but search around the website to check.

When? You’re going to have to estimate when you’ll get your paperwork. As you can’t get a visa without the papers it’s better to estimate a little later. Many people made reservations for August and September. You’ll be able to switch dates with people on Facebook later, too. Worst case scenario you go in without a paper and then just mail it in later.

Begin Working on the Documents

You don’t want the visa appointment to come and you aren’t ready. Some things are going to take time. However some things expire after 90 days. So get a calendar and check that you aren’t applying too early. Make some educated guesses about when would be a good time.

If you don’t live in a capital city and will be doing a state background check estimate about 1-2 weeks for you to mail your fingerprints and receive the background check back in the mail. Then estimate another 1-2 weeks to get it notarized and it to send it back to the capital to receive the apostille.

If you are applying for a national background check the times can change dramatically based on how many people in the US are applying. 4-12 weeks is about the range. Check if you can use a channeler who does the same thing the FBI does but is a private company.

If you get a national background check you need a national apostille. So you’ll need to get it notarized then mail the FBI background check back to Washington DC to get the apostille. Depending on where you live this could take 2-3 weeks or if processing times are long, even longer.

Also think about how large/small your community is. Doctors offices could be booked for months. So call to make an appointment sooner rather than later as well.

Everything else shouldn’t take longer than a week to prepare.

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