By this point in the summer, most language assistants have received their placements throughout Spain and are starting to begin the somewhat daunting process of applying for a student visa. It’s not fun, and neither is this post, so if you’re not applying for a visa stop reading right now – I encourage you to use your time in a more productive way.
If you ARE applying, however, I hope you find this more useful than the consulate’s convoluted instructions, and I apologize in advance for how BORING it is, but I’m not dealing with the most exciting subject here, am I?
After pouring over the internet for days and sitting in the consulate’s windowless waiting room for over 2 hours on the second day of summer (not bitter, I swear), I’m writing this post as an updated guide for those applying for the long-term student visa needed to word as an auxiliar de conversacion/English language assistant at the BOSTON SPANISH CONSULATE. The visa requirements can vary from consulate to consulate, so if you are applying at one of the other offices, be sure to double-check their requirements here.
You can find the most up to date list of documents required for Boston on the Spanish Consulate of Boston’s website, which handles applications for residents of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Don’t trust everything you read on the Facebook groups – I recommend contacting the consulate if you are confused; surprisingly they usually got back to me within 24-48 hours (but sometimes they don’t #Spainprobs): firstname.lastname@example.org.
One final disclaimer: I am not an expert on this stuff – I’m just writing about worked for me in hopes that it will help my fellow auxiliares in the making. Let me know if you have questions!
So without further ado, here is a rough timeline for my visa application and cost breakdown for all of you hopeful applicants who are ballin’ on a budget
May 23rd: Made my visa appointment (FREE!)
My program, Meddeas, recommends securing an appointment in June, but that’s also because I need to be in Barcelona for orientation on September 8th. Most language assistants will start working later on, so don’t sweat it too much. When you get your carta (letter from your school/program,which will tell you your start date and your school), or have an estimated date of when you will receive it, make an appointment here. Be sure to select the STUDENT VISA option in the drop down menu. Make sure to give yourself time as the visa can take up to one month to process.
As a point of reference, I scheduled my appointment for June 22nd. I found that one month was plenty of time to get all my paperwork in order. Make sure not to get one too early though, as your visa is only valid for 3 months after it is issued.
May 24th: Requested CORI (background check) – $20
This applies to Massachusetts residents, other states under Boston’s jurisdiction will follow a slightly different process. If you’re from MA, all you need to do is go to this site, click ‘register as individual’, select the Personal CORI option, and follow the prompts from there. Once the site generates your CORI, print it out. This is what you will bring to get the apostille seal, which I’ll explain later.
May 26th: Purchased private insurance from Atlas International – $281
This point only applies to Meddeas, not the ministry you guys can just show your carta as proof y ya esta. Language Assistants working through Meddeas are required to get private health insurance coverage for the duration of the grant period, and present proof of their insurance to the consulate when applying for the visa. I got mine through one of the providers Meddeas recommended, Atlas International, and chose the most basic plan. I immediately received an email with all the documentation I needed for the visa, and my card came in the mail about a week later. I was able to print out a visa letter from my account the with all the information the consulate requests. Also, as per Meddeas’ advice, make sure to select a plan with a $0 deductible or the consulate may not accept it.
There are other insurance options – feel free to comment with any tips you have in this area. It also helps to do a little browsing!
May 30th: Got my medical certificate (FREE)
Have your doctor type this up on letterhead paper from their office and sign when you go for a physical:
This medical certificate attests that Mr./ Mrs. …………………does not suffer from any illness that would pose a threat to public health following International Health Regulations of 2005.
My doctor did this for free. If you don’t have a physician that you see on a regular basis, you can pay to get a physical done at a CVS minute clinic in your area and ask to get the note done there. Find the closest clinic to you and prices here.
June 5th: Got my background check apostillized – $6
The Boston consulate also requires the background check to be sealed by the Apostille of the Hague. Sounds fancy huh? Well, it’s not (sad!), but it’s super easy. Just bring your background check and $6 cash to the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth building, (address: Commissions Section, Room 1719, One Ashburton Place, Boston, Massachusetts 02108). You can also go to the Fall River or Springfield location is that’s more convenient, addresses listed here. This process took me a total of 5 minutes. Make sure to have an electronic copy of your background check saved before doing this, since once you get the apostille the document is sealed for good (see what I mean below).
June 5th: Requested the translation – $124
I used the Spanish ministry’s list of legal translators, found an EN>ES translator, emailed her my background check with the apostille, and had the translation sent back to me in 2 days. She charged $.10 per word, which seems to be a pretty standard rate. Rev.com also comes highly recommended, and if you’re in a pinch the turnaround is very quick (I’ve heard less than an hour in some cases) and the consulate seems to be fine with it.
After I had my background check translated, I heard of other prospective auxiliares having success with rev.com. If you are pressed for time, they guarantee a turnaround of 24 hours at $33/page. It might be a tad more expensive, but the convenience is definitely worth it since you have to get this done anyway.
Some point in June: Got my passport photos – $8 for 2 at AAA
Boston requires 2 color passport photos, which you can get done at AAA if you’re a member for $8, or at CVS, Walgreens, etc for around $10. It doesn’t really matter when you get this done. Just do it before your appointment!
Week of appointment: Printed and filled out application forms (free), got a notarized letter from parents (free)*, and got money order ($160)
You’re almost there! Fill out the application from and MAKE SURE THEY’RE DOUBLE SIDED. If you’re doing Meddeas, they will send you a guide, but if not here is another one that I found helpful.
Boston also requires applicants to fill out a supplement form, which is a bit confusing. This is also outlined here. Just follow these directions to a t, and you are good to go!
Like many consulates, Boston requires you to provide proof of financial means during your stay, which usually means the carta. Being somewhat paranoid, I also typed up a letter for my mom to sign and get notarized saying she would support me in an emergency using the consulate’s suggested wording:
I hereby certify that I am the (father/mother/other) of (…), that I will support him/her with a monthly allowance of at least the IPREM, that is to say 532.51€ while he/she is in Spain and that I am financially responsible for any emergency that may arise
Still unsure if this was necessary, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Trust me, you don’t wanna spend more time at the consulate than you need to.
Finally, go to your bank, CVS, grocery store…anywhere you can get the $160 money order needed to process the visa. It can’t be a personal check or cash (they are very specific about this) – and make it out to Consulate of Spain.
Okay I lied…one more thing. It’s time to become a COPYING FIEND!!!
Make sure you have at least one copy of everything, including your ID and signature/photo pages of your passport just in case. Although if you forget, I hear there is somewhere to make copies at the consulate. Pro tip: you probably don’t want to spend more time there than absolutely necessary, so just do it now to be safe. I made one copy of each document, and two each of my passport and license, and didn’t run into any problems.
June 22nd: My judgement day (aka the visa appointment)
Now, take a few deep breaths, go to your appointment, bring a book/something to do while you wait…it can take a while, but in hindsight I guess it’s good practice for adjusting to Spanish customer service. If all goes well spend some time celebrating after because you’re done (for now at least)! Be patient while the consulate to processes your visa, and email them after a month to see if it is ready.
I emailed the consulate after a month’s time, and sure enough they responded saying my passport with its lovely new visa was ready to be picked up. You don’t need an appointment to do this; just walk into the office and let ’em know why you’re there.
One final note: the consulate may tell you that your visa is only valid for 90 days. Don’t panic – the visa is what you will use to enter Spain and you’ll have to get a TIE (tarjeta de identidad de extranjero or foreign idenitity card) within 30 days of arriving in Spain. I’ll go over that ~fun~ process in another post, but for now let’s focus on getting that visa.
Document round-up and cost breakdown:
- State background check: $20
- Apostille: $6
- Translation of background check: $124
- Money order: $160
- National Visa application (double-sided)
- Supplement form
- 2 color passport photos: $8
- Government issued ID, such as license
- Letter from program
- Medical certificate
- Proof of financial means (tbd if this is necessary or not)
- Health Insurance (Meddeas only): $281
- Relief of knowing its all over: priceless
And the grand total is…$599 (say what?!)
As you can tell, the visa application can become quite the expensive process; however, the bulk of the costs for my visa came from insurance, so if you’re working for the ministry go ahead and subtract that from the total. The good news is that Meddeas says it is possible to get a refund and switch to government health care once in Spain. You just need to have proof of private insurance to apply for the visa.
With all that being said, buena suerte a todos! You are well on your way to living your best life in Spain.
Questions? Did I forget to mention anything? What has worked for you? Any insider tips? Let me know by commenting below!