Lately, I have felt like my life is in limbo. I graduated from college in May, and a few weeks later, I received an email informing me I had been placed as an Auxiliar de Conversación in Spain’s Canary Islands. I was beside myself. While I knew I was qualified for the position, I had incorrectly assumed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this role would be nonexistent for the 2020-2021 school year. You know what they say about assuming… and boy, I was happy to be so wrong.
I am a resident of Pennsylvania, but I spent this summer living in North Carolina with my sister, since I had no real obligations at home, and I know I will never again have the opportunity to spend so much time with my adorable niece and nephew, ages three and two respectively. I was able to continue with my marketing internship which had transitioned online due to COVID, and I picked up a restaurant job to earn some more cash. This summer has felt like a waiting period for the next great chapter in the book of Maggie’s life.
While I was somewhat busy with work, I was also busy with planning for my year abroad. My number one stressor? The VISA process. Because I am independently employed by the government and not going through a program (such as Conversa Spain) I did not have to pay a bunch of fees to apply for my position. However, the tradeoff is I have to figure out all this VISA stuff on my own. Below, I have outlined what you need to know to start your VISA application, but keep in mind things may vary slightly depending on your state:
What I recommend:
VIsit http://www.exteriores.gob.es/ to find the Spanish Consulate that matches with your state. I live in Pennsylvania, which falls under the jurisdiction of New York City’s consulate. Because I was in NC for the summer, I hoped I could visit Raleigh’s consulate, but that was not the case. You must make an appointment with the consulate that represents your state of residency.
As an Auxiliary de Conversación, you will apply for a long-stay student visa. Make an appointment at your consulate well before you need to leave. NYC’s Consulate told me that my VISA would be processed in 2-3 weeks. I just hit the 3 week mark, and I am still waiting. If appointments are unavailable, check back frequently because people will cancel.
This is what you will need to bring to your appointment:
- Completed VISA application
- Valid U.S. Passport. If you don’t have one of these bad boys, get it now.
- One passport size photo to glue to your VISA application (I went to Walgreens to get this photo taken)
- Letter of acceptance from your school
- Money order (you can get this from your local post office)
- Either a state background check or FBI fingerprint clearances stamped with the Apostille of Hague.
- Try to get the Apostille ASAP
- Medical Certificate (I got a physical & had the physician write a note that I was in good health.)
*Make sure you give yourself enough time to get all of these items before your VISA appointment at the consulate. Because of delays due to COVID-19, I did not have my Apostille of Hague at my appointment, so the representative told me to bring it with me when I return to pick up the VISA. You must go in person to pick up your VISA when it is finally processed.*