What does it take to get a visa? It seems like a complicated process—and trust me, it is. I don’t even want to think about what it takes to get a visa to come to the U.S. They’d probably request your first born child and, sometimes, I think they’d have no problem getting it.
What is a visa? A visa allows you to stay in a country longer than the tourist limit. If I go to Spain as a tourist, I can stay there for up to 90 days. Then I have to wait another 90 days before I am allowed to enter Spain OR any other country that is part of this little agreement called Schengen. It sucks, especially if your boyfriend is Spanish and you like not having a long-distance relationship.
A visa looks something like this. It’s nothing too impressive, but it means everything. It means you won’t get stopped at immigration; it means freedom; most of all, it means legality. You will be in another country legally. Illegal immigrants come as tourists and don’t leave, or just sneak across the border. (Sometimes that sounds tempting until I realize my boat-making skills suck.)
So, what does Spain require for me to get a student visa (the easiest of all to get)?
- A visa application form and one photocopy. Nothing too difficult.
- Two passport photos, glued NOT stapled onto these forms.
- Photocopy of driver’s license
- Proof of admission from an academic center in Spain – they are very precise with this one.
- Proof of financial means, which can be a letter from Mom & Dad saying they’ll send you money.
- Proof of insurance—uh oh.
- A medical statement, which must mention the International Health Regulations of 2005. What do those say? Not many people, including doctors, know. It’s a mystery.
- A $100 money order. There can be no checks, credit cards, even cash.
- FBI Background check, which means getting fingerprinted, sending that in, and getting an apostille.
You must make an appointment. They are only open from 9 a.m.–12 p.m., Monday–Friday. They don’t answer the phone; it must be made by email. You must show up in person and turn in the documents. Turning in the documents takes five minutes. The drive? Three hours. Then, six weeks later, you show up to get the visa, in person. No mailing, no personal representation: just you. Five minutes later, you’re off.
It’s loads of fun. But worth it – next year, I’ll be in Spain!