Woes of a Spanish Visa.

Once upon a time, I was an “illegal” immigrant.

True story. I presented the papers for my visa renewal on time, in October 2010. The government of Valencia was really slow about processing the paperwork, and as long as it was “En Tramite”, I wasn’t too worried. A full six months later, they had sent me a letter, informing me of some “missing paperwork” that they already had, but I wasn’t at home to receive the letter. So a month after that, I was checking my status to see if it was still “en tramite” when I saw the UNFAVOURABLE resolution.

I went in on my day off to figure out what was going on. They told me I was missing information (which they already had). I emailed the program director who told me to just resubmit all the information, which I did. She highlighted and underlined the explicit information that they needed. In less than 10 days, I was legal.

For a whole two weeks. They refused to make me a new I.D card (TIE) as the card expired on 31 May, and this was fixed around the 10th of May. I was hoping to do a master at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, so I went in to talk to student services to see what I could do. They said as long as I presented the paperwork for renewal within the three months after the card expired, I would still be legal and could still renew.

The way fate would have it, I wouldn’t receive the scholarship I needed for the master. On the same day I received this information, I received a job placement in Madrid. I accepted it, and made an appointment to get my visa renewed. They didn’t have any available for three months. But as long as the appointment was made within that three-month period, I would be okay.

The day came, and they nearly didn’t allow me to submit the paperwork until I showed them proof of the date and all the things that came with it. Four months later (it is now law that they have to give a resolution within three months! It is also very computerized now. Enhorabuena in joining the 21st Century!), I got the Resuelto: Favorable…but they didn’t want me to make a new card as it would expire at the end of May! I talked them into it, as the one in my possession had expired on 1 November 2010, and it was late March 2012, so I had a card by the end of April that was good for one month. And I redid the entire process again that June.

A year later, for the move to Bilbao, I had to make an emergency run into Bilbao as my NIE (numéro de identificación de extranjero) had expired on May 31st (despite my program not ending until the end of June) in June to present the paperwork in the so-called Capital of the World (of Rain).  There were rumours that now changing programs to teach English would mean a trip back to the US for a brand new visa, but that didn’t come to pass, thankfully. What did happen was I had to explain to the person in charge why I was applying (I was going to work in Bilbao), that I had all the paperwork, and basically what she had to do to process my papers. Everything I said, she went back to her boss to verify. And it was all true! I’m not sure why I would have to renew in Madrid when everything I had was for the Basque Country (you always renew in the comunidad autónoma of where you’re going to be!)

Last year, I was a bit worried that my disappearing passport would cause problems, but I had the world’s nicest guy process the paperwork. Everything went off without a hitch, except for when I got my TIE six weeks later, it expired on June 2nd instead of July 1st.

I went in this week to present the paperwork for another year in Bilbao, as the job in Valencia didn’t pan out. I presented all the paperwork without a hitch. My appointment was at 9, they called me back at 9:08, and I was out at 9:18. Compared with the stress of having to go to Aluche in Madrid, which is a 30 minute metro ride from the centre, wait in line outside for hours despite your appointment, then wait in line more inside to be called when your appointment was hours ago…yeah, I cannot think of any benefit from living in Madrid.

To obtain my original visa, I had to go from Kentucky, where I was attending the great University of Kentucky (rejected slogan: Yes, we are an actual college and do many amazing things that have absolutely nothing to do with basketball, and both Wisconsin and Duke can go to hell! ¡Que se jodan!), to Chicago, the nearest Spanish consulate, not once but TWICE. Once to present the paperwork and once to pick up the visa. That also required a new passport, as my golden retriever had found my old one and thought it was more delicious than her special dog food. Most of my money from my summer job went to obtaining this original visa.

In Jaén, the original NIE went without a hitch, other than never receiving my letter that I had to go in to give my fingerprints. Good thing I went to check in on it. The second year went without a single hitch too. It was València that messed me up and messed me up good.

Perhaps that’s fate telling me that València is cursed. I still would return in a heartbeat!

For those of you who have had to live in another country, what bureaucratic nightmares have you had?

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