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If you are searching for instructions on how to apply for a Spanish student visa at the Chicago Consulate of Spain, chances are you are either studying abroad or moving to Spain as an Auxiliar de Conversación to teach English in Spain.
Luckily, you are in the right place for a step-by-step guide on how to apply for a student visa at the Chicago Consulate of Spain.
However, be aware that this is a tedious process filled with paperwork, bureaucracy, and lots of confusion.
But don’t let the applying for the student visa stop you from all the excitement of moving to Spain! This is essentially the last step before you will be living abroad, and we hope this ‘How to’ guide simplifies the visa process at least a little bit.
Consulate of Spain Background
The Consulates of Spain are located around the US in major cities. Each one represents a different region of states.
We applied through the Chicago Consulate because we live in Wisconsin. The Chicago Consulate also covers people who live in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
If you are not located in these states, find your Consulate and their requirements for a student visa in Spain, here.
Each Spanish Consulate has slightly different requirements for their student visa that can change year to year, so be sure to check your official Consulate page before applying.
This is honestly one part of the process that makes applying for a student visa in Spain so confusing. Essentially, the Consulates are the gatekeepers to Spain and each view their own role differently, but remember that life is easier once you are living in Spain!
Getting Started on Your Spanish Student Visa
Now that you know which Consulate to apply to based on where you live, you need to look up the specific requirements. Again, for the purposes of this post we will only discuss how to apply for a student visa at the Chicago Consulate of Spain.
Once you know all the requirements, you should look into booking an appointment on the Chicago Consulate’s website.
In past years, you could book your appointment far in advance, but for 2021, it was only few days in advance. They also started accepting student visa applications via mail for July 2021. Continue to check their website for any updates.
Remember that once you send in your paperwork, including your passport, it will take about 4 weeks for you to get it back, so do not book your flight to Spain before that!
Well, you can like we did, but it’s not recommended as they might not accept your visa application or it might take longer than expected to process…
Gathering the Paperwork
Once your appointment is scheduled, or you at least have an idea of when it will be, start gathering all your paperwork for your student visa.
As of July 2021, the Chicago Consulate requires:
- Complete Spain National Visa Application Form – Original + 1 color copy
- Original Passport – Original + 1 color copy
- ID proving state of residence (US driver’s license) – Original + 1 color copy
- One passport sized photo with a white background glued to the first page of your visa application
- School placement letter – carta de nombramiento – Original +1 color copy
- FBI Background Check legalized with an Apostille of the Hague Convention from the U.S. and translation – Original + 1 color copy
- Medical Certificate: A doctor’s recent statement signed by an M.D. stating: “the applicant (identified by Passport’s First and Last name) has been examined and found free of any contagious diseases according to the International Health Regulation 2005’. – Original + 1 color copy
- $160 Money Order for a non-refundable visa fee
- Evidence of Immigration Status in the US, for non US passport holders only: Please provide a Permanent Resident Card or US Immigrant Visa.
- Express Mail envelope self-addressed and with prepaid stamps from the USPS.
If you start to gather all your paperwork for the student visa ahead of time, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. However, it is a lot of detailed paperwork.
Remember to double and triple check everything to make sure it’s all exactly how the Consulate wants it. You don’t want to have to resubmit your paperwork and delay you getting your visa and arriving in Spain!
For the 2021-22 school year, the most time consuming and complicated part—mostly because of COVID—was the FBI Background Check, apostille, and translation.
The FBI background check was relatively quick, but the apostille was delayed up to 8 weeks because their offices were shut down for COVID. We needed up using Southeast Spanish Inc. (SES) to expedite our FBI background check apostille and do the translation.
Although their service was pricier than sending it on your own, their service was outstanding! Dan, the owner, was incredibly responsive to every inquiry and kept us in the loop every step along the way. If you have the $200 to spare and are tight on time with the student visa documents, we highly recommend using SES.
Chicago Consulate of Spain
In years past—pre-COVID—you had to travel to the Chicago Consulate with all your student visa documents and apply there after making the aforementioned appointment via their website.
However, in July 2021, you could mail in your documents. This is what we did because it was the only option when we applied for the student visa at the Chicago Consulate.
About one week after mailing in all our student visa documents, they mailed us all the original copies back with a letter that said our documents were all approved in our pre-stamped envelope that was sent in. The letter stated that we just had to wait for a phone call or email about when we could pick up our passport with the student visa inside.
Two weeks after receiving our original copies back from the Chicago Consulate, we got an email saying that our visas were ready to be picked up.
In typical Spanish fashion, the only hours you could pick up your student visa from the Chicago Consulate were Wednesday and Thursday from 12:00-1:00pm.
While these pick-up times are less than ideal, it’s a little glimpse into what bureaucracy times look like in Spain.
Obviously, applying for a students visa at the Chicago Consulate of Spain can change year by year, but for 2021 the pick-up was relatively easy. There was a line outside the Consulate and you just waited until it was your turn.
When at the window, you showed the workers your ID and a copy of the email. We printed it out just to be safe, but it looked like showing it on your phone worked fine.
Once you got to the window, the whole process to pick-up your student visa in Chicago only took about 3 minutes.
Remember that each and every year, the process and requirements can look a little different depending on what the Consulates choose to require.
Yes, it’s a headache, but follow the steps to a T and triple check to make sure you have all the correct documents.
If you do this, the process of applying for a student visa at the Chicago Consulate of Spain will go smoothly, and you’ll be all set to move to Spain!
Remember to check out all the things to do when you arrive in Spain as an Auxiliar de Conversación to make that process go smoother too!