I wrote about applying for a non-lucrative visa for Spain in this previous post. Today I had my non-lucrative visa interview at the San Francisco Spanish Consulate to apply for my visa. I requested this appointment about 3 months ago and it went incredibly smooth.
My appointment was at 11am and the tiny waiting room in San Francisco was already pretty full by then. No ventilation, stuffy as hell with no sitting room. Fortunately I walked out the door by 11:55am.
See the following related posts on this topic from the future and the past:
- initial non-lucrative visa application
- getting documents together for non-lucrative visa
- non-lucrative visa interview
- non-lucrative visa approval
- getting NIE and TIE in Spain
- 1st renewal application of non-lucrative visa – online
- non-lucrative visa renewal approval
Getting to the Consulate
There is plenty of street parking – a relative term for San Francisco. I was driving a Smart Car so I was able to squeeze into a spot just a block away.
You walk up to the consulate and ring the doorbell, walk in and check in at the window on the left. They will buzz you in the back and hand you a paper like the one below.
I hung out there for about 45 minutes suffocating until at 11:45am when a woman came out and collected all the paperwork from everyone who was applying for visas.
Almost everyone had their stuff ready to go in a folder and just handed it to her. The files are individually reviewed and you are called back and taken back based on your appointment time.
The Consulate in SF
Don’t be intimidated by the Spanish speaking individuals waiting in the waiting room with you. These are Spanish citizens who are there to drop off their Green Cards, apply for the NIE, pick up their renewal passports, etc.
Fortunately for non-Spanish speakers like myself there is another person who will come out to collect the documents and they will speak English.
Overall, everyone who worked there was quite friendly and helpful.
Cell Phones & Laptops
Several signs state that you cannot under any circumstances have a computer or laptop or cell phone on you. Nobody cares.
Every other person had laptops and cell phones and were even speaking on the cell phones in the waiting area. It’s not enforced so feel free to keep your cell on you.
There is 1 cafe immediately across the street from the Spanish SF consulate that’s more like a deli with everything you could want (coffee, food, booze). 1.5 blocks down the road is another cafe with a bathroom and more of a sit-down joint.
There is a mailing center with printing services and envelopes, etc. immediately across the street.
And 2 blocks down there is a FedEx.
The Visa Interview
I am not sure if it’s an actual interview but that’s what the process feels like. You will get your name called and walk in the back and meet with the person who collected your folder.
At the bulletproof window they will go over anything that you may be missing and tell you what else you might need or have you clarify anything that seems incomplete.
I saw some people taking 30 minutes to come out but usually because it was a family that went in. In my case it took only 10 minutes.
I walked up to the window and she reviewed my documents. She said everything was complete except that she wanted me to have a more updated bank statement.
I had the option of emailing her a pdf of my most recent bank statement or go across the street to the FedEx and print it out and bring it back.
She took a few minutes to collect my $153 fee which needed to be in cash or a cashier’s check in exact denominations. She provided me with some receipts and a tracking ID for the visa.
She asked me whether I was planning on working in Spain – I said no. She added that I was allowed to work online as long as I didn’t have Spanish clients.
She asked if I wanted to pick up my visa in SF or in Seattle. In order to pick it up in Seattle I would have to go and purchase a self-addressed envelope from FedEx from across the street and drop it off with the consulate.
She asked me what my address will be in Spain which was printed on the paper – she saw that and just confirmed it with me. She didn’t ask whether it was AirBnb or long-term rental. I only rented this place out for 2 weeks as an AirBnb.
Picking Up The Visa
I didn’t know this but I had to leave my passport with the consulate. Once the visa is granted then I would be emailed to go and pick up my passport with the appropriate visa stamp and supporting document.
I will have to take another trip to SF in order to pick up the passport/visa in person. I don’t believe anyone can go in your stead.
The visa will need to picked up within 30 days so it’s necessary to plan for that. And when you go to pick up the visa you will need to show that you have flight arrangements to Spain otherwise they won’t give you the visa.
She asked me for my most recent bank statement which I wish my lawyer had told me about. Fortunately she gave me the option of emailing it to her or dropping it off.
Dropping it off meant that I would have to go across the street, print it, go back to the consulate, and who knows how long I would have to wait there again. I chose the email option. In fact, she emailed me and asked me for the document with a reference number about 2-3 hours after I left. I replied with the proper attachment.
Later I missed 2 phone calls which was followed up by an email from the same person that she forgot for me to sign a particular document. She offered for me to return to SF to do so before they closed that day or I could sign the document once I go there to pick up the visa or passport.
Again, not a big deal. The point is that if there are things missing or the application is incomplete, it seems that they will work with you.
Picking up the visa. I’ll write about these once they happen. I submitted my application beginning of April 2018 at the consulate so I suspect that I will have the visa approved within about 6-8 weeks, sometimes as long as 12 weeks.
All you have to do is show up at the consulate with a driver’s license or other ID to pick up your passport which will have a 90-day visa stamp on it. There won’t be any fees associated with this.
Foreign Resident ID Card. This is also called the Tarjeta de Identidad Extranjero (TIE) which you need to request within 30 days of landing in Spain. As long as you request it within 30 days you are okay because obviously it’ll take some time to obtain it.
This can be obtained from a local police station or possibly from an oficina de extranjería. Should be a lot of fun since I don’t speak any Spanish.
Non-lucrative visa renewal. This is looking a year ahead, but when the time comes and I want to review my non-lucrative visa then the process will be much easier but similar.
I will need to submit 2 applications, passport photos, demonstrate that I have sufficient funds for living another year there, and proof of health insurance.
The renewal will be good for 2 years. It will be necessary for me to have lived at least 6 months in Spain before being able to renew the non-lucrative visa.