How to Apply for a Spanish Residency Visa and Move to Spain
After more than a year of living abroad and juggling Schengen visas and French long stay visas, the time has finally come for me to apply for a Spanish visa. While David applied for his visa for Spain last October, I didn’t think the path to Spanish residency was as easy for me. But I recently found out that Spain offers a “non lucrative residency visa,” or basically a visa which allows Americans moving to Spain to live there without working.
Much like the long stay French visa I received last year, this Spain residence visa allows me to stay in longer than the standard 90 days allotted to American citizens. And like the French visa, you must agree to not work in Spain and that you have sufficient income from outside sources to support you during your stay.
How the Apostle Paul Got in the Way of My Spanish Visa
Obtaining my Spanish visa has been one of the most ridiculous, bureaucratic, tug-of-war battles I’ve had to endure in my travel career. Sure, I was annoyed at the process of obtaining our Indian visas while traveling in Ghana. And I was disappointed that I could never get my Chinese visa while traveling in Europe last summer. But I did have some level of understanding at those situations. The Indian Consulate in Ghana wondered why the hell I wasn’t getting my visa in the States and the Chinese embassies (we visited multiple) in Europe just needed to hold on to my passport longer than my travel plans would allow. My Spanish visa was a different story though. I have a job in Spain. I have an apartment. I was applying in my home country. Why the hell was this so difficult?
Our Best and Worst Visa Experiences
Thus far, we’ve been to about 35 countries in the past 15 months and of those, seven have required applying for visas. Some have been as simple as getting them at the border and others have been painstaking endeavors that tested the very limits of our sanity. Exaggeration – that is not! Sometimes it was our fault, sometimes it was theirs. Sometimes things went so smoothly there was no fault to be placed on either side. It was completely country dependent – which country we were in and which we were applying to visit. As I mentioned in our post about teaching English abroad, I will be doing so in Madrid soon which means I will be getting a Spanish visa. This is already not so simple as I have to apply in person. So I will be looking for cheap flights to Los Angeles once again to visit the Spanish embassy nearest my U.S. permanent address in Phoenix, much like we did for our French visas.
Long Stay Visa in France: Applying for a France Tourist Visa
Auston and I knew after completing our backpacking trip that we wanted to return to Spain to continue studying Spanish. Our goal was to spend at least six months in Madrid but we also wanted to go to France for a couple months to visit family and perhaps start dabbling in French. Unfortunately, according to the Schengen Agreement, Americans can only be in certain European countries (including Spain and France) for a maximum of 90 days within a 6 month period. Sure, we could leave after three months and go to another country in Europe, since we can spend up to 6 months in the UK. But as fluent English speakers, we’re not looking for English immersion – even though we’d need it to ever understand British English! So we interpreted this Schengen policy as “Americans must scheme their way into Europe if they want to stay more than 90 days”. As Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother would say, “Challenge accepted!”
We went to the Ghanian embassy in Berlin and finally got our visas to Ghana. Thank goodness since we already have a flight there. They were far easier to obtain than our Chinese visas, which we still haven’t been able to get even after visits to 2 or 3 embassies in different countries. Come on China!