Transcontinental Visa Drama

NLV Details

Document Update 10 August

Here is the list of documents and notes on obtaining them. I tracked all this with a spreadsheet I built to create a tracking mechanism and a way to model the dates so we were keeping all documents inside the 90-day window.

For all that follows, one must always use the latest information from the consulate web page for the non-lucrative visa. This changed several times during our planning and work. The links here are as of this writing.

  1. National Visa Application Form
    • Most of this is clearly explained in the latest form that is both in Castilian and English.
    • Box 10 is for minors and Box 11 is the passport number of the guardian.
    • Box 23 needs to at least have the city where you will be living. Some consulates are happy with only that information. Houston does require that you provide proof of accommodation in Spain, so put the full address here.
    • Box 24 is only filled out if you already have your NIE. If you do not have your NIE, the consulate will assign you one as part of the process, so leave this blank. The NIE is akin to your US social security number. Citizens have a DNI. You will use it a lot in your life in Spain, so memorize it when you have it. The NIE begins with a Y and ends with a letter as in Y1234567-Z.
    • Box 24 is the last box you might fill in for an NLV. The rest until 30 are for other visas. You will fill in 30 with the city and state and date to indicate where and when you sign in Box 31.
  2. Application for Non Lucrative Residence
    • This is the official form for the NLV.
    • Fill in Box 1, Box 3, and check “Initial” at the top of Box 4.
  3. Passport Photos
    • We stopped at a local Walgreens and had two sets each printed. I expect we will need the second set for our TIE (Tarjeta Identificación Extranjero) later, so we are ahead of the game, I hope.
  4. Passport and copy of the main page
    • Note the requirements for window of validity and available pages.
  5. ID or Drivers License
    • Proving residency in the consular district. We provided a page with front and back of the driver’s license.
  6. US Visa for Long Term Residence
    • Not applicable for us
  7. Formal Petition to Apply
    • This is sometimes called the Carta de Intención. We explained briefly why we were planning to live in Spain and what we would do while there. My lawyer in Spain said it was important to humanize us, and it also is an opportunity to state that we will not be working.
  8. Proof of Financial Means
    • We provided seven months of transactions on our Banco Sabadell account along with a certification of ownership.
    • Houston typically asks for 12 months. We may need to provide additional US account information.
  9. Proof of Accommodation in Spain
    • We provided the Nota Simple from the purchase of our apartment in València.
  10. Proof of Health Insurance in Spain
    • We had a couple pre-existing conditions, so we had to work a bit to get our insurance. We were turned down by Sanitas via Sabadell as they do not write exclusions for pre-existing conditions. We looked at ASSSA since they are based in Alicante, but their network of clinics and doctors in València City is quite limited at present. We ended up working with Gidea/Insbrok to obtain a policy with Salus.
  11. Criminal Background Check
    • We did this for Seattle with the Washington State Patrol and had it apostilled by the WA Secretary of State. It was easy.
    • For Houston, we needed the FBI Background Check. Houston Consulate does not accept any state background checks.
    • FBI was also easy. We filled out an application at the Identity History Summary Checks site. We then took the resulting information to one of the US Post Office locations that provide fingerprinting services. The process was quick and easy and the results were very fast.
    • We printed out the emailed results and sent that to the US Department of State Office of Authentications with a fully completed DS-4194 from the website.
    • I still have the official mailed copies of the FBI documents, but the apostille office was happy to authenticate my printed copy.
    • This document needed translation after the apostille is done. Do not remove staples or rivets. But send your translator a good scan with the corner folded.
    • We used Raphaela Wiss Translations (WhatsApp: +34 656 53 71 34 Email: She was amazing. Responsive. Fast. But any and only a sworn translator will work.
    • The list of sworn translators is available on the main website of the Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores in the section headed “Traducciones oficiales.” The link was titled “Lista actualizada a DD de MMMM de YYYY (PDF).”
  12. Medical Certificate
    • I used slightly different format for our letter than the more recent one I see on the Houston site, but the content is the same. Your doctor is certifying that you do not suffer from communicable diseases that would be of concern under the 2005 WHO regulations. We are talking about diseases like Ebola.
    • My doctor used a return address stamp for the clinic.
  13. Affidavit of non-work
    • This was a new one while we worked on the list, and it may be unique to Houston. If you are of working age, you must prove that you do not have your old job and sign an affidavit before a notary that you will not be working in Spain.
    • We did not provide this in our original package and will report back if they want it.
    • UPDATE: they wanted it. I wrote it up in Spanish and English and we had it notarized. I simply said we affirmed and swore that we would live in Spain on savings and passive investments. They also wanted letters from our employers. I provided a form letter from Microsoft’s online system and Patrick had his managing broker write a quick letter. Mailed all plus copies via USPS priority express.
  14. Return Envelope
    • We provided two flat-rate envelopes that we tested to make sure they could return the full package and it would fit.
    • Notice that the consulates all prefer USPS (governments prefer governments). Do not use UPS/Fedex/DHL/etc.
    • UPDATE: They sent us a document to sign that authorized them to mail our documents back and held them harmless for anything that happened with the USPS.
  15. Formulario 790 Codigo 152
    • This is the document that authorizes the consulate to collect the fee. You will tick Box 2.1.
  16. Visa Fees
    • Money orders of $152 dollars for each visa addressed to the “Consulate General of Spain in Houston”. This is the US fee. Check your own country as it varies.
    • We provided a separate USPS money order for each application. Remember, USPS, not Joe’s Bank of Money Orders.

Each item was separately paper clipped. We understand that it is not popular with the staff to use staples. They need to scan these documents, so staples slow them down. That said, do not un-staple or un-rivet the apostilled documents. If you break the connection between the apostille and the document it invalidates the apostille.

I then took the stack in exactly the order of their list and bound the whole with a large binder clip. We put the whole in a large USPS Priority Mail Express envelope with a cover letter explaining that we were applying independently as a couple as advised by our lawyer in València.

We are now waiting. Impatiently. An email to the Houston Consulate resulted in an auto-reply that clearly says they will not respond to queries about mailed applications or application status.

Stay tuned for developments!

7 Replies to “Transcontinental Visa Drama”

  1. David Burrows

    Wow – major logistical headache, but if anyone is organised enough to do it, it would be you!

  2. Katie S

    We are in a similar situation. Family of 4 trying to move to Sevilla for the year on an NLV (from Seattle). Submitted our documents around the beginning of June and learned about the current situation with the SF consulate. We are considering a similar option of changing residency to Miami. We have also heard that one of us could potentially apply for a student visa while already in Spain (allowing us to bypass the SF consulate) but have heard some conflicting advise regarding that option. It’s just hard to believe that a whole region of the United States cant get a visa right now. Will keep an eye on your website to see what happens. Best of luck!

    • David Wright Gibson Post author

      Hi Katie, yes, it is hard to understand at first. The reality as I’ve been told is that consulates are there for the citizens who live in the country and the visa work is a secondary priority. No malice, but lower priority. Also, challenging to hire at Spanish wages with San Francisco cost of living.

      Good luck! And keep us posted.

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