Steps for Obtaining a Student Visa at the Spanish Consulate General in Houston

Americans process to obtain Spanish Student Visa

When researching how to apply for a Spanish student visa, I couldn’t find much information on the visa process, other than what was on the website. Also, not being able to speak Spanish, didn’t help with the application either.

Consulate of Spain in Houston

To attend a school in Spain for longer than 180 days, you must apply for a student visa at your designated Spanish Consulate, within the United States. Being that our permanent address is in Tennessee, our consulate is in Houston. If your permanent address is in either Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, or Texas you will also apply your applications in person at the Consulate General of Spain in Houston.

The Houston Consulate’s website has a checklist of documents that you need for applying for a student visa. I found that some of the requirements on the list were pretty hard to follow, so I wanted to share some insight on how we obtained our visas.

Student Visa Requirements for Consulate General of Spain in Houston

You must provide the original and photocopy of each of the following items for a student visa:

1. National Visa Application Form

You must have two copies of the application. You can find the National Visa Application Form here.

Follow our instructions on how to fill out the National Visa Application Form here.

2. Original Passport

Your passport must be valid for the whole duration of your stay, with at least one blank page to affix the visa.

I would also bring two color copies along with your original passport.

3. Driver’s License/ID

When arriving at the consulate, they will only need to look at your driver’s license or ID to verify proof of residency in one of the states under the Houston jurisdiction.

Bring two color copies of your driver’s license or ID along with you, just in case.

4. Two recent passport-sized photos

White background, 2×2 inch, glued to the National Visa Application Form. We used glue sticks for this.

5. School Acceptance Letter

Letter from the Spanish University, school, or program indicating that you are a full-time student. The letter needs to include: names, address, telephone, fax number, and duration of the program (exact date of start and date of termination); subjects of study; hours of study per week.

Your school will mail you the original documents, and you will need to make a copy of them to take along with you.

6. Evidence of Funds

You will need to either provide one or a combination of the following to prove proof funds of $590 per month.

  • Statement from your school assuming full responsibility for room and board (commonly included in the ‘School Acceptance Letter’)
  • Proof of financial aid for room and board
  • Last three months’ bank statements of student’s bank account
  • Notarized letter of parents/custodians is assuming full financial responsibility, together with a copy of their ID and the last three months’ bank statements with sufficient funds.
    • Suggested wording: I hereby certify that I the (father, mother, other) of (…), will support her/him with a monthly allowance of $590 while she/he is in Spain and that I am financially responsible for any emergency that may arise.

7. Health Insurance

You must provide a letter from an international insurance company that operates in Spain. The letter must include the full intended period of stay in Spain, and the dates must match the period on your acceptance letter.

My husband’s school, IE, provided us with some insurance options to consider.  We decided to go with Sanitas for about 60 euros each a month.

After the application process with the insurance company, they will email you the student visa documents that are needed. Be sure to have two copies of the insurance letter.

8. Police Criminal Record Clearance

FBI Identity History Check

The record clearance must be verified by fingerprints and cannot be older than three months from the application date. Also, the FBI Records must be issued by the US Department of Justice—Federal Bureau of Investigation and must be legalized with the Apostille of The Hague Convention from the US Department of State in Washington, DC.

To get our fingerprints checked, we decided to move forward with the FBI Identity History Check. We made an appointment through IdentoGO.

Getting an appointment was pretty simple, they had a lot of availabilities. After the appointment, we received the FBI Criminal History Report to our email.  Once we printed them out, two copies of each, we then had to mail them to be legalized with the Apostille of The Hague Convention from the US Department of State in Washington, DC.

Apostille of The Hague Convention from the US Department of State

Visit the Office of Authentications website, where you will find instructions on how to mail in your documents to get the correct legalization.

You will need to fill out and submit a completed Request of Authentication Service DS-4194.

Once you have the DS-4194 form filled out correctly, you will need to include the processing fee of $8.00 per document. Allowable payment methods include U.S. Postal Money Orders, checks (personal, corporate, certified, cashiers, travelers) all payable to U.S. Department of State.

We ended up mailing a check and we each paid to have the Apostille on two of the FBI Criminal History Check. We wanted to make sure we had enough copies, just in case they didn’t take a photocopy if we only did one each.

Along with the check and the DS-4194 form, you need to provide a pre-paid self-addressed envelope with your address as the receiving and returned address.

Once you have all those items together:

  • FBI Criminal History Check
  • Paying method
  • DS-4194
  • Return envelop with label

Mail everything to:

Office of Authentications
U.S. Department of State
CA/PPT/S/TO/AUT
44132 Mercure CIR PO BOX 1206 Sterling, VA 20166 1206

If you live in the D.C. area or need the documents faster, you can travel to D.C., but you will need an appointment.

In order to schedule an appointment or speak with an Authentications Specialist, please call the Office of Authentications: +1-202-485-8000

9. Medical Certificate

A doctor must provide a letter, written on letterhead, basically indicating that ‘the student has been examined and found free of any contagious or infectious diseases according to the International Health Regulation 2005’.  And it must be signed by an M.D.

Here you’ll find a sample of how your doctor should write the letters. We went ahead and had our doctor write the letter in both English and Spanish. Once you get the letters back from your doctor, make sure they have the official physician stamp, and then go ahead and have copies for when you go to the Houston Consulate.

You will leave your passport at the Consulate. You can pick up your visa with the visa affixed inside, or you can bring a pre-paid self-addressed envelope with a tracking number. It must be either USPS Priority or Express Mail. We opted to bring along a pre-paid self-addressed envelope with Express Mail, so we didn’t have to travel back to Houston.

Applying for a minor or are a non-US national, please read the requirements carefully. You will have to provide additional paperwork or have different requirements for obtaining a student visa. You can find more all the details from the Spanish Houston Consulate here.

Applying for the Spouse to a Student Visa

Since Eric was the one attending school, I accompanied him on a Spouse Student Visa.

Provide the following, from the list above, just like if you were applying for a student visa:

  1. National Visa Application: see #1 from above
  2. Orginal Passport: See #2 from above
  3. Driver’s License/ID: See #3 from above
  4. Two Recent Passport-sized Photos: See #4 from above
  5. Recent Marriage Certificate
    • You will need to request a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the city where you filed for it. When you receive the certified copy, take it to get legalized with the Apostille of The Hague Convention from the corresponding Secretary of the State.
      • For Tennessee, please follow instructions on the Apostille and Authentication site. Since I live in Nashville, I took mine in person and had it done in a matter of five minutes.
  1. Health Insurance: See #7 from above
  2. Evidence of Funds
    • Will need to provide the last three months’ bank statements with applicant’s bank account. The minimum amount required is $445/month. If you are going for ten months, you must have a minimum of $4,450 in your account. Plus, the amount required for your spouse, see #6 from above.
  3. Police Criminal Record Clearance: See #8 from above

You will only need to have ONE pre-paid self-addressed envelope with a tracking number for both your spouse and yourself. It must be either USPS Priority or Express Mail. We opted to bring along a pre-paid self-addressed envelope with Express Mail, so we didn’t have to travel back to Houston. Express Mail overnight mail was about $25, but if we didn’t wait until the last-minute, we could have only paid about $6 for Priority Mail.

Visa Fee

Along with all the appropriate documents, the required student visa fee is $160. They only accept cash (exact change) or money order.

Appointment with the Consulate of Spain in Houston

Image Source

Scheduling Appointment

You must make an appointment with the consulate; they will not accept walk-in appointments. Keep in mind, during August the consulate shuts down for vacation, much like most of Spain.

Book your appointment with the Houston Consulate but keep in mind, that you need to have all your paperwork together before you go to your appointment. Getting your FBI Criminal History Check back with the appropriate authentication could take up to twelve business days.

Appointment Day

Whether you are traveling by car, bus, or flying into Houston, as we did, you will make your way to the consulate at 1800 Bering Drive, Suite 660, Houston, TX 77057.

When you arrive, take the elevator up to the six floor. Here you will find the offices for the Spanish Consulate. You will walk into a room filled with chairs and four bank teller windows, where the consulate employees will be assisting others. You don’t check in anywhere. Your name gets called at or around your scheduled time. This whole process of waiting was very odd.

Our appointment was at 12:15 PM and we got our name called, handed over our paperwork and by 1 PM we were headed back to the airport. We did arrive at 11:30 AM, just because I wanted to be early and I had no idea how this system would work. The reason our appointment went so smoothly was that we had filled out all the correct paperwork, had the right supporting documents and brought numerous color copies of everything. We talked to a couple of people waiting in line, they had been there for hours because they forgot to fill something out, or they forgot to bring copies and had to leave and come back with them.

I would suggest making your appointment early in the morning. That way if you forgot anything, you would have time to either make additional copies or have time to get the provided documents that you are missing.

The lady who helped us at the Consulate was very polite and excited to know we had all our paperwork together. She congratulated us by saying: “Congratulations, you brought and filled out all the paperwork correctly.” Considering we watched many people forget to bring certain documents or to bring copies of everything, I was pretty proud of myself.

Processing Visa

Depending on the time of year, processing times can vary. At our appointment, they told us that it could be anywhere from 2-4 weeks before we received our student visas. Our appointment was on Friday, September 15th. On Friday, September 29th we received our email stating our student visas were complete. It arrived in our mailbox on Monday, October 1st.

Here is what the email stated:

Your Visa has been approved and issued. You can come pick it up from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM CST, Monday through Friday (no appointment required). Your passport must be picked up within one month from the day of this notification.

If you left a prepaid envelope, we will put your passport together with your visa in the mailbox today. USPS pick up occurs at 2:00 PM CST. If you are receiving this e-mail after 2:00 PM CST your envelope will not be picked up until tomorrow.

Contact Info for the Spanish Consulate in Houston

The best way to reach the consulate for questions is through email, but they do take a while to get back to you.

Houston Consulate email address: cog.houston.vis@maec.es

In the end, the process took a total of 38 days. From the day we found out Eric got into the Master’s program till the day the student visa’s arrived in our mailbox. I will say this, the visa process isn’t easy, and at times you’ll feel lost but hang in there, this is just the first of many tasks you’ll conquer when moving to Spain. Be sure to check back on Russell’s World figure out how we take on the Spanish culture.

 

 

 

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *