8AM. 1 hour to go. I am sitting here on the bench in front of the Spain embassy building. My scheduled appointment is at 9AM. I need to prove to the Spanish consulate that I am worthy of a long-term visa to their motherland. I am clutching in my hand a long plastic envelope containing documents of my identity, my plans of 1 year travel to Spain and the Schengen area, my financial worth, and my past. Practically my entire life is contained in this precious PHP10.95 plastic envelope.
So why am I here?
I wanted to do long-term travel for the longest time since I had that calling in Kiruna, Sweden while waiting for the Northern Lights. I chose Spain because of its diverse culture, multi weather patterns going on, tapas, red wine and doing the Camino Way is on my bucketlist.
So I did research on how I can work online while travelling Spain and Portugal on the side. I applied for TEFL schools, applied for VA work, learned a bit of Spanish on youtube.com and read a lot about studying, working and living in Spain. I connected with other travel writers and enrolled for online travel writing workshop course.
I’ve save up some money and plotted how my monthly budget in Euro would look like. I prepared myself and my mind for how life would be if I lived there for a year and actually write a book about it.
So plan it out. Think long and hard if this is what you want. The expenses for the long term visa application is no joke. Visa processing fee is PHP3100.00. Medical certification costed me PHP4000.00 and thats not all. I was required to prepare a spanish document for my certificates and you don’t want to know how much that costed me.
Preparing Your Documents
OK so here we go. I set my appointment with the embassy via VFS Global website, but I believed that this website have stopped their services since December 2016. You need to contact the Spain Embassy in Makati for appointments and requirements. Here’s the address and where the interview will be held. Be there a bit early because Buendia Avenue, Makati can be pretty crazy all the time.
Address: 5th Floor, A.C.T. Tower. 135 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue.1227 Makati City, Metro Manila.
Telephone numbers: 818 3561, 818 3581, 759 2970, 759 2971
- If you are calling from Metro Manila through a landline, you may dial any of the numbers above.
- If you are calling from outside Metro Manila but within the Philippines, dial (02) and then any of the numbers above.
- If you are calling from Spain, dial (+632) and then any of the numbers above.
Consular emergency number: +63 917 826 6046.
Make sure to study the checklist of documents that you need to complete. This is a great guide on what you have and what else you need.
If you plan to stay in Spain more than 90 days, you need to prepare the following:
- Medical Certificate. Your medical certificate should come only from DOH accredited clinics. The certificate should clearly state that you are free from disease that may have a serious effect on public health. This certificate should be authenticated by Department of Foreign Affairs. The red ribbon thing they attach to your medical certificate.
- NBI Clearance. This should be authenticated too by Department Foreign Affairs. The red ribbon thing again.
For my case, I was required to present both documents together with their spanish translation. It was a bit pricey but I was thinking of it as a long-term investment. I contacted the website http://www.triotraducciones.com/ for my document translation requirement. I also checked first with the consulate via email if they will accept translations from the above website.
It is important to follow the instructions very carefully from the checklist. Prepare a long brown envelope and put all your documents in. Write your name and mobile contact number on the top left of the envelope. Make sure you have another set of photocopies of the original documents;
- Valid passport with the minimum validity of the duration of the stay.
- Completed visa application form. Then once completed, make a photocopy of this form.
- Attach a passport size photo on the application form.
- 1 photocopy of the data page of the valid passport and all previous visas and stamps.
- Previous passports (if applicable)
- Proof of enrollment at a public or private university, school or center and the details of the course (plan de estudios) to be taken. You can also include your acceptance letter from the school. I included my letter from the TEFL school I coordinated with. This document should be written in Spanish.
- Bank certificate or account passbook.
- Medical insurance provided by an authorized insurance company in Spain. You can check this website for guidance. I got mine from Malayan Insurance, the cheapest one that I can find during the time I was preparing my documents.
I did not present any plane tickets or hotel bookings during my interview. Nor I was asked to present credit card statements or payslips. Though I presented to the interviewer my itinerary, monthly plans including approximated costing like flat rent, daily food cost, etc. This states that you’re prepared for your long-term stay.
The interview was short and orderly, about 5 minutes long.
How are you? How are you doing today?
What do you do?
You plan to come to Spain. Why?
Say something in Spanish.
Where’s your bank certificates? Ah here. OK. Please take a seat.
Maria Carmel! Please pay PHP3100.00 at next window.
Here’s your receipt. Please wait for 7 working days before making a follow-up. Thank you.
Thanks and bye.
I was handed my receipt and I carefully tucked it in my wallet. My future in Spain is in this receipt.
The Agonizing Wait
Yeah, that’s the correct word. Agonizing. It was an agonizing 10 days of wait. My anxiety is getting the better of me so I booked for a few days trip to the serene mountains of Guimaras, Philippines.
The good thing is that the Spanish Embassy provides an online status tracking system where you can check your status. The reference number is stated at the top part of your receipt. Or you can simply send an email to the consulate to check your status.
One night, after playing with the hostel owner’s dog, Stella, I went back to my room. There it was on my laptop, an alert that I have a new email. From the embassy.
My application was refused. There is no reason stated as to why. Just a schedule when I can claim my passport and refusal letter at the embassy. The reason, my suspect too all along, is that the NBI clearance I provided does not apply for my case. The refusal document stated that I should present a police clearance from Singapore where I lived as an expat for 6 years. I was given 30 days to make an appeal. That means I need to go back to Singapore and cram for another set of documents again. I decided to give it a rest for now.
I decided to stay in my home country for a while and frolic in its beaches and hike its heights. It did open a lot of windows for me.
This is not exactly a how-to-guide on your first step, but an enlightenment, an inspiration. Not a failure sad story, but a hopeful entry of what awaits me in the coming years. I have not ditched my Camino Way plans, the guide-book is still lovingly sitting in my bookshelf, but postponing it, preparing for a life of a vagabonding. Soon.
Do not make this long-term visa application the be all and end all plan of your life dreams and hopes. Make or break, there’s always Plan B. or C. or D. or Z.
No tapas yet. No Camino Way for now. Life is crazy beautiful.
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