Before you picture yourself setting out for Barcelona presumably to give Javier Bardem a back rub, there are a couple of things you need to know. First of all, moving to Spain is a royal pain in the culo. We never thought the process would be easy and we knew that Spain was infamous for its bureaucracy. But it’s one thing to tell yourself it won’t be easy, and it’s quite another to want to bang your head against the wall after someone transfers your call to the person you spoke to before your call was transferred to someone else. Did you follow that? Neither did I.
Most of the frustration is caused by the Spanish visa application process. In case you didn’t know, if you want to live, work, or study in Spain, you need a visa. In our particular case, we need to be issued a work visa. The requirements for a visa are pretty straightforward. You need a criminal background check by the FBI, an official letter from a doctor affirming that you have no communicable diseases (including but not limited to: any STD, smallpox, cholera, polio, yellow fever, Ebola, West Nile Virus, etc), two visa applications, two passport sized photos, and most importantly, a contract of employment from a Spanish business. The latter, after a delay of two months, was received the day before yesterday.
Since receiving the contract, the Professor and I have been trying to get the background checks and health care checks crossed off our list. This has essentially meant that for the last two days, we’ve been on hold with every telephone operator in the Spanish Consulate of Miami, the Criminal Justice Department, and the Health Department. The Spanish Consulate is only open from 9am-1pm which is extremely convenient unless you (like me) work from 8am-12pm. This means that during my lunch break from 12:30-1pm, I’m on the phone with the Consulate trying to ascertain what showing “proof of sufficient financial support” means while stuffing a tuna salad sandwich into my mouth.
For our FBI background checks, the Professor and I got fingerprinted by our local police station and mailed in our applications last week. We thought this would be a pretty speedy process: just run our fingerprints and verify that we are the angelic innocents we claim to be. Not so fast! Apparently, the FBI needs eight weeks to determine if you’re a criminal. That’s right. EIGHT weeks. I called the FBI today, fairly confident that with enough emotional appeals and firm requests (plus my willingness to pay whatever it would cost to expedite the process), we could speed this up a bit. What was I thinking? After I was transferred to different departments and forced to listen to elevator music on loop, the nice lady I spoke to firmly assured me that no expedite process exists, no fee will move the process along, and you may check back with us in eight weeks. I wanted to cry out of frustration. Instead, I called the Consulate back. I explained that the FBI’s bureaucratic background check process would take a month and a half which would essentially hold our visa application hostage until we hear back from them. She told me that we can still bring all of our other documents to begin the visa application process and bring an official document from the FBI that says that our background applications were received and are being processed. So I guess I’ll be calling my friends at the FBI back again tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes. I can probably do another long follow up post tomorrow while on hold. Meh.