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How to Get Your Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa – February 2019 Update

In Moving to Spain by Jamie14 Comments

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Susan and I got our non-lucrative Spanish visas back in June of 2017.  Our blog post about How We Got Our Non-Lucrative Visa Application Right has proven to be our most popular post.  If you are just getting started, you should  READ IT HERE before going further on this post.

Since that time we've been able to help answer many questions about our experience with the visa application process in the comments section of our post.  And even better, enough of our readers have been kind enough to reach out with such great new information that we have been able to put together this update.  We hope that you will find this update to be useful.

This is the best information we have.   However,  YOU should double-check EVERYTHING!!!

REMEMBER each Spanish consulate in the United States operates a little differently and you must follow the step by step process for your consulate.  Our experience is only with the San Francisco Consulate and it is now dated (June 2017).

About Dates and Timing

Applying for a Spanish residence visa can be a bit stressful.  But one of the best things you can do to minimize that stress is to get the timeline and deadlines straight in your mind.  Or if your mind is as leaky as mine, at least get it straight on your calendar.

What to do after arriving in Spain

Translators

For the visa application, the greatest logistic difficulty seems to be getting all the documents together AND translated within the three-month window required by the consulates.

We spent a lot of time trying to locate a certified translator for our visa application.  We were reluctant to pick someone at random, especially with some of the confidential information we needed to have translated. I thought it was just us, but it seems almost everyone faces the same problem.

Since then we learned that the Spanish Government, has a Sworn Translators-Interpreters web page where you can find a link to a Spanish language list of approved translators and interpreters.   If you go to page 613 of the LISTA ACTUALIZADADE TRADUCTORES/AS - INTÉRPRETES document,  you’ll find the approved Spanish/English translators who are located in the U.S.

Financial Documentation

I'm not in any position to provide advice or insight when it comes to why some non-lucrative visa applications are rejected or how to fine tune your financial documentation.  Susan and I were able to show savings that more than covered the minimum monthly requirement for the duration of our visas.  That worked for us.

In 2018 the minimum financial requirement was €2,130.04 per month for the head of household, plus an additional €532.51 per month for each additional family member.

Medical Insurance and the Certificate of Good Health

Like many of our readers, Susan and I were reluctant to purchase a Spanish health insurance plan several months before we were even sure the consulate would approve our visa applications.  So we spent a couple months trying to chase down an affordable health insurance plan and looking for repatriation insurance. We didn't have confidence in any of the policies we found on our own through the internet. Fortunately, our relocation specialist, Linda, from Moving to Valencia, connected us with an agent in Spain who arranged for our policy to begin on the day we arrived in Spain.

  Make sure your doctor adds M.D. as part of her signature.

   We've received more than one report of a consulate rejecting a Medical Certificate because the physician neglected to include his/her credentials in the signature.

Background Checks and Apostilles

REMEMBER:   There are two different ways to get both the criminal background check and an Apostille for official documents - go through your state or go the Federal route.

If you have lived in the same state for five years or more years AND your marriage and birth certificates (for children) are from the same state, it is probably easiest (and cheapest) to work through your state's agencies.

On the other hand, if you have been out and about, it might be easier to go the Federal route.

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Jamie Wyant is a retired American living in Spain.  After a multifaceted career ranging from ecosystem science to digital marketing, he moved to Valencia in 2017 with his wife, Susan,  and their senior pets.   He writes about the joys and tribulations of living overseas.  Jamie also manages the technical aspects of GentleCycle.net

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Comments

  1. Thanks for putting this all together! It has been helpful reading while assembling our application and I wanted to share an update of our experience trying to apply for the non-lucrative visa in Chicago yesterday morning. We had everything we needed all neatly ready to go. However, the appointment was an unsuccessful disaster and the consular officer refused to even look at our application, told us we could not apply, and shouted at us to leave. We didn’t even get a chance to take out the documents we’ve been assembling for months. Their main issue was that my husband and I “are too young” (we’re in our mid/late thirties, but do look a little younger) to apply for the non-lucrative visa, as it is “for retired people only.” We were going to live in Spain for 1-2 years, take a bit of a sabbatical, and live off of our savings. Then, they took issue with the fact that my husband owns a small company in the U.S., which is a source of passive income, even though we had proof of funding for double the required amount. They also took issue with the fact that my husband is a doctor and refused to believe that he wanted to take a break from medicine to live in Spain. “There is no way you aren’t going to keep working as a doctor,” she said, even though he is not licensed to practice in another country (and it would be very illegal).

    Every time I tried to ask a question or clarify our position, she interrupted to yell at us over and over that “lucrative” means “no work” and doing any kind of business or even owning a U.S. business would be forbidden and disqualifies us from even submitting the application. We would have to have proof that we dissolved the company and “notarized letters form our current employers” stating that we were unemployed (which, what??) to even be considered. It was as if she decided straight away we wouldn’t qualify and then refused to change her mind. When we were finally able to ask what kind of visa would be required to maintain passive ownership of a business and they said a work visa (which I don’t think our business would really qualify us for), followed by “is easy to apply for [the work visa]. Just follow the website.” The most unbelievable part is that she would not let us clarify, show our documentation to clear up what and why we were doing, or really even talk. She just yelled that ‘non lucrative’ means ‘no work of any kind in Spain or anywhere else’ over and over until we she told us we had to leave.

    It was a horrible feeling. I have no idea what happened to garner this extreme reaction. We were prompt, organized, looked nice, were polite, and had the first appointment of the day. We met all stated qualifications for the visa and had all paperwork needed. The only questions she asked were why we wanted to live in Spain and what are current jobs were. So, altogether, months of work turned into about four minutes of hell and now we’re back at nothing with all that time and money wasted. As she is the person who processes non-lucrative there, we don’t really have an option of trying again (short of hiring an attorney). Based on what she said, it seems like the consulate in Chicago is extremely strict now on who can even apply for this visa, so I wanted to warn others in case it is helpful. So, good luck out there, everyone! Hope you fare better than we did.

    1. Author

      Hi Anne-Marie,
      I am so sorry to hear about how poorly you were treated. i have no idea how to respond, especially since we know a young couple in their 30s who are just finishing up a sabbatical year here in Valencia.

      If you have it in you to try elsewhere, you might want to look into Portugal for your European break. Take a look at the Facebook group Americans & FriendsPT. After our recent visit we are considering Portugal as a future option.

      1. Thanks for the response! It was a shocking to say the least. We are working on Portugal next. We had originally started with Portugal, but then decided we enjoyed Valencia a little better than we enjoyed Lisbon. We have an attorney our friend used to get the Portuguese D7>Residency last year, so I think we’ll go that route, too. Our translator also mentioned she had never heard of age being a problem or passively owning a company. We’ve been hearing that official attitudes towards the non-lucrative have been changing, so hopefully our experience is not the start of a pattern.

  2. Hello!
    I am currently holding an emergency passport (I lost my official passport overseas) and Seattle Passport Agency they will not let me get a replacement.
    I’m just wondering whether presenting the emergency passport at my Visa appointment in SF Consulate will cause any issues in terms of being immediately turned away cause of it?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    Thank You!

    -K

    1. Author

      Hi Krystal,
      I’m sorry I don’t really know how the SF consulate will consider a temporary passport. They do explicitly state that they require the passport to be valid for 6 months beyond the Visa period.

      Sorry, we aren’t visa experts just a couple of bloggers
      .
      Good luck,
      Jamie

  3. The new proof of funds for San Francisco dictate that you must have %400 of the iprem (roughly 2150 euro/month)
    Proof of sufficient periodic income: Including, but not limited to: investments, annuities, sabbaticals and any other source of income, providing sufficient funds to live in Spain without working. The minimum income required is 400% of the IPREM (Public Income Index) annually plus the required percentage per each additional family member. For further information about the current IPREM, please follow this link. All documentation must be accompanied by a certified translated into Spanish.

    Does anyone know what the percentage is for each additional family member? I thought it was %50 of the 2150/month but I could be mistaken

  4. Jamie: We’re fellow Oregonians, and your blog has been so helpful! And over the last two months, we’ve been carefully putting together all our documentation, in preparation for a May 31st appointment down at the Consul in San Francisco….

    Until we hit a major roadblock, caused by my own stupidity. You see, when I’d gone on line to use the bookit system back in February, I THOUGHT we had a confirmed appointment, since we were sent an “activation code.” What I FAILED to grasp was that I needed to go BACK to the site, enter that code, to get final confirmation. (Ah, the difference between an “activation code” and a “confirmation code).

    Which has now put the whole enterprise in jeopardy. I wouldn’t mind having to start over (if we get a June or July appointment) with the marriage license and the background checks — those have the 90 day expirations — but the current calendar shows the first available appointments are on August 30, just a week before our scheduled departure (and when our lease starts). At least the translator hasn’t started that process yet!

    Do you– or any of your readers — have any advice? The Consul site of course says that cancellations do happen, and keep checking back — but the calendar app doesn’t even let you go earlier than August. (Perhaps there are times of the days when cancelled appointments become visible?) We’ve had utterly no luck with getting any one at the Consul to respond to our e mails or phone calls — though we haven’t really expected otherwise; I’m sure they’re quite busy. At least someone at the reddit site offered us “good luck” wishes!

    Appreciate any thoughts anyone might have about potential resources out there. Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Phil,

      We had a similar booking problem with our passport renewals. Couldn’t confirm an appointment with an expired passport number. Pushed our appointment out a couple months.

      What I suggest is book the next available date. Then, keep checking. If a cancellation occurs, it will show up on the bookit calendar. But I don’t know what happens if you have your passport number already confirmed for a later date.

      Many people we have met go back and forth, coming in on a tourist visa, then going back to collect the resident visa. We couldn’t do that with five pets, but it might work for you. Also note, air fares from Europe to the U.S seem much less expensive that vice versa.

      Sorry, that’s the best advice I can offer. Maybe someone else has a thought?

      Good luck (you need it),

      Jamie

      1. Thank you for this website! I’m a fellow Oregonian as well. I’m happy to hear that many people have had success entering Spain on a tourist visa, and then coming back to the US to collect their resident visa, since that’s what I’m planning to do. Is there any advice or anything I should be aware of when trying to do this? Will the San Francisco embassy need to keep my passport while the visa is being processed, leaving me stuck here? Any thoughts would be much appreciated, thanks!

        Liz

      2. Author

        Hi Liz,
        Happy to read that you like the website. There are a couple things you might want to consider:

        • A tourist visa in the Schengen countries is good for any 90 of 180 days on a rolling basis. They are quite strict about this these days. You can be barred from traveling to the Schengen zone for a period if you overstay a visa.
        • When we applied for our residence visas the SF consulate did not require, nor permit, leaving passports during the evaluation period. Check on their current practices.
        • Evaluation of an application can require as few as two and as many as eight weeks. But two or three seems to be most common.
        • The consulates in the U.S. appear to be amping up the financial, and insurance requirements. Read some of the recent comments on this and related posts for others’ experiences.

        Good luck on your next steps,
        Jamie

  5. Here’s an update on the FBI criminal background check, which we just recently completed. The FBI was as good as its word, in terms of the processing time. Our checks were completed halfway through the fourth day, counting from the day they received our fingerprint cards by mail, which was actually a Saturday. We were notified by email, which included links we could use to download and print our reports.

    I was a little concerned about whether a printed copy of the PDF version of the report would pass muster with the State Department for purposes of the Apostille. (They looked so cheap!) So, I called the office at State that handles this stuff on the following Monday, and the woman I spoke to confirmed that printed copies of the PDF are, in fact, sufficient. And when we eventually received the hard copies we’d requested, these turned out to be identical to our printed copies of the PDFs.

    Please keep in mind that this turnaround time applies only to the email service: https://www.edo.cjis.gov/. If you submit your request by mail, you’ll wait much, much longer. According to the FBI: “Current processing time for Identity History Summary requests submitted via the mail is 14-16 weeks. Allow additional time for mail delivery.”

    1. Author

      Hi Jim,
      Your comments fill out a background possibility we did not explore. Thanks for the update.

  6. Hi Jamie. This is a great resource; I’ll be sharing it with others. One thought: I opened my bank account with a passport only and then converted the account to a resident account once I’d secured my residency card. I know of many others who have also used passports for banks, leases, phone service, etc., here and elsewhere, so this might be a helpful bit for those waiting on appointments at their local extrañarnos office.

    1. Author

      Hi Donna,
      Thanks for your input. I will add your insight on my next editing day.
      ~ j

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