This guide is specifically designed for Profex applicants, but the information is useful for applicants of the auxiliary program through many other organizations.
Fighting Bureaucracy – Home
My Journey to Residency
- Important Dates and Deadlines
- FBI Background Check Timeline
- In-depth List of Requirements
- Apostilled and Translated FBI Background Check
Step 1: Fingerprints and FBI Check
Step 2: Getting the Apostille
Step 3: Getting the Translation
- Visa Application Form
- Carta de Nombramiento
- Medical Certificate
- Proof of Residence in the Consular District
- Visa Application Payment
- USPS Pre-paid express mail envelope
- Disclaimer Form
- Applicant Information
- Collecting the Visa
Important Dates and Deadlines:
Program start: October 1st
Visa Processing Time: 3-6 weeks
Acceptance letter (Carta de Nombramiento): Around July
Suggested visa application appointment dates: July 27-August 14
Expiration date of documents:
Medical form – 90 days
FBI background check – 5 months
Suggested start time: After you receive “Plaza Aceptada” status and after April 15th
For 2022-2023 applicants, the Chicago consulate is doing a mail in visa applications, so once you collect all the proper documentation, send in your application.
FOR 2022-2023 “The Consulate of Spain in Chicago will consider applications for these kind of visas BY MAIL ONLY.“
Your bottleneck will be the FBI background check. The FBI background check is only valid for 5 months, so after you start, the timer starts. If the document expires, you have to apply for a new one. All the of other documents can be collected in the meantime. I will give an organized timeline for the entire process.
I received my “plaza aceptada” status mid May, so the timeline starts mid May
FBI Background Check Timeline
≈May 16/17 Go to a participating USPS fingerprinting location and have your digital fingerprints taken and sent to the FBI.
≈May 17/18 receive your FBI background check (by email or online) the same day if you sent digital fingerprints and about a week to three weeks later if you sent a fingerprint card. You should also receive it physically through the mail about a week after you get the digital copy.
≈May 17/18 Apply for apostille. This is a way to certify state and federal documents for international use. Do not wait for your FBI background check to come through the mail. Make a high quality printout of the FBI background check PDF and send that instead.
≈June 8/June 28 Receive the apostille in the mail. Make a scan of each page without removing the apostille attached to the FBI background check (Just fold the ear). Send the document to be translated by a certified/sworn Spanish translator.
≈June 15/July 6 Receive the certified/sworn translation. Congratulations, you finished the most lengthy part!
In-Depth List of Requirements
Official List of Requirements from Chicago Consulate (here)
Now that you have an idea of the deadlines and important dates, I will walk you through the full list of requirements for the Chicago Consulate starting with the bottleneck requirements of the Apostilled and translated FBI background check.
Apostilled and Translated FBI Background Check
“Applicants of legal age must submit both the original and a copy of the criminal record check certificate(s) issued by their country or countries of residence for the past 5 years (in case of the country of residence was Spain the applicant does not need to provide its background check). Foreign documents must be legalized or apostilled and, where applicable, must be submitted together with an official translation into Spanish by a sworn/certified translator. It cannot be older than 5 months from the application date. FBI Background checks without apostille or translations are incomplete.”
Step 1 – Fingerprints and FBI Background Check
≈May 16 Request an FBI background check by submitting an online application along with your fingerprints (digital or physical). Follow the steps provided by the FBI for an online background check request. It is the fastest and most effective way to receive your FBI background check. Read steps 1 through 7 and then enter your e-mail address in the box to the right.
After you click submit, you should receive an automated email with a PIN and a link to your request.
Click on the link and enter your PIN to continue. There you will have to agree to a privacy statement before you continue. The webpage has 5 steps to follow. I’ll walk you through them, but they are very simple.
Step 1 – Personal Information: Enter your personal information.
Step 2 – Mailing Address: Enter your mailing address and phone number.
Step 3 – Preferences: Q1 – Yes, Q2 – Yes, via e-mail (enter e-mail address), Q3 – Yes.
Step 4 – Fingerprint Card:
Have this done electronically. It avoids the needless delay of sending an application by mail (sometimes the delays are up to 3 weeks).
If for whatever reason, you can not get this done electronically, click on the mail option and follow the steps there. You will need to fill out a fingerprint card and send it by mail. To get a fingerprint card properly filled out, print out the fingerprinting template and bring it to your local police station. There, you can pay a small fee and request to have fingerprinting done for an FBI background check.
After selecting Electronic submissions, a box will pop up giving Third-Party Fingerprinting Locations near you. There is also an option to expand your search radius if the options provided are not convenient for you.
In my situation, I would check all the options in the List of Participating U.S. Post Office Locations without providing my zip code.
If there are no suitable options, you can also contact an FBI-Approved Channeler for assistance. You do not have to complete the FBI order form if you use the service of a channeler. Each channeler will have their own instructions, digital fingerprinting location, and pricing.
If you choose to use one of the location options offered by the FBI, keep the electronic submission option checked and continue to step 5.
Step 5 – Payment: Confirm your information and continue with payment. The cost will be $18. Complete your payment details. Don’t forget! You will pay an additional $50 as a fingerprinting fee at a participating USPS location. Check for an email confirmation, and save the order number. This will be used to register for the fingerprinting services.
Finally – register and have your fingerprints taken: Using your order number, register for fingerprinting service through the USPS.
Check the fingerprinting hours of your USPS location, and show up during that time with a printed copy of your FBI payment confirmation email.
You should receive your FBI background check within a day or two. You can check the status by using the FBI link from the original email along with the PIN provided to you. When the results are ready, you should receive an email from the FBI. The FBI background check will either be attached in the email, or you could download it at the status page. Start the Apostille of the Hague process as soon as you have a downloaded copy of the FBI background check.
Step 2 Getting the Apostille
≈May 24/May 25 As soon as you get the email with your FBI background check results, you can apply for Apostille of the Hague. You do not have to wait for the hard-copy through the mail, but it is important that your printed copy has the large FBI seal in the background.
Because the Federal Bureau of Investigation background check is a federal document, you need to have a federal apostille.
- “One self-addressed, prepaid envelope for return of your document.” Use USPS. Here it is online (link). Do not purchase it online. Throughout the entire visa process, you will need 4 USPS Pre-paid Express Mail Envelopes. Go directly to a USPS post office, and purchase the 4 necessary pre-paid express mail envelopes. Use the following guide. Make sure that the envelopes that are addressed to you are accurate!
Send your self addressed prepaid envelope and the rest of your apostille documents to the following address:
Office of Authentications
U.S. Department of State
44132 Mercure Circle
P.O. Box 1206
Sterling, VA 20166-1206
- The FBI background check document. Remember, make sure the FBI seal is visible in the background.
- A $20 check or money order addressed to the U.S. Department of State. This is a per document fee for the apostille, not per page. You may see on the DS-4194 form and online that the fee is only $8, but that is outdated.
- A completed Request of Authentications Service DS-4194 form.
Section 1 fill out your personal information.
Section 2 leave blank – you do not have a courier or representative.
Section 3 fill out your delivery method, tracking number, and address
(this comes from the self-addressed, prepaid envelope purchased
Section 4 Country: Spain, Number of Documents: 1, Document Type:
FBI Criminal Background Record.
Finally, place your FBI background check, DS-4194 Form, $20 Check, and self-addressed prepaid priority USPS envelope (you can fold it so it fits) in your prepaid priority USPS envelope addressed to the office of authentications.
To make an inquiry about the status of your Apostille, you can call the Office of Authentications at 202-485-8000 on Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Before calling, read the instructions on the “Check your Document Status” tab on the right hand side of their webpage (link here).
If you need to rush the apostille process, you can contact your member of congress. The Office of Authentications frequently has backlogs, and members of congress can give applications priority. Not every member of congress will help you, but some will, and it doesn’t hurt to ask.
*Your FBI background check is already certified by the FBI, and the apostille is a form of notarization, so getting the original documents notarized is not necessary. Some consulates require a notarized copy of the original document and the translation, but Chicago does not mention any notarization requirements.
Step 3 Getting the Translation
≈June 15/July 6 Scan the apostilled document without removing the affixed apostille, and have it prepared to be translated. You can do this by folding the corner where the apostille is attached to the background check (again, make sure the FBI logo is visible in your scan). Save it as a PDF and have the page count or word count prepared (the linked “certified translation (when I applied)” charges by the page and the linked “recommended certified translation (Chicago consulate)” and “sworn translators list” charge by the word). This information will give you the final cost of the translation. The Chicago consulate requires a translation into Spanish by a certified or sworn translator.
What makes a translation “official”?
Official translation documents carry a stamp and/or a statement by the certified or sworn translator.
Recommended Certified Translation (Chicago consulate) – search for certified translators and get in contact. The translator can give you their rates, availability, and turn-around-time.
Certified Translation (when I applied) – $24.95 per page and 1 day delivery. It wasn’t the highest quality translation, but it was good enough for me when I applied for my visa.
Sworn Translators List (2022) – Each translator will have their own rates and turn-around-time. It is considered a more official translation, and a few consulates require a sworn translator. Sworn translations are more expensive, but luckily for you, Chicago only requires a “certified or sworn translator”. If you want to have a sworn translation, you can use the official list offered by the L.A. consulate.
Link to the List of Sworn Translators from the L.A. Consulate Website (List is from 2021)
I recommend getting a translation from a translator near you.
How to get the sworn translation: Get into contact with a sworn translator (you may need to contact multiple. Translators aren´t always responsive/actively looking for work). Give the relevant information such as the type of documents being translated, the word count, preferred payment method, translation delivery method (physically by mail and attached in an email), and the expected turn-around-time.
After the translation is completed, you should receive something like this.
During the wait times throughout this process, you can complete the other requirements. The other parts are much easier, I promise! These requirements are single step parts and not too involved.
Visa Application Form
Form link (here)
Foto/Photo – The Chicago consulate requests that you glue your recent, professionally done passport photo (2″x2″) onto the space provided in the Visa Application Form.
Sections 1-9 – Fill in your personal information. All questions are given in Spanish and in English
Section 10 – If you’re not a minor, write N/A
Section 11 – N/A (You do not have a Spanish National ID Number)
Section 12 – Type of travel document – Ordinary Passport
Section 13 – Passport number
Section 14 – Date issued
Section 15 – Expiration date (make sure it is valid for the entirety of your stay in Spain.)
Section 16 – “US Department of State”
Section 17-19 – Fill in your personal information.
Section 20 – “Studies”
Section 21 – Anticipated date of entry into Spain.
Section 22 – “Multi” or “more than 2”
Section 23 – Address of school or regional education office
Section 24 – If you lived in Spain previously and have a NIE, put it in. If not, leave it N/A.
Section 25 – If you lived in Spain previously and have a NIE, write the date of issuance. If not, leave it N/A.
Section 26-27 – N/A
Section 28 – Information from your Carta de Nombramiento
DONT FORGET TO COMPLETE SECTION 30 AND 31 – Section 30 – Place and Date Section 31 – Signature
You need a recently taken, professional 2″x2″ passport photo. The Chicago consulate website instructs you to glue it to the application form. I didn’t because I was instructed not to by the CIEE program in 2020. The bureaucrat glued it in during the visa appointment. Feel free to follow the instructions of the consulate’s website, and I recommend making extra copies. You can use it for things such as an abono transport card, and it costs minimally extra to have additional passport photos.
You can get this done at various pharmacies, retail stores, and select shipping centers: CVS, Walgreens, Target, Wal-Mart, USPS offices, and FedEx. Don’t try to do it yourself. Just pay for the service because there are many requirements.
A simple mistake that really made my visa appointment stressful: I got my picture done at a supermarket. In my picture a few stray hairs went out of frame in the picture. This made the passport photo invalid, so I had to quickly get another one taken at the CVS across the street from the consulate during my visa appointment.
Valid, Unexpired Passport
“The original and a photocopy of the page or pages of the passport that contain biometric data must be submitted. The passport must have a minimum validity period of 1 year and contain two blank pages. Passports issued more than 10 years ago will not be accepted.”
Make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months past the end date of your visa. The program (and visa) is typically from October – end of May or June.
If you are a non US passport holder, you need to provide your passport and a Permanent Resident Card or US Immigrant Visa.
Carta de Nombramiento
The Carta de Nombramiento is the school placement letter you receive stating what specific school you are assigned to. You are typically sent an email when you finally receive the Carta de Nombramiento. This file can be accessed in your communidad’s web portal: Auxmadrid, Auxand@, and many others. Provide the original and a copy of the document. (You will not receive a “true original” in the mail. Just print 2 copies).
If you haven’t received this letter yet and are curious about the process/wait, check out (Checking on Your Application)
NOTE: The carta de nombramiento covers any financial means and health insurance requirements. You do NOT need to provide any additional documents for these requirements.
“This letter must provide information on the school the applicant has been appointed to (address, phone number, contact email). It must also contain information about the grant, the duration of the program and the insurance policy.”
The Medical Form is only valid for 90 days, so plan accordingly
Medical form template Original and a copy of a medical certificate accrediting that “the applicant does not suffer from any disease that could cause serious repercussions for public health pursuant to the 2005 International Health Regulations“. The medical certificate must have the Doctor’s Stamp (in Spanish or translated into Spanish if our template is not used).
Book a check-up with your doctor (not nurse, nurse practicioner, or anything other than an MD), and have the template filled out. Please, make sure that all the requirements of the form are completed. If your doctor does not fill out the Spanish section, you need to have the form translated by a certified translator. Follow the instructions carefully.
Instructions on page 2:
Written on letterhead paper from hospital´s/doctor’s office:
“See a doctor (MD) and they will determine if you are of good health according to the International Health
Regulation (2005). This PDF file can be sent electronically in order to be printed out on letter head paper.
The doctor may also use this sample as a guide to write their own certificate. Remember that it must
specifically mention the International Health Regulations (2005). The doctor should then print out, sign,
date and stamp the Medical Certificate.”
Written on template:
“This template can also be signed and filled out by the doctor, with doctor´s stamp; without the stamp,
the template is not valid. So if your doctor doesn’t have a stamp, in order to be accepted, the doctor must write the information from the template to a letter with a letterhead of the hospital or doctor’s office, so it can be accepted at the Consulate (Information provided in first paragraph).”
Make sure your name is filled out in both the Spanish and English portions
*When you send the Medical Certificate, include the original and a photocopy.
Proof of Residence in the Consular District
The Chicago consulate only services certain states, so show proof that you live in one of those states.
“Provide a copy (not the original) of US Driver’s license or US State ID or Voter´s Registration card.”*
*Despite specifically stating on the visa webpage that Voter’s Registration Cards are valid, some bureaucrats at the Chicago consulate will not consider them valid for proof of residence in the consular district. The consulate has accepted these cards as proof of ID from some applicants and have sent emails to other applicants explicitly stating that they will not be accepted. I recommend using another form of ID if possible.
“What if I have a Driver’s license from Michigan, but my US State ID is in Alabama?”
Use whatever valid proof of residence you have that is within the jurisdiction of the consulate. These are bureaucrats, not detectives.
Payment of the Visa Fee
Only money orders are accepted
The American citizen fee is $160. You can check their website for the most recent visa fees (here)
You are applying for the long term student visa EE.UU (USA). To get a money order, go to your bank and request a money order. Another option is having the USPS issue a money order. (link)
Payable to: “Consulate General of Chicago”
Address: 180 North Michigan Ave., Suite 1500 Chicago. Illinois 60601
Memo: Visado de Estudiante / Student Visa Fee
USPS Pre-paid Express Mail Envelope
Here it is online (link). Do not purchase online. Go to a USPS office and purchase them there. In total, you require 4 pre-paid express mail envelopes. The Apostille step requires 2, and the visa application requires 2. From these 4, 2 of the pre-paid express envelopes are addressed to you! These 2 pre-paid express envelopes are used to send your apostille or your application receipt back to your home address, so make sure it is correctly self addressed to you! Here is the list of addresses you need.
1 USPS Prepaid express mail envelope to send the FBI background check to be apostilled.
Office of Authentications
U.S. Department of State
44132 Mercure Circle
P.O. Box 1206
Sterling, VA 20166-1206
1 USPS Prepaid express mail envelope included in the FBI background check/apostille letter with a return address, so the apostille can be sent back to you.
Still your address
1 USPS Prepaid express mail envelope to send your visa application to the Chicago consulate as of the current rules stated (here). *Rules subject to changes, please check frequently. (2022-2023).
Visa Office – Consulate General of Spain
180 North Michigan Ave., Suite 1500
Chicago. Illinois 60601
1 USPS Prepaid express mail envelope included in the visa application letter with a return address, so your application receipt can be sent back to you.
Still your address
Write the place, date, and your signature on the form where indicated, and copy down your USPS tracking number for the prepaid self-addressed envelope included in your visa application.
On a blank piece of paper, include the following information:
Cell phone number
Collecting the Visa
Collecting the visa: You must check the status of your visa using the receipt sent by this Consulate in the envelope provided by you. Use the following link http://sutramiteconsular.maec.es. When your visa status shows “RESUELTO“, it means that your visa is ready to pick up.
You can pick your passport up in person at this consulate from Tuesday through Thursday from 10:00 a. m. to 12:00 p. m.“
Make sure to frequently check your status after receiving your application receipt. Look for status, Visa: resuelto.
Before sending your application, go through the entire check list (here)
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