San Francisco Consulate

San Francisco consulate requires an in person appointment to deliver your visa paperwork* and pick up the visa, so enjoy the city!

*I’m seeing comments from participants that they are now requesting applications by mail. This will be covered in the “Making an Appointment” section.

This guide is specifically designed for Profex applicants, but the information is useful for applicants of the auxiliary program through many other organizations.

Full Official Guide from NALCAP

San Francisco Consulate Official List of Requirements

San Francisco Consulate Contact Page

Fighting Bureaucracy – Home
My Journey to Residency


Before submitting!!! (Check List)


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

Once you have collected all the necessary documentation, you can get an appointment for your visa application.

FOR 2022-2023 The Consulate of Spain in San Francisco will require an in-person appointment for the visa application.

How to make an appointment

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

Back to the Top of the Page

FBI Background Check Timeline

  • ≈May 16 Complete the FBI online request and register for a fingerprinting appointment through the USPS.

  • ≈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.

    The apostille is the attached document on your FBI background check authenticating its legitimacy. DO NOT REMOVE!
  • ≈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 into Spanish by a sworn translator.

  • ≈June 15/July 6 Receive the sworn translation. Congratulations, you finished the most lengthy part!

Back to the Top of the Page


In-Depth List of Requirements

Official List of Requirements from San Francisco 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 Spanish Consulate starting with the bottleneck requirements of the Apostilled and translated FBI background check.


Apostilled and Translated FBI Background Check

“Applicants of legal age who apply for a visa for a stay of more than 180 days must submit 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. Foreign documents must be legalized or apostilled and, where applicable, must be submitted together with an official translation into Spanish.”

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.

Read everything beforehand, then enter your e-mail address.

After you click submit, you should receive an automated email with a PIN and a link to your request.

Automated email from the FBI. If you do not receive it, check your spam folder.

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 4Fingerprint 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.

Electronic submission! The additional fee is $50 to scan at a USPS location.

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.

Sometimes the options provided in the box are a bit off. I put an address from Michigan, but it’s suggesting options in southern Indiana and Kentucky.

In my situation, I would check all the options in the List of Participating U.S. Post Office Locations without providing my zip code.

Here we have actual options in Michigan.

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.

https://ips.usps.com/IdentityCapture/

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.

Back to the Top of the Page


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.

Make sure the FBI seal is visible in your printed copy. If your printer doesn’t show the seal, you can try increasing the contrast or try another printer at your local library.

Because the Federal Bureau of Investigation background check is a federal document, you need to have a federal apostille.

Requirements: (link)

  1. “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 3-4 USPS Pre-paid Express Mail Envelopes (see the guide). Go directly to a USPS post office, and purchase the 3-4 necessary pre-paid express mail envelopes. Use the following guide. Make sure that the envelope(s) 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
    CA/PPT/S/TO/AUT
    44132 Mercure Circle
    P.O. Box 1206
    Sterling, VA 20166-1206

  2. The FBI background check document. Remember, make sure the FBI seal is visible in the background.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
    beforehand).
    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.

https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

*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 San Francisco does not mention any notarization requirements.

If you did everything right, you should receive your apostille within 3-6 weeks

Back to the Top of the Page


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 word count prepared. This information will give you the final cost of the translation. The Los Angeles consulate offers a link to sworn translators in the U.S. to use. A sworn translation is different from a standard translation, so USE THE TRANSLATORS LINKED. It does not state in the San Francisco consulate webpage that a sworn translation is necessary, but the consulate has stated per email to many applicants that it is a requirement.

Link to the List of Sworn Translators from the L.A. Consulate Website

Updated 2022 Official List of Sworn Translators

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.

What makes a translation “official”?

Official translation documents carry a stamp and/or a statement by the sworn translator. Sworn translations specifically have an official letterhead with security marks and stamps. A sworn translation is also more expensive and will take longer than typical translations.

Sworn Translation Example – Notice how it includes a unique letterhead with security stamps and signatures.

Back to the Top of the Page


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.

Here is a picture of a cute kitten as a reward

Visa Application Form

Form link (here)

Foto/Photo – The San Francisco 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.

Back to the Top of the Page


Photograph

You need a professional 2″x2″ passport photo. The San Francisco 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.

Look at this photograph.

Back to the Top of the Page


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.

Getting a Passport (U.S.)
Renewing Your Passport (U.S.)

If you are a non US passport holder, you need to provide your passport and a Permanent Resident Card or US Immigrant Visa. 

Back to the Top of the Page


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.

The Carta de Nombramiento includes all the required information

“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.”

Back to the Top of the Page


Medical Certificate

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).

This template comes from the consulate of Spain in Los Angeles, and it fulfills all the requirements for the Medical Certificate.

Book a check-up with your doctor (not nurse, nurse practicioner, or anything other than an MD or DO), 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 or DO) 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 letterhead 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. Make sure your name is filled out in both the Spanish
and English portions. Bring the original Medical Certificate and a photocopy to your visa
application appointment. We will seal and return your original document so that you can
later present it in Spain. We will keep the photocopy to process your visa.”

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.

Back to the Top of the Page


Proof of Residence in the Consular District

The San Francisco consulate only services certain states/regions of states, so show proof that you live in one of those states/regions.

Provide a “Photocopy of your Driver’s License that proves your legal residence in the Consulate jurisdiction.******

*****Because you will be mailing in your application, do NOT send your original license/ID. Send 2 photocopies of your proof of residence.

“What if I don’t have a Driver’s license?”

Bring official State ID that proves your legal residence in the consular district.

We’re dealing with bureaucrats, not cops. Just give whatever valid, official ID works for you if you don’t have a driver’s license.

Back to the Top of the Page


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)

Amount: $160
Payable to: “Consulate of Spain”
Address: 1405 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94109-5417
Memo: Visado de Estudiante / Student Visa Fee

Money can buy goods and services, but you decided to spend it on bureaucracy.

Back to the Top of the Page


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 3-4 pre-paid express mail envelopes. The Apostille step requires 2 envelopes, and the other envelope(s) will be used in the visa application. After emailing the consulate to schedule an appointment, you will be asked to send your visa application by mail. Follow the instructions from the consulate. From these envelopes, 1-2 of the pre-paid express envelopes are addressed to you! These pre-paid express envelopes are used to send your apostille back to your home address and to send your visa back to you (if you so desire), so make sure they are 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
CA/PPT/S/TO/AUT
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.

Return name
Home address
Your Address
Still your address

*1 USPS Prepaid express mail envelope to send your visa application to the consulate.

Visa Application – Consulate General of Spain
1405 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109-5417

*1 USPS Prepaid express mail envelope included in the visa application letter with a return address, so your visa can be sent back to you.

Return name
Home address
Your Address
Still your address

*Read the instructions on Making an Appointment. Applicants sending an email to request an appointment for a student visa are being sent a response from the consulate with important instructions to follow. Applications are being requested by mail. Some applicants have found success including a self-addressed, pre-paid express envelope in their application. The consulate was able to send back their visas without requiring an appointment to pick up their visas in person.

Back to the Top of the Page


Making an Appointment

Please send the following documents via email and in PDF format to this address:
cog.sanfrancisco.vis@maec.es

PDF – Photocopy of a valid, unexpired passport (no more than 500 Kb) of the page or
pages of the passport that contain biometric data. The passport must be valid at least for
the duration of the planned stay and contain two blank pages. Passports issued more than 10 years ago will not be accepted.

PDF – copy of letter of acceptance “Carta de Nombramiento” (no more than 500 Kb). This letter must provide information about the school you have been appointed to (address, phone number,
contact email). It must contain information about your grant, duration of the program
and the health insurance policy.

After reviewing the documents, the consulate has been responding with the following email:

“Dear applicant,

Please read this email carefully. Please send ALL required documents (notarized Spanish translation) to this Consulate (1405 Sutter St. San Francisco CA 94109) via postal mail, INCLUDING your Passport, a photocopy of the personal information page of your Passport, a money order of 160USD for the visa fee (to this Consulate). Please write “VISA” in the front of the envelope.

Please make sure you check all documents required on the Consulate website. Please notice that the Consulate of San Francisco requires the same documents as those listed in this link for the Consulate of Los Angeles.

https://www.exteriores.gob.es/Consulados/losangeles/en/Servicios
Consulares/Paginas/Consular/Visado-de-estudios.aspx

Due to the high volume of applications received we will only be able to process EMERGENCY student visas. We will not have time to process every request, for that we strongly advise you to send your complete application ASAP, otherwise it is likely you will not receive your visa in time. Priority is given to complete applications in chronological order of arrival. No in person appointment required when all documents are sent, the visa can be picked up in the Consulate when notified as available.

If you have already submitted your documents or you already have an appointment, please disregard this email. Do NOT reply to this email if information already submitted nor to update us on the status of your shippment.

Thank you,

CGE SF”

After sending in your email, you can send your application by mail. Use a USPS pre-paid express envelope, write “VISA” on the front, and write down the tracking number for yourself. Some applicants are including a self-addressed, pre-paid express envelope, and the consulate has sent back the visa by mail in these situations.

Send all the necessary documents in a USPS express mail envelope to the following address:

Consulate General of Spain
1405 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109-5417

Back to the Top of the Page


Collecting the Visa

The San Francisco consulate website states that “the visa must be collected in person by the applicant or by their representative (if the applicant is a minor) within a maximum period of 2 months, counted as of the day after the date on which the favourable decision is notified. The Consular Office will inform the applicant regarding the procedure for the return of the passport and any other original documentation.” 

Some applicants have found success sending a self-addressed, pre-paid express envelope in their application. The consulate can then send your passport with visa back to you. Make sure to write down the tracking number for yourself.

Back to the Top of the Page


Check List

Before sending your application, go through the entire check list (here)

Back to the Top of the Page


After triple checking everything in the Check List, you can finally send the Visa Application!!!

I did everything right, and I only suffered a lot. At least I have my visa.”

Jane Doe


If you found the website useful, feel free to Support the PageEvery little bit helps.

Back to Navigation

  • NALCAP Webinar 2022 – Highlights

    July 28, 2022 Will new regulations affect auxiliares who receive supplemental income in Spain? What should I do before leaving for Spain? How do I find an apartment? What steps should I take first when I arrive in Spain? The 2022 NALCAP webinar covers topics that can help new auxiliaries and returning auxiliaries. Find out […]

    Read more

  • Fun Trips around Madrid

    Cercedilla Cercedilla is a mountainside municipality Northwest of Madrid. It is about an hour train ride away with the cercanía trains from Atocha (the main train station). The mountainside is filled with nature, flowers, and there is a small ranch with a herd of cows living their best lives grazing on the mountainside. The cows […]

    Read more

  • Budgeting in Spain

    The cost of living is much cheaper in Spain, but the salaries are also much lower. How do I budget? What should I expect to spend and save? Just like the U.S, some places in Spain are more expensive than others. Madrid is one of the most expensive cities in Spain, so if you live […]

    Read more

  • The debate of the century: with or without onion.

    Spanish tortilla is a traditional dish in Spain similar to an omelette. It has eggs, potatoes, and sometimes diced onions. In Spain people are passionate about food, especially traditional food, and there is a fierce debate in Spain about which type of tortilla is better: with or without onions. Traditionalists will claim that putting onions […]

    Read more

  • So, you want to move to Spain?

    There are many reasons to want to live in Spain. The climate is warm and pleasant. The natural landscapes are breathtaking, and with a guaranteed 22 vacation days a year, you have the time to enjoy them. Culturally, Spanish people are kind, welcoming, and outgoing. This generosity also includes the public services offered. Spain has […]

    Read more