Spanish Residence Permit – Approval and Visa Pickup


This post is long-overdue and the second part of rounding out the non-lucrative visa process for Spain while still in your home country of the U.S.

In my mind, there are four (4) main steps to obtaining a Residence Permit for Spain via a non-lucrative visa.  They are:

Step 1.  The Application (from the U.S.)

Step 2.  The Approval and Visa pickup (from the U.S.)

Step 3.  The Arrival (to Spain)

Step 4.  The Residence Card Pickup (in Spain)

Step 2 – Approval and Visa Pickup

Exactly 8 weeks from submitting our visa application to the Spanish consulate in Chicago, I received an email notifying us that we had been approved and that we had 30 days to pick up our residence visas.

No appointment was necessary and my wife dropped me off at the downtown office.  We planned our visa pickup on a family road trip through Chicago.  I know they advised me that not everyone needed to be in attendance for pickup, but I didn’t want to risk it.  They were ‘on-call’ in case I needed them.  Turns out, I was in and out of the office before my wife could even find parking.

After showing my driver’s license for identification purposes, the attendant handed over our 4 passports, each with its own Spanish visa stamped inside (as shown above).  Curiously, the visa was valid for only 90 days but did span the date we requested we’d arrive (July 1).  The attendant assured me that was fine and that I needed to follow-up once in Spain to get my proper residence card (valid for one year).  He reiterated that I should bring all the documentation used for applying with us to Spain.

In addition to our passports, he included a one-page sheet for each person in our family.  Turns out, this is also a critical piece of paper and included our NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero) – a foreigner identification number.


A Few Considerations

  • This information is valid as of the spring of 2014 (April timeframe).
  • The papers with our newly assigned NIEs were copies of a fax from Spain.  Hence, we didn’t need to worry about keeping an “original” copy.  I promptly made electronic copies that looked no different than the version given to me at the consulate and I would suggest you do the same.  My first copy got quite beat up during our move and I was grateful I could simply print out and submit another relatively pristine copy once we were in Spain.
  • There were no additional costs or fees associated with this step.

14 thoughts on “Spanish Residence Permit – Approval and Visa Pickup”

  1. Great and straightforward round-up! We were never given the option to pick up and we didn’t even ask about it since it was an afterthought. Just gave them our SASE/Express Mail envelope and left it at that. Hopefully everything goes as planned.

    Looking forward to your future updates as well. Thanks for your guidance, good sir!

    1. Good call out, Ryan. I forgot to mention that in our approval notification email, it also gave the following instructions (in lieu of in-person pickup): “If you wish, you can send 2 Express Mail envelopes from the US Postal Service (flat rate is $19.95 each) inside another envelope, include a written note explaining when you are entering Spain, so we can print the visas valid to enter that specific day.”

      1. Ah, good to know. They actually asked for our departure date, so I hope (and was presuming) that they’d make the visa for 90 days from that date. Maybe they do it for 90 by default to give you 90 days to get there and get setup?

        Either way, we went ahead and gave them the SASE and we’ll probably just let them use it if they give us the option in an email.

        I find it all very strange that they do the 90-day thing on the visa itself. I’ve never seen that in any other country, but I believe it was Cat who mentioned this to me when we first started exploring our options. So bizarre, imnsho.

        1. Yeah, the 90-day thing is strange. We were pretty set on leaving for Spain on July 1, so that was the ‘request’ date we put on all of our paperwork. As you can see in the photo, the visa they installed in our passports was from June 20 to Oct 2. Not sure how they came up with that date range but at least it spanned our request date.

          It’ll be interesting to see what happens to us once we leave (and try to re-enter) Spain after Oct 2. I guess I’ll need to be sure to bring our Residence Permit cards with us that shows we’re good until July 1, 2015.

          1. Leave it to them to be all weird and cryptic with whatever they do. Cat would be a good person to answer this. I believe you’re correct though: It’s all about the residence card and the visa dates are moot when you have that.

            Still, my anxiety would lead me to believe that any non-Spanish customs agent would question that heh.

            I just sent her a message to peep these comments.

            1. Hi guys! Jed, your write up is great. Two things:

              You already have your NIE number, which is great! This number is important for getting your rent contract squared away in some cases, opening a bank account, and other things (passport number also suffices on things like rent contracts, getting a SIM, using a credit card…). Spain is now assigning them with the visa, though you’ll still have to get the TIE card within 90 days of arrival.

              The visas are issued for 90 days, which begins the day your visa is “cancelled” by being stamped in passport control/customs. This means you have to get your culo to extranjería to get the TIE, which will be valid for the year (they ask for your passport pages to be copied so that they know exactly which day you entered). The visa is valid until you enter Spain or a year passes.

              And while we’re on visas and TIEs, if you guys decide to stay another year, that’s no problem- you can get a new TIE from 60 days before expiration to 90 days after without having to return home for a new visa.

              Hope this helps!

  2. Hi, I’m curious …. about re-applying for another non lucrative visa … cCat mentionned that you can do it from 60 days before expiration of current visa to 90 days after. Is the 90 days because of Schengen ? Thank you.

  3. i’m curious what you think if we decide to change cities between the time we first submitted the visa application and the visa approval? will this cause problems for us later? we will still be in andalucia.
    Thanks for any advice.

    1. Hi Leigh. Based on some friend’s experience, yes it will. They originally had gotten approval in Cadiz but after arriving to Spain changed their mind and wanted to live in Granada. It was a decent-sized headache getting it moved. Obviously do-able but seemed to be a gigantic pain in the rear and not recommended. Maybe if you address this prior to getting to Spain would be easier?

    2. I’ ve been thinking the same thing. My husband and I picked Barcelona for our application but of course now we’re looking at other enticing places. I guess we will stick to Barcelona for starters but this begs other questions …. if we say Barcelona, does that mean within city limits, within a certain jurisdiction ? Does it also mean for the duration of your Visa ? If and when you renew your Visa, can you then choose to live elsewhere ? Initially, I was under the impression that we needed to be in our “stated” place only until we got our NIE card …

      1. I don’t know the answers to your questions, Nancy. Our friends had problems getting their initial NIE card in Granada when all their paperwork was for Cadiz.

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