By Regina Winkle-Bryan
As an American living in Spain, I need a visa, green card, working papers or residency to live here legally. Many fellow Americans and Canadians have asked me how I got my papeles, or working papers, and my answer to them is always, ‘not easily’.
Here are some things to remember if you are going to start the process of getting legal in Spain.
- It’s a catch 22. You need a job to get working papers, and you need working papers to get a job. Good luck trying to wrap you mind around that one!
- It’s HARD! Do not underestimate the many levels of hell that you will have to go through to get legal. It is very complex. It is very time consuming. It is very expensive. If you are lucky enough to have an employer to pay for it all, then count your lucky stars.
- Get a lawyer. I tried to get legal on my own. Big mistake. Save yourself A WHOLE LOT of time and heartache and call an attorney who specializes in immigration.
- Take up meditation. This will come in handy when you are asked to wait for long periods of time. Deep breathing exercises will help you through all the stress.
- Get a book. When you tire of meditating, you may want a good book to fall back on . I recommend Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, which got me through my latest visit to the Spanish government offices. Take a number, take a seat, and dig into a good hour of reading time!
** If you’re from a EU country, then as of July 2012 things got a bit more difficult for you, too! Sorry! Take a look at this post by Nick Snelling on the subject: New Regulations
More: Update – I used to recommend a lawyer in Barcelona here, but after my last experience with him, I can no longer recommend him. What I can say is that there are many lawyers in Barcelona and across Spain to help you with this process. Shop around. Find one that won’t charge you for the first consultation. It is not uncommon that they charge you the first half of their fee up front and the second half when the process is complete. Because the visa situation has become more complex as Spain has gone further into economic crisis, I would not try to go this process alone. Get professional help!