Visa Frequently Asked Questions

​Before contacting us, please read this section in its entirety. You will find the answers to most of your questions here.

HOW FAR IN ADVANCE CAN I APPLY FOR MY VISA?
You can apply for your visa within a 90 day period before your trip. In case of student visas, you can apply for your visa within 90 days before your program starts. We will not accept applications before that 90 day period.
 
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO PROCESS A VISA?
The visa process starts when we receive your application, provided that all the documents required are correct. The time frames* vary depending on the type of visa:
 
Schengen Visa
7-15 days
Student Visa
​2-4 weeks
Work Visa
​1-6 weeks
​Residence visas      
​4-6 weeks
 
*Please, note that these time frames are not fixed time frames and can vary.
 
DO I NEED TO APPLY FOR MY VISA IN PERSON?
Yes, this Consulate only accepts in-person applications, with the exceptions of visas under Law 14/2013. The applicants for that type of visas can apply through a duly accredited representative.
 
DO I HAVE TO LEAVE MY PASSPORT AT THE CONSULATE?
Yes, your passport must remain at the Consulate during the complete visa process. If you are planning on traveling internationally, we recommend you to apply for your visa after your trip. You can also apply for your visa before your trip, but always enough time in advance for your visa to be processed.
 
I AM A US CITIZEN. DO I NEED A VISA TO GO TO SPAIN?
If you are visiting Spain for tourism or study purposes for less than 90 days, you do not need a visa. If your stay is over 90 days, you need a visa.
 
I AM A B1/B2 VISA HOLDER. CAN I APPLY FOR A VISA AT THIS CONSULATE?
No. Applications from B1/B2 visa holders will not be accepted. You must apply for a visa at your country of residence.
 
THE HOUSTON CONSULATE IS THE MOST CONVENIENT FOR ME. CAN I APPLY FOR MY VISA AT THERE?
You will only be able to apply for your visa here if you reside under this Consulate’s jurisdiction. You will have to provide proof of residence in one of the States under our jurisdiction.
 
WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO PROVIDE AS PROOF OF RESIDENCE?
You must provide any of the following documents issued by the State authorities within our jurisdiction: driver’s license, State ID or current student ID. Other type of documents such as leasing contracts or electricity bills will NOT be accepted as proof of residence.
 
I STUDY IN A STATE THAT IS UNDER HOUSTON CONSULATE’S JURISDICTION, BUT MY DRIVER’S LICENSE IS FROM A DIFFERENT STATE. CAN I STILL APPLY FOR MY VISA AT THE HOUSTON CONSULATE?
Yes, you can, provided that you hold a valid and current student ID from a University that is located in a State under this Consulate’s jurisdiction.
 
CAN I APPLY FOR MY VISA AT AN HONORARY CONSULATE?
No, Honorary Consulates cannot process visa applications. You must apply for your visa at this Consulate.

 

I AM A LEGAL RESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND I AM A GREEN CARD HOLDER. DO I  NEED A VISA TO GO TO SPAIN?
If your nationality is included in the list of countries whose nationals require a visa and the duration of your trip is under 90 days you must apply for a Schengen visa.
 
WHAT ARE THE PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS TO APPLY FOR A SCHENGEN VISA?
Your passport must be valid for three months following the projected exit from the Schengen area and it and must have been issued within the last ten years. It must have two blank pages to affix the visa.
You can find the different types of travel documents accepted by the Spanish authorities here.
  
MY SPOUSE IS A US CITIZEN. DO I NEED A VISA TO TRAVEL TO SPAIN?
It depends on YOUR nationality. If your nationality is included in the list of countries whose nationals require a visa and the duration of your trip is under 90 days you must apply for a Schengen visa.
 

 
 
WHERE IS THE CONSULATE LOCATED?
The Consulate is located at 1800 Bering Drive, Suite 660 Houston, TX 77057.
 
WHAT ARE YOUR OUR BUSINESS HOURS?
The Consulate is open Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 1:00pm. Please, check our holiday calendar here.
 
IS THERE PARKING CLOSE TO THE CONSULATE?
Free parking is available in the building.
 

 
 
DO I NEED TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT TO APPLY FOR A VISA?
Yes, you must schedule an appointment online in order to submit your visa application. We do not schedule appointments over the phone or via e-mail.
 
HOW MANY APPOINTMENTS SHOULD I SCHEDULE?
We require one appointment per person. All applications are processed separately so families need to be sure to schedule an appointment for each family member who will be applying for a visa. Please, make sure that each applicant has a copy of all the documents required for the application.
 
ALL THE APPOINTMENTS ARE BOOKED AND I NEED AN APPOINTMENT IMMEDIATELY.
You must check our availability through our online scheduling system. There are frequent cancellations and time slots become available.
Please, make sure that you do not have two appointments scheduled because if you do both appointments will be cancelled. Due to the high demand of student visas we recommend you to book your appointment as soon as possible.
 
THERE ARE NO APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE BEFORE MY TRAVEL DATE. CAN I APPLY FOR MY VISA AT A DIFFERENT CONSULATE OR AT THE EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON D.C.?
If you live and study under this Consulate’s jurisdiction, you cannot apply for your visa at a different Consulate. If you study in a State that is under a different Consulate’s jurisdiction, please contact the corresponding Consulate to know if your application will be accepted or not.
 
I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT. CAN I SHOW UP WITHOUT AN APPOINTMENT?
No. Walk-ins are not accepted. Only applicants who have scheduled an appointment will be helped.
 

 
 
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY VISA HAS BEEN APPROVED AND IS READY?
You will be notified via e-mail when your visa has been issued and is ready for pick-up.
 
HOW DO I PICK UP MY VISA? DO I NEED AN APPOINTMENT?
After you have received an e-mail notification indicating that your visa is ready, you can pick it up at the Consulate Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 1:00pm. You do not need an appointment to pick up your visa. You must provide a valid ID in order to pick it up.
 

 
 
HOW MUCH IS THE VISA FEE? 
The visa fee will depend on the type of visa you are applying for and on your nationality. Please check the visa fees here.
  
WHEN AND WHERE DO I PAY FOR THE VISA FEE?
You must pay for the visa fee at the Consulate on the day of your appointment. We only accept money orders or cash.
If you are paying with cash, it must be EXACT cash.
The money order must be payable to “Consulate General of Spain in Houston”. Please, make sure to fill out the money order completely and sign it before you make the payment at the Consulate.

 
 
WHAT IS AN APOSTILLE OF THE HAGUE?
An Apostille is a form that legalizes the document it is attached to. Its function is to certify that the document it is attached to is legitimate and authentic. The Apostille can be used in the countries that have signed The Hague Apostille Convention (such as Spain).
  
WHAT DOCUMENTS NEED TO BE APOSTILLED?
Any document issued by a government authority needs to be Apostilled in order to be used in a visa application. These documents include: background checks, marriage certificates, birth certificates etc.
 
WHY DO I NEED AN APOSTILLE FOR MY DOCUMENTS?
A US document or a document issued by another foreign authority is not valid in Spain unless it is legalized with the Apostille, which certifies that your document is legitimate and authentic.
 

 
 
WHEN DO I NEED A BACKGROUND CHECK AND AN APOSTILLE OF THE HAGUE AND HOW DO I OBTAIN THEM?
Applicants who are staying in Spain over 180 days and are over 18 years of age need to obtain a background check legalized with the Apostille of The Hague. Background check certificates older than 3 months will NOT be accepted. Only the following certificates will be accepted:
  • Issued by the FBI.
  • Issued by State authorities (such as the State Department of Justice).  
You can find more information on how and where to obtain background checks from the FBI and the State authorities here.
Once you have obtained your official background check, you must get it legalized with the Apostille of The Hague by the corresponding authority.
·         FBI background checks must be Apostilled through the Department of State in Washington DC. You can check how to obtain the Apostille from the Department of State in DC here.
*VERY IMPORTANT: We will not accept FBI background checks with Apostilles from Secretaries of the State.
  • State background checks must be Apostilled by the corresponding Secretary of the State. For example, if your background check is from Texas you must obtain your Apostille through the Secretary of the State of Texas in Austin.   You can check how to obtain the Apostille from the different Secretaries of the State here.
Once your document has been legalized with the Apostille, you will have a document with two or three pages. The first page is your Apostille and the rest of the pages are your background check. Do not detach the documents under any circumstance.
 
 image Apostille.png

 
ARE LOCAL OR COUNTY BACKGROUND CHECKS ACCEPTED?
No, local or county background checks will NOT be accepted. Your background check must be a State or FBI background check.
 
I HAVE LIVED IN MANY DIFFERENT STATES WITHIN THE US. DO I NEED A BACKGROUND CHECK FROM EVERY US STATE I HAVE LIVED IN?
Not necessarily. The F.B.I. background check is nation-wide background check so you only need one F.B.I. background check, no matter how many States you have lived in. This background check must be legalized with the Apostille from the Department of State in Washington D.C.
However, you are also able to obtain a separate State-level background check from every State where you have resided for more than 6 months over the last 5 years. Each background check needs to be Apostilled by the State where it was issued.
 
I AM GOING TO OBTAIN AN FBI BACKGROUND CHECK. DO YOU ACCEPT FBI-APPROVED CHANNELERS?
No, we do not accept channelers. Your background check must be processed directly by the FBI.
 
DO I NEED A BACKGROUND CHECK IF I HAVE LIVED IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY? DOES IT NEED TO BE LEGALIZED WITH THE APOSTILLE OF THE HAGUE?
Yes, if you have lived in a different country for at least 6 months during the last 5 years, you must provide a background check from that country and it must be legalized with the Apostille of The Hague.
If you are a US citizen, we suggest that you contact the US Embassy of the country where you have resided to know how to obtain the background check.
If you have a different nationality, please contact the Embassy of your country in the country where you resided.
 
 
I HAVE LIVED IN SPAIN BEFORE. DO I NEED TO PROVIDE A BACKGROUND CHECK FROM SPAIN?
No, you do not need to provide a background check from Spain.
 

 
TRANSLATIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR THE TYPE OF VISA I AM APPLYING FOR. WHAT TYPE OF TRANSLATIONS ARE ACCEPTABLE?
We only accept translations by Sworn Translators from Spain or US translation agencies with certified translators that are able to issue original translations (scans or copies will not be accepted). You can find a list of Sworn Translators from Spain located in the US here.
 

 
 
WHAT IS THE MEDICAL CERTIFICATE?
The International Health Regulations of 2005 (IHR) were made to prevent and respond to health risks that could travel across borders. The IHR requires countries to report outbreaks of certain diseases to the World Health Organization (WHO). The Medical Certificate for your visa must be signed by a Medical Doctor (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) to certify that you presently do not suffer from an illness that would pose a threat to public health. A sample of the Medical Certificate is here.
 
HOW DO I GET THE MEDICAL CERTIFICATE?
 
First, you should see a doctor (MD or DO) and they will determine if you are of good health according to the International Health Regulations (2005). The doctor should then print out, sign, date (no more than 3 months before your appointment) and stamp the Medical Certificate. We have saved a sample Medical Certificate as a PDF file that can be electronically sent to your doctor so that it can be printed out on their letterhead. The doctor may also use the sample Medical Certificate as a guide to write their own certificate. Remember that it must specifically mention the following: The patient (include name) has been examined and found free of any contagious or infectious diseases according to International Health Regulations (2005). Otherwise, your medical certificate will not be acceptable.
 

 
 
 
WHAT TYPE OF INSURANCE DO I NEED?
The type of insurance will depend on the type of visa that you are applying for.
 
Less than 90 days: Applicants staying in Spain under 90 days (Schengen visa) must provide a travel insurance covering their complete stay. Many travel insurance companies offer policies that do not meet the requirements for the Schengen visa. Please, carefully review the details of the policy before purchasing it (examples of valid insurance companies: HCC, Insuremytrip, Axa, Seven Corners, IMG, etc.). The following requirements must be clearly specified (normally included in the “visa letter”):
  • Total coverage in medical assistance, emergencies, medical evacuation and repatriation
  • No deductible ($0) and no co-payments
  • Minimum coverage of 30,000 Euros (thirty thousand) or its equivalent in USD
  • Coverage dates
  • Name of the insured person
  • Valid in the whole Schengen area
More than 90 days: Applicants staying in Spain over 90 days (student visas, residence visas, work visas…) will need to provide health insurance. Travel insurance will not be accepted. Your health insurance company must be authorized to operate in Spain (examples of valid health insurance companies: Adeslas, Sanitas, Axa, Bupa, Mapfre, etc.). The health insurance coverage must include regular doctor’s visits and emergencies. If you have insurance through your employer or through your university, you must provide proof from the actual health insurance company. For student visas the insurance must be valid from your date of entry into Spain until the end of your studies. 

 
 
CAN I STAY IN SPAIN OR ANOTHER SCHENGEN AREA COUNTRY AS A TOURIST WHEN I FINISH MY PROGRAM? (US students)
You can stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days before or after your program. In order to change your status from student to tourist you must exit the Schengen area and enter it again.
 
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DECIDE TO STAY IN SPAIN LONGER THAN MY VISA ALLOWS ME TO?
If you decide to stay in Spain (or the EU) over the validity of your visa, you will be staying illegally. This can have very serious consequences.
 
CAN I LEAVE SPAIN (OR OTHER SCHENGEN COUNTRIES) AFTER 90 DAYS AND RE-ENTER TO STAY 90 MORE DAYS?
No. You are only allowed to remain in the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days within a 180 day period. The 90 days start on the date that you first entered Schengen area.
 
IF I AM NOT WORKING OR IF I AM FINANCIALLY DEPENDENT OF ANOTHER PERSON, WHAT DO I NEED TO PROVIDE?
You must provide a statement signed under a Public Notary by the person covering your expenses (only parents, spouses and children will be accepted), together with a copy their ID and their bank statements of the last three months (only personal checking or savings account).
 
WHAT DOES “MULTIPLE ENTRIES” MEAN? 
It means that you can enter and exit the Schengen area multiple times as long as your visa is valid.
 
WHAT IS A SCHENGEN VISA?
Schengen Visa is a generic name given to visas issued by any of the countries within the Schengen area. This visa will allow you to travel through Spain and the Schengen area. This is the type of Visa for short trips for tourism or business purposes.
 
DO I NEED TO PROVIDE A FLIGHT RESERERVATION? (SCHENGEN VISAS)
Yes, you must provide a flight reservation so we can know when will you be travelling to the Schengen area. Please, keep in mind that once your application has been submitted, your travel dates cannot be changed.
 
DO I NEED TO PROVIDE A HOTEL RESERVATION?
Yes, you must provide hotel reservations for every night you will be in the Schengen area. It is very important to provide official reservations with the hotel’s name and complete address and the check-in and check-out dates. The name of the applicant must appear on the reservations. Otherwise, they will not be accepted. If the reservation is under your spouse’s name, it can be accepted, but you must also present a copy of your marriage certificate.
 
I NEED A SHCENGEN VISA BUT I AM TRAVELLING TO MORE THAN ONE COUNTRY IN THE SCHENGEN AREA. WHERE DO I APPLY FOR MY VISA?
If you are planning on visiting several countries in the Schengen area, you must apply for a visa at the Consulate of the country which is going to be your main destination (where you are spending the most number of days). If you are part of a cruise, please take note that every port will count as one day.
 

 
 
CAN I SPEAK TO SOMEONE IN PERSON?
Yes, you must schedule an appointment so you can come to the Consulate and be helped by a representative of the Visa Department during 15 minutes. We will be happy to respond to any questions you may have about the visa process. The easiest and most efficient way to contact us is via e-mail at cog.houston.vis@maec.es.
 
I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE VISA PROCESS. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
You can ask any additional questions via e-mail at cog.houston.vis@maec.es or you can schedule an appointment to ask your questions in person.

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