The Visa Renewal

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year. It flew by and when I look back on all the things we did, and all that we’ve learned, I’m amazed. And if I’m honest, more than a little tired. Perhaps its this roller coaster of the bug that has performed a hit and run on me over the last couple of weeks. I went to soccer practice on Monday and tried to pretend I wasn’t more sluggish than normal, but Tuesday let me know that wasn’t the truth.

So far this year, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind of things to check off the list. I’ve never been one to let grass grow under my feet, but even I am a bit surprised that by February 22nd we’ve ticked so many boxes. And my last box for this quarter is gathering the paperwork for the visa renewal.

You can start your visa renewal 2 months before your visa expires, and up to 90 days afterwards. We didn’t file early and there were good reasons we waited. I think it will pay off. But I do want to file before the Brexit (The UK leaving the EU) debacle happens. If Britian goes a ‘Hard Brexit’ without a deal in a little over a month, that will leave the immigration status for many of the 300,000+ Brits who call Spain home in no-mans-land for immigration status. I’d like to avoid the chaos that is sure to ensue with ‘What do we do about these people’ from a Spanish Government perspective. And the rules and requirement might change.

This year we get to renew our visas for a 2 year period, rather than just the one. So this time next year I feel sure I’ll be sipping Mai Tai’s on a beach laughing at how little work I have to do compared to this year. Yeah Right. And it’s a bit of a different process this time around.

We hired a gestor to walk, and talk, us through it because while it says certain words on the Government website, the reality is quite different. And those words – now that we’re in Spain – don’t mean the same as they did when we were in the US. So a lot of the pre-work I did before meeting with the gestor is a bit mute now. I’m not concerned – we gave ourselves plenty of time. Now I know for next time what we really need.

As a refresher – gestors are like administrators. Some specialize in helping you set up a business with appropriate licensing, etc. Others do tax filing (but they aren’t accountants). Some help with immigration stuff. Generally, they’re the dogs body of the bureaucratic engine of Spain. They don’t review contracts or perform functions that an Abogado (lawyer) does. It’s a different job entirely. They give you advice and fill out a lot of forms on your behalf and file them.

When they say ‘bank statements’ they don’t mean the same thing from the US. And what they’re worried about, as far as documentation, is a little different than what we’re used to. Never mind, Jeff is going back to the US next month so he’ll gather whatever else we need that we can’t get from here. Like another Apostilized marriage certificate that can’t be any older than 3 months since the last version 1000 was issued. No kidding, I have 5 of these of varying vintages from the last 18 months. And the funny thing is – if we were divorced we wouldn’t be living together in Spain! Ugh!

Another thing we learned, for the next renewal we will need to show our Spanish tax documents. Meaning showing that we have filed annual taxes in Spain. Of course, we haven’t lived here long enough yet to file for the first time, but we will have to ensure those are ready to go next go round. Spain and the US have a tax treaty so no double taxing, but I’ve met a lot of American’s here, and most say they won’t bother to file. I hope they aren’t planning to be here for a second renewal cause they’re in for a shock. Eek! We are getting a referral from our gestor on who we need to discuss things with as an expert on US/Spanish personal taxation laws, and said treaty.

I was proactive in getting letters in advance from anyone we pay on a regular basis, landlord, etc. to write that we are up-to-date on paying. This was a good thing, as it apparently goes a long way to demonstrating good citizenship, amongst other things, like you pay your financial obligations without difficulty. And we will be requesting letters from the bank here verifying all sorts of stuff in specific language. It’s so different than last time.

And I learned that one local office for filing is not like other offices throughout the country or even the region. Every one of them can ask for different things and in different ways so it’s more an office by office thing. But we’ll roll with it and cross our fingers.

It feels like time is speeding up. The months are water through our fingers these days. My parents won’t be around forever and this year, in particular,, I feel the pull of home more than usual. I’ve been a little melancholy about remembering my childhood over the last several months, which is surprising because I’m not prone to sentimentality in that area.

We’ll be really glad when this renewal is done. Then we can come and go as we please. And, if the timing works out I can just make it to Portland for my Mom’s 80th Birthday at the end of May – and maybe my Dad’s 90th in September. Sporting my new Spanish residency card without a care in the world. Ha!

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