Ahh. The dreaded Spanish visa renewal. Never fun. It should be simple math. A+B=C. But nothing is ever easy with Spanish immigration.
I have not been out of the Schengen region for nearly three years. So the last stamp on my passport was affixed at Charles de Gaulle airport on 28 December 2019. Since that time I have been granted another visa. No problem. But this time, even though I have no further exit or entry stamps, they didn’t like that last stamp from Paris. Why now?!? Doesn’t matter. They wanted my plane tickets from that trip. Who has airline tickets from three years ago? They are convinced I left the country for more than six months in a calendar year in the past two years. How do you prove you never did something that they are accusing you of doing, for which they have no proof that you actually did, because you didn’t? But that wasn’t our only hold up.
Jeff went to the bank and paid our filing fees. They went from €17 a couple of years ago, to €78. Fine. Jeff paid them for each of us and sent the stamped receipts. But the immigration authorities kicked it back because we should have paid it directly out of our bank account instead of cash. Even though you can’t pay it from a bank account and have to pay it in cash.
Jeff’s was denied for crossing out an incorrect house number, filled in by our lawyer, who told him to cross it out and enter the correct number. But they didn’t deny mine, which looked the exact same, with the house number crossed out.
Our lawyer had to resubmit them three times, with a long explanation about how I never left Spain for six months, then, never left Spain, again. All of this is utter bureaucratic nonsense. But we are not alone.
Since Brexit, there are exponentially more people filing visa applications. So scrutiny of applications and renewals has been turned up to high. I’ve heard horror stories. We’re caught up in that, now. Our visas and visa renewals used to take 24 hours. They take a lot longer now, packed with uncertainty, and require hoops that were not there before. In six months we are eligible for permanent residency. I don’t really want to go through more paperwork, but if it means we only have to do this every five years it will be worth it. I don’t see visa renewals getting easier.
We used to handle renewals on our own, but I wouldn’t recommend that now. Having an advocate is too important. Someone who can help navigate these choppy waters. Because, in the end, we love living here. We have made it our home. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that we are not entitled to live here. That we are allowed to by the government of Spain. It has been relatively easy, so far. But this latest visa hiccup makes my goal of getting Spanish citizenship even more top of mind. So that we never have to wonder if this really is home. For good.