SpainExpat’s website has greatly helped my husband and I this year while going through the process of getting married in Spain and applying for a residence permit. I’m a US citizen married to a Spanish citizen. While almost everything was accurate that we read here, there have been a few recent changes to Spain’s immigration laws as well as changes in timing and I thought other couples might find our experience helpful. So I wanted to share what we learned….
The law in Spain changed in July (although retroactive to April!) that all couples applying for a residence card for their EU spouse need to show documentation of sufficient funds and health insurance valid in Spain.
Because this law is recently changed and because the people in the immigration office are required to revisit all applications back through April 2012, they are way behind. Before this all applications were processed within 3 months. Now I am told that it will be more likely 6months.
For us, the timing of everything was a bit different than posted in this article:
Application for our civil union (from the time we asked for the appointment until the actual appointment was two months.)
After the appointment it took 3 and a half weeks for the judge to approve our civil union application.
Once we had the approval we hand delivered it to the ayuntamiento in the town we wanted to be married in and asked for a wedding date. They were able to give us a date for the following week.
After the marriage we applied for an appointment for a residence card. The earliest available appointment was 5 months later. In retrospect, we could have made the appointment even before we were married (I was told you couldn’t do this, but it turns out you can….especially because the wait for a residence permit appointment is so long.)
In the meantime I applied for a social security card and empadronamiento. These were both very quick and I recieved the papers on the spot.
Finally the date for my residence card appointment came around and we went with all the papers and copies of everything. This was important. Including copies of every page of my passport. The man informed me that because we’re married it’s a sure bet - gave me an NIE number and said congrats and told me to wait in the mail for info about getting my fingerprints made at the police station.
Two months went by and I didn’t hear anything. I went to the office and they said just to wait, everything is fine. A week later I got a letter stating I need to submit my health insurance information (and proof it is valid here in Spain) As well as proof of my husband’s financial assets. They give you ten days to submit everything and if you don’t make the deadline your entire application is void.
We faxed everything and waited. We called to make sure they recieved the fax. Supposedly yes. We went to the office a few weeks later and asked in person. Oh, no there was a confusion with their fax machine. So we gave them copies of everything again. At this point they informed us about the change in law and that no one was going to have their permits approved before the original 3 month waiting period. (Even though it says in print that they are required to process all requests within 3 months) So anyone applying now is going to be stuck in this process. Everything is backlogged. So plan for extra time.
All in all, I started gathering the paperwork needed for marriage last August (2011). We were married in January, and am still waiting for approval of my residence permit (and it’s august 2012)We have followed all the steps, have a very simple and straight forward case. So if you’re entering this process plan atleast 1.5 years of dealing with everything. If you have a more complicated situation, plan for even more time. And know that things change all the time, especially in times like these. You might be following one set of rules and regulations only to find out that politicians have changed the game (and made it retroactive to boot.)