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My email reader thought this was junk... - Chuck Fisher's LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
From Bay Area to Barcelona

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My email reader thought this was junk... [ Thursday, 24 Jul 08 | 18:56 ]
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[My Location |El Masnou (Barcelona) España]
[My Mood |happyhappy]

A couple of weeks ago I received the following message…
From: Txxxxxx Gxxxxx, Mxxxx <mxxxx.txxxxxx@maec.es> Date: 2 July 2008 2 Jul 21:38:16 To: ursine1@mac.com Subject: Positive Answer

Dear Mr. Fisher,

Your visa has been approved today. You have until August 2nd to come to pick up your visa in person. Please, don´t forget to bring your passport and your flight information with you before 10:30 am. You don´t have to make an appoinment for that. We are closed on July 4th.

Thank you,

Mxxxx Txxxxxx

This was the most exciting news on the immigration front I have had in three years. Now that this issue has been resolved, I can post about it.

Those of you who have read my profile information know that in January of 2005, I concluded the sale of my house in Richmond, California and purchased a piso in El Masnou, Barcelona. I needed to regularize my immigrant status in Spain, meaning I had to obtain a residency visa. One of the things that I needed was the proof of ownership for my property in Spain. I had to wait until May before I received that.

Having gathered all the documents needed from Spain, I flew to San Francisco to assemble the documents needed there: police clearance reports, medical certificate, financial statements. Finally, in mid July I submitted my paperwork to the Spanish Consulate. They said that visas were taking 2 to 6 months to be approved.

Four months later the status of my visa application was “Still waiting for approval.” Subsequent queries only resulted in an automated response. I never heard what happened to my application. Last November I went to Consulate in San Francisco in person only to find that my visa had been approved in January of 2006. But I never received word of the approval. The agent said that I had to start over completely and re-apply.

So this April I started the whole process over again. When I went to the Consulate the agent was very critical of me as I had not been following the rules for length of stay in Spain. “I will have to talk to the Consul about your case.” Worse, the State of California didn’t send me the correct clearence form. I had to call and get them to send me the right one and make a new appointment at the Consulate. I had to reschedule my flight back to Barcelona and pay almost as much as the flight originally cost as a result.

When I went back to the Consulate, my half-hour appointment lasted an hour and a half. The agent took my paperwork up to the Consul. Twenty minutes later she returned and said three words: “Everything is OK.” I was very relieved to hear that after the longest hour and a half of my life.

So I was very surprised to get word that my application had been approved in less than two months. After checking on my children’s schedules I made flight reservations and arrived at SFO the evening of July 9th.

The next morning I arrived at the Consulate a few minutes after 9. The agent took my passport and told me to return at 2 in the afternoon. In the intervening hours, I bought everything on my shopping list.

I returned to the Consulate promptly at 2. After sitting in the entry room for a few minutes, the agent came out and said she had my passport and handed it to me. I quickly looked at the visa to make sure that the information was correct. I was very happy to have it in hand.

And here it is…

The saga continues…


(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: ursine1
Thursday, 24 Jul 08 | 20:45 (UTC)

Re: geez....

I´m not quite done yet. Still one more step.

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[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Friday, 25 Jul 08 | 07:16 (UTC)

Re: geez....

Which one?

Xavi, who was born here and needs no "visado" whatsoever to be ripped off by Spanish taxes and ineffective bureaucracy
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Friday, 25 Jul 08 | 10:03 (UTC)

Re: geez....

Yesterday I went to the Comisaría de Policía in Mataró. But I arrived just after 9, when they opened, and it was to late to get a "number" for the day. So today I arrived at 7 am, two hours before the office opens. I got a ticket for 11-12. But when I started my meeting, the woman told me I had to go to the office in Badalona. There was a small poster on the door of her office that listed the towns that had to use Badalona, but of course not on the door on the outside of the building. And you have to have a ticket to get to the room where you can see the door with the poster. On Wednesday, the woman at the Oficina de Extranjeros said that I could only go to the office in Mataró.

Chuck, still battling the bureaucracy
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[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Friday, 25 Jul 08 | 11:17 (UTC)

Re: geez....

Welcome to Spain, Chuck... We deal with this on a daily basis...
This has been happening forever, take one of the most famous phrases from Mariano Jose de Larra (who committed suicide because being a patriot he couldn't stand how awful the country was): "Vuelva usted mañana"

http://www.irox.de/larra/articulo/art_vuel.html ( a bit long but it's one of the best pieces of "classic" spanish journalism and really a great text to read)
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Friday, 25 Jul 08 | 18:53 (UTC)

Vuelva usted mañana

Or in my case, lunes. The on-line directory for the Badalona office del Cuerpo Nacional de Policía Oficina de Extranjeros has a non-existent address and an incorrect phone number. I was able to call the Spanish citizens' office and confirmed the location. I also asked if I could sleep overnight at the front door to ensure my place in line.

Chuck, can I borrow a sleeping bag?
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[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Monday, 28 Jul 08 | 06:15 (UTC)

Re: Vuelva usted mañana

I would ask some other "inmigrants" where they did that. The inoperativity of these bureaucrats is legendary.
I hope that you get your documents done soon
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(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: ursine1
Thursday, 24 Jul 08 | 20:50 (UTC)

That is quite a story!

It's not over yet. I have one more hurdle.

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[User Picture]From: squalidbear
Thursday, 24 Jul 08 | 18:02 (UTC)
Congratulations! And I thought it was just US Immigration that was rude, unresponsive and capricious. I guess they're like that the world over, they know we need them more than they need us...
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Thursday, 24 Jul 08 | 20:49 (UTC)

Rude, unresponsive and capricious.

Well, not all them. The woman at the oficina de extranjeros yesterday was pleasant. But they all know that you have no other choice.

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[User Picture]From: beardoc
Sunday, 27 Jul 08 | 03:21 (UTC)
Yes, interesting that a real visa email was caught by the spam filters - a result of all those spammed things for green cards, etc.
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Sunday, 27 Jul 08 | 07:07 (UTC)

Spam filters

I notice that when I use another browser (Firefox) the image of the visa doesn't appear. It still shows up in Safari, but that could be because the image is in the cache. In your comment that was sent to me as e-mail, the image is replaced by a box with a "?". Clicking on the link behind it does take me to the image though.

Interesting that in the US, FedEx/Kinkos says you can't photocopy passports, but the Spanish Consulate says you have to provide copies (plus the original). What's a person to do? My guess is that a copy for archival or consular use is OK.

This is similar to when I applied for Social Security benefits, They don't want to see your SS card, just a birth certificate. I had to order one from the State of Minnesota where I was born. For that, all I needed was a driver's license and the application form notarized. In Minnesota they were unable to charge my Bank of America debit card, so they called me. Surprisingly, my Spanish La Caixa debit card had no problem. (Bank of America is the largest commercial bank in the US.)

Chuck, threading his way through bureaucracy of all types
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[User Picture]From: cuboz
Tuesday, 19 Aug 08 | 03:49 (UTC)
Woo hoo!

And a pretty Schengen Visa too.... You're SOOO thoroughly European, young man!

Reading Xavi's LJ and the problems he has with basic Council dealings, I'm sure that the process of going through residency, etc, is FULL of Red Tape and Public Service time frames! LOL

But congratulations! Woooooo! :-)

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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Tuesday, 19 Aug 08 | 07:01 (UTC)


There are two more postings detailing my "adventures" with bureaucracy. But I only have ten more days to wait and I can pick up my ID card. My complaints are that the two ministries involved don't communicate/cooperate well and you can't trust the web pages for accurate information.

Chuck, I'll be glad when this over!
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