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Mount Orégano
Sue Burke
Photocopying instead of posting 
30th-May-2007 10:57 pm
Let me see..

I've been busy, and that's why I haven't been posting much. Specifically, I'm in the process of upgrading my residency status as an immigrant in Spain.

The process began in September, and it has required the help of a lawyer here in Madrid, another back in my home state of Wisconsin, a fair amount of money, and a lot of running around.

For example, I needed to present a report of my (lack of) criminal record from my country of origin, which my lawyer back home could get from the Milwaukee Police Department. That report had to be notarized and receive the Apostile of the Hague (I'm still not sure what that is, but the Wisconsin Secretary of State's office provided one very efficiently and for a reasonable price), and then it all had to be translated here in Spain by a legally sworn translator. Although it is a very short criminal record since I've never even been arrested, the translation cost €60/US$81.

I also had to photocopy my entire passport and prove that I had been living continually in Spain for three years (I primarily used Spanish banking and medical records; if I got dental work, I was here, obviously). I had to present a certified copy of my residential registration with the municipality, proof of financial resources (American bank records), and proof of my familial relationship with another resident alien (my husband), which involved another Apostile and sworn translation for our wedding certificate along with various documents regarding his residency status.

In all, it was an inch-thick pile of paper. I also made copies of all of them just in case the Immigration Department lost my application, which happened to my husband with his a couple of years ago.

I tried to present my papers on April 3, but it turned out I also needed a report from the Social Services Department of Madrid stating that I had settled socially into Spanish culture, which required copies of some of the exact same papers but also some new certificates that I had to run around to get, such as proof that I speak Spanish. I also had to be interviewed by a social worker. I got a 23-page report in return, most of it photocopies of the various documents I had presented.

On May 25 I went to the Immigration Office again, this time with a taller stack of papers, but they were accepted only provisionally because, in the Social Services report, the social worker had marked the answer C to question 2.2, when she needed to mark D as well, although all her responses to the other questions showed that I met the requirements for D.

So I got a precise form with several rubber stamps from Immigration to take to Social Services explaining exactly what I needed. My social worker apologized and promised to redo the report, and asked, by the way, am I related to Delta Burke the actress? (No.) Fortunately Social Services also kept a photocopy of the report they gave me, just in case, so they can redo it easily. I can pick up the new certified copy, with 2.2-D checked, in a week.

A whole lot of trees died for this process. I hope to be worthy of their noble sacrifice.

Quite a few Americans here in Spain are illegal aliens, in part because the process for being legal is so complicated, lengthy, and expensive. I don't blame them.

And I pity Spaniards. They spend their whole lives coping with a bureaucracy like this.

30th-May-2007 10:55 pm (UTC)
I be very confused, madam. Are you giving up US citizenship? Or is this some way of living there indefinitely but retaining US citizenship? And not needing to constantly register or constantly get work visas?

31st-May-2007 03:33 pm (UTC)
It is confusing.

I am seeking a change in my residency status, and if the Gods of Paperwork smile upon me, I would only have to renew my residency every two or even five years. Renewal involves standing all day in long lines to deliver stacks of documents, so the less often the better.

Legal residency does not involve giving up U.S. citizenship. I keep my red, white, and blue passport.

A work permit is a whole different process involving different stacks of documents and photocopies delivered to different offices.

I am not seeking citizenship, which is a little harder to come by in Spain than the U.S. In addition, Spain does not allow dual citizenship, although the U.S. does -- but a top Spanish diplomat told me how to violate Spanish law without consequences. (In Spain, laws are often viewed as challenges rather than requirements.)

Hope this clarifies things a little.

I should find out in September if I have a new immigration status, but a delay would hardly be unusual.
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