So you want to apply for a visa, huh? If you've found this post, it's pretty likely that you are already considering moving abroad to another country, and congratulations, you're about to have the adventure of a lifetime.
Applying for a non lucrative visa is like tackling a gourmet recipe, if you pay attention to the ingredients and follow the steps, you will make something amazing... but when you first read the recipe it can be a bit intimidating!
Don't worry, though, I typically make food that has directions on the box (like mac and cheese! Yum!!) and I got our family through this process just fine. 😜
First you will need a list of necessary items. I'm going to share with you an important mantra that is going to make EVERYTHING easier during the transition to a new country:
It is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
Seriously, for your sanity's sake, keep a big folder of ALL documents (and at least one copy of everything) handy at all times.
Bring the folder to every appointment. It will be your best friend for months.
An accordion folder with dividers is perfect for keeping everything organized.
(Watch for our upcoming blog post for more specific details on how I put ours together, which we still use even after 5 years of living in Spain.)
You can typically find a list of the items that YOU will need by researching the country you want to move to and finding its consulate page for your area.
For example, for Spain, I went to the Spanish Consulate in Miami website here to find the list of requirements we needed for our family to get a non lucrative (or sometimes called a non working) visa.
P.S.- You can get our interactive Visa Application Prep Checklist as a FREE Google Sheets download here. (It helps you stay organized & on track with all your necessary documents!)
Documents needed for our non lucrative visa for Spain was as follows:
1. The actual Visa Application (two copies). This is available online, usually on the consulate website.
2. Two passport size pictures (you should get plenty of copies of your passport photos when you have them done, you will need about 5-6 of them for various things).
3. A copy of all pages of your passport. (You will surrender your original passport as part of your visa application.)
4. Driver License or State I.D. with current address. (You need a paper copy but will also have to show the original when you submit your application.)
5. Original certificate of good conduct (police clearance) issued by the FBI or your State “Public Criminal Background Check” (Check the consulate instructions on this carefully to see what is accepted.)
6. Local Health Certificate with letterhead, stamp, and signature of the Doctor translated into Spanish (or language of your destination country, see Consulate instructions for details). You will need the original and a copy. See the example of what we submitted here.
7. Proof of accommodation in the city where you want to live- this is also going to be dependent on your consulate. We were able to submit a letter explaining why we had chosen Valencia to move to, but other consulates required to submit a lease or deed valid for 12 months- this is a BIG commitment to do ahead of moving somewhere, so check your facts ahead of time and do your research! 😊 (See our letter here.)
8. Proof of health insurance with full coverage in Spain. We will be posting more details about this soon, but we got a policy through Sanitas specifically made for expats.
9. Proof of Financial Means- we needed to show bank statements (in English and Spanish) showing we could support ourselves and meet the minimum income requirements. When we applied, the minimum was 4x the national (Spanish) IPREM, which is their basic minimum income. Here is a basic IPREM chart for 2022.
10. Authorization of residence application (This is just an easy pdf application to fill out and attach.)
11. Authorization of initial residence fee (You need a money order for this amount with your visa application.)
12. Visa Application Fee (Again, with a SEPARATE money order for the amount.)
I know this seems like a LOT of items, but if you break it down and tackle them one at a time, it is much more manageable.
It took us approximately 6 months to gather everything and prepare all of the necessary items.
The checklist I created for our application (download it free below!) REALLY helped us to stay organized and know what we had ready vs what was still needed.
Sometimes additional items are needed that are not on the above list. This is especially true if you are applying as a family.
There should be a short list on your consulate page with the separate requirements for dependents. Be sure to check the consulate page! This is a situation in where you want to OVER prepare. Everything goes faster and smoother that way. ;)
Documents that are usually needed (but not always listed) for the non lucrative visa are:
Original copies of birth certificates, translated and apostilled by the state they were issued in. IMPORTANT: We needed this for all seven of us, but it was not specified in our original list of documents on the consulate website for some reason! These take a few weeks to get, so it's best to prepare them in advance in case you need them.
Original copy of your marriage certificate, also translated and apostilled.
A letter of intent - this can also be wrapped into your Proof of Accommodation letter, but even if you need to show proof of a lease you should include a letter of intent. (You can see our example letter in our blog post about example Visa docs.)
It seems silly that these (clearly important) documents aren't on always the list, and to be honest, I am not sure why they weren't on our list of needed document.
I can, however, attest that navigating Spain's government processes often feels like a drunken, confused version of Marco Polo. 🤣 So maybe it was just a case of not knowing where to look...
But luckily, my over-the-top-ness really came in handy here!
I ended up doing a LOT of research about why families' visa applications got denied- because I'm a firm believer in learning from those who've gone before me in all things- and these three final documents popped up as things that were almost ALWAYS requested.
In general, applications that were submitted without these things got kicked back for more documentation.
It was well worth it to spend the extra time and gather these documents to submit with your application the first time. Our application was approved right off the bat, no extra information needed. (Whew!)
That covers pretty much everything!
Please feel free to drop a comment below if you had to provide anything I haven't included, especially since all countries are different and processes are continually improved. :)
And if you didn't snag that free downloadable checklist, be sure to grab it NOW! 😜
P.S.- You can help support our blog for free, just by shopping for your favorite travel gear & other cool stuff through Amazon, using our referral link here! Thank you so much! 🥰
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