Spanish work and residence permits and visa…. patience is an acquired attribute

Above – The Sierra Nevada’s

My trip to San Francisco was a success in the sense of the word. I was able to make my appointment with the Spanish Consulate downtown at the scheduled time, and as I pulled up to the building, I had to lean far to the window as it looked like a small house, but low and behold, above posted a Spanish flag. I was here! After all this time and planning, let’s hope it is painless and without too much bureaucracy.

I was buzzed in the small building and proceeded to the guest window only 3 feet from the door and paused as the attendant was on the phone. I looked around the small entrance room and noticed a few families with small children and some other expats. I was then called to the window and explained to the man what my appointment was for. He told me to wait and my name would be called, as if I were at a doctor’s office and with almost as much nervousness. You see, this was not just a simple meeting to submit papers and get a visa as I did in Germany. The Spanish permits and visa take time to be approved or denied. So this meant that I could pay the fees and spend the time and money for travel to San Francisco (San Francisco Spanish Consulate services Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Wyoming, Pacific Islands and Nevada) and not be approved. Can you imagine?

While I waited, I chatted it up with an Indian foreign national who was working for Google in California. He was actually there to get a Spanish visa as well so that he could attend the Mobile Congress which is the biggest wireless mobile conference in the world (in Barcelona). Because he is from India, he must get tourist visas for many countries he wishes to visit. He cannot just go there using a passport. It is the same for tourists going to visit India, a tourist visa must be applied for and acquired through the embassy prior to travel. After some time he was called in and I waited further for my chance.

This process is broken up into two separate events – First, you must submit your business plan, passport copies (every page), application for residence and pay two fees totaling around $300USD – Second, once the permits have been approved you must then get fingerprinted for an FBI background check which then must be apostle (notarized) by the State Department in D.C., get a medical cert showing you have no communicable diseases, submit a bank statement showing enough startup and livable funds and pay the additional fees of $120USD+ to acquire the visa. Let’s recap, you will first need the permits to then be able to apply for the visa. This may be redundant but it is the way of the Spanish government and by God I will do whatever needs to be done to accomplish this. The agreement with the USA and Germany allows for a US citizen to apply for a visa while in Germany; no additional permits are needed. My thoughts on this are clear – why are EU states so different with their immigration laws? Obviously the USA and Germany have tight bonds and agreements that allow this and not so much with Spain and other EU countries.

Nevertheless, this may be the biggest challenge so far in my relocation process to date. This only makes my resolve so much greater and my will to be victorious is a given. I have done all I can at this point and now I must wait to see the verdict. I always look to the sky and hope for the best as I know I will achieve anything I put my hard mind and soul into.

As far as my visit to San Fran went, I was able to visit Fisherman’s Wharf several times and had some great new experiences. I ate red snapper fish and chips at a fish house and stumbled upon the bar that invented the original Irish Coffee.

Yes, the Irish Coffee was a drink created by a reporter from the US that happened to be in Ireland during the 40s while in an airport during a storm. The pilots gave the antsy passengers some coffee to keep them warm but that did not calm the passengers so the pilots spiked the coffee with some whiskey and topped it off with creamy foam (there is NO Bailey’s Irish Cream in a true Irish Coffee). The reporter brought that recipe back to San Fran to the Buena Vista Cafe and it was born.

I enjoyed a few Irish coffees while I chatted with the bartender who had been there many years. He showed me some pics of older musicians who had visited the cafe such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. All I could think was, damn, I had walked by this place three times today and debated coming in…. I am sure glad I did.

I stayed at an airbnb in Emeryville located in the East Bay across the bay from downtown. This turned out to be an interesting experience as the metro line turned out to be a 25min walk from the house and only ran until midnight. I knew there may be nights when I was out later than midnight and the neighborhood was not so safe for late night walks. On the plus side, Uber was only $8 for a ride into the city and I was close to an upcoming area with locally owned cafes and pubs. I frequented Lanesplitter Pub which had a nice selection of local beers on tap. They also cooked up some tasty pizza which I sampled some slices and was impressed.

This trip was not a trip of leisure but I had to do some exploring as I hadn’t been here in 13 years. When I return to apply for the Spanish visa, I will spend more time at the local sites and try other new food and drink choices. Next time – Chinatown, Trader Vics, Hangar One distillery, St George Spirits, the beach, USS Hornet museum, Anchor Steam brewery and some other spots I missed. The people of San Francisco are some of the nicest I have met in California and I look forward to visiting soon!

 

Why do I travel so much? Why move away from family to start a business abroad?

Jan 11, 2017

People have often asked me how and why I have visited so many amazing places in my life. Honestly the question I get from US citizens refers to more on my ability to afford it. So let me start with the cost aspect.

Like most all people who work for a company in the USA, a certain amount of vacation time is allotted based on hours worked or tenure with the company at the time of the requested time off. If the amount of time I am allotted is not sufficient for my plans, the company will deny my request. I have even requested unpaid time off as I do not feel that any company can own me or tell me when I am allowed to live my life. Being a paid servant is not my idea of living a full life. In some cases I have also quit a job to take my holiday and applied for a new job when I returned. For most people that is not ideal and sounds scary. I have no kids to worry about so for me it is fine. The question of affording the travel is one of choices and priorities. In my 20’s, I thought happiness was owning a nice car and living in a large high rise apartment in the city. That was fun and slightly glamorous for many years until I got a taste for travel abroad.

I made a life change and sold the car, the man toys and downsized my apartment. I also closed the 2 credit cards I had and decided that cash is my new way of life as to not grow any debt. That has worked out very well. So instead of paying out 600$ a month to a car payment and insurance, I can afford airfare and a hotel every 3 months for a holiday. Basically, the more cash you have, the more travel you can do. But it is not just about saving money at home. You must also know how to be a traveler and not a tourist to an extent. The cost of a 4 star hotel in Paris is around 200-300$ a night compared to a 4 star hotel in Thailand at 80$ a night. Look for apartments or airbnb in Paris. Plan your trips wisely based on time of year and length of the trip. My first trip to Europe was to Croatia where I stayed 10 days in a guesthouse in Dubrovnik and spent $800 on the trip including airfare and food. Take the local metro in your destination, buy food and drinks at a market so you can eat in your room, find free tours and contact locals through such sites as couchsurfing.com.

The friends I now have all over the globe mean so much to me and I do not regret any of my decisions to travel. My experiences and life changes have honestly evolved me in to a much better person.

You truly have to make a choice as to what you want in life. If you start to get the travel bug as I did, you will notice yourself downsizing your stuff as most items in peoples homes are not essential to living (throw pillows, large tvs, etc) and take away from money you could be using to travel with. Costs add up. Again, I have no children so this is doable.

On the emotional side of my travels, I know one thing – I only live once and life will not wait for me to always plan everything out. Life will not wait for my company to let me have time off. You are a rock sitting on a river bed and the river is life – sit on the bank and watch life go by or get in that river and experience the ride? I have made my choice and yes it is tough at times but always look at your options and remember the good things.

As for moving abroad, it was simple for me. I seemed to always end up in Barcelona on the last 5 world trips I had taken. I knew I was gravitating to that city and had to come up with a plan to move there. I needed what Barcelona had to offer in my life. the lifestyle is what I had always wanted. I had outgrown the USA way of life. I met two people from the USA in Barcelona that were spending 3 months there to see what jobs were available and what the costs were to live there. This was over the summer and they were tour guests. The fact that they stayed the entire 3 months and felt very positive about it tells me I will see them there again.

The cost is also a lot less for me. A 1 bedroom flat in the center can be as low as 650 Euros or 689 USD near the beach. Most of the food is half the cost at the market compared to the USA and with little to no additives or preservatives. Free health care once you establish yourself. 4 modes of city metro – bus, subway, train, tram. Each ride costs 1 Euro. No need for a car if you live in the center which most all people do.

It is actually very easy to move abroad. Talk to other expats online and visit the many sites that will guide you through it. Every country will have a different set of rules and requirements.

I do still come and visit family and friends in the USA which I enjoy. In all honesty though, I live in a more desirable location for them to come and visit me. 🙂

Visit http://www.norwegian.com for super low fares to Europe.

Please let me know if you have any questions and enjoy the video!

Daniel