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Living in Spain 101: Applying for a Foreign Residency Card (TIE)

Oficina de extranjeria 

All walks of life lining up outside the oficina de extranjeria (foreigners office)

* IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE A LANGUAGE AND CULTURE ASSISTANT, READ THIS BEFORE CONSULTING ANY BOGUS WEBSITES OR "OFFICIAL SOURCES" *

The process of applying for a residency card in a nutshell is ridiculous, confusing, bureaucratic and a joke. I suggest you read my previous post about my first experience in Huelva when I attempted to apply for my Spanish residency card, otherwise called a TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Entranjera). It sheds some light on what a wild goose chase and boondoggle the process is that has caused a lot of stress for Language and Culture Assistants such as myself.

Anyone who has a long-term visa must apply for this residency card within 30 days of arriving in the country to legally live in Spain. It's necessary to have money directly deposited into your bank account, hooking up cable and internet and a plethora of other nonsensical things. There are other types of residency cards, but all language and culture assistants (auxiliares de conversacion) need to get their act together and prepare for the bureaucracy that lies ahead. The most important thing to bring with you to your appointment at the foreigners office is your amusement and patience. Seriously don't forget to laugh

This should come as no surprise that there's very little information online and in the country for that matter about how to apply for a TIE. Bueno. My Teach in Spain program CIEE sent its participants a letter from the Andalucian government (Junta de Andalucia) along with some other information about the process. During our orientation they elaborated on the process and even provided us with links to the TIE requirements for each Andalusian province. CIEE said most provinces generally require three copies of your passport, visa, each page of your passport that has a stamp on it, the letter from the Andalusian government and this EX-17 form. They also stressed that we would all have to go to the police station to start the application process. Don't bother going to the police station in Huelva! It's a joke. They hardly know what that is and it's just a waste of time. Don't bother going to the ayuntamiento (city hall) either. Go to the oficina de extranjeria (foreigners office). The province of Huelva's website says that it requires that people make an appointment before applying for their residency card, but that's only half-true.

Let me tell you what really goes down with these TIE cards in Huelva.

Anyone who is a Language and Culture Assistant in the province of Huelva has to go to the foreigners office in Huelva to apply for their TIE card. The Junta de Andalucia made the appointments for us in October that they gave us to some meeting they "organized" for all the auxiliares de conversacion. Ergo, it wasn't necessary to make an appointment directly with the office. I tried to go earlier in September and the guy in the office said, "Just come back another day with all the other auxiliares."

My appointment happened to be on a sunny, mild day on October 8. I highly suggest arriving early before the office opens at 9am. People line up outside early, and let me tell you it's some goooooood people watching! There were Africans, Eastern Europeans, Asians and an interesting gypsy family who seemed to keep growing as we waited for the office to open. More members kept appearing. Among them was an old father dressed as though he was 16, a young daughter who was about 9 or 10, her older sister who was probably in her early 20's, her teenage brother who had creepy peach fuzz on his acny laden face and kept itching his crotch. Oh the hormones! I can't forget to mention the creepster who was leaning against a pole staring at my friend MaryBeth and I with his bloodshot eyes. All walks of life meet at the foreigners office.

Sorry, I digress with these details.

Here's what you really need to know if you're applying for a TIE:

- Go directly to the oficina de extranjeria in Huelva. Ignore anyone who says you need to go to the police station. The office is located on the parallel street that's behind the ayuntamiento in the center of town and is near the Casa de Colon.

- Don't be alarmed by the somewhat dilapidated appearance of the office building. Sure, some windows are broken, it looks like a double-wide trailer inside, there's a pistol hanging on the ceiling and the x-ray machine at the front door is just for show. You should make it out more or less the same way you arrived.

- Bring toilet paper if you plan to use the bathroom during the long wait because there's seldom toilet paper in Spain's public bathrooms.

- A book or music provide entertainment if you have to wait in line for hours. I don't recommend bringing your top of the line tablet or wearing any jewelry as the clientele can be interesting shall we say.

- Expect to see many babies and young children. Crying infants seem to be a requisite for these types of establishments.

Here's what to bring to your appointment:

- 2 copies of the first page of your passport

- 2 black and white copies of your visa

- 2 black and white copies of the page where Spanish customs stamped your passport

- Letter from the Junta de Andalucia declaring that you are employed to teach English at a Spanish public school

- 2 copies of the EX-17 form. I recommend saying the school where you will teach is your permanent residence.

- 15 Euros for the tax you have to pay at the bank

- As I mentioned earlier, bring lots of patience and amusement. They will come in handy when the babies are crying and the creepy Eastern European is staring at you with his beady bloodshot eyes.

I must say my appointment was shockingly painless. I arrived about 15 minutes before the office opened. Someone attended to me within 5 or 10 minutes. This tall, dark and handsome man took my papers and took my fingerprints. He then pretended to type top-secret information in his computer. He handed me a form I had to take to the bank where I paid the 15 Euro tax/ application fee/ bogus money going into the pockets of the Junta de Andalucia. The bank teller took my money and stamped the form feverishly. I returned to the oficina de extranjeria, handed in my bank form and Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome gave me a little card with some numbers on it and said to come back in 40-45 days. Gotta love the Spanish vagueness.

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