Bad news. (Or good news, if you think Americans ought to live within broadcast range of Fox News, and want expats like me to suffer.) My second visa renewal was significantly tougher than the first in 2017. I had to visit three extranjerías four times before I even knew what steps to take, had to wait much longer for results, had little clue while waiting that my documents hadn’t been misplaced, and — as described in a separate post — judge the optional electronic submission procedure to be only slightly less difficult than the hacking of my Android smartphone described last September.
You may have an easier time of it, if your visa and personal circumstances are similar enough to mine to allow you to harvest usable tips from this post. If not, or if Spain changes renewal steps significantly, as it did after my first renewal in 2017, you’ll have to start from scratch.
On to nuts and bolts. Please note that I can share experiences only about the renewal of my non-lucrative visa. I know nothing about other visa types.
WHEN CAN I START AND FINISH THE RENEWAL PROCESS?
I found contradictory information online on other renewal steps, but not on on this one.
WILL I GET A REMINDER LETTER?
I didn’t, and an extranjería staffer told me that such letters aren’t sent. A fellow expat did get a letter in 2016.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?
For reasons to be described, I chose to believe information received in the last of the above-mentioned four visits to three extranjerías. A funcionario at the Carabanchel office proffered an information sheet I came to think of as sacrosanct, as it told me everything I had been unable to find out elsewhere. With some reverence, I have copied its anointed prose to a .pdf of its own, with comments in red font, and also uploaded the marked-up-by-the-funcionario original.
I assembled the documents that this magical page told me to assemble, paid the tax it told me to pay, and took the documents without an appointment to one of the places it said I could take them: the OAC-Moncloa government office where I had done my padrón, (Plaza Moncloa, 1, 28008). I told an OAC-Moncloa staffer what I wanted to do, received a ticket, waited about a half hour, and then watched another funcionario attach an official sticker to the EX-01 page of my document stack before feeding the documents into a scanner. She returned the docs when done. I wish I’d asked then for a receipt, but was able to pick one up later on a subsequent OAC-Moncloa visit.
A month later, while chewing anxious fingernails about the status of my renewal, I chose to re-submit all documents online.
WHY NOT FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS FOUND ELSEWHERE?
This Portal de Inmigración page should be the mother lode of information, as it stems from the Immigration Portal home page and offers 100+ tip sheets for non-citizens in Spain.
Unfortunately, the page relevant to me — Renovación de la autorización de residencia temporal no lucrativa — is a dead end, as the web site listed under Lugar de presentación delivers a ‘site can’t be reached’ error. I can’t make much progress with my visa renewal application if I don’t know how to submit it.
A help page elsewhere offers no fewer than four alternatives for LUGARES DE PRESENTACIÓN. Wow! Fat city, right?
Don’t get your hopes up:
Alternative 1: both listed links are dead.
Alternative 2: I’m not taking my precious visa docs to the post office.
Alternative 3: Kafkaesque. The link to make a personal appointment is functional, but offers no available appointment openings, even for information.
Alternative 4: Online submission. This can be done, but shouldn’t be attempted through the link offered. Only the Magic Page information told me what to do from beginning to end.
WHAT IF I NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE?
Prepare to suffer.
To my knowledge, you can’t make an appointment from your home computer or smartphone for an information appointment at the Carabanchel extranjería, which seems to field general information requests. (At least in 2019) What you can do is arrive at this extranjería (Avenida Plaza de Toros, 14, 28025) in person twenty to thirty minutes before the 9:00 a.m. opening time, and wait to use one of their two internet-connected computers near the front entrance. These computers — and perhaps only these computers — will let you make an appointment at the same location for the next day.
What if you’d rather visit later in the day to use a computer? You can, but probably will do so fruitlessly. A funcionario told me that appointment slots are gobbled up early.
What if the Carabanchel extranjería ceases to be the “Oficina de Información General?” You can visit the ‘list of extranjerías’ page to see if Spain has chosen a substitute. If all else fails, you can drop by the information desk at the Avenida Poblados immigration center. (At the corner of Calle Erica, a short, all-too-familiar-to-me stroll from the Aluche station.) You won’t get a meaningful conversation there, but probably won’t wait more than a few minutes for a face-to-face chat with a real human who will tell you what steps to try next.
How about carting your documents directly to the extranjería listed as handling your type of visa? That very hunch cost me a fruitless visit to the Garcia de Paredes office. A funcionario there told me that I’d come in vain.
HOW CAN I CHECK THE STATUS OF MY SUBMISSION?
By text message, web link or by phone recording. I used the first two, never bothered with the third.
Text message: Let’s say your NIE number is A1234567B. You would check visa status by texting
to the extranjería’s text number: 638 444 386.
(Please mind the space between “NIE” and “A1234567B”)
If you’ve already renewed once, the system will respond with something like:
RESIDENCIA TEMPORAL NO LUCRATIVA 1 RENOVACION#RESUELTO OK,PTE.NOTIFICACION#DATOS DE CARACTER INFORMATIVO
The “NO LUCRATIVA 1” tells you that the system knows about your first renewal, and nothing more. Have your second renewal docs been received? Are they in a queue? It doesn’t say.
also won’t tell you if your renewal docs have been received, or are in a queue, and it’s not interested in reminding you that your first renewal was successful, either.
NO SE HA ENCONTRADO LA INFORMACIÓN SOLICITADA
was all it told me, for weeks and weeks and weeks.
HOW LONG DID YOU HAVE TO WAIT?
In late June, forty-five days after I had submitted my documents at OAC-Moncloa, the text service suddenly disgorged a slightly different response:
RESIDENCIA TEMPORAL NO LUCRATIVA 2 RENOVACION#EN TRAMITE#DATOS DE CARACTER INFORMATIVO
Please note the “2” in the message above. Not renovación 1, completed in 2017; renovación 2. Second renewal. Finally! EN TRAMITE meant “in process.”
Mere hours after the NO LUCRATIVA 2 RENOVACION#EN TRAMITE# business above, I received a second, unsolicited text message:
Documento DISPONIBLE en HTTPS://SEDE.ADMINISTRACIONESPUBLICAS.GOB.ES Expediente 123456789123456. NIF/CIF/NIE A1234567B, (1234567)
and, simultaneously, an identical email.
Off to https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/ went I in my web browser. I clicked ‘Mis expedientes’ at top right, and encountered a major potential “gotcha.”
I could access the document, but only through a web browser equipped with the gear I’d installed for my ‘telematic‘ submission. Most expats aren’t so equipped, and face frustration: the extranjería has sent a message that can’t be viewed.
The document turned out to be my official renewed visa, good through 2021, complete with a CÓDIGO SEGURO DE VERIFICACIÓN and a web address where said CÓDIGO can be checked. I expect to wait months more for my new ID card, but can carry a copy of the renewed visa in the meantime.
So are you lost without the software tools to access ‘Mis Expedientes?’ I don’t think so. The web link did continue to report NO SE HA ENCONTRADO LA INFORMACIÓN SOLICITADA for several more days, but then suddenly morphed into a detailed ‘favorable result’ screen. This screen is all visa renewing expats need to proceed to the ‘Toma de Huellas’ appointment (described below) to nab a new ID card.
I also may eventually receive a postal mail copy of my renewed visa, as I did in 2017.
I still have to pick up a renewed ID card.
The steps to get it don’t seem to have changed since 2017. If I encounter problems, I’ll update this post.
(♦) After receiving the visa renewal, I pointed my web browser to:
Toma de Huellas (Expedición de Tarjeta y Renovación de tarjeta de Larga Duración)
to make an appointment for the processing of my new identification card at the familiar Avenida de los Poblados DNI center. No appointments were available in July; I’ll have to wait until early August. Shucks.
Selecting ‘Toma de Huellas’ presented me with a nice list of materials to bring with me on appointment day:
- * Form EX-17, original and copy.
- * Recent color photo in tamaño carné (approximately 3 x 4 cm).
- * Copy of the ‘favorable result’ screen mentioned above, although I will confidently presume that I could substitute the official renewed visa. I plan to bring both.
- * Copy of my current empadronamiento (see below)
- * My old ID card
- * A form showing payment of tax 790_012. I shall fill out an online form, save to disk the .pdf thus disgorged, print it, carry it to a bank, pay €18.92 tax, get the .pdf stamped, and bring this stamped form to Poblados.
(♦) If my early August Poblados appointment is similar to my appointment in 2017, I’ll present my docs, get my fingertips rolled, collect a single page resguardo de solicitud o renovación de tarjeta de extranjero (that may or may not be worth printing and carrying as a temporary ID), and nod when told to return in a month for my real McCoy ID card.
(♦) After a month, I’ll return to Poblados without an appointment, and will hope then to pick up my card. In 2017, I had to wait an extra week.
My 2017 thoughts on registering a new address, mostly cut-and-pasted from a two year old post:
Spain wants to know where you live. Citizens and expats alike furnish this information through a process called empadronamiento, or padrón, related to but separate from visa renewal.
My address had changed, so I decided to make a new padron appointment while waiting for the ‘favorable result’ described above. I could have done this earlier.
(♦) I visited https://sede.madrid.es/portal/site/tramites/ , selected Padrón Municipal. Alta y cambio de domicilio en Padrón, then selected ‘Presencial’ under ‘Tramitar’ to indicate willingness to submit documentation in person. I clicked Solicitud de empadronamiento presencial under Modelos de formularios to bring up a .pdf (which I later completed on my computer). On the same page, I clicked Concertar cita previa para Padrón to make an appointment. I chose the OAC MONCLOA ARAVACA office. The web site offered me a choice of dates/times about a week ahead. I chose one.
(♦) On the day of the appointment, I visited OAC MONCLOA ARAVACA with my passport, rental contract, utility bill and a print-out of the filled-out .pdf. I waited twenty minutes in a clean, busy waiting room to present these documents to a staff member. She provided me with a new padrón form, pointed out the two year renovation date, and said that I could expect to receive a card by postal mail to remind me when the padrón should be renewed.
Later, I also received a letter by postal mail with another padrón form.
2019 padrón renewal:
I hadn’t moved, but had to renew the padrón before this year’s ‘Toma de Huellas’ appointment. I returned to:
… entered ‘Padrón’ in the ‘Buscar’ box, studied the selections offered, and chose:
Padrón Municipal Renovación de inscripción de los extranjeros no comunitarios
The link told me I could drop by an Oficina de Atención a la Ciudadanía (for me, OAC-Moncloa) without an appointment, and didn’t have much to say about what to bring. I decided to tote my old padrón, passport, rental contract, and some bank statements showing rent payment. An OAC-Moncloa funcionario accepted them, and told me to return in a week for my renewed padrón. I did, and also soon received a more official-looking copy by postal mail.
IS ALL SPAIN BUREAUCRACY LIKE THIS?
I don’t think so. I hope not.
I suspect that Spain deals with self-image problems, is too eager to sneer at itself. Consider these two snippets (in un-subtitled Spanish; sorry) from the made-in-Spain movie Superlópez. In the first, Dad informs his gifted son that he must aspire to mediocrity to thrive in Spain; in the second, the heroine scoffs at the suggestion that her country could ever produce a superhero.
Angloparlantes also suffer while navigating documented-in-Spanish-for-native-Spanish-speakers bureaucratic hurdles. Few expats would live here if this popular ‘Spanish red tape’ video were unexaggerated, but most of us will identify with the heroine’s predicament.
In real life, at least as seen by me in my three years here:
(♦) My multiples visits to OAC-Moncloa and the Agencia Tributaria suggest agencies that function better than equivalents in the U.S. (An IRS staffer in the Bay Area told me that business clients routinely wait ONE HOUR on hold to speak to him.) One-time visits to the Ministry of Justice (for a Spain background check for volunteer work) and to the OAIC office on Calle Sacramento also impressed favorably.
(Spain drivers license = material for a separate blog post. Stay tuned. I may hope to never again turn an ignition key in Madrid proper, but do plan to rent cars for exploration of the Spain hinterlands.)
(♦) They are not always cheery, but front line extranjería staff often contend admirably with a flood of new arrivals. Those toiling behind the scenes also can’t be blamed if given inadequate time or resources to process visa applications.
I diagnose a specific, serious problem with online services. How long does it take to update a web page or fix a dead link? I shouldn’t have had to visit three extranjerías four times just to find out how to remain legally in Spain, and shouldn’t need a black belt in computing to upload visa renewal docs.
Still, al fin y al cabo: all’s well that ends well. I like it here and want to stay. Now I can.