So you just got accepted to Instituto Franklin-UAH and are feeling a bit overwhelmed about what to expect and how to prepare to study and live abroad to Spain. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Going through the process of compiling all of the documentation, looking for housing, or even getting your metro card can be the cause of many headaches. In order to make this process a bit less stressful, we here at the Instituto Franklin-UAH student blog have decided to create a step-by-step “how -to” guide in addition to the survival guide written by a previous student. In this guide we will address the most common problems you might run into and how to maneuver around them.
This guide was created in-part because of the struggles past and current students have had when it came to moving and settling down in Madrid. It may include a post that is entirely about finding housing, or possibly “how to get a Spanish phone number.” The idea is that we try to help you feel more comfortable and assisted during this process as we have all had to go through it. No need to go through it alone!
That being said, even though the Instituto Franklin-UAH sends out a pretty straight-forward documentation and instruction list, there is always the possibility of running into problems. That is why the first section of this guide is dedicated to a general fly-through of the documentation process. In it, I’ll address some of the most common questions future-students seem to have about documentation as well as a simplified step-by-step of my own experience with documentation.
- Disclaimer 1: I am not an administrator and there are some things that I can not answer.
- Disclaimer 2: The general documentation guide will also be heavily based off of the US -citizens’ process, as I am not familiar with other countries procedures. And while they may have many similar requirements, I can’t address them.
- Disclaimer 3: You MUST look at YOUR consulates website aka: The consulate of Spain in whichever state/country you are in. Every consulate has different requirements.
Part 1: Apostille of the Hague
The Apostille of the Hague is a special stamp/certificate that certifies your document to be used in a treaty country. In short, these lawmakers decided that rather than having to double-certify a document in the original country and the country it will be used in, they would accept the document internationally if they are part of the convention of the Hague. Countries such as Canada are not part of the hague convention and has a different process. They must first be certified by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa or a Canadian consulate abroad and then sent off to the country it will be used in. If your degree originates in the European Union, there is no need for an apostille.
What documents require the Apostille of the Hague
One of the requirements for most Spanish consulates is a federal background check from any country you lived in for more than 6 months in the last 5 years. This background check will then need to have the apostille of the Hague. Depending on how many countries you’ve lived in in the past 5 years, this could become quite difficult. To find out how to obtain the apostille and background check, go to that countries consular website and find out what they require. Some may require fingerprints to be taken. If you have only ever lived in one state, for example Florida, then you’ll just need a state background check.
You will also need your bachelors degree(s) apostilled. This could be as simple as getting it notarized and sending it to the department of state in which it was issued, or as difficult as sending it to many different departments, like Maryland. In Maryland you must take the original diploma to a notary commissioned in Maryland and then sent to the Clerk of the Circuit Court in which the notary was commissioned. It must then be sent to the secretary of state etc… You can find more about Maryland’s process HERE.
It is imperative that you get the document apostilled from the state of origin. In other words, your FBI background check must be sent to Washington D.C. for the apostille and if you got your Bachelors degree in California then you need the apostille from California. If you get your apostille from a different state it will be rendered invalid. If you’re running short on time there are many great authenticating and FBI channelers that can help speed up the process. Some good ones are USAuthentication for getting federal documents apostilled and National Background Check, Inc for an FBI criminal history check. It took me about 3 weeks to get my FBI background check and the apostille using both of these channelers. You can see a full list of FBI channelers here. It’s important to note these background checks are only valid for 6 months in most states and countries. As stated in the documentation sent out by admissions, anyone with a criminal record can not enter the program.
Getting the Apostille from Korea
Since there are so many of us coming from Korea, I’ll also touch on a bit of how that process works. I’m no expert, but I was successful in getting my documents and helping a few others with the process. First you have to go to the (경찰서) in your city and ask for a 신원주(사범죄경력)증명서.When I did this it was free, they also did not take my fingerprints. They did need they a recent photo, my ARC, or Alien Registration Card, and of completed application which you can get at the police station. It took about one week for them to call me to pick it up.
The next hurdle was getting the Apostille of the Hague. The apostille costs just 1,000 Won. In order to get it you must put your criminal record check inside a big envelope with a prepaid self addressed return envelope, a copy of your ARC, the application (which you can get from administration), and the payment. I put cash in the envelope and they still accepted it, though there is a place to put a paid stamp on the form. If you live near Seoul you can also go directly to their office.
Important note: If you are applying at the Spanish consulate in Korea, your background check is only valid for 3 months. I did mine in Miami and it was still valid after 6, just to give an idea to other people in similar situations.
And that’s all for this week folks! Keep in mind that all of this advice is coming from previous and current students, as well as my own experience and advice. I hope that some of it can be helpful too many of you future students. Be on the lookout for the next “How-To” coming soon on the student blog.
If you found this week’s “How-To” helpful, GREAT!
If not and you have further questions, or still need help, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org