Auxiliares de Conversación Application & Visa Process: Detailed Timeline

Madrid, Spain

So, you’ve heard about the awesome government program that lets you live in Spain for a year while teaching English (or rather, assisting teaching English), and now you want to apply? Well, my friend, you’ve come to the right place. This guide-slash-timeline has everything you need to know about how to apply to the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program (NALCAP), aka the Auxiliares de Conversación program.

Madrid Palacio de Comunicaciones

When applying for my first Spanish visa (I’ve applied for quite a few now!), I realized a lot of the guides out there were outdated*. So, I put together this insanely detailed application guide in timeline format. I update this post every time I go through the visa application process again or when I learn something has changed from others. The Aulixiares de Conversacion application and visa processes are a lot of work, but they are doable as long as you keep organized.

*The application requirements for my consulate of SF seem to have changed slightly in 2022, without much information on the consulate website about those changes. It may be the same with other consulates, too. So I recommend joining the unofficial Facebook group for this program and finding the visa application thread for your specific consulate to get realtime updates from your fellow applicants!

Related reading: 9 Things Nobody Tells You Before Being an Auxiliar de Conversación


So I’ve also created a printable, one-page checklist/timeline summary of this article in case you do decide to apply to the program. It’s a conveniently one-sided, one-paged print out.

Auxiliares de Conversación Application Timeline Checklist Guide

If you still have questions at the end of reading this guide, drop a comment at the end. I respond.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s answer some basic questions about teaching English in Spain. (If you want to skip ahead to the actual application timeline portion of this post, click here.)

What is the Auxiliares de Conversación Program?

The Auxiliares de Conversación extranjeros en España program is also called the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program. It allows American and Canadian native English speakers (and Canadian native French speakers) to live in Spain as teaching assistants in elementary and secondary schools throughout the country. Assistants receive a monthly stipend of €700 – 1000 per month and work 12 – 16 hours per week from October – May or June.

What are the Requirements for the Auxiliares de Conversación Program?

In order to teach English in Spain through this program, you must:

  • Hold a U.S. or Canadian passport
  • Have a BA, BS, or Associate degree (or be enrolled as a junior or a senior in a BA or BS program, or be a community college student in their last semester)
  • Have a native-like level of English (or French if Canadian)
  • Be 18 – 60 years old
  • Speak a basic level of Spanish (I don’t think anyone checks this)
  • Be in good physical and mental health
  • Have a clean background check

If you meet all these requirements and apply correctly, you are pretty much a shoe-in.

How to Teach English in Spain as an Auxiliar de Conversación?

The short answer is: apply for the program, get accepted to the program, apply for the visa, get the visa, and fly to Spain. The long answer?

You can apply to teach English in Spain directly through the government (Ministry of Education) program for free or through a third party for a fee of €1000+. So, why would anyone apply through a third party?

  • A lot of the third parties accept applications much after the ministry application has closed. So they will be your only option (besides waiting a whole year) if you learn about the program too late.
  • Many third parties also guarantee your placement within a particular region (more on selecting regions later).
  • And lastly, these third parties assist you with the program application, visa application, and settling-in-Spain process, whereas the ministry does not assist you at all. From what I hear, this assistance is very minimal. Plus, the ministry application resources and instructions seem a lot better these days compared to what they used to be.

I actually first applied and was accepted through a third party (called ConversaSpain) because I learned of the program too late. I didn’t end up entering the program that year, due to no visa appointments available at my consulate. But feel free to comment your questions on the third party application process, and I’ll try to answer best I can!

The general consensus, however, is to apply directly through the ministry if you can.

What Documents You Need for the Government Program Application

The documentation and steps to apply get updated from time to time. So your best bet is to review the official website for the English Language and Culture Assistants Program much in advance.

But here are the main items you will need to collect in advance for the application:

  • A copy of the ID page of your passport (the page with your picture)
  • A copy of a passport-like photo of you
  • A copy of your official college diploma (or transcript if not yet graduated)
  • A statement of purpose explaining why you want to do the program
  • A letter of recommendation from a professor or employer

What Documents You Need for the Spanish Visa Application

After being accepted into the program, you will need to get a long-term Spanish student visa. Yes, you are on a student visa, not a working visa, through this program.

The visa process varies slightly between consulates. So find out where your own regional consulate is located, and read through its Spanish student visa application process. Americans can find their regional consulate here.

But here are the common items you will need to collect in advance for the application:

  • A background check (more on what kind later on)
  • A medical check from a doctor (some consulates only accept from an MD, not a DO)
  • Two recent passport photos
  • A valid passport and a copy of it
  • Another valid form of ID (like a drivers license) and a copy of it
  • Your Carta de Nombramiento (more on what this is later on)
  • A print out of your potential flight itinerary
  • A completed visa application and a copy of it
  • A money order (no checks) in the amount of the $160 visa fee
  • A self-addressed, prepaid USPS envelope (only if your consulate allows mailed visa returns)


So, with that being said, let’s finally get to the timeline and guide for the Auxiliares de Conversación application and visa process.

Auxiliares de Conversación Application Timeline

The Auxiliares de Conversación application opens in late January and closes in early to mid April. But you want to start thinking about your application way before that if you want the best chance at getting your region, city, and grade level of choice. Remember, assignments are given out (loosely) first come first serve.

Again, here is the link to the official program website. Click it. Read through it. Bookmark it. 

Late November

Around November, make sure you have a passport valid until three months after the end of the program with enough empty pages in it. The application requires your passport number, and this cannot be changed once you create your Profex account. So even if you have a valid passport already, make sure you won’t be getting a new passport between when you open the Profex account and when you depart for Spain. (If you do, you just have to email the program and let them know your new number.)

Consider that the visa itself takes up an entire passport page, plus that you’ll be getting one stamp into Spain and another out of Spain after the program ends. Also consider how many times you might leave the Schengen area on weekend travels to places like Morocco, Turkey, or the UK. This will be four stamps on your passport each time, so make sure you have enough pages in your passport for all of this. 

Getting a new passport can take a couple of months, so knock this out early!

You will also want to make sure you have your college diploma ready. If not, request a copy from your university ahead of time. If you have not yet graduated, you can use your transcripts, so have these ready instead.

Lastly, start thinking about what kind of background check you will need for your application. This is dependent on whether you have lived in another country in the past five years, multiple states in the past five years, and what your regional consulate requires.

  • If you have lived in another country during the past five years, start looking up the process for that country’s background check. It might be a short process or a long one, but it’s better to know now. You will want to make sure to have it apostillized and back to you by early summer. This resource written for UK citizens might be a good place to start.
  • If your consulate requires it, you will also need an apostillized FBI background check. Even if your consulate doesn’t require it, you might want to do this option if you have lived in more than one state during the past five years. The FBI background check itself can take as little as a couple hours to receive. But getting the federal apostille can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months. This is the official FBI page explaining the process and giving the current time estimate.
  • If your consulate accepts it, you can get an apostillized state background check from each state you have lived in the past five years. This used to be the most common background check for applicants to get, but recently, consulates have started requiring an FBI background check even though their websites state that they accept state background checks. So if you go this route, I’d suggest you get the OK in writing from your consulate.

The following timeline is assuming a normal processing time of a few weeks for state and for federal apostilles. But I want to reiterate again that you must check what is required for your own consulate, check apostille processing times, and calculate when you need to start the foreign and/or FBI background check in order to get them back apostilled by early summer.

Early December

The Auxiliares de Conversación application requires a letter of recommendation from a professor or your employer. So around early to mid December, decide whom you would like to ask for the letter, and reach out to them.

You want to give the person enough time since the holidays are coming up and you will need the letter right after New Years’. There are very specific instructions for the letter, so ask to receive the letter back a few days before the application opens. This way, you have time to review it and ask the person to redo anything if necessary.

Late December

When filling out the application, you will give preference to three regions in Spain, to whether you want a rural or urban location, and what age level you would like to teach. Each region is placed into a group (A, B, or C), and you can only choose one region from each group. All the most popular regions are in one group, all the least popular regions are in another group. This prevents people from simply selecting the top three most desirable regions.

Regions in Spain for Auxiliares de Conversación

Group AGroup BGroup C
Ceuta y Melilla
La Rioja
País Vasco
Castilla-La Mancha
Islas Canarias
Castilla y León
Islas Baleares

By late December, start looking up information on each region in Spain and deciding your top region for each group. I used this as a rough guide on each region. Also decide what age group you prefer at this time.

Related reading: Top Things to Do in Madrid and Top Things to Do in Barcelona

Early January

Even though the program application (in a system called Profex) is not open until later in the month, create your Profex account (using your passport number) by early January. Familiarize yourself with the Profex application steps, and fill out all portions of the Profex application that you are allowed to. This way, you require as little time as necessary on the day the application actually opens and can increase your chance of a low inscrita number (more on why that number matters later on).

This is how to create the Profex account:

This is how to complete the Profex application:

Also in early January, follow up on your letter of recommendation if you have not received it back already. Do not wait until the day before you need it back.

Lastly, set an alarm on your cell phone for the date and time the application opens. Make sure you convert Spanish time to your own time zone. 

Mid January to Early February

On the day the application opens (usually a day in mid to late January at midnight Spanish time), submit your application ASAP!

Have the official application instructions and Google Translate open and ready to go, and be careful not to make mistakes. You definitely do not need to be the first application in, so don’t rush so much that you make mistakes. Be aware that the site does crash, sometimes for hours, because multiple hundreds of applicants are all trying to get in at the same time.

After successfully submitting the application, you will get an Inscription Solicitud email. This has your inscrita number, which you can think of as your place in line. The lower your number, the better your chances of getting your requested placement region, all else equal. Supposedly.

My first year using Profex, I submitted easily in 9 minutes with an inscrita of 166. My second year, I submitted after a nightmarish 2.5 hours of site problems with an inscrita of 729. So you never know how it will go!

Late January

Depending on how busy your doctor’s office is, set a doctor’s appointment in advance for mid June. You will need a certificate of good health from your doctor, dated 90 days or less before your eventual visa appointment. That visa appointment will likely be in late July, August, or early September (unless you are delayed in your arrival to Spain).

Mid to Late February

(Or 2.5 Weeks after Your Application Date)

Around now you might receive a Solicitud Admitida email. This means that your application has been submitted. To quote the email directly, “this does not mean that you have been awarded a place, but that you meet the requirements to participate in the program.”

If you do not receive this email at this time, don’t freak out. Inscrita number has nothing to do with the order they send these out.

Mid April

(Or 2 Months Later)

Around now, you’ll want to start checking your email every day or every other day so you don’t miss your regional placement email. You need to accept your regional placement within three business days or you will lose your place (yes, quite the quick turnaround!). So definitely do not miss this email!

Late April

(Or Around 2 Weeks Later)

Assuming you have a low Inscrita number, you might finally receive the much-anticipated Adjudicación de Plaza (regional placement) email in late April. Yippee! Keep in mind that this is just your placement region. You will not yet know exactly what city or town within that region you will be assigned to, nor what school grade level

The majority of applicants do not receive this email at this time, so do not worry if you do not have it yet. There are literally thousands of applications that the Ministry has to manually get through, and they are still changing some applicants’ statuses to Admitida at this time. In fact, several people even get the regional placement email as late as July and August, so just keep faithfully checking your email.

Whenever you do get this email, you must respond in Profex within no more than three business days. Otherwise, your position in the program is automatically forfeited. After accepting your placement in Profex, you should receive an Aceptación de Plaza email as confirmation on the same day (within minutes, actually). It confirms they have received your acceptance. Woohoo!

Psst! If at any point after accepting your placement, you decide to withdraw from the program, make sure to email in order to formally withdraw. Otherwise, it will slightly delay your process of moving from Inscrita to Admitida if you decide to reapply next year. (I speak from experience, remember!)

UPDATE: As of summer 2023, it seems that many of the Spanish consulates in the US are outsourcing the visa application process to a third party, called BLS. The main documents required for the application and the process to collect them (which I detail in the rest of this article) should not have changed. But you may need to make your visa appointment(s) with BLS instead of your consulate and also pay an additional fee to BLS. So be sure to check your consulate site regularly for details and updates.

Late April – Early June

Now that you are officially accepted in the program, I would secure a visa appointment*** at your local consulate, if you can. You know already that your first day at school is October 1. But you will want to arrive a minimum of one or two weeks ahead of that day in order to settle into an apartment, test out public transport to your school, and do other administrative things. As long as you get your visa in time to do so, you can honestly arrive in Spain as early as you want. You will just be on a tourist visa until the date your student visa begins. Keep in mind that your health insurance coverage in Spain will only start from September 1.

One you decide what day you ideally want to depart for Spain, then set a visa appointment for five to six weeks before that date. Check to see how long your consulate’s visa process is, and then add a week or two for good measure. This will probably end up being a date in early August or perhaps late July.

After making the appointment, then set a reminder on your phone for a week before it. This way, you can cancel the appointment in case you still do not have your Carta de Nombramiento (I’ll get to what this is in a bit!) by then and avoid being penalized by the consulate for canceling too close to the date.

***Some consulates allow you to apply via mail, so this entire step may not apply to those of you using those consulates!

Early June

(Or 1 Week After You Accept Your Regional Placement)

You might get an update email around this time letting you know that cartas will be coming out soon. Even if you do not get this email, you will want to start checking your email every few days around now for your carta.

Mid June

Around mid June (or earlier depending on current apostille processing times), request your background check. This needs to be dated 90 days or less before your visa appointment for most consulates. Some consulates have started accepting that the be dated five months or less, due to lengthening apostille processing times. If your consulate accepts that the background check be dated five months of less, I recommend starting this step in early May or even April.

How to Request an Apostilled State Background Check

The process is probably slightly different for each state, but probably slightly similar as well. So I’m sharing the timeline and process for my home state of California:

  • Step 1: Download and fill out the background check request form.
  • Step 2: Go in person and get a live fingerprint scan from a qualifying place. I did it at UPS. The scan cost me $25 and the background check cost me $32, so I paid $57 at the UPS office.
  • Step 3: Seven full days (five business days) later, I received my background check results from the California DOJ. These results look like a computer generated report and are NOT what you need for the visa. 
  • Step 4: Once I got the results in the mail from the California DOJ, I then had to email the California DOJ Authorizations and Certifications Section – Visa and Immigration Unit in order to get a certified letter version of my background check.
  • Step 5: Six full days (four business days) later, I received the certified letter background check from the California DOJ. This is a signed letter with an embedded seal, and THIS is what you need for the visa.
  • Step 6: Follow the apostille request steps from the California Secretary of State (SOS). 
  • Step 7: Mail the certified letter background check to the California Secretary of State, along with the cover letter, self-addressed return envelope, and $20* payment. I received mine back in the mail ten full days (six business days**) after it arrived at the SOS. I paid around $10 for UPS mail one way with tracking. Alternatively, apply in person for same-day processing.

*Confirm the updated fee yourself before writing your check, as costs do change. I am only listing prices here to give a ballpark idea of your total visa application costs.

**Mail-in processing times fluctuate. As I type this edit, they are currently around one month from arrival at the California SOS. You can check processing the times here.

How to Request an Apostilled FBI Background Check

These are the steps to request the FBI background check with electronic fingerprints and the federal apostille without using a third party at all. If you do the FBI background check through a third party, it seems you might have more options for where to get the electronic fingerprints taken, but that the prints might not be received instantaneously by the FBI.

  • Step 1: Go to the official FBI website explaining requesting an FBI background check (also called an Identity History Summary or a Rap Sheet). Scroll to the online request section and click the link to complete the Applicant Information Form.
  • Step 2: Check your email, where you will have received an email from the FBI with a link to your request and a PIN number. Don’t lose this email. Following the link and using the PIN, fill out the background check request form and pay the $18 fee online. You can check the box to receive the results via mail if you want them mailed to you in addition to the PDF results you will already receive via email link.
  • Step 3: Check your email again, where you will have received confirmation of your order, your order number, and a link to find your nearest live fingerprint scan location. This email will also have a link to pre-register with the third party taking your prints (probably USPS), which is necessary to do before getting your prints taken.
  • Step 4: Go in person and get a live fingerprint scan from a qualifying USPS location. The scan cost me $50. The FBI email said to print my order and take it with me, but all USPS needed was for me to write my order number and name down on a piece of paper. Immediately after successfully submitting your fingerprints, you should receive an email from the FBI that your fingerprints have been received.
  • Step 5: About one hour later, I received an email that my FBI background check results were ready. After receiving this email, use the same link and PIN from before to log into your request and download the PDF of your FBI background check. The date on this will be the date your fingerprints were taken, not the day you paid the fee online.
  • Step 6: Print out all pages of the PDF version of your FBI background check. This is just as official as the results you will receive by mail in a couple days.
  • Step 7: Go to the federal Office of Authentications website and follow the instructions to request the apostille for the background check you just printed out. You will need to fill out and print this form (make sure to put “Spain” for “Country” in Section 4 of the form). You can actually do this step before getting your fingerprints taken, so that everything is ready to get mailed out ASAP after you get the FBI background check PDF results.
  • Step 8: Mail your print out of the FBI background check to the federal Secretary of State (the mailing address is on the same site with the instructions), along with the apostille request form and $20* payment. I received mine back in the mail eight full weeks (thirty-five business days**) after it arrived at the SOS PO box. I paid around $20 for UPS mail both ways with tracking.

*Confirm the updated fee yourself before writing your check, as costs do change. I am only listing prices here to give a ballpark idea of your total visa application costs.

**Mail-in processing times fluctuate. Six months before I sent mine in, the wait time was two to three weeks from arrival at the SOS PO box. Just a month before I sent mine in, the wait time was six to eight weeks. When I sent mine in, it was ten to eleven, but ended up taking eight weeks. So remember to keep an eye on processing times on the site and to start this process based on current processing times plus whether your consulate requires the document be no older than 90 days or 5 months.

Late June

(Or 3 Weeks After Receiving Your “Cartas Are Coming” Email)

Around one month after accepting your regional placement, you might receive an email that your AuxMadrid portal is ready. (AuxMadrid is used for the Madrid regional placements. I assume there is a similar portal for the other regions, but I do not know for sure.) Once inside the online portal, you will need to click two checkboxes within ten days of receiving the email in order to receive your carta.

This is also a good time to start reaching out to sworn Spanish translators if your consulate requires translations of foreign documents (i.e. the background check and the apostille). This way, you can get the translations done right after receiving your documents that need translating.

Email a few sworn translators from the official list (this is the list for 2023). Ask them to provide a quote for your order, the typical turn-around times for their services, and what payment methods they accept. Keep in mind whether your consulate requires physical original translations or also accepts electronic ones (most seem to accept print outs of electronic ones). This is the email of the translator I used for my electronic ones. She was professional and had competitive prices compared to others I reached out to.

Early July

(Or a Couple Days After Clicking the Two Checkboxes in AuxMadrid)

A few days to a few (or more) weeks after clicking those two checkboxes in the AuxMadrid portal, a green button appears towards the bottom of the portal. You get no email about this, so simply check the portal daily after having clicked those two checkboxes. The green button leads you to an attachment PDF of… drumroll please… your Carta de Nombramiento! 

This is when you finally know exactly what school in what city or town you have been placed. It is also when you learn what grade level you will be working with. Make sure to save this PDF to your files, in case you for some reason can’t get to it in AuxMadrid later (it happens sometimes).

Mid July

Around now, you should have received your background check back with the Apostille of The Hague Convention in the mail from the Secretary of State. The Apostille will be stapled on top of the background check. DO NOT REMOVE THE STAPLE. This makes the Apostille invalidated, and you will have to start (and pay for) the process all over again. After receiving this, reach back out to the sworn translator you selected earlier and have them translate it.

Now that you have this, you have almost everything you need to to be ready for your visa application appointment! All that’s left is to get passport photos taken somewhere and to fill out the visa application form for your consulate.

Once you have these two things, collect all your documents together, and make at least two copies of everything. The consulate will keep a lot of the originals, may or may not keep one copy of everything, and you will also need your own copies of some things for once in Spain.

Late July or August

Around August, you will have your visa appointment. Each consulate’s process is different, but most require you to arrive in person for the appointment. Some also require you to return in person to pick up your visa, which really sucks for those who are not within driving distance from their assigned consulate.

(If you ever feel frustrated at this, just remember the applicants in Hawaii and Alaska who have to fly all the way to San Francisco! Twice! They have it a lot worse than the majority of us applying.)

You will also leave your passport at the consulate from the appointment date (or from the date you mail it in, if your consulate allows mail-in applications) until you get the visa back, so keep in mind that you will not be doing international traveling for some weeks.

Mid August

While you are waiting for your visa, get an idea for where you want to live once you arrive in Spain. Research different neighborhoods online. Check out apartment listings on Idealista to get an idea of what you can expect for your budget. Use Google maps to plan your route to school each day from different potential neighborhoods.

Late August or September

By now, hopefully you have your visa back. Woohooooooo! You are officially going to Spain as an English language assistant! Book that flight, and make it official.

Also around early September, reach out to your school’s contact person. This is included on the Carta de Nombramiento. Introduce yourself, and let them know you have your visa (or that you are awaiting it) and that you look forward to meeting them in October. The school year actually starts in September, even though you don’t start until October. If you email them before this time, they might not respond until closer to the school year. They also might not reply at all, so do not worry if your email goes unanswered. It’s pretty normal!

Lastly, you will want to collect the paperwork you need for once you arrive in Spain. Based on my experience, you absolutely need your Carta de Nombramiento for getting your residency card, and you also need your background check for your school.

Don’t Forget to Download the Checklist

Phew, that was a lot! It is so much to keep track of, so don’t forget to download the checklist-timeline I made for the entire Auxiliares de Conversación application and visa application processes.

Some things to keep in mind while you use the timeline/checklist is that it is simply an ideal timeline. The application is open from January to April for a reason. Even if you apply much later than the first day it opens, you will be placed. And you still might even get your top choice!

Similarly, hundreds of English language assistants arrive to Spain later than the October 1 start date every year. So even if your visa process is not smooth, you will be OK.

My timeline is only a suggested one to help you get the best chance of your ideal placement (and also keep you organized!) while you work through the Auxiliares de Conversación application and visa application processes.

Any Auxiliares de Conversación Application Process Questions?

So! Are you pumped to become an English language assistant in Spain?!

Let me know any questions you still have about the Auxiliares de Conversación application or applying for the Spanish visa. I will answer them to the best of my ability in the comments section below.

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Auxiliares de Conversacion Application process timeline to teach English to kids as a second language abroad in Spain.


  • Dany
    August 30, 2023 at 2:56 AM

    Such a great and informative article. When you’re at the airport going to Spain, did you show them your visa or did you just enter the country with your regular passport?

    • That Travelista
      September 12, 2023 at 2:33 AM

      Hi Dany!

      I’m glad the article was helpful! It depends on the immigration officer. The first time, I connected in Paris and exchanged zero words. The second time, I flew into Madrid and was asked if I was coming for tourism, to which I answered “no,” and then the officer went flipping through my passport for my visa.

      Hope that helps!

  • Stacy
    July 31, 2023 at 1:14 AM

    So helpful!! Thank you!!!

    • That Travelista
      August 1, 2023 at 3:09 AM

      Glad to know it was helpful, Stacy!

  • Regina Pearson
    February 4, 2022 at 9:07 PM

    Do you know how to delete an account from the profex?? I put in my passport number incorrectly but had already confirmed it before realizing the error. Then because I couldn’t find how to delete that one I created another one successfully but when I went to access the new one it said “error” because the email was already in use(on my old incorrect one)
    So do you have any idea at all on how to delete a profex account or who I would contact to find out??
    Thanks for any help.

    • That Travelista
      March 6, 2022 at 9:20 AM

      Hi Regina! I apologize for my delay in response. I think you may have already applied by now, but no, I do not think there is a way to do that. I had a similar issue, because I got a new passport between first creating my account and submitting. So I had to create a brand new email account JUST for Profex. Best of luck with the rest of the application process!

  • Danielle
    July 22, 2021 at 2:21 PM

    This has been extremely helpful! I am only now starting to collect documents and am stressing (it said not to begin until I got my placement and I just got it yesterday). I am going to do fingerprints through the FBI but it seems like the processing time will be almost a month and so I don’t know when to make my appointment at the consulate because of this, because then it still has to get that stamp..Do you have any advice for fast-tracking this?
    I do have a couple of questions though. I saw that you put your Spain address as your school, and that worked fine? Also, what is an NIE and how do I get it? For the Visa application, I don’t know how to find my NIE or “date of notification of decision issued by competent body for non-nationals”.
    Thank you, this is super stressful but finding your blog has helped a ton!

    • Danielle
      July 22, 2021 at 2:25 PM

      Sorry, one other thing-if I want to travel, do I select “more than two” in the ‘number of entries requested’ section?

      • That Travelista
        July 23, 2021 at 1:29 PM

        Hi Danielle!

        This process can be really overwhelming, but just know it’ll all be ok! Like I said towards the end of this guide, people commonly arrive late due to delays, so not that we want that to happen for you, but that’s really the worst case scenario, and it’s not all that bad of a worst case 🙂

        Last year, I waited until getting my carta to even start the visa process. This year, I started earlier (but still after accepting my regional placement) because I am hoping to arrive early. Some people start so early that they cut it super close and risk their other documents no longer being valid by the time their carta arrives to have their appointment. So everyone is on their own schedule, and you’ll be just fine on yours! 🙂

        To answer your actual questions:

        On the FBI background check, I haven’t done it, so I unfortunately can’t speak first hand like I can for the state process. 🙁 I’d suggest joining the “Auxiliares de Conversación en España” FB group, and searching “FBI background check” to see what others are saying. There are a lot of questions/comments on this topic (as well as getting the Apostile afterwards)! If none of the past discussions are helpful, maybe post in the group asking the timeframe from those who recently submitted their fingerprints. From a post in the group I see from early June, and from the bold red text on the FBI site, it seems you can apply electronically or via mail, and mail takes 2-4 weeks but electronically is 3 – 5 business days? So maybe you should look into electronically? (I don’t think it was like that before, maybe because of the lockdowns it was longer, so I’ll go update this guide!) This is all just me thinking off the top of my head!

        And on the appointments, my consulate is via mail due to Covid, but you should be able to cancel the appointment without penalty as long as it is canceled far enough in advance. So maybe you can make an appointment today or tomorrow for a date you think you’ll have the completed FBI check + Apostile back, and cancel it a week prior if need be. And if September comes and you think you’ll not make it in time for the October 1 start date, definitely email your coordinator explaining that you will be delayed due to waiting on your visa.

        On the school address, yes, it worked fine as I got my visa back last year. And this year I haven’t gotten it back yet, but my consulate makes us scan and email them everything before submitting the application, and they OK’d me to mail mine in with it like that this year.

        On the NIE, it seems to be the equivalent of a social security number for foreigners in Spain. So you don’t have one yet, unless you’ve lived in Spain (for more than just 3 mo study abroad on a tourist visa) before! You’ll get your NIE either on your visa or when you arrive to Spain if its not put on your visa by your consulate. So leave that blank on the visa app.

        On the date of competent bodies thing, leave that blank too. Honestly, most of the application is left blank!

        On the number of entries, yes, select more than two!

        In the FB group I mentioned above, they actually have a helpful guide to filling the entire visa app out, line by line! I’ve seen the guide copy and pasted onto the Auxiliares de Conversación Reddit as well.

        Hopefully some of this is helpful! Sorry I don’t know more about the FBI process 🙁

        • Anonymous
          July 25, 2021 at 9:43 AM

          Wow, you are so helpful, I am extremely grateful for this! I am going to try and get fingerprints to mail in asap tomorrow. The visa process is super stressful but I am so grateful for your help!

          • That Travelista
            July 25, 2021 at 7:17 PM

            Aw yay! Glad to be helpful 🙂

    • Alex
      July 26, 2021 at 2:54 PM

      I am wondering the same thing! I am going to the consulate in Houston and their website gives little information on how to obtain the NIE. Do we need this before we submit our Visa Application or can we get the NIE after we submit the Visa Application?

      • That Travelista
        July 26, 2021 at 7:56 PM

        Hi Alex!

        As I told Danielle, the NIE is a number you don’t have yet, unless you have lived in Spain before (for longer than a 3mo tourist visa while studying abroad). You’ll get your NIE number either on your visa when you get it back, or if that line is left blank (as mine was on my visa from last year), I understand we find it out when we get to Spain and start all the other stuff! But I don’t have first hand details on that part yet since I ended up withdrawing last year.

        Hope that helps! 🙂

    • Pattaya
      July 31, 2021 at 10:54 PM


      Thanks so much for your help:)
      I just accepted my placement yesterday! Finally!
      I’m applying for the visa in LA and have all of my docs ready but how long do you think it will take to receive my carta? Do I need to applying for health insurance separately? Should I continue checking Profex or my email? I appreciate your time and support!

      • That Travelista
        August 1, 2021 at 9:02 PM

        Hi Pattaya! Congrats on finally getting your placement! I’m so surprised you started getting everything else ready without it LOL but clearly it paid off!

        Unfortunately, no one can really tell you when you will get your carta 🙁 The process of getting it seems to vary a bit by region. I think for Andalucia (and I think even Valencia, but don’t quote me on that) you get an email asking you to respond with a scan of your passport first. For Madrid, you will get an email instructing you to create your account in this portal called AuxMadrid, then check two green boxes one you’re in the portal, after which you will need to periodically log into AuxMadrid to see if your carta has been uploaded there. Last year I got my carta in AuxMadrid two days after checking the two boxes, while this year it was ten days after. But I’ve heard some people (from varying regions) still awaiting their cartas over a month after accepting their regional placements. So it really varies a lot! But the part that I think does NOT vary is that it will be communicated via your email, so just make sure to check that regularly. I think you should be done with Profex for now. 🙂

        On the health insurance, we get one through the Auxiliares program. Your carta will specify this as well as your monthly stipend, so you don’t need to prove either of those things to your consulate for the visa application. The carta proves that for you. You should get emails from the health insurance provider closer to the program starting (that was the case for me last year before withdrawing).

        Hope some of that helps! 🙂

  • Anonymous
    July 16, 2021 at 12:38 PM

    Hello, this is a somewhat minor question about the visa application- When it asks for the “applicant’s address in Spain” would I put the address of the school I’m going to be working at? Later it asks for the ‘address of the educational establishment’ so it doesn’t seem to make sense to do that, but I also don’t have an apartment yet, so I have no other address.
    My other question is- Do you know of any good websites for finding roommates in Spain or the best way to go about finding housing? I’m going to be in a fairly small town so I don’t know if that changes anything.
    Thank you so much! Your blog has been SO valuable

    • That Travelista
      July 17, 2021 at 6:26 PM

      Hi! I’m so glad to know this post has been helpful 🙂

      I put the school’s address in both of those slots for my applications, based on instructions from someone else, and I got the visa just fine last year.

      On the roommates, I am actually in that same boat myself at the moment! So I can only share what I so far will be doing.

      There are Facebook groups titled something along the lines of “[insert region/city here] roommate/apartment search,” so I’ve joined that for my own city. Also, there is of course the aux Facebook group for your region, where people do post rooms or roommate searches, especially this time of year. So you could join and write up a friendly little spiel about yourself + share some pics, as well as keep an eye out for others’ posts.

      So far, to me, both those are geared towards fellow auxes or other shorter term foreign visitors. So I also was going to try to see if there were groups called “Habitaciones/Alquilar de Pisos [instead region/city here]” to have the option of living with locals as well.

      Lastly, the apartment search sites also have options for just renting a room, rather than an entire place (you would just select “room” instead of “house/home/etc”), so those would then come with other roommates. You would obviously just have to suss them out upon viewing the listing in that case! I listed Idealista in this post, because that site seems the most common, but I’ve also heard of FotoCasa and PisoCompartido.

      And I know I said lastly already, but if you are having an in person orientation (last year it was virtual), you could try to meet someone there!

      On being in a fairly small town — if you are able and wanting to commute from a larger city, then it probably won’t change things. If you either prefer to live in that town or don’t see from Google Maps how you could commute, I would definitely reach out to your coordinator and ask them what the situation is. You can ask what the other teachers typically do, if the town has options for renting, how to get there from the nearest big city (since Google maps doesn’t have everything), if there are other commuting teachers you can carpool with, etc. The only thing with that is just remember that they likely will not respond until September.

      Hope at least some of that helps! Again, I obviously have not done this yet, and will of course update this post when I do 🙂

      • Anonymous
        July 18, 2021 at 12:02 PM

        Wow!! You have been a million times more helpful than any other website (definitely including the official NALCAP website), thank you so much!! Also, I’ll be in Calp on the southern coast between Valencia/Alicante so if you ever wanted someone to meet up with if you came down I would totally be happy to 🙂 I feel like in a way we are all one big NALCAP family lol

        • That Travelista
          July 18, 2021 at 4:05 PM

          Aw thank you so much for the kind words! Definitely agree that we are all one big family, figuring out this adventure together!

          I just looked up Calp out of curiosity, and it looks stunning! I was actually making a little Spain travel bucket list some weeks ago, and Alicante and Valencia are both on it. Maybe you can use the form on my contact page to share your FB, so that way one of us can request the other without sharing our info publicly? 🙂

  • MH
    July 12, 2021 at 3:05 PM

    Hi I have a question about the visa application. When applying for NALCAP are we technically applying for a ‘temporary work’ visa? I assumed this was true, but I do not have all of the correct information in order to fill out the visa application in this case, i.e. the company’s Spanish tax identification code, etc. Am I missing something?
    Thank you so much!

    • That Travelista
      July 13, 2021 at 10:16 PM

      Hi! No, it is not a work visa. It is a (long term) student visa. So you will apply for a student visa (one for over 180 days) from your consulate. 🙂

      We are technically students receiving a stipend, not workers receiving wages. Even so, make sure to file taxes back home in the US, because the US sees it as income even though Spain does not!

      • Anonymous
        July 14, 2021 at 1:53 PM

        Thank you so much!

  • Nicki
    July 11, 2021 at 1:40 PM

    This timeline has been so helpful throughout this process! Question: I have received my carta and am in the process of applying for my visa (I am hoping to get my background check with the apostille back this week and then send everything) and I notice in this timeline you say to wait until you get the visa back to book a flight. Is this what you recommend? I am afraid prices will be crazy high booking a flight so last minute since I want to arrive early September but might not get my visa until mid to late August at the earliest, so I also am afraid of booking a flight and then possibly not having my visa in time. I welcome any thoughts you have!

    • That Travelista
      July 11, 2021 at 10:46 PM

      Hi Nicki! Glad to know this has been helpful 🙂

      The consulates and the Ministry of Education all recommend not to book your flight until you have the visa in hand. I presume this is because “you never know,” and your visa could technically always be denied. So that’s a major reason why I have it like that in this guide. But, the real answer is that it’s totally up to you and your own risk tolerance!

      I’m actually in a similar situation as you and was flirting with the idea of doing that myself! The only reason I even considered it is because we are in a unique situation this year, in that most US airlines are still being very flexible with a one-time change/cancelation fee waiver.

      Because now, if your visa doesn’t arrive before your flight, you could cancel the flight and receive a credit for the price you paid. Then, this time, you would wait until having your visa in hand to rebook your flight (because you can only have it waived once). You would pay any fare difference for the new flight, plus use the previous credit, totaling to the same price you would have paid had you just waited to book until now. So you get the chance at saving money booking early, but don’t really take on much risk if your visa is delayed. But I would make sure to read the specific airline’s cancellation/change policy veryyyyyy thoroughly and make sure it clearly says you will get a credit with no fee and no questions asked, specific to your departure and arrival destinations (and take screenshots lol), if you want to do this. Also make sure to note the minimum amount of time before your flight’s departure date/time that you must cancel.

      Of course the other risk is your visa is denied and then you have to use to ticket for something else lol! But we like positive thoughts here 🙂

      So, again, it’s up to your own risk tolerance, but the above scenario is how I was debating the idea in my own head. I’ll probably personally just wait to have my visa, because I get anxious over things like this, but I hope my thought process helps you decide!

      • Nicki
        July 12, 2021 at 6:31 AM

        This is so helpful, thank you so much for this thoughtful reply! I am currently thinking I am going to book a flight that allows free changes so then that way I can maybe save the money but I’ll be okay if I have to push it back because of visa things, but I am going to wait until I send everything this week to do that. It’s all so stressful but soooo exciting!!

        • That Travelista
          July 12, 2021 at 7:51 PM

          Totally agree — very stressful and VERY exciting! Glad to be of any help 🙂

  • Anonymous
    July 7, 2021 at 11:47 AM


    • That Travelista
      July 11, 2021 at 10:23 PM

      So glad it was helpful! 🙂

  • Sara
    June 1, 2021 at 9:40 AM

    Hi Em, this guide is INCREDIBLE!!! I just got admitted to the program and I’m attempting to figure out my next steps (whoever made their site should be jailed….) and your guide is just -chefs kiss-! Seriously, this is saving my ass. I’ve been reading your blog and I resonate with you- the 9-5 grind just isn’t what I thought it would be, so to say I’m excited (and nervous) for this adventure would be an understatement. I hope you get to go this year!

    Also, are you a fellow Bear?! 🙂

    • That Travelista
      June 7, 2021 at 2:43 PM

      Aw, yay! So glad to read that this guide is useful!! And yes, I am a fellow Bear!

      Congrats on officially getting admitted! I officially got accepted into a region a few weeks ago, so I’m pretty sure I’m (finally) going. 🙂 Fingers crossed on my school placement lol!

      It feels like a lot of people doing the program are straight out of college and were just always into a less conventional path, like teaching abroad. So it’s nice to (virtually) meet someone who’s doing it after first trying the 9-5 life. If you’re interested, I’d love to connect on FB and maybe even meet up if we’re ever in the same region! (If you are, maybe you can use my contact page form so one of us can request the other without sharing our info publicly, and if not, no problem at all 🙂 )

  • Maria
    May 1, 2021 at 5:16 AM

    This is great and very informative, thank you!! I applied in late March so I’m still waiting and checking every single day hahah 😅
    Also, I’m not sure if it was an old rule but I emailed NALCAP before submitting my application and asked about getting a new passport and they said that I can just let them know my new passport number so now you can change your passport, you just have to let them know your new passport number!

    • That Travelista
      May 3, 2021 at 10:42 PM

      Yes, this is true! It’s definitely fine to change passports mid process – thanks for adding that info 🙂

      And I applied on the very first day and am also still waiting and checking every day lol!

  • Kathleen M
    February 23, 2021 at 8:12 PM


    Thanks for this informative article! Do you know where I can find the checklist that we have to upload to the “documentos anexos” section? I can’t find it anywhere.

    Thank you so much!


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