I’m in the process of receiving a visa to live and teach in Spain. As with any position I take, I want to help people understand the resources and opportunities available to them to work and travel.
I will go through the first stages of the Auxiliares de Conversación Program and direct you to other sites depending on your travel interests.
What is the program?
The North American Language and Culture Assistants Program is offered through the Spanish government’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. Participants are paired with a school (or possibly two) and aid a teacher in an English classroom. This program can also be utilized by French speakers who want to assist in a French classroom in Spain.
For FAQs about the program, visit here.
Who can apply?
Anyone with a U.S. or Canadian passport with a bachelor’s degree who speaks fluent English or French. English does not need to be your only language. You do not need to be just out of college. You do not need to be single or childless. You do not need to be a certified teacher or have a specific degree. You do not need to speak fluent Spanish (although I strongly recommend a willingness to learn.)
According to the website, you should:
- Be a holder of a U.S. or Canadian passport.
- Hold a minimum of a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science by the end of the academic year preceding the start of the program, be a junior or a senior, or have become a university graduate. Alternatively, you can also be a college student in their last semester of studies by the end of the academic year preceding the start of the program.
- Be in good physical and psychological condition. It will be necessary to submit a complete medical evaluation signed by your doctor when it is time to apply for your visa.
- Have a clean background check.
- Your birthday must be after Oct. 1, 1957.
- Have English or French as your first language.
How do you apply?
Avenues you can take
~Through a third party
If you’re worried about applying with the Spanish government, don’t speak Spanish, need help moving or want to live in a larger city like Madrid, it may be a good option to apply with a third party. I chose not to do this because of cost. However, I have a friend from college who did take this route when she first applied and ended up enjoying it. This is a good option if you’re less focused on learning Spanish or the application and moving process really stresses you out.
~With the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport
You can go straight to the source and apply with the Spanish government. The website is a little confusing, but not unintelligible, and even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can use Google’s translate feature to change the entire page into English or your language of choice.
My application process
Set up your online application on the ministry’s website
- Copy of diploma or degree certificate
- Letter of recommendation
- Letter of intent
- Find out who your point of contact is and save their email address. They will be a great resource later on.
- Use your current passport number as your identification for your Profex account, although it is a good idea to check with your point of contact in case they change the preferred method of identification. I made the mistake of using my driver’s license number as my ID and had some issues with it later on.
- Research your specific consulate’s needs and double check with them before applying for your visa. Always check with your specific consulate. For Texans, we go to Houston. Ignore everyone else who is going on about D.C. or Miami, etc. You only need to worry about what your consulate’s website says.
- Take anything you read from a blog (especially this one) or a past assistant with a grain of salt. Remember, the rules are constantly changing and what is true for one person will not be true for you. Read the updated material on the Spanish Ministry’s site and check with your point of contact and specific consulate multiple times.
- Join the Facebook group and use it as a resource but once again take it with a grain of salt. People tend to get a bit hysterical when things go slowly or they miss a detail. Don’t freak yourself out.
- Relax. It’s a long process but you will get through it and odds are you will be accepted to teach. You will probably not receive your first choice of region but stick with it.
- Don’t give up. Know you are going to be working toward this goal from January (if you apply right when it opens) until you begin training in October. There will be lots of paperwork, appointments, travel arrangements and worrisome emails. You can do it. It’s part of growing up. When you’re finished you will have successfully adulted in another country and language.
Visa application process: I will briefly touch on the visa process, but once again, check with the Ministry and your specific consulate every year you apply. Remember some of this information will be outdated when you apply.
What I needed:
- Medical release from a doctor with a letterhead
- Background check and fingerprinting that was verified at the Apostille in Austin
- Other form of ID such as driver’s license or student ID
- Two passport photos
- Two visa application forms filled out correctly
- A prepaid Priority Mail envelope from the post office with a tracking number
- An appointment with the Houston Consulate to turn in my documents (must be in person)
- Money order or exact cash for $160
- A carta from my specific school welcoming me to the program and giving details about the program
Note: make copies of all things! Also, note this is specifically for people from Texas. Once again check with your consulate.
Waiting for your carta: It’s the most stressful thing, but you will probably get it in time. Just be patient, plan ahead and if still worried, email your point of contact in the region of Spain where you were accepted.
Resources for undocumented travelers
As with most things in our society, travel is not equitable. Who gets to enter a country and who is allowed to stay are topics at the forefront of current debates, often exacerbated by xenophobia and political fear tactics. However, just because you are undocumented does not mean travel opportunities are shut off from you. I haven’t been able to find any information on if undocumented travelers are eligible for this program. However, many universities have resources for undocumented students to travel abroad. Please do your own careful research. I don’t want anyone to be unsafe. However, despite your status, there are ways to travel and study abroad. I want to note many groups who help undocumented students are cautioning DACA recipients to not travel at this time due to the precarious nature of our current government in regard to immigration. However, this does not mean the ability to study and work abroad will always be shut off. Our society is failing our undocumented students, so we must work to make movement and travel equitable for all. To learn more about DACA and helping students, visit here.
To be explored:
In subsequent posts I will highlight receiving my visa, finding flights, what to pack, setting up a bank account and procuring an apartment. I will also write a specific post about how to visit me on a budget for anyone who wants to see Spain.
Nos vemos, see y’all soon ❤