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Hi,

I want to post this here in the hopes that no one will have to go through the same hell I did this summer.

I am a US citizen and I've been wanting to go to Spain to teach. So this summer I signed up to take a month-long course (120 hours / 20 hrs per week) in Madrid to become TEFL certified. The company also places you into a teacher's position through their schools. My contact with the company, another US citizen, told me I should get my student visa (even though you can be there for 90 days as a 'tourist'). I was told I could get the student visa, then apply for a residency card allowing me to work and reside there legally. She assured me there would be no problem. Wary, I researched the following question exhaustively, "can I apply for a Spanish student visa if my program of study is less than 90 days?" I couldn't find any answers. All the consulate webpage says is that a student visa is not necessary. I found nothing that said it was impossible.

I spent most of my summer and over 600 dollars on documents and airfare to the Spanish Consulate (had to be there in person). I got there and the official said to me, "I can't issue you a student visa with these dates". The reason was that the duration of the program was not long enough. I argued nicely for 10 minutes, tried different angles, and she stayed firm and denied me a visa. She wouldn't even look at my other paperwork.

Has this happened to anyone else?

I spoke to the coordinator of the company on the phone - he took it upon himself to call me from Spain when he found out about this. He said that he will give me a work contract and work with me one on one so I can get a work permit after I'm already in Spain (although he admitted he's not sure if I can get the Visa there). He sounded genuinely sorry and I don't think he would have gone out of his way if it were a scam since he already has my money.

What I want to know is - even if this guy gives me a signed contract and the Spanish government approves it, won't I have to return to the states in order to apply for a work visa? Or, is there a way to get around that after you are already in Spain as a 90 day 'tourist'? I mean, if a consulate in the states has to send the documents to Madrid anyway, couldn't I just apply in Madrid? Also, I will still have some of the paper work (like my criminal report and health status report) which won't expire for a couple months. I assume those may be helpful.

Please help!
 

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Hi,

I want to post this here in the hopes that no one will have to go through the same hell I did this summer.

I am a US citizen and I've been wanting to go to Spain to teach. So this summer I signed up to take a month-long course (120 hours / 20 hrs per week) in Madrid to become TEFL certified. The company also places you into a teacher's position through their schools. My contact with the company, another US citizen, told me I should get my student visa (even though you can be there for 90 days as a 'tourist'). I was told I could get the student visa, then apply for a residency card allowing me to work and reside there legally. She assured me there would be no problem. Wary, I researched the following question exhaustively, "can I apply for a Spanish student visa if my program of study is less than 90 days?" I couldn't find any answers. All the consulate webpage says is that a student visa is not necessary. I found nothing that said it was impossible.

I spent most of my summer and over 600 dollars on documents and airfare to the Spanish Consulate (had to be there in person). I got there and the official said to me, "I can't issue you a student visa with these dates". The reason was that the duration of the program was not long enough. I argued nicely for 10 minutes, tried different angles, and she stayed firm and denied me a visa. She wouldn't even look at my other paperwork.

Has this happened to anyone else?

I spoke to the coordinator of the company on the phone - he took it upon himself to call me from Spain when he found out about this. He said that he will give me a work contract and work with me one on one so I can get a work permit after I'm already in Spain (although he admitted he's not sure if I can get the Visa there). He sounded genuinely sorry and I don't think he would have gone out of his way if it were a scam since he already has my money.

What I want to know is - even if this guy gives me a signed contract and the Spanish government approves it, won't I have to return to the states in order to apply for a work visa? Or, is there a way to get around that after you are already in Spain as a 90 day 'tourist'? I mean, if a consulate in the states has to send the documents to Madrid anyway, couldn't I just apply in Madrid? Also, I will still have some of the paper work (like my criminal report and health status report) which won't expire for a couple months. I assume those may be helpful.

Please help!
thanks for posting this - we get so many people asking about this kind of thing - doing a TEFL course here & the company getting a resident/work visa for you - sounds like a nightmare for you though :(

my understanding is that yes, even if the company gives you a contract which the govt approves, you can only apply for a work visa from back in the US

my first question would be - why would he offer a contract to anyone who doesn't have a work visa already? It costs a lot of money to apply for work visas & the company has to foot the bill

& my second question would be - why would the visa be approved when there are plenty of already qualified & experienced native English teachers who DON'T need work visas?

it does sound like a scam to me - maybe not exactly a 'scam', since you would probably get the TEFL cert, but we do hear of a lot of non-EU citizens who come over for this kind of thing only to discover that they actually can't get a work visa - but they are allowed to work for limited hours on a student visa & that's what they do - not enough hours to pay the bills though - well, not legally, anyway

as you have discovered, it's not so easy to get a student visa now, either
 

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Usually to get a student visa the course needs to be more or less university level. Also I can't imagine why they'd give a student visa for one month. A tourist can take a class for the month. The only advantage would be the work hours. Now that alone would make the visa office suspicious.

There are no visa offices in the country. You can't be in the country without a visa or other legal reason so there is no need for the office to exist.
 

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Usually to get a student visa the course needs to be more or less university level. Also I can't imagine why they'd give a student visa for one month. A tourist can take a class for the month. The only advantage would be the work hours. Now that alone would make the visa office suspicious.

There are no visa offices in the country. You can't be in the country without a visa or other legal reason so there is no need for the office to exist.
not exactly true....

the extranjerías in Spain do issue resident visas in some circumstances - but not changing from tourist to student, or student to resident/work visa
 

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Hi,

I want to post this here in the hopes that no one will have to go through the same hell I did this summer.

I am a US citizen and I've been wanting to go to Spain to teach. So this summer I signed up to take a month-long course (120 hours / 20 hrs per week) in Madrid to become TEFL certified. The company also places you into a teacher's position through their schools. My contact with the company, another US citizen, told me I should get my student visa (even though you can be there for 90 days as a 'tourist'). I was told I could get the student visa, then apply for a residency card allowing me to work and reside there legally. She assured me there would be no problem. Wary, I researched the following question exhaustively, "can I apply for a Spanish student visa if my program of study is less than 90 days?" I couldn't find any answers. All the consulate webpage says is that a student visa is not necessary. I found nothing that said it was impossible.

I spent most of my summer and over 600 dollars on documents and airfare to the Spanish Consulate (had to be there in person). I got there and the official said to me, "I can't issue you a student visa with these dates". The reason was that the duration of the program was not long enough. I argued nicely for 10 minutes, tried different angles, and she stayed firm and denied me a visa. She wouldn't even look at my other paperwork.

Has this happened to anyone else?

I spoke to the coordinator of the company on the phone - he took it upon himself to call me from Spain when he found out about this. He said that he will give me a work contract and work with me one on one so I can get a work permit after I'm already in Spain (although he admitted he's not sure if I can get the Visa there). He sounded genuinely sorry and I don't think he would have gone out of his way if it were a scam since he already has my money.

What I want to know is - even if this guy gives me a signed contract and the Spanish government approves it, won't I have to return to the states in order to apply for a work visa? Or, is there a way to get around that after you are already in Spain as a 90 day 'tourist'? I mean, if a consulate in the states has to send the documents to Madrid anyway, couldn't I just apply in Madrid? Also, I will still have some of the paper work (like my criminal report and health status report) which won't expire for a couple months. I assume those may be helpful.

Please help!
There are 2 or 3 schools in Madrid, that have been around for a long time that offer these courses and these conditions ( get student visa, do the course, we will find job). My advice has always been that the TEFL qualification you obtain is not a well recognised one and you will not be able to teach in well known organisations like the British Council and IH for example with this qualification. In other words that you wouldn't really be TEFL certified. This from the British Council website. The qualifications that it mentions are the ones to go for if you're serious about teaching...
The most commonly accepted qualifications are the Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) awarded by Cambridge ESOL and the Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Cert. TESOL) awarded by Trinity College London. These certificates are generally seen as a minimum qualification to teach English as a Foreign Language. Distance learning courses can also be a good introduction, but feedback on your teaching practice is essential and most distance courses will not include this, and therefore will not be acceptable to many teaching institutes.Cambridge ESOL have recently launched (2011) an Online CELTA which blends distance learning with teaching practice in a classroom. Visit the Cambridge ESOL website for more information.
The CELTA and the Cert. TESOL can be taken full-time or part-time at centres worldwide. The centres undergo a strict external inspection to guarantee standards both of the course and of assessment, and the courses include a substantial proportion of observed teaching practice on real students.




Apart from that there's the whole student visa thing which I don't really know about, but have my doubt that what these places offer is really "doable" . This kind of thing is changing a lot in Spain today. Spain doesn't give visas to Americans very easily anyway, and nowadays with the economic situation being what it is, I wouldn't be surprised that things get even more difficult.
 

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Sounds a bit odd - remember that Spain has mass unemployment right now, so companies dont need to obtain costly visas or recruit from out of the country - unless you have extraordinary skills????

Jo xxx
 

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not exactly true....

the extranjerías in Spain do issue resident visas in some circumstances - but not changing from tourist to student, or student to resident/work visa
However, I think the idea is that you can work a reduced number of hours on a student visa, can't you? 20 hours a week???
 

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However, I think the idea is that you can work a reduced number of hours on a student visa, can't you? 20 hours a week???
yes, that's my understanding - I think it's 20 hours

but you'd have to get the student visa first - & it seems that the course the OP is talking about isn't a recognised/accredited one as far as the visa bods are concerned
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
thanks for posting this - we get so many people asking about this kind of thing - doing a TEFL course here & the company getting a resident/work visa for you - sounds like a nightmare for you though :(

my understanding is that yes, even if the company gives you a contract which the govt approves, you can only apply for a work visa from back in the US

my first question would be - why would he offer a contract to anyone who doesn't have a work visa already? It costs a lot of money to apply for work visas & the company has to foot the bill

& my second question would be - why would the visa be approved when there are plenty of already qualified & experienced native English teachers who DON'T need work visas?

it does sound like a scam to me - maybe not exactly a 'scam', since you would probably get the TEFL cert, but we do hear of a lot of non-EU citizens who come over for this kind of thing only to discover that they actually can't get a work visa - but they are allowed to work for limited hours on a student visa & that's what they do - not enough hours to pay the bills though - well, not legally, anyway

as you have discovered, it's not so easy to get a student visa now, either
He offered the contract because from what I understand, you can't even apply for a work permit without it. As far as the Visa stuff goes, I don't know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Usually to get a student visa the course needs to be more or less university level. Also I can't imagine why they'd give a student visa for one month. A tourist can take a class for the month. The only advantage would be the work hours. Now that alone would make the visa office suspicious.

There are no visa offices in the country. You can't be in the country without a visa or other legal reason so there is no need for the office to exist.
I appreciate your response but I don't agree. US citizens can be in the Schengen zone for 90 days, so I don't know what you're saying about that. Furthermore, there is a clear reason for an office like that to exist. If there are such things as TEFL courses which place you into work (for which I apparently can't get a student visa), does it make any sense for me to fly all the way back to the United States to apply for my visa once I get my work contract? No. Surely there is somewhere I can go in Madrid. The consulates in the US have to send those documents to Madrid to be authenticated anyway, which is exactly where I'll be for my course.
 

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He offered the contract because from what I understand, you can't even apply for a work permit without it. As far as the Visa stuff goes, I don't know.
The likelihood of you getting a work permit is very, very remote. As a someone with US nationality you can only be given a work permit if you are offered a job that no one else in the EU can do. There are literally thousands of British, Irish and Spanish English teachers here, so it's not really a possibility that you will get a work permit. What schools like this have done in the past is exploit the idea that students can work up to 20 days on a student visa, (I have never been sure that what they are doing is totally above board) but it seems that now there is a problem with getting that very visa.
Good luck.
Be cautious
 

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yes, that's my understanding - I think it's 20 hours

but you'd have to get the student visa first - & it seems that the course the OP is talking about isn't a recognised/accredited one as far as the visa bods are concerned
Yes, it's 20 hours. My sister is in Madrid and she does that. The problem the consulate officials were having had nothing to do with the validity of the program. The program is recognized and accredited. They saw the duration of the program and said it's a no-go. However, nowhere on the consulate web page does it say you can't apply for a student visa for a month-long course. It only says you don't have to.

My concern isn't the student visa at this point. It was denied. I don't expect to get one in Spain either. However, I am guaranteed a contract through the course, so I want to to know how I get my Work Visa when I'm already in Madrid as a 'tourist'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The likelihood of you getting a work permit is very, very remote. As a someone with US nationality you can only be given a work permit if you are offered a job that no one else in the EU can do. There are literally thousands of British, Irish and Spanish English teachers here, so it's not really a possibility that you will get a work permit. What schools like this have done in the past is exploit the idea that students can work up to 20 days on a student visa, (I have never been sure that what they are doing is totally above board) but it seems that now there is a problem with getting that very visa.
Good luck.
Be cautious
I do believe that only a US citizen can teach English with the proper pronunciation and spelling, am I right? For instance, English classes for students specifically preparing to study in the US. Maybe? ;)
 

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Yes, it's 20 hours. My sister is in Madrid and she does that. The problem the consulate officials were having had nothing to do with the validity of the program. The program is recognized and accredited. They saw the duration of the program and said it's a no-go. However, nowhere on the consulate web page does it say you can't apply for a student visa for a month-long course. It only says you don't have to.

My concern isn't the student visa at this point. It was denied. I don't expect to get one in Spain either. However, I am guaranteed a contract through the course, so I want to to know how I get my Work Visa when I'm already in Madrid as a 'tourist'.
My opinion is that you won't get a work visa, but no one on here is an expert...

Here's the info from your own people
http://madrid.usembassy.gov/citizen-services/information-for-travelers/traveling-to-spain.html
 

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I do believe that only a US citizen can teach English with the proper pronunciation and spelling, am I right? For instance, English classes for students specifically preparing to study in the US. Maybe? ;)
The preferred qualities/qualifications for most jobs teaching English in Europe is UK Home Counties pronunciation, accent, spelling and usage.

It sounds that the 'job' you might be offered by this outfit will be far short of what you expect it to be and will probably pay you less than a living wage so that you will be forced to find (possibly illegal) private work. The contract will probably glowingly state that you will be offered a set number of hours at €X (a liveable wage) but there will be a clause in there that will state that the offer of employment, the hours and rate of pay is not guaranteed and will be conditional on such work being available. Of course, that work very rarely is available but since you agreed to the contract (you were happy to actually get a contract so you didn't take it to a legal adviser who would have pointed out all the pitfalls), you are stuck with it and, after all, they have your money so why should they care?

Be very careful when signing multi-page contracts and make a secret mark somewhere on each page so that intermediate pages cannot be replaced with differently worded ones later (it has been done, many times) and insist on a photocopy of the document that you actually sign
 

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I do believe that only a US citizen can teach English with the proper pronunciation and spelling, am I right? For instance, English classes for students specifically preparing to study in the US. Maybe? ;)
I would have said that only an "English" citizen can teach "English" with the proper pronunciation and spelling! A US citizen would teach "American English" better, altho, an English citizen wouldnt need a work visa and would be far cheaper to employ - and of course there are many looking for work in Spain already

Jo xxx
 

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. If there are such things as TEFL courses which place you into work (for which I apparently can't get a student visa), does it make any sense for me to fly all the way back to the United States to apply for my visa once I get my work contract? No. Surely there is somewhere I can go in Madrid. The consulates in the US have to send those documents to Madrid to be authenticated anyway, which is exactly where I'll be for my course.

Two things.

The existence of the course unless it's offered by the Spanish government means nothing.

Second point imagine you are denied. If you're already in Spain what do they do with you? They'd much rather deny you abroad. Also most of your documents are likely US. So need to go back to the same consulate that has already denied you.
 

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I appreciate your response but I don't agree. US citizens can be in the Schengen zone for 90 days, so I don't know what you're saying about that. Furthermore, there is a clear reason for an office like that to exist. If there are such things as TEFL courses which place you into work (for which I apparently can't get a student visa), does it make any sense for me to fly all the way back to the United States to apply for my visa once I get my work contract? No. Surely there is somewhere I can go in Madrid. The consulates in the US have to send those documents to Madrid to be authenticated anyway, which is exactly where I'll be for my course.
It might not make sense, but it is true.
I had a friend who had been in Spain for years. She finally got a job who would sponsor her for a work visa. Although she was already working, she had to make numerous trips back to the US to apply and pick up the work.

Let this be your first lesson into the "fun" of bureaucracy. ;):frusty:
 

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I do believe that only a US citizen can teach English with the proper pronunciation and spelling, am I right? For instance, English classes for students specifically preparing to study in the US. Maybe? ;)
Oh, let's not start this argument. Sure, there are people who do prefer different accents but you will find that the many students will openly tell you your American way of speaking and writing is incorrect. Why? The vast majority of students I have ever seen have studied British English.

The fact of the matter is that it is much, much easier to hire an EU citizen than to hire an American, Canadian, Australian, Kiwi, etc. You might be asking yourself "Well then, elenetxu, what are YOU doing there, smarty?" I'm married to a local and therefore have been granted residency and work permission.

Can you wait for another year? There are a number of programs that will bring you over legally and give you a liveable wage. I highly suggest the Auxiliares de Conversación program. Apply the moment the application comes out (approx. November) to make sure you get a spot. It's first come-first served as long as you're a university junior or graduate and have no police record. CIEE offers placements through the same program, but you have to pay and they give you more orientation. There's also a Catholic school organization in Madrid which places language assistants. If you are interested in learning more, let me know and I can post links for you.

I would be highly wary of a program which "guarantees" you a work visa but has you come over as a tourist. It's pretty easy to change from one visa to another but everyone I know who has: 1. let their visa expire or 2. come on a tourist visa and has wanted to either get a new visa or renew the visa has had to go home. It might not make sense in your mind but, well, buddy, this is the way it is. Don't get mad, don't protest, and especially don't tell the government employee "But this is NOT how it should be done!" Find a solution.

Best of luck. The Cliff's Notes version of this would be: Don't trust the program, it sounds sketchy. I'd apply to a legit program for next school year.
 
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