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Navigating the Immigration Process: From Dream to Reality

Part II of โ€˜How did you guys do this?โ€™ 

Whatever your dream country, theย number one question is how to live there beyond the standard tourist visa or legally permitted length of stay (putting aside any employer-sponsored situations). Many people recommend figuring out the viable visa options, especially for digital nomads, prior to deciding on a country. We did a lot of comparison research on visas, housing, and preschool options in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Spain before deciding to pursue a Spanish residency visa. Of course Spain happened to have more limited visa options for our situation and arguably the most demanding process, but for the reasons mentioned in my last post, thatโ€™s where we wanted to be.

For Americans seeking to relocate to an EU Schengen country (with a max 90-day stay in a 180-day period, across all applicable countries), this can be a challenge. Thus itโ€™s often advisable to consult with an immigration attorney, cross-border financial planner, country-specific tax accountant, and/or country-specific relocation specialist about your situation and options. That being said, we consulted with many and often got conflicting or contradictory advice. These are areas where you need to understand the details and requirements to anticipate and avoid major consequences, whether in immigration, citizenship, taxes, finances, health insurance, etc. 

Although crowdsourcing can be useful for some topics, even as two lawyers ourselves we were glad we hired an immigration attorney (specializing in the particular visa we needed) to navigate a complex, time-consuming process. As one example, numerous documents required certified copies, professional translation, and apostille (a fancy, internationally-recognized notarization). Fortunately our attorney helped to guide through the process step-by-step and in hindsight, I recognize that the process is more about being extremely organized and detail-oriented than anything else. Keeping a shared Google Doc checklist for each task really helped. After 3+ months of gathering and organizing stacks of time-sensitive paperwork and submitting applications, we were approved within a few weeks!ย 

Securing visas made our dream a reality only in the sense that we knew we would be in Spain sometime in summer 2022. But we still had much more to do in selecting a โ€˜best fitโ€™ city, organizing moving/storage details, and figuring out how to plan and time our extended European travel. More in the next post!