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Old 5th October 2006, 12:38 PM   #1
Ben
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Default Americans working in Spain.

A: The happy-go-lucky no-work-Visa way:

Here are a few tips I picked up from a recent chat with an American girl who has been working out here for over two years with no EU citizenship and no problems whatsoever. (Of course these rules apply to all non-EU citizens.) Please don't hold me responsible if any of the following changes with time! (With your help we can keep this info up-to-date).

One: You can work!
If you turn up in Spain without a work visa, you will find work, mostly English teaching, bar work and maybe tour guiding. Employers in these fields are prepared to pay non-EU nationals - in cash. But don’t worry, you can open a bank account in Spain with no trouble at all.

Bigger cities will have more work opportunities, so if in doubt start with Barcelona or Madrid.

Two: The return ticket.
Arriving at a Spanish airport from the US with no return ticket is likely to be an expensive mistake. You will probably be forced to buy one there and then, in the airport, at a hugely increased price. You may be able to get a refund afterwards though, so it might not be the end of the world.

Three: The 90 day rule.
In theory your entry visa is good for 90 days, but don’t worry, if you spend longer in Spain you will not be thrown into jail or banned from coming back when you try to leave. Just have an excuse handy (”My Spanish studies lasted longer than I had anticipated…”, for example…)

Four: Spending.
Don’t turn up with travelers cheques, they are a pain to convert into cash. Just your regular cashpoint card is fine. Match the symbols on the back with those on Spanish cashpoints if you get confused! (Is ‘cashpoint’ only British English? ATM’s then…) And be prepared to spend. The dollar is better than it was but many a traveler arrives in Spain expecting the cheap country it once was. Times have changed…

---------

Any further info on American citizens working in Spain with or without a visa, comments, suggestions, criticisms or refutations, are welcome below:

Last edited by Ben; 5th October 2006 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 5th October 2006, 11:09 PM   #2
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How old is too old to work in Spain? In Central and South America you are considered too old to work at 35.
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Old 5th October 2006, 11:35 PM   #3
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I would say that here the answer would be the same for the UK or the states.
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Old 6th October 2006, 01:47 AM   #4
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You're making it far too easy for me to "miss my flight" back home when I visit Spain!

(PS I do think "cashpoint" is a British term. Thanks for clarifying that it's an ATM, though--I got worried for a split-second because I didn't have one of these things!)

Last edited by Cynthia; 6th October 2006 at 01:51 AM.
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Old 4th January 2007, 07:14 PM   #5
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I visited Spain for a couple of weeks last year and absolutely fell in love with it. Since then I've been trying to find ways to get back to Spain- and stay. For a while I was quite discouraged when reading about the ability of North Americans to be employed in Spain, but this forum has definitely reinvigorated my desire to return to Spain. Thanks for the advice!
PS- The podcast is amazing, Ben & Marina- keep it up!
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Old 5th January 2007, 07:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
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How old is too old to work in Spain? In Central and South America you are considered too old to work at 35.


But too young to apply for a pension!
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Old 5th January 2007, 08:03 AM   #7
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Ten years ago I was turned down for a job in Europe as I was too old at 46. They never hired above 35 I was told. But they also needed 12 years experience and the ability to speak French!!! Within a week though, I had got my present job here in Saudi and found I was working for a company part-owned by the company that had turned me down. Suddenly we had a lot of young engineers sent to us for training. There's a moral there somewhere.
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Old 11th January 2007, 11:23 PM   #8
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I noticed in your initial post that you advised to be prepared to spend. While I know that the cost of living in Madrid can be relatively high, I was wondering exactly what numbers you could come up with for someone who was thinking about traveling to and staying in Madrid. Does a job search last very long (for someone wanting to teach English) and is it very expensive?
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Old 12th January 2007, 09:22 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Viajero26 View Post
Does a job search last very long (for someone wanting to teach English) and is it very expensive?
Hi, Viajero,

I can't speak about the cost of living in Spain, now as I lived there a little over 3 years ago. However, I did work for 2 years as a "all cash" English teacher.

Regarding the job search, simply finding a job in Madrid was fairly easy. The best places to look for job listings are the Spanish newspapers and a pretty popular English language magazine, In Madrid. http://in-madrid.com/class.html It's also an okay resource for finding rentals, flatmates, etc. You can also just look up language academies in the phone book and give them a call to see if they're hiring. In my experience there's fairly high turnover, particularly among the academies that hire Americans. There are a number of schools (some of the best, in fact) that won't hire you without papers. But there also PLENTY that have no problem hiring Americans (or Canadiens, Australians, etc) and some even prefer to.

One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of academies don't have their normal arsenal of teachers and classes during the summer. A lot of students choose to take that time off. If you are hoping to work in the summer, a good option is to find a job at an English summer camp. There seem to be a lot of those, although I never did it myself.

I would say you should put together a resume, include your picture, and, once you get there, start calling around. Good luck!!
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Old 22nd January 2007, 10:19 AM   #10
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Hello, I'm new to this site and I simply love it all, the podcasts and the forums. Great Work!!!

I had a quick question about teaching english. I plan to move to Spain in March and will need some income fairly soon after I arrive. My question: is it worth the investment of time and money to take a course to get your TESOL certificate, or would I be able to find a job right away without any certifications. I've seen some websites that offer the course and help find you a job after completing the course. Any tips or experiences or information would be greatly appreciated!!!!

Thanks,
Matt
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Old 22nd January 2007, 06:48 PM   #11
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i am brand new to the forum and to the podcasts, but i can't get enough of them! The moment i hear the sweet sound of the madrilenan accent i nearly cried! I spent this past year in madrid studying at Complutense, and as seems to be a popular response, fell absolutely in love with it. They had to force me on the plane to go home.

As i graduate from college this coming may it is of course on my mind to find a way back to spain, even for a brief time (brief being a few years!) i met many people, even some americans, who teach english in madrid and have for years, however... they all somehow have EU passports, this of course was discouraging as i have nothing of the kind.
I have a few questions about what Ben posted... if you enter the country they know if you have bought a one way ticket? and they will make you buy your return ticket on the spot?

if i was to go over and teach english without papers, and i didn't leave the country until a few years later, will they question why i was there for x number of years? the excuse that my studies went on longer seems like it might not hold up in that instance.

is it possible to get working papers through an english school, if they hire you, will they help you get your papers? or do you need them before you even apply?

also, is an international company such as starbucks an option. is it possible, if you work at a starbucks in the states to request a transfer in other countries?

sorry, so many questions! Thank you again!
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Old 22nd January 2007, 08:50 PM   #12
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Hey, Melissinda,

I know how you feel about loving Madrid and wanting to get back there. I lived there for 2 years and have been away for about 3 1/2. My husband (a Madrileño I met while there) and I are moving back over there in April. I CANNOT wait!!! Anyway, here's my insight into being an American working in Spain...

Quote:
Originally Posted by melissinda View Post
i met many people, even some americans, who teach english in madrid and have for years, however... they all somehow have EU passports, this of course was discouraging as i have nothing of the kind.
I have a few questions about what Ben posted... if you enter the country they know if you have bought a one way ticket? and they will make you buy your return ticket on the spot?
I lived in Spain for 2 years and didn't have an EU passport. I left and re-entered Spain from the US probably 5 times and re-entered from elsewhere in Europe another 4 times or so. I was never asked to show a return ticket when entering the country. In all likelihood when you are first entering from the States you'll have a return ticket anyway; it's much cheaper to buy them that way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by melissinda View Post
if i was to go over and teach english without papers, and i didn't leave the country until a few years later, will they question why i was there for x number of years? the excuse that my studies went on longer seems like it might not hold up in that instance.
I was asked once when leaving the country why I had a return ticket to Spain. I fed them the line about roundtrip tickets being cheaper and they were satisfied with that. In my experience the Guardia Civil working the passport booth at the airport took about 3 seconds to glance at the picture and then turned to the next empty page for the stamp.

Quote:
Originally Posted by melissinda View Post
is it possible to get working papers through an english school, if they hire you, will they help you get your papers? or do you need them before you even apply?
I worked for 3 different academies and none were willing to help with papers. I've heard that occasionally they will but I think it's mostly for teachers they've employed for years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by melissinda View Post
also, is an international company such as starbucks an option. is it possible, if you work at a starbucks in the states to request a transfer in other countries?
While there I taught English to an executive at Shell Oil. Being a civil engineer and an American, I thought it possible they'd have a position for me. My student asked around but was told that hiring undocumented Americans is low on the list. They must first offer the job to Spanish citizens and residents, then to EU citizens, and then to outside foreigners. That's not to say that a company wouldn't transfer you, but I don't see it being overly likely.

Hope this helps and good luck!!!
Amy
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Old 23rd January 2007, 05:30 AM   #13
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Amy,
thank you so much for all that information! It helped a great deal! It is always nice to know that it IS possible, as difficult and frustrating as the process may be, it is a possibility. One which i must pursue asap! thank you again!

melissa
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Old 30th January 2007, 03:05 PM   #14
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What happens to people who are over 35?
Are they forced to wear black and sit in parks feeding the pigeons.
We must be working somewhere.
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Old 9th February 2007, 02:59 AM   #15
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How old is too old to work in Spain? In Central and South America you are considered too old to work at 35.
So what does one do with the other 35 to 45 years of their life, in those areas?
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Old 2nd March 2007, 10:40 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by melissinda View Post
is it possible to get working papers through an english school, if they hire you, will they help you get your papers? or do you need them before you even apply?
My experience is from many years ago but I am quite sure the regulations have not changed much. You need to have an offer letter from your employer before you can even apply. Once you get the offer letter, you need to have get a medical exam, a local police clearance, fill out some forms and go to the Spanish consulate to apply for an entrance visa. That will take a few months at least. Once it is approved, they will notify you at an American address since you are not supposed to be working in Spain yet.

Once you get the visa, which is a sticker in your passport, you can then go to Spain, to apply for the working permit. You have 30 days to do it. The working permit will take another few months. Whether you can work in the meantime is in the grey area. I was told even I didn't have a working permit yet, I could start working. But then you have to sort out how your employer pays you until you get the proper documentation.

Conclusion, it takes a long time to get the working permit, and the application starts with the Spanish Consulate before you come. If you want to do everything legally, find an employer early.

In any case, I was told that the Spanish government keeps an eye closed when it comes to people holding an American passports. Don't quote me on that.

Someone (sorry I forgot the name) has already posted that you will not normally be asked to show your return ticket when you enter the country. I never had to do it in any country as a matter of fact.

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Old 7th March 2007, 10:21 PM   #17
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Hola all!

Seriously thinking of moving to Spain, I'm concerned about job opportunities for English teachers who are not native speakers of this language (like myself ). Obviously, we can hardly compete with you guys, but do we stand a chance?
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Old 8th March 2007, 12:21 AM   #18
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Hola all!

Seriously thinking of moving to Spain, I'm concerned about job opportunities for English teachers who are not native speakers of this language (like myself ). Obviously, we can hardly compete with you guys, but do we stand a chance?
TEFL certification will definitely help. that's your calling card and proof of not only linguistic, but teaching qualifications. sometimes non-native speakers make better teachers, having already learned the language themselves. and judging from your three lines, you have no issues with english
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Old 8th March 2007, 12:02 PM   #19
Damian Corrigan
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you will find work ... maybe tour guiding


I'd be careful with this - tour guides need to be officially certified (and you'll need to be legal to get this). If you try working this way, you'll be breaking the law in two ways. Especially in Madrid, police/trading standards officers grab people who look like they are giving guided tours and ask to see your ID. If you are working illegally, you ought to keep your head down a little, so running guided tours is a dangerous thing to do.

I've also heard that bars are clamping down on illegal works - again, they're quite visual. Teaching is easier, but even then, I've found schools have rejected US teachers for academy work, because, again, they're easily caught - they prefer to send them to business classes, because no one is going to be checking 8am classes! But Madrid and Barcelona are packed with US citizens teaching illegally, so don't worry, you'll find work - I'd say only a third would turn you down. But a TEFL qualification will aid you more than a legal citizen - they're more likely to stick their neck out and hire you if they at least know you're qualified - taking an illegal AND unqualified/inexperienced teacher is a little risky and the school would need to be quite desperate to do so - thankfully, many schools ARE desperate!

Damian

Last edited by Damian Corrigan; 8th March 2007 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 9th April 2007, 05:32 PM   #20
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is there a reason that nobody has mentioned other jobs such as Cafés, or cervercerías, etc? are those type of jobs untouchable?
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