A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Camino Forum Store

Advertisement

Need Your Prayers !!

Tanoli

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
July 6 2018
#1
Hello everyone,
I just wanted to share my story, so far and see what advice, feedback and prayers i get in return that might help us.
So I live in NY. Last year, me and my wife decided we want to walk the camino frances. the long planning began..with all the excitement and new gear and preparations and research. We bought tickets for july 3rd last month. My wife is a US citizen so she does not need a visa, I am not so I had to apply at the Spanish Consulate. Thats when things started getting really interesting.
Apparently, spanish consulate does not handle visa applications themselves, they outsource it to some outsourcing firm who handles it for them. you are directed to that company's website when you try to apply for a visa online. So I did. I looked up everything they needed and tried my best to collect all the necessary documentation.

Except...one of the requirements are to show that you have hotel bookings for the whole duration of your intended stay in Spain. We had purchased return tickets for a 40 days duration. we figured we could walk 35 days, a day or two for landing and traveling to and from our starting points and ending points to airport and a day or two to see bit of france or spain. We only made hotel reservations for the first 2 nights, one in france after we land and one in SJPP before we start the walk. We naively thought, oh sure...staff at spanish consulate will understand Pilgrims do not make every single day's reservation in advance. They walk and stay in whichever Church or alburgue at the end of the day. Surely they will understand. But that would not be the case.

My visa application has been denied. There is no clear reason for denial. Something along the lines of "
the information submitted regarding the justification for the purpose and reason for the intended stay was not reliable.

We are devastated to say the least. But we have not lost hope. We are still trying to see if we can remedy the situation. I am asking around to see if I may have a long lost relative or friend in spain who could send me an invitation letter which would resolve the issue.

If nothing works, we will just have to wait until next year when I will officially become a US citizen and will be able to walk the camino without having to go through this process again.

It is just so disappointing. Human borders and laws and rules and regulations. You think if you are doing something like this, surely there will be a way to do it. Surely there will not be any laws against it. I mean, how could they not know? What am I doing wrong here?

I just needed to rant and get it off my chest and I found it best to share it with my fellow pilgrims. Hope to see you on the road some day soon I hope. :)

Buen Camino
 

Advertisment

JulieandPeter

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (April/May 2015)
Frances (May/June 2017)
Planning Le Puy to SJPDP (August/September 2018)
#3
Why don't you just make the reservations via Booking.com and then cancel them as you go thus meeting the criteria required? You do not have to pay in advance, and you might just be happy to have a reservation. And I agree, human borders are disappointing and frustrating and unnecessary. Best of luck to you!
 

lissie45

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#4
Absolutely - just make fully-refundable hotel bookings - you'll hardly be the first person to take this approach to visa applications. I've done it with flight tickets too for countries that want to see a flight out of the country even though I'll leave by other means.
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#5
I am sorry that this has become such an issue for you. My first thought is to seek formal sources for Camino resources for advice. In that vein, I would try and contact American Pilgrims on Camino (APOC) and see if they have any insight from past experiences of the membership with this type of situation.

My next thought is a personal visit for a face to face with the nearest consulate office to present your documents, plans, and intentions for reconsideration.

My third thought is, since you mentioned you are not a US citizen, to contact your country's embassy here in the US, and see if they might provide some help.

My fourth thought is an attorney who might specialize in visa issues who may be able to help smooth things over. It is a last recommendation because there would be fees involved.

Please, keep us advised. My thoughts are with you. :)
 

Advertisment

kirkie

Pilgrim
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) portugues(2013)San Salvador (2017)
#7
Or forget trying to get a Spanish visa. Just apply for a schengen zone visa from another country - France, maybe? - and get in to Europe that way.
A few good ideas, and this lateral one, excellent. Prayers need to be backed up by sensible actions! Hoping to see a happy resolution...
 

Aurigny

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, 2016; Português Central, 2017; Português Interior, 2017; Primitivo, 2018.
#8
I'm afraid the "apply to another country" tactic is unlikely to work. The Schengen countries automatically share information -- that was one of the points of setting it up -- so the French immigration authorities will immediately see that OP has recently been denied a visa to Spain. They are unlikely, therefore, to be persuaded that he has suddenly been overtaken by a desire to spend six weeks on the beach in Cannes. Indeed, such an indication of trying to do an end-run around the system could make matters a good deal worse for him.

I think he is much better advised to invoke the assistance of the consular authorities of the country of which he has citizenship, asking them to take things up directly with the Spanish Consulate in NYC.
 

VNwalking

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2014, 2015)
St Olav/Francés (2016)
Baztanés/Francés (2017)
Ingles (July 2018)
#9
I'm afraid the "apply to another country" tactic is unlikely to work. The Schengen countries automatically share information -- that was one of the points of setting it up -- so the French immigration authorities will immediately see that OP has recently been denied a visa to Spain.
Of course. Sorry for the spurious suggestion. I didn't think of that and have edited the post. This is a much better idea:
I think he is much better advised to invoke the assistance of the consular authorities of the country of which he has citizenship, asking them to take things up directly with the Spanish Consulate in NYC.
 
Last edited:

Tanoli

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
July 6 2018
#10
Why don't you just make the reservations via Booking.com and then cancel them as you go thus meeting the criteria required? You do not have to pay in advance, and you might just be happy to have a reservation. And I agree, human borders are disappointing and frustrating and unnecessary. Best of luck to you!

Absolutely - just make fully-refundable hotel bookings - you'll hardly be the first person to take this approach to visa applications. I've done it with flight tickets too for countries that want to see a flight out of the country even though I'll leave by other means.
The same thought did occur to me last night too as my mind has been in crisis mode. I looked up a few websites and I think it is feasible. I really did not want to think about resorting to these workarounds before, I think, but now I am starting to. Thank you
 
Camino(s) past & future
May2018
#11
Or forget trying to get a Spanish visa. Just apply for a schengen zone visa from another country - France, maybe? - and get in to Europe that way.
This is a bumpy beginning to your Camino, @Tanoli , but may things smooth out soon!
Buen Camino!
Unfortunately if you have a declined application for one country, you are asked on the next application if you’ve been declined previously for any country. And it may be a problem. I think perhaps just wait till you have US citizenship and then you have the freedom plus the peace of mind. A year is not long to wait. Good luck with your decision
 

Tanoli

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
July 6 2018
#12
I am sorry that this has become such an issue for you. My first thought is to seek formal sources for Camino resources for advice. In that vein, I would try and contact American Pilgrims on Camino (APOC) and see if they have any insight from past experiences of the membership with this type of situation.

My next thought is a personal visit for a face to face with the nearest consulate office to present your documents, plans, and intentions for reconsideration.

My third thought is, since you mentioned you are not a US citizen, to contact your country's embassy here in the US, and see if they might provide some help.

My fourth thought is an attorney who might specialize in visa issues who may be able to help smooth things over. It is a last recommendation because there would be fees involved.

Please, keep us advised. My thoughts are with you. :)
I am a member of the APOC and I think it's a very good idea... I will contact them.
I have been sending emails to the Spanish consulate and embassy, I will maybe even make some calls today too. But I have few hopes of getting much help from them directly. The fact that they have outsourced the whole visa application process tells me that they don't really wanna have to deal with applicants, but I will try.

And on note...I should have mentioned in my original post, the company they have outsourced the application process to is not a very cooperative one. First, it was a pain just to get an appointment. They had 3 tiers of appointments. Normal, Premium, and Prime Morning. If you select Normal $70 appointment, NONE of the dates with timeslots available even light up for the foreseeable future. Next, you can try to get a $100 appointment in Premium time slot...whatever that means. They only time you'll see any slots available is if you Select Prime-Morning. And even then the quickest one would be at least 15 days away.
Next, you go in with all the documents they mention you need to successfully apply and suddenly they need more. They need a photo copy of this...a photo copy of that...and they'll charge you $5 for making each copy. I could not believe my ears when they told me they need a photo copy of EVERY SINGLE PAGE of my passport. Every single page ? I asked...Yes Sir. Charged me $60 bucks for making those copies.
Then, after some other hassles and extra fees for resolving them they finally took my application but now the fingerprint machine is not working. I waited for over 3 hours with about 12 other applicants in their dingy little waiting room, not allowed to leave.

Anyway, it is not a company I would want to deal with unless I absolutely have to. They did not even seem familiar with with Camino was. What do you mean you walk and stay in churches...No sir...you need a hotel reservation for all 40 days. And what is an Alburgue anyway ? Haha

And I'm afraid the country I hold the original passport of is one I wouldn't want to deal with either, or expect any meaningful help from. They might just consider it blasphemous that I would want to be a pilgrim for a "different" religion. That's just how it is there.

Thank You so much for your thoughts. I feel really encouraged reading all the answers here and feel very supported. :)

Tanoli
 

Tanoli

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
July 6 2018
#13
Unfortunately if you have a declined application for one country, you are asked on the next application if you’ve been declined previously for any country. And it may be a problem. I think perhaps just wait till you have US citizenship and then you have the freedom plus the peace of mind. A year is not long to wait. Good luck with your decision
I agree. It might just be impossible to just apply to a different country. I will keep trying and trying before I give up. We have invested quite a lot of time and resources into it and I'm really hopeful it will all work out. If not, yes...next year isn't that far.
 
Camino(s) past & future
'
#14
I will keep trying and trying before I give up.
You are not the only person with a nationality that requires a proper visum to visit Spain and/or France to walk a camino although you belong to a tiny minority as most pilgrims don't need a visum at all or benefit from the visa waiver program with its simplified rules (= all you need is an entry stamp in your passport upon arrival in France or Spain).

Follow the advice given here, i.e. contact APOC who can hopefully advise you properly and/or use Booking.com to book a few hotels say in Pamplona, Burgos, Leon, Santiago for several days each to cover 40 days or so. Obviously, make sure to read the small print so that you can cancel without charges - surprisingly easy to do for hotels along the Camino de Santiago on Booking.com in my experience as you usually can cancel free of charge until the day before arrival.

I'm not surprised to read that the company to which the visa applications are outsourced don't know about Camino habits (and don't care). This kind of travel is not foreseen in the regulations, full-stop.

You may also like to read this recent message https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...en-visa-for-south-africans.45423/#post-586527 . In this case, the national (SA) Camino association issues you with a confirmation letter that you are a pilgrim which you need to include in your visa application. It will eliminate the need of pre booked accommodation. Maybe APOC can do the same?

Best of luck and buen camino in July 2018 for you!
 
Last edited:

Tanoli

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
July 6 2018
#15
You are not the only person with a nationality that requires a proper visum to visit Spain and/or France to walk a camino. Follow the advice given here, i.e. contact APOC who can hopefully advise you properly and/or use Booking.com to book a few hotels say in Pamplona, Burgos, Leon, Santiago for several days each to cover 40 days or so. Obviously, make sure to read the small print so that you can cancel without charges - surprisingly easy to do for hotels along the Camino de Santiago on Booking.com in my experience as you usually can cancel free of charge until the day before arrival.

I'm not surprised to read that the company to which the visa applications are outsourced don't know about Camino habits (and don't care). This kind of travel is not foreseen in the regulations, full-stop.

You may also like to read this recent message https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...en-visa-for-south-africans.45423/#post-586527 . In this case, the national (SA) Camino association issues you with a confirmation letter that you are a pilgrim which you need to include in your visa application. It will eliminate the need of pre booked accommodation. Maybe APOC can do the same? BTW, it's the same outsourcing company that you have to deal with in New York - BLS International with headquarters in New Delhi, they are a big global operator :cool:.

Best of luck and buen camino in July 2018 for you!
I had a membership letter from APOC..and I took my pilgrim passport with me...did not help. I did not know APOC issued certificate as well. I am getting in contact with them today. Hopefully something will come of it. And I am seriously starting to look into bookings along the way to cover the whole 40 days if I must. I was secretly hoping it wouldn't come to that.
Thank you
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2017
#16
Hello everyone,
I just wanted to share my story, so far and see what advice, feedback and prayers i get in return that might help us.
So I live in NY. Last year, me and my wife decided we want to walk the camino frances. the long planning began..with all the excitement and new gear and preparations and research. We bought tickets for july 3rd last month. My wife is a US citizen so she does not need a visa, I am not so I had to apply at the Spanish Consulate. Thats when things started getting really interesting.
Apparently, spanish consulate does not handle visa applications themselves, they outsource it to some outsourcing firm who handles it for them. you are directed to that company's website when you try to apply for a visa online. So I did. I looked up everything they needed and tried my best to collect all the necessary documentation.

Except...one of the requirements are to show that you have hotel bookings for the whole duration of your intended stay in Spain. We had purchased return tickets for a 40 days duration. we figured we could walk 35 days, a day or two for landing and traveling to and from our starting points and ending points to airport and a day or two to see bit of france or spain. We only made hotel reservations for the first 2 nights, one in france after we land and one in SJPP before we start the walk. We naively thought, oh sure...staff at spanish consulate will understand Pilgrims do not make every single day's reservation in advance. They walk and stay in whichever Church or alburgue at the end of the day. Surely they will understand. But that would not be the case.

My visa application has been denied. There is no clear reason for denial. Something along the lines of "
the information submitted regarding the justification for the purpose and reason for the intended stay was not reliable.

We are devastated to say the least. But we have not lost hope. We are still trying to see if we can remedy the situation. I am asking around to see if I may have a long lost relative or friend in spain who could send me an invitation letter which would resolve the issue.

If nothing works, we will just have to wait until next year when I will officially become a US citizen and will be able to walk the camino without having to go through this process again.

It is just so disappointing. Human borders and laws and rules and regulations. You think if you are doing something like this, surely there will be a way to do it. Surely there will not be any laws against it. I mean, how could they not know? What am I doing wrong here?

I just needed to rant and get it off my chest and I found it best to share it with my fellow pilgrims. Hope to see you on the road some day soon I hope. :)

Buen Camino

I suggest the easier thing may be to wait a year. I know it is difficult. But it is likely less frustrating than having to deal with the time, effort and expense of the commercialized visa system. Having said that, read my alternative idea below....

Clearly, this firm is working to a standard script. If you do not meet their standard expectation of a fixed duration holiday with set hotels and dates, you do not meet the script guidelines. I suspect the Spanish government provided no room for understanding or interpretation, which is understandable under the circumstances.

Appealing the decision just draws attention to yourself and adds time and expense. As disappointing as it is, waiting until you have your US passport may be the easier option.

There is a second option. If you plan to do the Camino Frances from St. Jean Pied de Port, investigate obtaining a visitor visa from France. This is predicated on entering the EU at Paris.

All countries in the Schengen / EU travel zone honor each other's nonimmigrant visitor visas. So, you would be legitimate / legal to fly into Paris, enter the EU there, take the train to Bayonne and onto SJPdP. This is what many of the pilgrims who start at SJPdP do. It is how I start when I do the Camino Frances.

If you are fortunate, the French issue visas directly. If not, and they refer you to another or the same commercial firm, you will have wasted nothing but some keyboard time.

Hope this helps.
 

Priscilla NC

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spring 2016: Camino Frances, Finisterre and Muxia
#17
If you do the bookings, most sites I've dealt with require cancellation by a certain date -- usually a day or 2 before the date of your reservation. They will charge the full amount if you fail to cancel.

Ask me how I know. Make sure you have the cancellation verifications with you.

May it all work out for you!
 
Camino(s) past & future
'
#18
Advising the OP who is a resident of the USA but not a US national to try to apply for a short term visum from France instead of Spain is actually not such a sound advice. Going strictly by what's on the website the OP has been directed to, it says:

[...] has been appointed as an outsourced partner by the Consulate General of Spain in New York to facilitate short stay visa applications to Spain. [...]
In case the applicant intends to visit various Schengen Countries [= France and Spain in this case] the country responsible to issue the relevant visa for the entire duration of the trip, including for other Schengen countries will be determined in the following order:
  • Main destination.
  • Country related with the main purpose of travel.
  • Country with maximum period of stay.
  • State of first entry.
So one clearly has to apply to Spain if one wants to walk the Camino Frances for example. Remember this is a proper visum application and not just a stamp in the passport in the airport of first arrival. The rules for US passport holders who benefit from the visa waiver program are different from the rules for those who must apply for a visum through the appropriate channels prior to departure.
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
'
#19
the country responsible to issue the relevant visa for the entire duration of the trip, including for other Schengen countries will be determined in the following order:
  • Main destination.
  • Country related with the main purpose of travel.
  • Country with maximum period of stay.
  • State of first entry.
{Muttering to myself} This is such a sloppy way of wording these rules. Here's the relevant law, much clearer, where Member States means countries like France and Spain and uniform visa means short-term Schengen visa for a vacation or pilgrimage visit:
The Member State competent for examining and deciding on an application for a uniform visa shall be:
  • (a) the Member State whose territory constitutes the sole destination of the visit(s);
  • (b) if the visit includes more than one destination, the Member State whose territory constitutes the main destination of the visit(s) in terms of the length or purpose of stay; or
  • (c) if no main destination can be determined, the Member State whose external border the applicant intends to cross in order to enter the territory of the Member States.
:cool:
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
May2018
#20
I see you are South African. I am too. This happened to me a few years ago. An employment agency applied for the incorrect visa for me and I was denied. The embassy I applied to cancelled my passport after I reapplied. Yes, they did!
Fortunately, I was offered a job in Australia. I took the job, stayed away from Europe till I became a citizen, and now I travel anywhere. It’s not worth the effort and frustration. And now, you have a stamp in your passport saying ‘visa denied’. My advice, replan your trip and first get citizenship and a passport. As I’ve said before, a year is not a long time to wait. The Camino will always be there
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2018)
#21
I'm afraid the "apply to another country" tactic is unlikely to work. The Schengen countries automatically share information -- that was one of the points of setting it up --
Does that explain why the passport control person looked so hard at me when I left Santiago airport? There was no record of me having entered Spain, since I flew to France.

I’m British, and hence an EU citizen, at least for another 10months.
 
Camino(s) past & future
'
#22
@Tanoli, do you know yet whether APOC has experience with situations like yours and can they help?

And just out of curiosity:
the information submitted regarding the justification for the purpose and reason for the intended stay was not reliable.
This was on a proper form, with the EU logo at the top, and at the beginning of which is checked who examined the visa application, i.e. either the Spanish Embassy/Consulate-General/Consulate or another authority or The authorities responsible for checks on persons at [...], right? I'm merely curious to know whether it was the Consulate themselves or another representative who rejected the application.
 
Last edited:

Aurigny

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, 2016; Português Central, 2017; Português Interior, 2017; Primitivo, 2018.
#23
Does that explain why the passport control person looked so hard at me when I left Santiago airport? There was no record of me having entered Spain, since I flew to France.
Probably not, RBG. As an EU citizen pro tempore, you've every right to enter Spain any way you please. However, GB is not part of the Schengen zone, so the immigration officer may have had to wait a bit longer for your information to pop up on his or her screen than would have been the case if you had in fact been carrying a French passport.

It also works the other way around. Whenever I pass through a British airport, I always seem to have to wait an especially long time. And if I'm travelling by surface transport (e.g. the Calais-to-Dover ferry), the Home Office people seem to make a point of asking me who I am and what I'm going to be doing in Britain.
 
Camino(s) past & future
'
#24
Does that explain why the passport control person looked so hard at me when I left Santiago airport? There was no record of me having entered Spain, since I flew to France.
No. Border crossings of EU citizens are not recorded in EU wide databases. When border control puts your passport into their reader they are checking whether your are in the SIS database but your are only in there if you are a baddie, for example wanted for extradition or subject of a request by a judicial authority or similar.

That's different for non-EU people who've applied for a visa. Their data are registered in VIS. And I just read that VIS will help in fighting and preventing fraudulent behaviours, such as "visa shopping" (i.e. the practice of making further visa applications to other EU States when a first application has been rejected). So the earlier bad advice (to try France if Spain doesn't work) seems to be even worse than I initially thought.
 
Camino(s) past & future
'
#25
And if I'm travelling by surface transport (e.g. the Calais-to-Dover ferry), the Home Office people seem to make a point of asking me who I am and what I'm going to be doing in Britain.
Oh yes. Doesn't cease to amuse me. During all those years ... And what is the purpose of your visit to the UK, Ma'm? And how long do you intend to stay? Not once was I asked on the return journey about the purpose of my visit to France and the duration of my staying there. :cool:
 
Last edited:

Sunisa

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
in 2019 - 2021
#26
as the schengen visa requirements are pretty strict nowadays because of all the refugee issues happening in Europe i can give you a tip which helped me in the past to get a US Visa (same requirement). I went out and looked on one of the hotel booking sites and simply booked a room WITH FREE CANCELLATION OPTION. So i booked for my whole trip the hotel, have a booking confirmation, went to the embassy to apply for my visa, got accepted and afterwards i cancelled my hotel reservation because i was city hopping. Should try this again
 

Saint Mike II

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#27
Hello everyone,
I just wanted to share my story, so far and see what advice, feedback and prayers i get in return that might help us.
So I live in NY. Last year, me and my wife decided we want to walk the camino frances. the long planning began..with all the excitement and new gear and preparations and research. We bought tickets for july 3rd last month. My wife is a US citizen so she does not need a visa, I am not so I had to apply at the Spanish Consulate. Thats when things started getting really interesting.
Apparently, spanish consulate does not handle visa applications themselves, they outsource it to some outsourcing firm who handles it for them. you are directed to that company's website when you try to apply for a visa online. So I did. I looked up everything they needed and tried my best to collect all the necessary documentation.

Except...one of the requirements are to show that you have hotel bookings for the whole duration of your intended stay in Spain. We had purchased return tickets for a 40 days duration. we figured we could walk 35 days, a day or two for landing and traveling to and from our starting points and ending points to airport and a day or two to see bit of france or spain. We only made hotel reservations for the first 2 nights, one in france after we land and one in SJPP before we start the walk. We naively thought, oh sure...staff at spanish consulate will understand Pilgrims do not make every single day's reservation in advance. They walk and stay in whichever Church or alburgue at the end of the day. Surely they will understand. But that would not be the case.

My visa application has been denied. There is no clear reason for denial. Something along the lines of "
the information submitted regarding the justification for the purpose and reason for the intended stay was not reliable.

We are devastated to say the least. But we have not lost hope. We are still trying to see if we can remedy the situation. I am asking around to see if I may have a long lost relative or friend in spain who could send me an invitation letter which would resolve the issue.

If nothing works, we will just have to wait until next year when I will officially become a US citizen and will be able to walk the camino without having to go through this process again.

It is just so disappointing. Human borders and laws and rules and regulations. You think if you are doing something like this, surely there will be a way to do it. Surely there will not be any laws against it. I mean, how could they not know? What am I doing wrong here?

I just needed to rant and get it off my chest and I found it best to share it with my fellow pilgrims. Hope to see you on the road some day soon I hope. :)

Buen Camino
Hola @Tanoli; yes its very bad luck. Have you considered a new tack. Apply in writing to the Spanish Embassy in Washington (rather than your nearest consulate). Explain the way you have here, stressing (politely) that you have return tickets (maybe say that the return dates are not negotiable). The hotel booking (for say Pamplona! and maybe another place between St Jean and there) via Booking.com is also a good idea. Hope this works, good luck!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
'
#28
looked on one of the hotel booking sites and simply booked a room WITH FREE CANCELLATION OPTION
It's difficult for us to judge as we have no great knowledge about this matter and most of us have next to no experience with applying for a short-term Schengen visa. If I were in this situation, I would do the same. Booking.com lets you print a list of all bookings, with confirmation numbers, dates and all, it's quite convenient.

There is no legal requirement to stick to the hotel bookings made. There is actually not even a legal requirement to have booked accommodation, it's just an easy and preferred method of proof. The "Non-exhaustive list of supporting documents" concerning "Documentation relating to the purpose of the journey and relating to accommodation" merely states that one has to provide "a document from the establishment providing accommodation or any other appropriate document indicating the accommodation envisaged".

I would probably also add some information, like a printout about the Camino de Santiago from the Galician Tourist board with the emphasis on tourism and economic benefits and the number of people walking (around 300,000 per year), or better even, if that is possible within the time frame, actual information leaflets from a national Spanish Tourist board - they have offices in the United States, such as in Los Angeles and New York. A letter similar to the one that the South African association provides for its members would be great but it is perhaps based on some earlier contacts or arrangements between the association and the consulate/organisation for visa application processing.
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
'
#29
As to return flight tickets, one has to provide appropriate information and proof anyway for the visa application, as well as proof of financial means to support oneself during the trip, that's how I read the legislation in force.

I hope that the OP can still go this year. There's no reason for a tourist/pilgrim to be afraid of the administration of a country like Spain. Nor to shy away from the chores of getting this done. Some of the earlier comments to put it off until next year surprised me a little ... when I compare them to the enthusiastic comments about walking the pilgrimage path as such and the encouragement that is usually provided to overcome any hurdles ... and about the pilgrimage that supposedly begins at home. :cool:
 
Last edited:

Tanoli

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
July 6 2018
#30
@Tanoli, do you know yet whether APOC has experience with situations like yours and can they help?

And just out of curiosity:

This was on a proper form, with the EU logo at the top, and at the beginning of which is checked who examined the visa application, i.e. either the Spanish Embassy/Consulate-General/Consulate or another authority or The authorities responsible for checks on persons at [...], right? I'm merely curious to know whether it was the Consulate themselves or another representative who rejected the application.
Hola @Tanoli; yes its very bad luck. Have you considered a new tack. Apply in writing to the Spanish Embassy in Washington (rather than your nearest consulate). Explain the way you have here, stressing (politely) that you have return tickets (maybe say that the return dates are not negotiable). The hotel booking (for say Pamplona! and maybe another place between St Jean and there) via Booking.com is also a good idea. Hope this works, good luck!!
As to return flight tickets, one has to provide appropriate information and proof anyway for the visa application, as well as proof of financial means to support oneself during the trip, that's how I read the legislation in force.

I hope that the OP can still go this year. There's no reason for a tourist/pilgrim to be afraid of the administration of a country like Spain. Nor to shy away from the chores of getting this done. Some of the earlier comments to put it off until next year surprised me a little ... when I compare them to the enthusiastic comments about walking the pilgrimage path as such and the encouragement that is usually provided to overcome any hurdles ... and about the pilgrimage that supposedly begins at home. :cool:
- their reply was on two plain pages with no names, European Union emblem on the top right and in official certified mail along with my passport back.

-I emailed the embassy in Washing D.C and Consulate both, contacted them on their facebook pages as well ( Contacted APOC as well - did not hear back... but

I received a call a few days later from the New York Consulate, and here is what he basically said
there were two things wrong with your application -
1. you only showed us a ONE WAY TICKET ( now this is just horrible. My wife and I booked return flights together/paid for them together, which means that either BLS INTERNATIONAL failed to attach the return ticket print out page to the application OR the Consulate overlooked it. Either way it is just wrong.
2. You ABSOLUTELY MUST show bookings for the whole duration of your stay PILGRIM OR NOT.
I found this very surprising and disappointing. I asked him "but as pilgrims, we do not stay in pre-booked hotels or places... you must know that "
but NO was his answer. There is no exception for pilgrims applying for visa.

This is disappointing on so many levels. This means that people from the European Union and North America who do not need to apply for visa can fly in unobstructed. While everybody else from around the world do something which they should not need to, as Pilgrims, which is, make hotel bookings ( or have a relative there who can send you an invitation letter and promise a place to stay ). I am going to make hotel reservations. As some others have suggested it is easy enough. You just find hotels with free cancellations. I will have to make reservations in 5 or 6 different towns along the Camino, each for 5-7 days. I have another appointment in a few weeks. Hopefully they do not find anything else wrong with my Visa application. I am doubly disappointed in Spanish Consulate. 1 for not having a pathway for Pilgrims and 2 for outsourcing their visa application process to a scam agency like BLS International.
My next appointment is in 2 weeks or so. This is the earliest I could get. This has ruined many other travel plans I had since now I can not leave home and must wait around for my next application submission appointment and caused me a significant financial loss.

For those coming after me who might have to go through this process and deal with BLS international , at least in NY, here are my tips... ( dont go by the information on their website...it is designed to make you lost money on unnecessary things )
1. Make appointment well in advance ( a couple of months in advance at least. they will make it difficult for you - refuse to give you NORMAL HOURS appointment - make you pay EXTRA for premium morning hours, but go ahead and do it, you have no choice.
2. Fill out application, GLUE your photo to the First page ( or pay them to provide them glue :eek: ) application is easy enough, fill it out correctly.
3. Make copies of the following and bring the following documents with you :
-Bring your passport and make copies of every single page ( yes EVERY SINGLE PAGE - or be prepared to pay to have them make copies for you while giving you an earful. Also make sure your passport is valid up to 3 months after your expected stay dates and have a few blank pages still )
-Bring original and copies of Your Driver's Licence, Your Green Card or Permanent Residency Card ( if you have one ), Your Spouse's Driver's Licence as well as your Marriage Certificate ( if you have one )
- Flight reservations - make sure your name is HIGHLIGHTED and that tickets are RETURN and dates HIGHLIGHTED, and see if you can have Departure and Return information on the same page- print out any and all emails the airline sends you when you book your flight.
- as it says on their website
"The ORIGINAL invitation letter from a family member or friend issued by the "Policía Nacional" in Spain"
- or
a detailed hotel reservation for the WHOLE duration of the stay ( starting on the day you land according to your ticket and ending on the day your ticket shows you leaving. List your reason for wanting a visa a TOURISM - ( NOT WALKING THE CAMINO ), if you must list your reason as Walking the Camino, you'll be hard pressed, if asked, to explain how you are going to walk the Camino if all your hotel reservations are in one town. In that case spread out your hotel reservations.
- Proof of financial status :
-Have $100 per Day available for the duration of your stay
- PRINT OUT your last 3 MONTH bank statements AS WELL AS your most current balance in your account (a) if you have a joint account with your SPOUSE - having that marriage certificate and your spouse's ID will come in handy at this point (b) make sure your money isnt spread out over many accounts/different banks. They WILL NOT accept it, which is pretty stupid. Transfer money into one account/one bank, showing enough funds available for the whole trip.

AND/OR
- print out statements from your credit cards with the MOST credit limit and bring the original.
- Travel Medical Insurance with your Name and Insurance Limit HIGHLIGHTED ( print our and bring with you any/all information the insurance company sent you

This is all I am doing, after trial and error. Hopefully this will be enough. I will let you guys know how it went after my appointment and make any changes necessary.
( oh and also, clear out any other appointments/commitments you might have the day of your appointment. be ready to wait long hours- their machines and cameras or other stuff necessary to process your application might not be working )

Buen Camino.
Tanoli.
 
Last edited:

kirkie

Pilgrim
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) portugues(2013)San Salvador (2017)
#31
- their reply was on two plain pages with no names, European Union emblem on the top right and in official certified mail along with my passport back.

-I emailed the embassy in Washing D.C and Consulate both, contacted them on their facebook pages as well ( Contacted APOC as well - did not hear back... but

I received a call a few days later from the New York Consulate, and here is what he basically said
there were two things wrong with your application -
1. you only showed us a ONE WAY TICKET ( now this is just horrible. My wife and I booked return flights together/paid for them together, which means that either BLS INTERNATIONAL failed to attach the return ticket print out page to the application OR the Consulate overlooked it. Either way it is just wrong.
2. You ABSOLUTELY MUST show bookings for the whole duration of your stay PILGRIM OR NOT.
I found this very surprising and disappointing. I asked him "but as pilgrims, we do not stay in pre-booked hotels or places... you must know that "
but NO was his answer. There is no exception for pilgrims applying for visa.

This is disappointing on so many levels. This means that people from the European Union and North America who do not need to apply for visa can fly in unobstructed. While everybody else from around the world do something which they should not need to, as Pilgrims, which is, make hotel bookings ( or have a relative there who can send you an invitation letter and promise a place to stay ). I am going to make hotel reservations. As some others have suggested it is easy enough. You just find hotels with free cancellations. I will have to make reservations in 5 or 6 different towns along the Camino, each for 5-7 days. I have another appointment in a few weeks. Hopefully they do not find anything else wrong with my Visa application. I am doubly disappointed in Spanish Consulate. 1 for not having a pathway for Pilgrims and 2 for outsourcing their visa application process to a scam agency like BLS International.
My next appointment is in 2 weeks or so. This is the earliest I could get. This has ruined many other travel plans I had since now I can not leave home and must wait around for my next application submission appointment and caused me a significant financial loss.

For those coming after me who might have to go through this process and deal with BLS international , at least in NY, here are my tips... ( dont go by the information on their website...it is designed to make you lost money on unnecessary things )
1. Make appointment well in advance ( a couple of months in advance at least. they will make it difficult for you - refuse to give you NORMAL HOURS appointment - make you pay EXTRA for premium morning hours, but go ahead and do it, you have no choice.
2. Fill out application, GLUE your photo to the First page ( or pay them to provide them glue :eek: ) application is easy enough, fill it out correctly.
3. Make copies of the following and bring the following documents with you :
-Bring your passport and make copies of every single page ( yes EVERY SINGLE PAGE - or be prepared to pay to have them make copies for you while giving you an earful. Also make sure your passport is valid up to 3 months after your expected stay dates and have a few blank pages still )
-Bring original and copies of Your Driver's Licence, Your Green Card or Permanent Residency Card ( if you have one ), Your Spouse's Driver's Licence as well as your Marriage Certificate ( if you have one )
- Flight reservations - make sure your name is HIGHLIGHTED and that tickets are RETURN and dates HIGHLIGHTED, and see if you can have Departure and Return information on the same page- print out any and all emails the airline sends you when you book your flight.
- as it says on their website
"The ORIGINAL invitation letter from a family member or friend issued by the "Policía Nacional" in Spain"
- or
a detailed hotel reservation for the WHOLE duration of the stay ( starting on the day you land according to your ticket and ending on the day your ticket shows you leaving. List your reason for wanting a visa a TOURISM - ( NOT WALKING THE CAMINO ), if you must list your reason as Walking the Camino, you'll be hard pressed, if asked, to explain how you are going to walk the Camino if all your hotel reservations are in one town. In that case spread out your hotel reservations.
- Proof of financial status :
-Have $100 per Day available for the duration of your stay
- PRINT OUT your last 3 MONTH bank statements AS WELL AS your most current balance in your account (a) if you have a joint account with your SPOUSE - having that marriage certificate and your spouse's ID will come in handy at this point (b) make sure your money isnt spread out over many accounts/different banks. They WILL NOT accept it, which is pretty stupid. Transfer money into one account/one bank, showing enough funds available for the whole trip.

AND/OR
- print out statements from your credit cards with the MOST credit limit and bring the original.
- Travel Medical Insurance with your Name and Insurance Limit HIGHLIGHTED ( print our and bring with you any/all information the insurance company sent you

This is all I am doing, after trial and error. Hopefully this will be enough. I will let you guys know how it went after my appointment and make any changes necessary.
( oh and also, clear out any other appointments/commitments you might have the day of your appointment. be ready to wait long hours- their machines and cameras or other stuff necessary to process your application might not be working )

Buen Camino.
Tanoli.
I sure hope you get the visa after all this stress.
 

Saint Mike II

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#32
Hola @Tanoli - I think you will find that you need six (6) months validity on your passport based on the day you will leave Spain. Other than that your comments on the bureaucracy are a warning for others. Best of luck with your further endeavours. Cheers
 

Bala

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (SJPdP-Burgos, 2015)
Camino Frances (Burgos-Sarria, 2018)
Sarria-Santiago (fall 2018)
#33
I'm glad to read you got another appointment, @Tanoli. May it all go smoothly for you this time!

And you have done a great service for others in your situation, by spelling out in detail exactly what they will need to do. Hopefully those who come after you will be spared the disappointments and expenses you have had because of your help.

I hope that soon we'll all be wishing you and your family a Buen Camino as you get ready to board your flight to Spain. All the best to you.
 
Camino(s) past & future
'
#34
Hola @Tanoli - I think you will find that you need six (6) months validity on your passport based on the day you will leave Spain.
The law says: at least three months after the intended date of departure from the territory of the Member States.

Possible confusion here:

As people who enter under the visa waiver program (just a stamp, no visa sticker in the passport) may stay up to 90 days, their passport should be valid for 90 days stay + 3 months = 6 months, counting from the day of departure from home country.

People who need to apply for a visa will get a visa sticker in their passport with the number of days permitted for their stay spelled out. So in this particular case the passport needs to be valid for 40 days stay + 3 months, counting from day of departure from home country.
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
'
#36
there were two things wrong with your application
So the application apparently did reach the Spanish Consulate - I was just curious about it. The long list of documentation required matches the law. You can compare here if interested, it's mainly in the annexes. I think I got the most up to date consolidated version with all amendments incorporated.

I sense your disappointment of being treated like a tourist and not a pilgrim. But apparently Spain did not find it necessary to include special provisions for pilgrims explicitly in the Schengen states' visa law. As the example of South Africa shows, however, there is space for this in these provisions, although only implicitly. As all pilgrims with South African nationality need to apply for a visa, a SA pilgrims association has apparently made appropriate arrangements with the Spanish Consulate there and with the commercial company that processes the visa applications. So SA pilgrims just need a letter from their association and not a list of pre-booked accommodation. But it works only for them.

Best of luck and thank you for providing feedback. It will be helpful for others and we are rooting for you. And buen camino!
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
'
#37
Just a thought, @Tanoli , in case you use Booking.com or similar : you can change a booking instead of cancelling it, for example reduce a booking for 3 nights to a booking for 1 night - obviously while paying attention to the booking conditions about no cancellation fees. People sometimes enjoy a stay in a hotel or casa rural in the larger camino towns instead of an albergue stay. Something to think about, because in this way you may be able to secure a place in a popular hotel/town with sought after accommodation offers.
 

OLDER threads on this topic



Advertisement

Most read today

Most downloaded Resources

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store

Casa Ivar Newsletter

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 7 1.3%
  • February

    Votes: 3 0.6%
  • March

    Votes: 24 4.5%
  • April

    Votes: 84 15.8%
  • May

    Votes: 141 26.5%
  • June

    Votes: 43 8.1%
  • July

    Votes: 12 2.3%
  • August

    Votes: 9 1.7%
  • September

    Votes: 143 26.8%
  • October

    Votes: 58 10.9%
  • November

    Votes: 6 1.1%
  • December

    Votes: 3 0.6%
Top