The "cita previa": Barcelona's urban myth
For the older generations, moving abroad to work or study was not a very common or accessible reality. However, nowadays it is not only a common practice but also an experience that most employers expect young people to have in order to be considered for any work position. Why is that so? For one, moving abroad is not easy, homesickness and adaptation are very complex things for a young person to go through alone. Both these experiences are heightened by the bureaucratic process to become a legal resident.
In more practical terms, going to the immigration office to get the NIE (identification number for foreigners), registering your address and many other procedures needed to be able to function as a regular citizen. Most of these procedures are required in order to rent a flat or get the simplest things done, like rent the public bicycles spread around the city of Barcelona. For Spanish nationals, these are taken for granted but unfortunately Catalunya is going through a bureaucratic crisis. To enter the immigration office, a cita previa, an appointment, is needed. Most international people in the city learn the words "cita previa" way before they actually learn conversational spanish and that is because it is impossible to get one.
The "cita previa" is the next urban myth. Why? And how? Are the questions that all immigrants are asking themselves right now as there seems to be no solution to even get an appointment, amping up the anxiety of any bureaucratic process, especially because there is no guarantee that the papers will be accepted once you do get an appointment. Coming back to the original question, even mainstream media has covered this topic but always with the assumption that the government or the local entities are at fault.
However, that seems to not be the case. It has come to my attention through multiple expat groups on social media that there are other stakeholders at fault here. Bottom line is lawyers and individuals are buying appointments in one way or another. Most people are buying their appointments as it seems to be the only solution. To avoid dwelling too much into the implications of this last statement, not enough people know about the option of buying them and end up desperate and hopeless. Without wanting to compare, most northern european countries have been through situations like these but they have successfully changed the system before it became a big part of a lot of people's businesses. With one quick google search, one can find multiple websites that not only sell these procedures but also commercialise the whole experience, with Gold and Premium packages available with different features and prices that are fit for all types of international people.
This experience is the one of an European Union student, not one of an immigrant from outside of the EU or one of an unemployed person with no means to afford these procedures. Fortunately, most universities, such as UIC, offer help in these matters, giving a glimpse of hope in times of a big life change, like studying abroad.