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Spanish Visa for American to live in Madrid?

I need help from you American's currently living in Spain. I am American and I live in California. I got approval from work to move to Madrid and live there for 6 months to 1 year. I am a UCLA alum and I want to learn spanish fluently. With my job I can work remotely from anywhere in the world so I do not need a work visa for Spain as I will be working from my apartment in Madrid with the same company here in California.

My question is, what is the quickest way for me to get a "residence visa" or any other Schengen visa to allow me to live in Madrid, Spain for up to 1 year? Can I take all my paperwork and apply in Madrid or do I have to apply here at the Spanish consulate and wait up to 3 months to see if I get approved.

I currently have all my paperwork together for a residence visa in spain but I hear the waiting period can take up to 3 months and I have to provide a rental agreement as well before I can apply for the visa which makes no sense because what if I dont get approved.

Any help from previous experiences would be much appreciated!

Madrid Forum