Unless you’re from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you’ll need a student visa to come to Spain to study, take part in a student exchange, carry out research or training, or work as an unpaid intern or volunteer for more than three months.
Before you can apply for a study visa, you have to find a program with a recognized institution in Spain. You then must get confirmation that you’re accepted to study there. This can be in the form of a certificate or letter of acceptance.
Once you have this, you can contact the Spanish embassy or consulate and apply for a student visa.
Spanish students visas and permits
Different regulations apply depending on the length of your studies, research or related activities in Spain.
Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens studying in Spain for less than three months (90 days)
If you’re coming to study or do academic research in Spain for less than 90 days, you don’t need a visa unless you come from a country for which a visa is required to enter Spain normally. You can find out if you need an entry visa for Spain in Expatica’s guide to Spanish visas.
Note: You can’t come to Spain on a short-stay tourist visa and then apply for a student visa. You have to return to your home country and apply from there.
Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens studying in Spain for between three and six months
If your study program lasts between three and six months, you may be required to obtain a student visa. If it’s stamped ‘180 days total studies’, you won’t be able to get a residence card (tarjeta de identidad de extranjero or TIE) that allows you to work in Spain.
Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens studying in Spain for more than six months
If you’re studying in Spain for more than six months, then you’ll need a student visa (type D) and a student’s residence permit or Foreigner Identity Card (TIE) within 30 days of your arrival in Spain from your local Foreigner’s Office or police station.
Applying for a Spanish student visa
Once the school confirms your acceptance, you can apply for your study visa at a Spanish consulate or embassy. Apply for your visa between two and three months before traveling to Spain to allow time to process your application.
What is required may vary from consulate to consulate. In general, you must show your passport, as well as the following:
- details of the study, training, or research that you’ll be doing in Spain, including the hours of study per week (20 at least);
- proof that you have medical insurance for Spain;
- a medical certificate confirming that you don’t have any diseases that would require you to be quarantined;
- proof that you have the funds to support you for the duration of your stay in Spain (e.g., scholarship details, a Spanish bank showing sufficient funds, letter from parents/guardians assuming full financial responsibility);
- information about where you’ll be living;
- a criminal record certificate issued in the last five years by the relevant authorities in your home country.
Applying for a Spanish student residence permit/card
If you’re staying in Spain for more than six months, you must apply for a student residence permit within 30 days of entering Spain. You apply for it at your local Foreigners Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or police station.
You’ll need to show the following documents:
- passport or national ID valid for at least six months;
- completed application form (available from the office);
- photocopy of the passport stamp showing your entry into Spain;
- acceptance documentation from the educational institution confirming the course;
- three recent passport photos;
- letter of residency or census registration (empadronamiento), which is confirmation that you live in Spain. You can get this from the police station if you present them with your passport, your Spanish rental contract, or utility bill.
The card is valid for a year. You can renew it every year for five years as long as you’re still studying.
Working in Spain while you’re a student
The Spanish residence permit entitles you to work either part-time or in a temporary position, so long as you’re not using the money you earn to support yourself while you’re in Spain. You can work up to 20 hours a week while studying as long as it doesn’t interfere with your studies.
The company who employs you will need to get a work permit for you from the Foreigner’s Office. Your employment contract cannot exceed the duration of the study visa.
If you’re doing an internship as part of your studies, you don’t need a work permit.
Can family members visit you in Spain?
Your family members (spouse, registered partner, dependent children under 18) can join you while you’re studying in Spain if you have a study visa. Usually, relatives have to wait a year before coming to Spain for family reunification. However, relatives of students can come immediately as long as certain conditions are fulfilled.
You must prove that you have enough money to support dependents, provide evidence of your relationship, and the stay must be for more than six months. They will also have to apply for their Foreigner’s Identity Card (TIE) a month after arriving in Spain.
Family members are not allowed to work or get a work permit while they are in Spain with you.
Your relative will have to apply for a visa/permit. For more information on visas and residence permits, see our guide to Spanish visas.