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 course or programme with an officially recognised institution in Spain. You will then need to get official confirmation from the organisation outlining that you have been accepted on the course or programme, in the form of a certificate or letter of acceptance.
Once you have this, you can contact the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country 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 carry out academic research in Spain for less than three months (90 days), you don’t need a visa for the purpose of study 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 complete guide to Spanish visas and permits.
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 programme lasts between three and six months you may be required to obtain a student visa but if it is stamped ‘180 days total studies’, you won’t be able to get a residence card/ tarjeta de identidad de extranjero (TIE) (Foreigner Identity Card) that will allow 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 to get a student visa (type D) and a student’s residence permit/card 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 you have a confirmed place on a course, you can apply for a study visa at the Spanish consulate or embassy in your home country. You’ll need to apply for your visa between two and three months before you intend travelling to Spain to allow time to process your application.
Exactly what is required may vary from consulate to consulate but in general you’ll need to 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;
- 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 (eg. scholarship details, a Spanish bank showing sufficient funds or 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 are staying in Spain for more than six months to study, 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 merely confirmation that you’re a resident in a particular place in Spain. You can get this from the police station if you present them with your passport, rental contract or utility bill.
The card is valid for a year and you can renew it every year for five years as long as you are continuing with your studies.
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 are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week while you are 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’ll be undertaking an internship as part of your course for which your residence permit was granted, 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 come and 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, but relatives of students can come immediately as long as certain conditions are fulfilled.
You will have to prove that you have enough money to support dependants, provide evidence of the relationship(s) between you, 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 Expatica’s complete guide to Spanish visas and permits.