Applying for your Spanish Student Visa

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The information below has been collected by the Citylife team via intense research in collaboration with Proyecto Océano, one of Madrid’s most known legal associations. Please keep in mind that we are not directly related to any legal or government departments and the information may be subject to change.

[Pincha aquí para la versión española]

Studying abroad is becoming an increasingly popular phenomenon with the youth of today. It is often a recommended experience for personal growth and intellectual enlightenment. With so many young people flocking to different continents to experience life in a different culture, universities around the world are creating programs to make the process easier on their students. While many programs offer assistance for applying for a student visa, we find that everyone could use some extra advice for real life situations. Applying for a student visa is a different process in every country. But always remember that you will need to muster a lot of patience and thorough preparation.

What is a Student Visa & What Does it Allow?

A visa is a permit that is placed inside a person’s passport after successful application. It allows for entry to a certain country as well as permission to reside in that country for a specific amount of time. There are many different types of visas out there that will give the holder a select amount of rights and permissions in their selected country.

The student visa for Spain is arguably the most common option for those looking to move to Spain for a period longer than 3 months. However, it’s important to understand that moving to Spain with a Student Visa means your time in Spain will be limited to a certain set of rights and privileges. For example, Student Visa holders must commit to a minimum amount of hours in a classroom of a legitimate educational institution. Additionally, the Student Visa does not permit holders to get a job in Spain. If a student would like to get a job and earn money during their time abroad they will need to successfully apply for another document known as the Autorización de Trabajar por Estudios.

Another point to keep in mind is that most Student Visas are granted on a year by year basis. Meaning that holders must renew their documents each year if they wish to stay in Spain longer.

What Documents are Required to Apply for a Student Visa?

The first step for applying for your Student Visa is going online and finding the closest Spanish Consulate to you. Once you’ve found your consulate you’ll need to look through the consulate’s website and find the list of requirements needed to be considered as an applicant. Our advice is that you look over this list and assess how much time it will take to collect these items before making your appointment to assure you will have a realistic amount of time to complete everything.

We’ve prepared a list of typical requirements for a visa application to give you an idea of the kind of paperwork you will need to gather. However, please remember every consulate has its own unique requirements and you will always need to double check with them before starting!

  • Original & copy of the acceptance letter from your school in Spain
  • Security background check
  • Updated passport that will NOT expire while you are away
  • Letter from your doctor stating you are able to travel
  • Proof of insurance for the duration of the trip
  • At least 2 passport sized photos
  • Notarised proof of funds to support yourself or notarised proof of a second party supporting you (amount often differs from consulate to consulate)
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Confirmation of flight to Spain (return flight may not be required)

Many of the documents listed above require appointments, processing times and multiple steps. Make sure to start as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary stress.

Making & Attending your Student Visa Appointment

As we mentioned above, each consulate operates differently from the next. This also relates to the process of making your appointment. Some consulates will schedule your appointment by phone, others online and some may not even require that applicants make an appointment at all. Whatever method you use to make your appointment, the most important thing is to make sure you show up early with all the required documents. If you happen to forget even one of those documents you will most likely be turned away and will have to start again from the beginning.

Once your paperwork has been submitted, the consulate will inform you of the next steps.

Unable to Apply for your visa from home?

If the Spanish Consulates around you are not open and you are having trouble with starting your application process, we recommend looking into the online application option. This option can be initiated within the first 60 days of your arrival to Spain and follows almost the exact same list of requirements aside for two very important distinctions:

Those who Can Apply

Those interested in applying for the online student visa must be citizens of a country that is not required to apply for a tourist visa to Spain. In other words, if you would not normally have to apply for a tourist visa (90 day permit in your passport) to visit Spain on vacation, then you are eligible for the new online visa process.

Those who Cannot Apply

Unfortunately, citizens who would normally be required to apply for a 90 day tourist permit are advised to get in touch with the nearest consulate once they are open. Please check with them if you should apply for the usual student visa or for a tourist visa (which might be quicker) and in the latter case initiate the student visa application process upon arrival in Spain (within 60 days).

To find more information on this online visa application process, please continue reading.

After You’ve Submitted your Paperwork

On average it should take between 1-3 months to issue your Student Visa. Most consulates will ask you to pick up your passport/visa once the process is complete. Depending on your consulate you may have to call them regularly to keep up on the progress, or they might contact you once it’s ready.

What to do Once you’ve Arrived in Spain

When you have your student visa, your plane ticket, and your bags packed you can finally come to Spain! With your student visa inside your passport you’ve officially finished the first half of your legalisation process.

Depending on many factors, you will most likely need to complete a second step to ensure you’re officially living in Spain legally. This second step requires applying for yet another document known as the TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjera) or in English the Foreigners Identity Card. This card, in partnership with your visa will authenticate your stay in Spain for the duration that you originally applied for. The card will act as your photo identification during your stay and it will also be the document that you would renew should you decide to extend your stay in Spain.

To determine if you are required to apply for the TIE card once you arrive, please take a look at our comprehensive article about all the documents you need to live, study and work legally in Spain. If you already know if you will need the TIE, you can check out the entire application process here.

Looking for Additional Help & Support?

Free Legal Consultation

If you are encountering any issues with applying for your visa the standard way, or would like to inquire about the alternate online approach, we can connect you with a group of lawyers who specialize in immigration. All you need to do is send an email to info@citylifemadrid.com and we will ensure that you receive a FREE email consultation.

Premium Legal Support Service

If you’re looking professional support throughout the entire legal process, we can happily connect you with MTS Relocation Service, a legal support Service group that specilaizes in helping people move to Spain. This company can assist you beyond just your visa application and will be by your side for all the additional documents you may need to finalize your legal status here in Spain. If you would like to know more about this company and to receive a FREE quote please visit their page here.

Leah has been living in and exploring Madrid since 2013 when she moved to the city for a simple summer abroad. After falling in love with Madrid, she started the Citylife Blog in 2014 with the goal to share everything there is to know about her favourite place on earth! In her spare time you will find Leah at some of Madrid's many museums and cultural exhibitions.

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