One of the most popular countries for students who follow an Erasmus exchange programme, but also for those who pursue a full-time degree, Spain has a long tradition of academic excellence.
If you decided to study abroad in Spain and come from an EU/EEA country, good news! You won’t need a Spanish student visa. If you are NOT an EU/EEA citizen, follow the next steps and prepare to apply for your student visa:
1. Apply to a Spanish university and get your acceptance letter
If you’re still not sure where you want to study in Spain, you will have to decide before you can start your student visa application process. After being accepted at a Spanish university, you’ll get an acceptance letter required for the visa application.
Consider some of the best universities in Spain:
- EU Business School
- University of Deusto
- Istituto Europeo Di Design (IED)
- TBS Business School
- Pompeu Fabra University
- Universidad de Jaén
2. Find out what type of student visa you need to study in Spain
Keep in mind that students from some countries can stay in Spain for less than 90 days without a visa, even if they are not EU/EEA citizens. To find you if this applies to you or if you actually need a student visa, contact the closest Spanish embassy in your country.
The types of student visas in Spain depend on the duration of your studies:
- short-term student visa – if you plan to study in Spain between three and six months. This type of visa cannot be extended. Students who take short-courses or language courses usually apply for the short-term student visa.
- long-term student visa – if you plan to study in Spain for more than six months. You also need to apply for a residence permit within a month after your arrival.
The long-term student visa allows you to obtain the Spanish Resident Card (TIE), which is required for most non-EU/EEA students. The TIE is a temporary permit that lets you stay in the country for the period of your studies. The TIE is valid for a maximum of one academic year and can be renewed annually until you finish your studies.
Keep in mind that you cannot apply for a student visa when you are already in Spain. You can only apply in your home country, before your departure.
Once arrived in Spain, you cannot change the type of your visa. The only valid visa is the one obtained from the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in your area.
3. When and where to apply for the student visa in Spain?
- After you got accepted to a Spanish university, contact the Spanish embassy/consulate in your area and check out the list of documents that you need for the visa application. The required documents may vary depending on each consulate or regulations from your home country.
- Some consulates require you to schedule an appointment, while in other consulates, this is not necessary and you just have to leave the documents.
- It is recommended you schedule or reach the consulate to leave required documents as soon as possible. The processing of your visa application can take anywhere between a few weeks and up to 3 months. Always check the consulate's website for the most up-to-date estimations on processing time.
4. Language requirements for studying in Spain
Proof of Spanish language proficiency is not a mandatory requisite for international students in order to be admitted to a university. However, most universities offer Spanish-taught degree programmes that require applicants to have a very good command of the Spanish language.
The main Spanish test accepted is the DELE test (Diploma de Español Como Lengua Extranjera).
If you decide to pursue an English-taught programme in Spain, unless you come from an English-speaking country, you will also have to deliver evidence of a good command of English. Accepted tests are:
5. Documents required for a student visa in Spain
- Completed visa application form
- Passport valid for the intended period of your stay in Spain
- 2 recent passport-size photos
- Letter of acceptance from a Spanish university
- Information about the study programme (extended details regarding your chosen degree within the university, such as the hours of study per week)
- Health insurance – a minimum coverage equal to 30,000 EUR during the whole period of your studies
- Proof of financial means during your stay (at least 900 EUR/month)
- Medical certificate
- Visa application fee (60 EUR)
- Criminal record certificate (issued in the last five years by the relevant authorities in your home country)
6. Apply for a work permit in Spain
As an international student in Spain, you are allowed to work under the following conditions:
- During a part-time job, working hours should not overlap school hours.
- If you consider a full-time job, you are allowed to work only up to three months and again, not interfering with the academic year; simply put, you can only work on a full-time basis during holidays.
For each option you choose, you will need a work permit that will be valid for the whole duration of your work contract but it cannot be longer than the duration of the student residence permit.
In the case of an internship, whether at a public or private institution, as long as it is related to your field of study and it is part of a collaboration agreement between the university you’re enrolled in and that institution, you won’t need a work permit.
7. Conditions to apply for a residence permit
Regardless of your nationality, if you intend to stay in Spain for more than 3 months, you will have to register with the local authorities within one month of your arrival in Spain and get:
- a Spanish Resident Number (NIE) if you come from the EU/EEA
- a Spanish Resident Card (TIE) if you do NOT come from the EU/EEA
For this procedure, you have to reach the local Police Department in Spain (Policia Nacional).