Spain Student Visa Instructions

When obtaining your student visa for Spain, it is very important that you contact your local Spanish consulate and verify instructions. Each consulate requires different materials for the visa application process.

You can download all this information from our Visa Handbook.

Who needs to obtain a student visa?
  • U.S. citizens studying in Spain on Semester or Academic Year programs that last longer than 90 days are required by Spanish law to obtain a student visa.
  • Winter Term and Summer Term students who are U.S. citizens do not need a visa.
  • Students who are not U.S. citizens should contact the Spanish embassy in their country of residence about visa requirements, no matter how long the program is that they plan to attend.

Academic Year students will need to take additional steps: 

Academic-year students must get a head start on their visa applications. All Spanish consulates now require an background check with Spanish translations and apostilles for students staying in Spain longer than 6 months. Police Criminal Record clearance must be verified by fingerprints. It cannot be older than 3 months from the application date. You must get a police record from the countries you have lived during the past 5 years.

A US Criminal Record must be either from:

a) The Department of Justice of the State where you have lived in the past 5 years. It must be legalized with the Apostille of the Hague Convention from the corresponding Secretary of the State.

b) FBI Records for International purposes issued by the U.S. Department of Justice – Federal Bureau of Investigation and must be legalized with an "Apostille of the Hague" from the U.S. Department of State (in this case the Apostille must be from the Department of State and not from the Secretary of State). 

Learn how to obtain an FBI background check here. These background checks can take over 12 weeks to be processed, so please apply early!

For more information on how to obtain an Apostille please check here.

For documents issued by a state authority, it must be done by the Secretary of State of your State. If the document has been issued by a federal authority you can get the Apostille from the U.S. Department of State.

Where do I obtain my student visa?
  • You must apply for your visa at the Spanish consulate for your jurisdiction. Check the Visa Handbook to see which consulate you should use.
  • Some consulates allow students, who attend a college or university in their jurisdiction, to apply even if the student's permanent address is in a different jurisdiction. However, you should always check with the consulate directly, as policies change and do vary from consulate to consulate.
When should I apply for my student visa?

Once accepted into your Spanish Studies program, you should contact the consulate in your jurisdiction immediately to research the student visa application procedure specific to your consulate. Spanish consulates impose tight time restrictions on the student visa process, so plan ahead!

  • If your consulate requires that you schedule an appointment to apply for your visa, you must do so right away! Aim to have your appointment scheduled no later than 7-10 weeks before the start of your program. Students who wait to schedule their appointments will find that there are none left!
  • If your consulate does not require that you schedule an appointment, you should apply for your visa no later than 7-10 weeks before the start of the program.
  • An FBI background check or state background check may be required for Academic Year students or those staying in Spain for over six months. Please check the visa requirements for your Spanish consulate to see if this background check will be required, and allow ample time for its completion.
How long will it take for my visa to be issued once I apply?
  • Most consulates are slow and backed up with applications. Though processing times vary by consulate, it typically takes 7-10 weeks to issue a visa once your application has been submitted. Always check the consulate's website for the most up-to-date estimations on processing time.
  • Make sure you consider any local or Spanish holidays that will occur around the time you submit your student visa application. Consulates are often closed for both Spanish and U.S. holidays.
  • You need a passport in order to apply for your visa, so make sure you have plenty of time to apply for both, if necessary!
  • The consulate may keep your passport while processing your student visa. Plan accordingly, if you are traveling abroad between the time that you apply for your visa and the time that you depart for Spain.
Do I need to schedule a visa appointment?
  • Some Spanish consulates do not require you to schedule an appointment to apply for your visa. Check the website of the consulate you will visit to determine if you need to schedule an appointment ahead of time.
Which visa application do I fill out?
  • In order to study in Spain for longer than 90 days, you are required to obtain a student visa using the National Visa application.
Where do I obtain a student visa application?
  • There should be a link to print the National Visa application with the Student Visa instructions on your consulate's website. The Student Visa instructions can generally be found under the Consular Services link of your consulate's website.
How do I fill out the student visa application?
  • In your Spanish Studies Abroad General Visa Handbook there is a page entitled "Line-by-Line Instructions for the National Visa Application." You may use this as a guide to fill out the form.
  • Keep in mind that you should ALWAYS follow the instructions given to you by your specific consulate over anything you are told by another person or by Spanish Studies Abroad.
What can I use as “proof of financial means"?
  • The consulate’s requirement for “proof of financial means” may be fulfilled in several ways. One option is to provide an original copy of the Letter to the Visa Officer from Spanish Studies Abroad. The Visa Letter states that you, the student, have paid all your fees.
  • Be sure to check the consulate's website for specific guidelines on how to meet this requirement!
What can I use as “proof of health insurance"?
  • The combination of the Visa Letter from Spanish Studies Abroad and the copy of your program health insurance information (CISI Letter) will suffice as “proof of health insurance.” 
  • Make sure your name and the dates of the program appear on your CISI form. Some consulates will not accept the form without this information.
What items from Spanish Studies Abroad should I take with me to my visa appointment?
  • Copy of Health Insurance Information
  • ORIGINAL copy of your Spanish Studies Abroad Acceptance Letter
  • ORIGINAL copy of Letter to Visa Officer from Spanish Studies Abroad
  • You will need to check the Student Visa instructions on your consulate's website for a specific list of items to take to your appointment.
How is my visa issued to me?
  • Some consulates will mail you your passport with your visa inside, while others require that you go back to the consulate to pick up your passport and visa in person. You will need to check the consulate website for specific instructions.
I am an Academic Year student. Do I need a special visa?
  • No, you need to apply for a student visa using the National Visa Application. If your visa application is accepted by the consulate, you will receive a short-term visa to start your program. Then, during your first semester in Spain, Spanish Studies staff will explain how to go about extending your visa for the full academic year.
  • Keep in mind that students who plan to be in Spain for more than 180 days must fulfill additional requirements, as part of the Student Visa application. Be sure to check your consulate's website for more information.
Why do regulations vary among Spanish consulates?
  • Each Spanish consulate in the United States functions independently and makes its own rules, deadlines, and policies. It’s important that you check the website of the consulate you will visit to keep up-to-date. 
I still have questions! Whom should I contact?
  • Try to find the answers to your questions on the consulate website, but do not hesitate to contact Spanish Studies Abroad by telephone at (413) 256-0011 or by email at info[at]spanishstudies.org with any questions you have. We are happy to help!