Student Visas for Spain

One-year student visas may be extended. Six-month student visas may not.

Posted by Dreamer

Information about student visas in Spain: the different types, the requirements, and how to obtain one. Also, the rules about working on a student visa.

In order to study in Spain for more than three months, all non-European Union citizens first need to apply for a student visa. The visa you apply for should match the length of your study program. You might be happy to know that a student visa also grants a limited right to work in Spain.

You should note that if you plan to travel in Spain after your studies have finished, you must do so before the time on your student visa runs out!

Student Visas for Up to 90 Days
Student Visas for Up to 180 Days
Student Visas for More Than 180 Days
Working on a Student Visa

Student Visas in Spain for Up to 90 Days

You don’t need to apply for a visa at all if:

  • Your program of study and your stay in Spain will total less than 90 days.
  • You aren’t normally required to apply for a Schengen visa for a brief tourist stay in Spain.

Student Visas in Spain for Up to 180 Days

Plan to apply for your student visa between two and four months before the start date of your study program. You need to do this in person at the Spanish embassy or consulate nearest to where you live.

You should note that this type of student visa, unlike the student visa for more than 180 days, cannot be renewed (renovado) or extended (prorrogado) and you are required to leave the country before your visa expires.

Once at the Spanish embassy or consulate, you will be required to submit:

  • Two completed and signed Schengen application forms (which you can download here in English and Spanish).
  • Two recent, passport-sized color photographs.
  • Your original, physical passport or travel document. You must have at least one blank page in it and it should be valid for longer than the visa you are applying for.
  • Your driver’s license, student ID, or other ID as directed by the Spanish embassy.
  • Acceptance letter as a full-time student; the letter must contain the name of the university or school, as well as their address and registration number with the Spanish Department of Education (Ministerio de Educación), confirmation that you have paid the tuition or school fees, the length of the program, what you will be studying, and the number of class hours per week.
  • Proof of your available financial resources in one of four ways: a letter from your university assuming financial responsibility for you, a letter from your parents assuming financial responsibility for you, your personal bank statements showing at least €550 per month for the length your stay, or proof of financial aid showing at least €550 per month for the length your stay.
  • Proof of public or private health insurance that will cover you in Spain.
  • Payment to cover the current visa processing fee.
  • Self-addressed, pre-paid envelope to receive your passport back.

You will need to submit the original documents as well as one photocopy of each document. In addition, I recommend you make extra photocopies both for the embassy to have and to keep as a record for yourself.

Please note that additional documents may be required depending on your nationality, where you’re applying from, and if the applicant is a minor. Check with your nearest Spanish embassy or consulate for the latest requirements.

You will be fingerprinted for your student card.

Student Visas in Spain for More Than 180 Days

In order to apply for a student visa that lasts more than 180 days, you will need to complete the procedures for a student visa per the section above (Student Visas for Up to 180 Days). In addition, you will need to prove to the embassy that you have no criminal record in the form of a Certificate of Absence of Police Records (Certificado de Antecedentes Penales) and prove that you are in good physical and mental health by submitting a letter from your doctor attesting to that effect.

You are initially given a student visa for only three months. But don’t panic. This is just part of the process. Therefore, within one month of your arrival in Spain you will need to go to a Foreigners’ Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or an office of the National Police (Policía Nacional) closest to where you live in Spain and apply for a student card for your Autorización de Estancia por Estudios. The student card will replace the student visa that you were issued in your home country. The card is generally valid for one year, but it can be renewed every year as long as you continue to fulfill the requirements.

To apply for the student card, you will need to bring to the Foreigners’ Office or office of the National Police:

  • An EX-17 form that you have filled out.
  • Your passport.
  • Three recent passport-sized photographs in color.
  • Your student visa.
  • A receipt that you have paid the student card fee.

One month later you must return to be fingerprinted, and another month later you will be able to pick up your student card.

Working on a Student Visa

It is possible to work on a student visa in Spain, but since the main goal of your stay in Spain is to study, any work you do is regulated with this in mind.

You can work part-time when school is in session, or full-time during school breaks for less than three months. However, this falls into two categories: internships (prácticas see internships under Workers’ Rights here) and working under a special student work visa (called an Autorización Excepcional de Trabajo).

An eligible internship (paid or unpaid) must be part of your university studies and will be supervised by your university. You must be under 30 years old and the internship will have a maximum duration of one year. You don’t need any special permission, as everything is already regulated by an agreement between the university and the employer.

Option two is a special student work visa (Autorización Excepcional de Trabajo). Once a company has agreed to hire you, your future employer must apply for it on your behalf and you cannot work for up to three months while it is being processed. 

Otherwise, if you have an employer willing to hire you and you want to transition to a regular work and residence visa while still in Spain, you must have studied legally in Spain for a minimum of three years and have earned passing grades or marks. If not, you must return to your home country to have the visa processed as would any other normal work and residence visa.


Last updated 21 02 2013

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