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.
One-year student visas may be extended. Six-month student visas may not.
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!
You don’t need to apply for a visa at all if:
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:
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.
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:
One month later you must return to be fingerprinted, and another month later you will be able to pick up your student card.
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.
The nearly infamous, and relatively easy-to-get nonlucrative visa for Spain is now the primary route to Spanish residency for Americans, Canadians, Russians, and (thanks to Brexit) even for Brits. Here's a guide to doing the American NLV application process (assisted by an immigration attorney) with detailed consulate requirements variations and exclusive consulate ratings!
If it feels like you've spent all your extra time and Friday mornings clicking through to make a cita previa for your TIE or fingerprints appointment, you're not alone. Instead, try emaling your local office to share your grief and ask for an appointment!
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