Spain Visa FAQs

April 10, 2014

 

The following information is designed to assist education abroad advisers as they guide their students to obtain a student visa to study abroad. NAFSA's EA Consular Affairs Liaison Subcommittee members review these pages regularly for accuracy, but the consulate to which the student applies for a visa may change its procedures. Students and advisers should confirm specific procedures with each relevant consulate.

Read the latest news on Spanish Visas

Where is my local consulate?

Spanish consulates in the United States

Applying for a Student Visa

Is a student visa required for U.S. citizens?

Student visas are required for those whose time of study in Spain exceeds 90 days. If your time of study is less than 90 days, you will not be required to obtain a visa for your stay in Spain.

What is the process for applying for a student visa?

While most student visa requirements are similar from consulate to consulate, the student must check their consulate's website for the exact requirements. View a list of the Spanish Consulates and their contact information.

All students intending to study in Spain for more than 180 days will be required to obtain a "Certification of absence of police records." Students have one of two options for fulfilling this requirement:

  1. Submit a state-issued Criminal Background Check from the state of residence (students should perform an online search of “Criminal Background Check” with their state of residence to get instructions on how to obtain the Background Check). The state Criminal Background Check must also be verified with an Apostille from the Secretary of State's office of the issuing state.
  2. Submit the FBI Background Check. FBI Background checks can take 8-10 weeks to be processed and returned to students, so early submission is essential. Learn more about the process of obtaining an FBI Background Check.
What are the requirements to obtain a student visa?

While most student visa requirements are similar from consulate to consulate, the student must check their consulate's website for the exact requirements. View a list of the Spanish Consulates and their contact information.

Is batch processing (a single institution submits visa applications on behalf of its students) possible?

At this time, it is possible to submit student visa applications in a batch process at all of the Spanish Consulates in the United States. However, since regulations are constantly changing, we encourage you to check with your consulate prior to making the decision of doing batch processing.

Does a student have to appear in person at the consulate to obtain a student visa?

At this time, all Spanish Consulates allow for study abroad advisers, parents, and/or custodians to apply on behalf of the student as long as certain requirements are met. Each consulate may have its own requirements for this process so students are encouraged to check their consulate's website for specific information. In addition, the consulate may deny the request for someone else to apply in the student's behalf. Therefore, the possibility of a personal appearance by the student at any consulate may still be required.

Can a non-US citizen apply for a student visa through a consulate in the U.S.?

At this time, most Spanish Consulates in the United States allow non-U.S. citizen students to apply for Schengen or student visas provided their F-1 visas will remain valid before, during, and after their study abroad experience. However, some consulates may require non-U.S. citizens to apply for their visas in their home countries. Check your consulate's website for more information.

Does the student have to complete any additional procedures once overseas?

Students who are studying in Spain for more than 180 days will be given a 90-day student visa to enter Spain. Once in Spain, the student must go to the nearest police station and “exchange” their 90-day visa for a residency permit. Please note that this does not apply for students studying in Spain for less than 180 days.

Is a visa required to complete an internship in Spain?

In general, the Spanish Consulates have advised that U.S. citizens participating in unpaid internships qualify for tourist/student visas, dependent upon the duration of the internship. Check your consulate's website for more information.

Processing Time

How long does a student visa take and when should my student apply?

The websites of the Spanish Consulates in the U.S. state that processing a student visa could take up to two months. Since the student can apply for a visa up to three months before their departure date, we recommend applying for a visa as soon as they can, without exceeding the three-month rule.

Will consulates make exceptions and allow for emergency applications if a student is leaving sooner that than the standard processing time?

Unfortunately, Spanish Consulates do not offer a rush processing service at this time. Therefore, we encourage all students to apply as soon as they can, without exceeding the three-month rule.

My student cannot get an appointment at the consulate in time for departure.  How can the student get an earlier appointment?

It is recommended that the student first sign up for the earliest possible open appointment.  The student may regularly check the consulate's website for cancellations.  When there is a cancellation, an earlier appointment time will become available.  It is important that the student check the website multiple times per day because the openings will be claimed quickly by others seeking to advance their appointments.  Be sure to remind the student that, after the appointment with the consulate, there is a 3-6 week processing time before the student will receive the visa.

Changing Visas While Abroad

Can a student obtain a student visa once overseas?

At this time, all students engaged in a course of study lasting more than 90 days must obtain a student visa prior to entering Spain. Visas are not awarded once the student is in Spain.

Can a student extend his/her visa in country (for a second semester, for example)?

Unfortunately, at this time, students going to Spain cannot change their visas once they're abroad. Therefore, the student must return to the United States (although he/she may be allowed to go to another country outside of the Schengen area) and renew his/her visa.

In general, and depending on the Consulate, students may submit a visa application from abroad to the appropriate Consulate. However, in some cases, students may be required to appear in person in order to retrieve their visas. Please contact your Consulate for more information.

Can a student travel after the program even if their student visa has expired?

Spanish Consulates advise that a student is allowed to travel in the Schengen zone (outside of Spain) for up to 90-days after his/her visa has expired. However, while this is a Spanish regulation, it may not be the case with other countries surrounding Spain. Therefore, students are encouraged to get more information about the places they intend to travel prior to leaving Spain.

Problems with Visa Applications

If a student is having a problem obtaining his/her visa, what should s/he do?

If a student is having a problem with his/her visa, please have them contact the consulate directly. If the problem persists, the education abroad adviser should contact the consulate in the student's behalf to try and resolve the situation. However, if this still doesn't resolve the problem, the education abroad adviser can request assistance from NAFSA's EA Consular Affairs Subcommittee.

How do I ask for assistance from NAFSA's EA Consular Affairs Liaison Subcommittee?

Education abroad advisers may submit a request online in order to request assistance from NAFSA's Consular Affairs Liaison Subcommittee. Submit your request to www.nafsa.org/eavisahelp, and your message will be automatically routed to the appropriate NAFSA Subcommittee member. NAFSA Consular Affairs Liaison Subcommittee members have contacts at the majority of consulates in the United States and will respond promptly to your request for assistance. The link for EA Visa Help is also at the top of this web page's sidebar.

Faculty Visas for Travel to Spain

Faculty members traveling to Spain to accompany a student study abroad program generally do not require a visa for stays under 90 days if the faculty member is a U.S. citizen. Non-U.S. citizens should review the information on the consular websites to determine if a Schengen visa is required for stays under 90 days. Visas are required for all faculty whose time of residence in Spain exceeds 90 days. Please contact your Consulate for more information.