How to get a student visa to Spain

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Alexey Nosovsky

A representative of the Legal Department at iWorld. Author of articles on Migration Law.

Update: 19 April 2024 9 minutes read
University in Spain where foreigners can study with a student visa

A student visa to Spain is a permit that entitles the holder to enter and stay in the country for the purpose of education at an accredited educational institution, academic research, internships or volunteer services in the framework of general humanities programs. It is issued on the basis of a certificate of admission to a university or college for a period of 90, 180 or more days, depending on the duration of the curriculum. Learn more about how to get a student visa to Spain in the article.

Types of student visas

The following types of Spanish student visas are issued for studying at an educational institution:

  • Short-term Study Visa Type C. It is granted to applicants who will attend courses, trainings, masterclasses and volunteer programs for a total duration of up to 90 days. The document does not give the right for employment and is not subject to extension, but allows visa-free travel in the territory of the European Union for the specified period of time.
  • Study visa type D for up to 180 days. Issued to foreigners traveling to Spain for language or vocational courses, student exchanges for a semester, or an internship for a total duration of 90 to 180 days. If necessary, when the permit expires, you have to return to your country and apply for a new permit, it is not possible to extend the existing one.
  • Study visa type D from 180 days. Issued for long-term studies of at least 6 months per year with a 20-hour minimum study period per week. Upon arrival in Spain, a student card must be obtained from the local police department, which can be renewed annually until the end of the studies without having to leave the country.

Grounds for obtaining a visa

You can apply for a student visa to cross the Spanish border for the following purposes:

  • Study at an accredited institution. Visas are issued for education or its extension (e.g. master’s degree) in a full-time program with a diploma or other certificate of education. All colleges, universities, schools, academies and language courses that have received state accreditation are considered.
  • Scientific research. An educational program at research centers and institutions with full-time attendance also requires a student visa.
  • Student exchanges. Institutions may invite foreign nationals to study with an entry permit. In this case, the institutions take responsibility for the student and the organization of his/her accommodation for the period of study in Spain.
  • Internship. An internship or non-work placement in Spain by a private or public organization requires a D-Student Visa.
  • Volunteering. The provision of services for general humanitarian purposes under a private contract with an organization that is authorized to carry out such activities and that insures the civil liability of the participants, is the reason for obtaining an entry permit to Spain.


Foreign nationals can study at public and private universities in Spain on the same basis as local students, but prices for expats are higher than for natives. Types of education in higher institutions:

  • preparatory departments;
  • bachelor’s degree;
  • master’s degree;
  • PhD.

Most institutions have classes in Spanish, only a few have English-language departments for foreigners. For example, the Universitat Autònoma in Barcelona and the Universidad Catolica San Antonio in Murcia teach in English.

Admission to an educational institution usually consists of an application, an interview and an exam requiring personal attendance. The applicant may need a Schengen visa for the admission process. As a result, the university gives the prospective student a letter of admission with the number of hours and classes (matrícula), the course program, a copy of the institution’s accreditation certificate and a receipt of the tuition fee.

Language courses

Foreign nationals in Spain are offered to study the language in a natural environment in 157 schools accredited by the Instituto Cervantes. In order to obtain a long-term visa with a stay in the country of more than 180 days, you must choose an educational course of at least 20 hours per week, which lasts more than 6 months. Language schools do not require a mandatory visit to the state for admission, and all issues related to the agreement of the schedule and payment of classes are resolved remotely.

The institution gives the student a contract of admission, a detailed program with the dates of classes, a certificate of accreditation of the educational organization by the Instituto Cervantes and a check for the payment of tuition. Usually representatives of schools understand the current requirements of the local legislation and provide documents for the study visa to Spain at once.

The list of documents needed for a student visa to Spain

A standard list of documents for applying for a visa:

  • international passport valid until the end of your studies;
  • proof of available accommodation for the period of study: real estate rental agreement, statement of ownership – Nota Simple informativa;
  • a medical insurance, issued by a company accredited in Spain, with a coverage of 30.000 EUR for all visits to doctors without any extra fees;
  • documents of admission to an accredited educational institution;
  • two copies of the application form in Spanish and signed by the applicant (for applicants who are minors, the signatures of their parents or guardians are also required);
  • a bank statement as proof of financial means in the amount of 100% IPREM for a student (currently 579,02 EUR), 75% IPREM (434,3 EUR) for the first accompanying adult and 50% IPREM (289,51 EUR) for each following one;
  • a certificate of criminal records translated into Spanish, apostilled and legalized at a Spanish consulate;
  • two color photos 3,5 x 4,5 cm on a light background;
  • results of the medical examination with translation into Spanish and notarized.

Students under 18 years old additionally require a birth certificate, notarized permission from parents or guardians to travel. Documents must be translated into Spanish, and copies must be made after verifications and notarizations. Representatives of the Spanish Consulate may require additional data and certificates or invite you for an interview to clarify the details.

Students collect documents for a student visa to Spain

Obtaining a visa (step-by-step procedure)

Getting a visa for studying in Spain takes a few steps:

  1. Making an appointment. You can register online at the website of the Consulate General. Appointments are open 30 days in advance and free time is quickly taken up. In the case of simultaneous registration of an adult and a child, you need to register both separately.
  2. Collecting the documents. Obtaining the documents from the educational institution, confirming the availability of housing, passing a medical examination takes time. Certificates of criminal records are made a few weeks. Relatively fast issuance of insurance policy, application form, current euro account statement and photos.
  3. Translation. Have your documents translated into Spanish by a certified bureau.
  4. Verification and legalization. The Hague Apostille must be affixed to the certificate of criminal records. Legalization is necessary for the certificate of no criminal record, the results of the medical examination and the notarial permission of the parents to leave the country for children under the age of 18.
  5. Copies. You need to make copies of all documents after they have been translated, verified and notarized.
  6. Submitting the dossier. The national visa requires the applicant to be present in person at the Consulate General of Spain. Also a consular fee of EUR 80 must be paid.

Extension of student visa in Spain

After passing the exam, the student moves on to the next course of study at the educational institution and renews the tarjeta de estudiante for one year. Applications for renewal are accepted online at the Office for Foreigners in the province, by registered letter or in person at the competent immigration authority. The application period is 60 days before the expiry of the previous visa and 90 days after that.

To renew the card (tarjeta de estudiante), the foreigner must submit the following documents:

  • application;
  • international passport;
  • receipt of payment for the next year of study;
  • documents on the successful completion of the previous year of study;
  • health insurance for the next year;
  • certificate of financial savings in the amount of 100% of IPREM.

The rights granted by the student visa

After moving to the local police station you need to apply for a student card for 12 months. It is renewed annually in Spain and entitles you to:

  • get a job on a student visa for up to 20 hours per week;
  • travel freely to Schengen countries;
  • apply for an entry permit to Spain for a child under the age of 18 and a spouse without the right to work;
  • open an account in a local bank;
  • issue a residence permit (residencia) after 3 years of stay in the state on a student card.

Immigration and work in Spain on a study visa

A student visa to Spain to take language courses is often the first step toward immigration to the state. In addition to 20 hours of classes per week, foreign nationals can spend as much time working or opening their own business in the country. After 3 years of regular renewal of the student card (tarjeta de estudiante) it is possible to get a residence permit card if there is an offer of employment from an employer or own company.

The risk of refusal of a student visa is quite high if the age of the applicant exceeds 30 years or if there are inconsistencies in the data provided. You can study the conditions for obtaining a permit on your own or take help from experienced migration lawyers who understand the current Spanish legislation and the requirements of the Consulate General. Professionals will advise prospective students on matters of interest and help them successfully obtain a study visa.

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