Do you want to study in Spain as a non-European citizen? Then your first step is to apply for a student visa in the Spanish territory – and you should know that studying in the country has many advantages, especially as a foreigner.

In this article, we’ll not only cover these advantages and how to get a student permit in Spain, but we’ll also answer important questions that you MUST know. Can I modify my Spain study visa after completing my studies? Is it possible to work in the country while studying? Which courses are valid for this visa? Can I stay in Spain after my student visa expires?

Let’s find the answers to these questions, and more!


What is the Spanish student visa?


The student visa is the residence authorization that allows non-EU citizens to stay in Spain while they take studies in public or private educational centers, conduct research in the country, or undertake some kind of training.

More precisely, those planning to enroll in a professional training course, master’s, postgraduate course, P.hD., or bachelor’s degree in Spain will find that this permit is the right path for them.

It is important to emphasize that this visa is geared toward citizens from outside the European Union.

Furthermore, this is not a regular residence permit. The student visa is just an authorization to live in Spain while you study.

That is why, when counting the years you need in order to get permanent residency or Spanish nationality, the years lived under the student visa do not count.

However, with the reform of Immigration Law, it has become a great option for non-EU citizens. It allows you to work, automatically, 30 hours per week, and once you complete your studies (whatever the duration), you can modify your work permit easily.


Do I need a student visa to study in Spain?


It depends. If you are a non-EU citizen the answer is simple: yes.

If you are planning to study or conduct research in the country, you will need to apply for the residence authorization for study purposes.

Nevertheless, you can’t get a student visa if you are from the European Union. Basically, because you don’t need one.

According to article number 44 from the Royal Decree 557/2011, all students coming from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland can stay in Spain while they study without a visa. This also applies to the relatives they bring with them after a joint application.


Types of student visas


There are two different types of student visas depending on the length of your course or studies:

  • Short-term student visa, the option designed for those studying from 91 to 180 days in the country.
  • Long-term student visa, in case you are studying for more than 6 months in the country.

Bear in mind that no matter if you are a non-EU citizen or not, if your studies take less than 90 days you don’t need to apply for a student permit. Your tourist visa will be enough (in case you need one to enter the country).

Do you have any doubts so far? Ask our lawyers anything:

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How long does a student visa last in Spain?


In the previous section we have seen that according to the duration of your studies, you will apply for a short or long-term student visa.

But, to be more specific, for how long will your student visa be valid?

Well, your visa expiration date and the ending of your course won’t necessarily match.


Student visa for more than one year


The maximum number of years that you can apply for a student visa is two years.

This means that if the course or master’s degree in which you are enrolled lasts 2 years, you will not have to renew your visa between the first and second years or extend the stay.

However, upon arrival in Spain, you will still have to make an appointment at the Immigration Office to process and obtain your physical residence card.

Find out here how to extend your stay for studies step by step.


Student visa for one year or less


If your academic year lasts more than 6 months, you will be given a residence card. This basically means that you’ll take an extra step in the process, which is getting an appointment at the immigration office while in Spain to process your residency card.

But if it is shorter than six months, you will only get a stamp on your passport. Meaning that you won’t have to process any physical card later on.


What happens if my course or studies are extended?


So let’s assume your studies finish in June, and hence your student visa is also valid until that month.

What can you do if your program is suddenly extended?

There is no problem. You can request a student visa extension at the police immigration office.


How to Get a Student Visa in Spain


Let’s now go through the main steps you will need to follow in order to obtain your student permit. We will analyze where should you apply, the documents you must include, where to submit them, and the requirements that you must meet.

But before we explain everything, we’ve already created a checklist for you to make things quick and easy.

Spanish Student Visa



Student Visa Requirements in Spain


Before starting with the actual application procedure it is crucial that you understand all the requirements that any foreigner wishing to attain a student visa must meet. Otherwise obtaining this permit is not possible:

  • As we already mentioned, you can’t be a European Union Citizen in order to get this visa
  • Being in legal status in Spain and not being forbidden from entering the country is necessary.
  • You must possess sufficient economic funds in order to sustain yourself in the country for 1 or 2 years (depending on the length of your studies). How much bank balance is required? A monthly 100% of the IPREM, which is about €600 per month
  • Having a private or public medical insurance contract with full coverage in Spain. Learn more about the health insurance requirements here
  • You will have to be admitted to the course/university you are planning to study at. This means that before starting your application you must get your acceptance or admission letter from the learning course
  • Even though the vast majority of courses and educational centers will be valid, you must make sure to verify that they comply with these requirements
  • Having clear criminal background records
  • For short-term study visas, you must also include round-trip flight tickets from and to your country of origin. Don’t make any payment until your visa is issued
  • For higher-education studies such as a master’s or postgraduate degree, it is very likely that you will be asked for the homologation or validation of your university degree if you obtained it in your country of origin


Required Documents

Which are the documents will you need to submit in order to become a legal student in the country?

  • If the student is below 18 years old and does not come accompanied by his or her parents, a legal authorization signed by them
  • Medical certificate demonstrating that the application does not suffer from any disease recognized by the International Health Regulation of 2005
  • Your passport and a copy
  • 3 ID photos
  • Documentation that accredits the possession of sufficient economic funds
  • The document that certifies how the academic institution in which you will be studying has accepted you and you have a spot for the next course
  • Model EX-00 filled out
  • Admission letter from your university or school
  • Specific information about your accommodation or the place you will be living exactly

Bear in mind that all the documents must be properly legalized and translated into Spanish.



Can I apply for a student visa while in Spain?


Yes, you can apply for a student visa while in Spain. After the last change in the Spanish Immigration Law, you can now apply for your student visa from both your country of origin (at the Spanish consulate), or directly from Spain while on a tourist visa.

The application time must take place within 90 days before beginning your studies in Spain and no less than 30 days before.

Having this time frame in mind is essential.

In case you do it directly from Spain, you will need to first get an appointment with your local Immigration Office, which you can find here. This is as long as you are not in an illegal situation.

Nevertheless, whichever municipality you are in, you will need to register your empadronamiento, which is a census registry.

An important piece of advice: make sure that before entering the Spanish territory you have all the documents prepared.

Why? Because you need to submit them before your last 30 days of legal status in the country.

If you are under a tourist visa for 3 months that won’t be such a problem. But if the time you are granted is lower than that, you must hurry up.


Should I submit my documents in person or can someone else do it for me?

It is not 100% necessary that you submit the application personally. You can design a representative that does it for you through a notarized authorization letter.

For example, you can design one of our lawyers to do it for you in case you can’t yourself or don’t know how.

Nevertheless, it is not possible to do it via email. Someone must go to the consulate or immigration office in Spain for that.


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Student visa processing time


The application is quite fast. After submitting your application, you’ll get a response within 1 month.


Can I enter Spain before my student visa starts?


If you are a non-European citizen, you cannot enter Spain before your student visa starts. However, if you are already in Spain on a short-term visa, you can apply for a study visa from within the country.

Thus, in that sense, it is possible to change your tourist visa to a student visa.


What to study for the Spanish student visa?


One of the most important requirements to successfully obtain this visa is the course you enroll in and its characteristics.

You must make sure it meets, at least, the following characteristics.

First of all, it is now required that the course you take is included in the Official Public Registry.

If it is a university or training course, it must be in the Registry of Official Courses. It is also valid if the course is registered in the registry of the autonomous community where the permit is being requested.

However, whether it is an official course or a center of recognized prestige in Spain, it is essential that this course is registered in an official public entity to apply for the student residence permit.

So, all students who want to come to study in Spain must ensure that the academic center is registered in an official public registry.

In addition, there are other generic criteria that this course must meet.

For example, the studies must have a duration of 20 hours per week. Those with fewer hours are not valid.

Then, the course must lead to obtaining a title. In other words, a training course that does not lead to the attainment of a title from the academic center is not suitable for applying for a student visa.

Finally, bear in mind that there is no limitation when it comes to the course level. Early childhood education, primary, secondary, vocational training, and university degrees are valid for the application for a student visa.

If you are a non-European citizen, you cannot enter Spain before your student visa starts. However, if you are already in Spain on a short-term visa, you can apply for a study visa from within the country.

Thus, in that sense, it is possible to change your tourist visa to a student visa.


Can you bring your relatives or family members with you?


Yes, there is the possibility to bring your family so they can accompany you during your student stay in Spain.

Who exactly can you bring?

Your spouse or registered civil partner and children who are below 18 years old.

How? Through a joint application, including them when applying for your own student visa. Nevertheless, it is also possible to do it afterward within the validity of your student visa.

You will be required to demonstrate the possession of an extra 75% of the IPREM for the first relative, and 50% more for any additional one. Furthermore, it is also necessary to submit documents that demonstrate the kinship relationship between the student and the relative.

The validity of their residence authorization will be linked to the one from the student, and they will be allowed to reside in the Spanish territory for the same time period as her.

Bear in mind that within that period, they won’t be allowed to work in the country.


Can you work in Spain while studying with a student card?


Yes, it is totally possible to work in Spain with your student visa.

If your student visa was issued after August 16, 2022, you can work automatically with this visa for a maximum of 30 hours per week, without having to do any extra paperwork (the card itself already authorizes you to work).

Any type of work will be valid, and it can be all over Spain, since there is no geographical limitation.

On the other hand, as a foreign student in Spain, you have 4 different options to work in the country once you finish and fully complete your studies.

These are ways to modify your student visa.

Below you can find this list, but if you would like to know how to get a work permit in Spain as a student, you can find a complete guide here.


Residence to Internship

After completing your studies, you can apply for a residence permit for internships.

This residence permit is obtained through an internship contract with a company, or an internship agreement under the academic institution that you completed your studies in.

Thus, the duration of this residency is directly linked to the duration of the internship contract or agreement.

You can read more about how to apply for this residency here.

You can intern with a visa for students in Spain.


Residence Authorization Modification


After finishing your studies (and 60 days before the expiration date of your student card) you will be able to change your student visa to a work permit.

The duration of your studies, nor the type of job offer you receive doesn’t matter.

This basically means that you can jump from a student visa to a work permit easily:

  • If you are going to work for someone (por cuenta ajena), you will need to find a job offer that enables you to work 30 hours per week for one year.
  • If you are going to become a self-employed individual (por cuenta propia), you will need to submit your business plan in which you detail the business idea you would like to execute


Residence authorization for highly qualified workers


In addition to modifying to a regular work permit, you have another option, which in this case, although it offers an express resolution in only 20 days, it does require a minimum of time with a visa for studies in order to be obtained.

After one year as a student in Spain, and provided that you find a highly qualified job offer, you can transition to a work permit as a skilled professional.

What is a highly qualified job position? One as a manager or any other technical position, earning a salary over €40,000 per year.

Bear in mind that the permit will be associated with the company you will be working for, not to you.

This means that, if you would like to change your job position or company, you’ll need to apply again for this permit.


Student Visa Modification to Search for a Job


Finally, we find the case of those students who have been in Spain for just one year but who can’t get a job offer regarded as highly-qualified.

There is also a good solution for them.

At the end of 2018, a new law was approved in favor of foreign students.

This law enables you to extend your stay in the country for an additional year. This time is given to you so you can find a job offer in Spain or start your own company.

For that, it is essential that your university is on this list. This basically means that it is recognized by the government so you can apply for this visa extension.

If you would like to know more about this permit and how you can obtain it easily, you can click here now and access our article.


Get legal assistance obtaining your student residence permit


If you consider that doing all the required paperwork and submitting it to the competent authorities is something a bit complicated, don’t worry.

Our team of immigration lawyers is here to help you out.

We will manage the whole application procedure so you can get your residence authorization as a foreign student in the country. Furthermore, we will also apply for the residencies of your relatives, so you can come all together.

We will prepare and submit all the documentation (plus assist you with your translation and legalizations) so you don’t need to worry about anything. Furthermore, we will advise you on how to work in the country while studying.


Book a consultation with one of our lawyers and we’ll answer all your questions:


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