Student VISA

What you need to know to reside legally in Spain during your university studies

Do you want to come to study at a Spanish University?

We answer your most frequently asked questions about the study visa in Spain

If you are a foreigner and you are planning your study trip to Spain, you may need to process a student permit or visa.

Our Legal Department, specialized in procedures in the educational field, has summarized on this page what you should know about the student visa in Spain.

Below we explain what the student visa is, whether you need it or not and what are the most important documents you must have to process it. In addition, you will be able to be clear about the possibilities of working in Spain with your student permit .

Do you have more questions?

If you want to resolve more specific questions, we recommend that you try our new Express Consulting service .

Do you need us to accompany you step by step?

And of course, if you want us to accompany you step by step in your procedure or take care of it completely for you, you can trust us. At OCF we have a team of experts specialized in legal procedures for international students. Click here to consult our services and start your strategy together to come to study in Spain without complications. 

1.- What is the student visa?

The student visa is a special permit or authorization for foreign citizens who come to study in Spain. Said visa will allow you to reside in the country exclusively for the duration of your Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a public or private institution. This authorization is also valid for other studies such as Professional Training or specific courses.

2.- Do I need a visa to study at a Spanish university?

Citizens of the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland:

Citizens from the EU, the EEA or Switzerland DO NOT NEED A VISA TO STUDY IN SPAIN. Nor do their accompanying relatives need it. If this is your case, the only thing you need to request is the EU citizen registration certificate if your studies last more than 3 months. You can check the detailed information here .

Citizens of other states:

If you are a citizen of any other country and you will come to study or carry out research activities in Spain, you DO need to request a residence permit for studies. You can consult the Immigration website of the Government of Spain for more detailed information.

3.- What type of visa do I need to study a university degree (Bachelor or Master) in Spain?

There are two types of student visa: short-term and long-term. As you can imagine from its name, the difference lies in the validity time of each permit.

To come to study a university degree in Spain you will need to apply for a long-term study visa .

Long-term study visa:

«The long-term study visa incorporates the stay authorization and enables the foreigner to remain in Spain to carry out the activity for which it has been granted (art. 37.2 of RD 557/2011, of April 20) . The duration of the stay will be equal to that of the activity for which the authorization was granted, with a maximum limit of two years. The authorization of stay may be extended annually.»

In other words, if your university career lasts 4 years, you can apply for your student visa for a maximum of 2 years. At the end of the 2-year stay, you can request an extension year after year until you finish your studies. This extension must be requested 60 days before your authorization expires.

4.- What are the requirements to apply for a study visa?

Next, let’s see the essential requirements that you must meet if you are a foreign citizen to obtain a study visa in Spain.

  1. The first condition, of course, is that you are a citizen of any state other than the European Union, EEA or Switzerland.
  2. If you are already living in Spain, you must be in a legal situation. If you are not, obviously you cannot be prohibited from entering the country.
  3. Have no criminal record.
  4. You must prove financial means (€600/month approx. €7,000/year).
  5. You will also have to have private medical insurance that covers the entire period of stay with an authorized insurer in Spain.
  6. Important: you must already be admitted or enrolled in the educational center or university where you are going to study.

5.- What documentation must I submit to apply for my visa/study permit in Spain?

In order for you to successfully obtain your study visa, it is essential to perfectly comply with the documentation and the established deadlines. Below we detail the most important documents that you must present both in original and in copy.

Basic documents:

Your studies:

  • Letter of admission or receipt (proof) of enrollment from the study center or university.
  • Certified high school diploma (or equivalent) .
  • In the case of higher studies such as a master’s degree or postgraduate degree, it is very possible that they will request your foreign university degree or even its homologation or validation.


  • Accreditation of financial means (€600/month approx. €7,000/year). It can be accredited in different ways but the most typical is by providing a bank certificate (extract) from the last 3 months. *This amount can be reduced if you have booked/contracted accommodation. If the economic means correspond to the parents, a responsible declaration of both (apostilled notarial act) and proof of kinship (apostilled birth certificate) must also be provided.
  • Accommodation reservation . Documentation that proves that you will have accommodation during your stay in Spain: private house, student residence, family, shared apartment, etc.
  • Private medical insurance that covers the entire period of stay with an authorized insurer in Spain .
    • no copay,
    • Coverage of up to 30,000 euros
    • Repatriation in case of death.
    • **Simple travel insurance with medical assistance coverage will not be accepted.


  • Medical certificate with the express mention of «not suffering from any of the diseases likely to have serious public health repercussions in accordance with the provisions of the 2005 international health regulations «, with an issue date of less than three months and duly apostilled through diplomatic channels .
  • Apostilled/legalized criminal record certificate . It will be required, when the applicants are of legal age, to lack a criminal record in the countries of residence during the last five years, for crimes provided for in the Spanish legal system” (art. 38.1 of RD 557/2011, of April 20). Certificate valid for less than 3 months.


* All documents must be legalized and translated into Spanish.

** The Consulates, given the margin of action they have, may require other documentation such as: homologation flyer, certificate of high school grades, etc.

*** If the procedure is carried out in Spain, it is important to know that all this documentation must already be obtained and reviewed prior to the trip.

6.- Where and when should I submit my visa application?

Fortunately, you have two options to apply for a student visa:

Request it in your country of origin :

  • Where? At the Spanish diplomatic mission or consular office.
  • When? Before your trip to Spain, in the 90 days prior to the start of your studies in Spain and no less than 30 days before.
  • This permit processed and granted before traveling is called a Study Visa .

Request it directly in Spain :

  • Where? In the corresponding Immigration Offices of the Delegations or Subdelegations of the Government of the Spanish province where the studies are to begin.
  • When? In this case, the presentation of the application must be made during the period of legal stay as a tourist (90 days), at least 30 days before the expiration date of the status of  regular stay in Spanish territory.
  • This permit processed and granted while already in Spain is called Authorization to stay for studies .

7.- Can I designate another person to make my request?

Yes, you can effectively designate a legal representative to carry out the procedure in your place.

If you prefer to have maximum guarantees of getting your study visa on time, you can trust our Legal Department. At OCF we have lawyers specialized in the educational field who can take care of your visa application from start to finish. Click here if you want to know our legal services.

8.- How long will it take to get a response to my request?

You will receive a response to your request within a maximum period of one month, counted from the day after it was submitted.

9.- Can I process my Student Permit from Spain?

As we mentioned before, YES you could get your student visa while in Spain as a tourist. In this case it receives the name of AUTHORIZATION OF STAY FOR STUDIES . Likewise, although it may be called differently, it has exactly the same validity as the so-called Student Visa (which you could request from your country of origin.)

Currently you could enter Spain with a tourist visa (if you need it) and present your Request for Authorization to Stay for studies at the Immigration Offices of the Spanish province where you are going to study.

For this option, you must take into account the following:

  • You cannot be in an illegal situation in the country.
  • Be very careful with the deadlines! You must submit your student visa application at least 60 days before your tourist permit ends.
  • You will have to have all the documentation ready for your study visa before traveling to Spain. This is not a plan to improvise on the fly.

Your visa under control

As you will realize as you learn, legal procedures require your strategy so that everything goes well. Each procedure requires respecting strict deadlines , having specific documentation prepared and knowing where and how to present each application .

Of course, doing so is only possible if you put your mind to it. However, at OCF we recommend that you have the help of a lawyer specializing in student visas to assist you in the process or even delegate it completely. The project of traveling to Spain to carry out your university career is sensational. Therefore, if you can, it is best to save yourself the stress of facing the visa bureaucracy alone. Trust us, if you can save it, you won’t regret it.

In the event that you decide to have professional support to guide you step by step or to fully delegate, our expert legal team is at your service.

10.- Is it better to process my Stay Permit from my country or directly in Spain?

Before answering this question you should be clear about a couple of dates:

  1. Place confirmation:
    Universities confirm the allocation of places around July 12 to 20 .
    • That is, on these dates, you will know in which University you have been admitted.
    • After confirming your place and completing the final registration , the University will give you the “LETTER OF ADMISSION”.
    • To make the Application for your Study Visa or Stay Authorization you will need to present this Letter of Admission.
  2. Beginning of classes:
    Classes at the University begin, for the most part, in mid-September .

Clearly, you do not have time to lose to manage your Student Visa in Spain .

Disadvantages of processing the student visa from your country

If you are thinking of processing your student visa in Spain from your country, you should know that this has some important problems.

Problem 1:

The first step to process your student visa in Spain will be to request an appointment at the Spanish Embassy in your country.

  • Problem: Currently, the Spanish embassies are collapsed. In addition, in August, it is summer vacation in Spain and this also affects the speed of response to them.
  • Result: In the vast majority of cases, you will be given an appointment to submit your Application with a minimum waiting time of 1 month .
Problem 2:

After you submit the Application to the Spanish Embassy, ​​you must remain in your country until the resolution . Also, you must be attentive to respond to possible requirements made by the Administration.

  • Problem: In total, you will have to wait 4 to 6 weeks for the Final Resolution (if all the documentation has been provided correctly).
  • Result: You will not be able to travel to Spain with your Student Visa, hopefully, until mid-September. Therefore, you will arrive very just or late at the beginning of classes at the University.

ADVANTAGES of processing your Stay Authorization for studies from Spain

Undoubtedly, our experience tells us that processing the Stay Authorization for studies directly in Spain is THE BEST OPTION.

However, it is essential to take into account the following:

  • You must have the documentation to present perfectly complete BEFORE coming to Spain. 

As for the Advantages, we clearly refer to TIME.

In fact, time is the GREAT BENEFIT of choosing this route to process your residence permit.

As you will see in the next point, you can travel to Spain between 1 and 2 months before the start of classes only with your tourist visa (if you need it depending on your country).

  • Enjoy tranquility and zero stress when arriving in Spain
  • Calmly adjust to your “new home”
  • Settle into your university residence or look for accommodation.
  • Take the opportunity to walk and enjoy the summer in Spain…
  • In addition, you will have to carry out some procedures when you arrive in Spain  …

Clearly, it is the perfect option to start your first university course on time and with ALL YOUR ENERGY .

Does carrying out the procedure in Spain have any disadvantages?

Fortunately, processing your Authorization to stay for studies in Spain has, rather, only one small condition.

During the time you are waiting for the answer to your request, you will not be able to leave Spain. That is, you cannot return to your country or go on a trip to any other country. Really, this is not a problem. Spain is ready to welcome you and you won’t want to leave 😉

Finally, in the next point, we will explain the steps to follow if you have been admitted to the University .

Our most sincere recommendation is that you entrust the processing of your Authorization to stay for studies to an expert. Certainly, complications often arise that can be avoided with the experience of a legal advisor.

At OCF, we have a legal department specialized in procedures for international students. We would love for you to trust us .

11.- What are the steps after being admitted to the University?

After the University notifies you that you have been admitted, you must follow a series of steps. Therefore, do not get distracted. It is very important that you complete the entire process to successfully access the University.

If you have questions, you can request personalized support from one of our Expert Advisors.

Below you will find a summary infographic, followed by details of the recommended next steps.

Steps to follow recommended by OCF

Step 1

After receiving the notification from the University indicating that you have been admitted, you must CONFIRM YOUR PLACE .

Step 2

Then, and within the corresponding deadlines, you must complete the final registration at the University .

Step 3

Then, the University will issue your ADMISSION LETTER . This document is essential for your stay permit.

Step 4

If you have already been admitted to the University and you want our experts to process your Stay Authorization for Studies, contract our Total Visa service as soon as possible . In this way, we can start the assembly of your file with diligence. In this sense, remember that times are short and you must have the documentation perfectly ready BEFORE YOUR TRIP TO SPAIN .

step 5

A legal advisor will contact you to request all the documentation and provide you with specific instructions on the process. Before your trip to Spain, we will have your file ready to submit your Application to the competent body in Spain.

Step 6

You can now travel to Spain!

Certainly, when the advisor tells you that we already have your file ready, you can start your study trip to Spain.

Then, you will be able to access Spain as a tourist. Depending on your country of origin, you will not need to process any type of visa for this. You can consult with your advisor to give you instructions for your specific case.

Step 7

Before the end of your first month in Spain, our Legal Department will make the telematic presentation of your Request for Authorization of Stay for Studies.

In this case, the presentation is made without appointments or waiting.

In turn, if the Ministry makes any request (which is quite common), we will make the corresponding responses.

Of course, we will keep you informed at all times of the process of your Request.

step 8

Finally, you will finally receive your Study Stay Authorization .

According to the Administration, the resolution time is a maximum of 3 months . But, from our experience, in the cases of regions such as Andalusia, Valencia or Catalonia, they are resolved in approximately 1 month. If the authorization is processed in Madrid, the terms usually go beyond 3 months (they can be extended up to 6 months approx).

What happens if my Stay Authorization does not come out within my “tourist time”?

Of course, this is something that can happen, since the times of the Administration usually have «their own rhythm».

In this case, don’t worry. As your application is pending, so will your legal situation in Spain. That is, you will have a situation “in process” . Therefore, it is not considered an irregular situation, but it is completely normal given the temporary circumstances.

12.- Does my study visa allow my relatives to accompany me to Spain?

Yes, some of them.

Your student visa allows the following relatives to accompany you during your stay in Spain:

  • Your spouse or domestic partner.
  • Children under 18 years of age or disabled.

These relatives can apply for a residence permit that is linked to the student’s visa. This authorization allows family members to reside in Spanish territory for the same time as the study visa. During this period they will not be allowed to work in the country.

When should I apply for my relatives?

The request for this authorization for the indicated family members can be done together with the processing of your study visa or later, within the period in which your student permit is valid.

Can you ask me for any other document?

Additionally, they will ask you to present documentation that demonstrates the family relationship. For example, the birth certificate of your children or the marriage certificate… In addition to this, you must also prove superior economic means.

13.- Can I work with my visa/study permit?

Yes, the authorization to stay for studies is compatible with working as an employee or self-employed with some restrictions.

Also, if your plan is to stay and live in Spain after your studies, you could request a modification of your authorization.

Below we comment on the range of options that open up when you come to study in Spain:

1) Worker in “internships” with your student visa:

This option would allow you to work a maximum of 20 hours per week. In turn, the teaching hours of your studies and the hours worked, may not add up to more than 40 hours a week. In other words, if your studies have a teaching load of 30 hours a week, you could only do 10 hours of work practices.

The most common internships at the University, and many times compulsory, are the curricular ones. In this case it is necessary that there is an agreement between the University or academic center and the company in which you will work.

It is a good way to gain experience, contacts and expand your chances of a stable and well-valued job in the near future. On the other hand, you will not be able to use this income to prove sufficient economic means during your stay in the country.

2) “Employee” worker:

When the 3 years of your legal stay as a student in Spain have been completed, it is possible to request a modification of your student visa to a work permit as an employed person (employee).

You should request this modification at least 60 days before the expiration date of your student card.

The condition for requesting this relatively easy change is that you have a job offer of 40 hours per week for 1 year. If so, you can continue your stay in Spain legally with your work permit for as long as it lasts.

3) “Self-employed” worker:

Are you an entrepreneur? Have you completed 3 years of your legal stay as a student in Spain?

If so, this option might be feasible for you. In this case, you will be required to present a business plan detailing the idea you want to carry out as a self-employed worker.

4) “Highly skilled” worker:

This alternative is valid for you if:

  • You have at least 1 year of stay for studies in Spain
  • You have a highly qualified job offer (managerial or technical position with a salary of more than €30,000/year)

If you meet both conditions, you could apply to change your study visa to a work permit as a qualified professional.

5) Job Search Permit

If you have come to Spain to do a Master’s, Postgraduate or some course of only 1 or 2 years and your visa has run out, you can request an extension of your stay for studies for 1 additional year.

This extension of time gives you the possibility of finding a stable job offer in Spain or setting up your own company. It really is a very valuable extra opportunity if you want to get a long-term residence permit that allows you to continue your stay in Spain.

In order to request your visa extension for job search, you must have studied at one of the Universities recognized by the Spanish government. You can check the list here .

14.- Already in Spain, what should I do?


Whether you already come with a Visa or process your Study Authorization directly in Spain, you must:

1) Request registration certificate

When before, you must go to the Town Hall of the city where you are going to reside in Spain and request the Certificate of Empadronamiento. This document certifies that you live in that city, it is a kind of record. In turn, this certificate is ESSENTIAL for your immigration procedures. Is free.

2) Request the Foreigner Identity Card (TIE)

Once you have the Certificate of Empadronamiento, you have to apply for the foreigner identity card (TIE) if your stay is longer than 6 months.

You must personally apply for the TIE within one month of entering Spain (or from the time the authorization is granted if you do the procedure directly here). This request can be made at the Immigration Office or the Police Station of the province where you reside in Spain. You can check where to go and schedules here . You can make an appointment here.

Do you want us to help you apply for the TIE? 





Do you want to not worry and have your paperwork under control?

We take care of carrying out the complete processing of your Stay Authorization or Student Visa. In addition, we will give you additional support and advice on everything you need so that the beginning of your stay in Spain is free of stress and unnecessary complications. Focus on your study trip, we take care of the paperwork.

This service includes:
  • Initial presentation meeting with the assigned lawyer. This session will be held by videoconference and will have a maximum duration of 45 minutes. In it, the entire process will be explained in detail and the legal requirements to obtain the Student Authorization or Visa in Spain.
  • Resolution of doubts and queries through email, whatsapp or telephone throughout the processing process.
  • Preparation of the complete file for the application of the Student Visa and the TIE.
  • Application and custody of the necessary documentation for the procedures.
  • Exhaustive documentation control. Verification that it is complete and complies with all the requirements demanded by the Administration depending on the case.
  • Advice on contracting the correct medical insurance.
  • Advice on the search and contracting of accommodation.
  • Appointment request for the presentation of the Visa Application or Stay Authorization at the Immigration Office or the Consulate respectively.
  • Presentation of the Application for stay authorization at the Immigration Office electronically. In the case of a Visa Application before the Consulate, intermediation by mail with the Consulate and accompaniment by telephone or live videoconference on the day of the appointment is included.
  • Response to requirements of the competent authority.
  • Appointment request for TIE Application and fingerprinting at the Police Station in your new residence in Spain.
Does not include:
  • Medical Insurance Management
Does not include:
  • Management of payment of fees or other taxes.
  • Fees or fees of other professionals (notaries, translators…)
  • Resources against denials.
  • Face-to-face accompaniment before the Consulate or Police Office.
  • Application for subsequent renewals
  • return authorizations
  • Appointment request and/or registration process in the student’s city of residence


Do you prefer to take care of your paperwork yourself?

At OCF we give you support step by step and throughout the process so that you can achieve it successfully. We will accompany you from the Visa/stay authorization process for studies until you obtain your TIE in Spain.

This service includes:
  • Initial presentation meeting with the assigned lawyer. This session will be held by videoconference and will have a maximum duration of 45 minutes. In it, the entire process will be explained in detail and the legal requirements to obtain the Student Authorization or Visa in Spain.
  • Resolution of doubts and assistance through email throughout the processing process.
  • Review of the specific documentation required.
  • Advice on contracting the correct medical insurance.
  • Advice on the search and contracting of accommodation.
  • Facilitation of correct official forms to make the Requests before the Immigration Office or Spanish Consulate. In addition, important information will be provided on the telematic headquarters, addresses and other data of interest.
  • Guide in obtaining an appointment with the Immigration Office, Police and/or Spanish Consulate.
  • Guide in the presentation of the documentation before the Immigration Office, Police and/or Spanish Consulate.
  • Advice on the procedures upon arrival in Spain: registration and obtaining a TIE.
Does not include:
  • Obtaining an Appointment with the Spanish Consulate, the Immigration Office, the Police or other public institutions.
  • Management of payment of fees or other taxes.
  • Fees or fees of other professionals (notaries, translators…).
  • Control of the correct documentation. The direct review of the documents that the interested party must provide is not included.
  • Presentation of the application before the competent authority.
  • Response to requirements of the competent authority.
  • Appeals/allegations versus denials.
  • No management or direct processing.
  • Remote or in-person accompaniment to appointments at the Immigration Office, Consulates or any other public entity.


Do you want an expert lawyer to check your documents before filing?

If you are brave and have prepared your entire file without legal help, the Legal Reviewer service is perfect for you. Save yourself possible denials for not having everything perfect.

Service details:
  • Once the service has been contracted, you will receive the 1st email from our assigned expert. In it, he will ask you some specific questions to analyze your specific situation. In addition, you will be asked to send a copy of the complete documentation by email.
  • In a 2nd email , the expert will confirm receipt of the documentation and will ask you, if something is still not clear, additional questions.
  • In a maximum of 72 hours , the expert will send you a 3rd email with the result of the final review . If everything is correct, it will simply tell you that you are ready to submit your application and will make a specific recommendation. In the event that any document is missing or one of them does not meet the required requirements, it will indicate the details so that you can correct it.
  • A 2nd additional review included: In the event that the expert has indicated changes, you can send the added or corrected documents for a 2nd time for final review.
  • All ready! Once you receive the final confirmation email, you can continue calmly with a presentation reviewed by a professional and with more guarantees of success.
Does not include:
  • No management or direct processing, telephone or whatsapp service, management of payments or fees or any other service not expressly detailed above.