Do I Need a Visa to Study in Spain?
Not necessarily. If you are from an EU member state OR from Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you are in luck: you will NOT need any sort of visa to come live in Spain, whatever your reasons for doing so.
This is because the Schengen Agreement, which binds all European Union member states, allows free travel and settlement for all citizens of signatory countries between their country and any other signatory country. Likewise, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, though they are NOT EU member states, ARE signatory parties to the Schengen Agreement in particular, and so if you are a citizen of any of these countries you do not need a visa to come to Spain either, regardless of the length of your stay or your reasons for coming. Citizens of Schengen countries are also free to do paid work in Spain.
Now, if you are NOT a citizen of a Schengen country the next step is to see if you are a citizen of a country with a tourist visa waiver. Spain has reciprocal tourist agreements with many countries. If you are a citizen of any of these countries you can enter Spain as a tourist without a visa by just showing your passport and stay for a maximum of three months. Once here, you may apply for an extension of up to six months which is called prórroga de estancia. You do this at your local Oficina de Extranjeros (Foreign Office) or Comisaría de Policía (police station). Getting an extension, however, is very difficult so don't count on it unless it is due to an emergency or circumstances not within your control. If you enter Spain as a tourist without a visa you must wait at least six months before you may do so again. If you want to come back before this six month period is up, you will need a visa.
Also note that to qualify for the visa exemption you must hold a biometric passport. If you do not you will need a visa or a new passport. New passports in most countries are now biometric.
Citizens of the following non-EU countries may enter Spain as tourists without a visa and stay for three months:
|Antigua and Barbuda
||United States (excluding the Nothern Mariana Islands)
How do I obtain a Spanish Visa?
If you are not a citizen of a Schengen Country nor a citizen of a signatory country to the reciprocal tourist waiver agreement, then you will need a visa to enter Spain. Visit or telephone your nearest Spanish consular office or embassy and they will assist you in getting the visa you need. The four most common types of visas in Spain are as follows:
This is the most commonly issued visa. Basically it allows you to do exactly the same thing as the tourist waiver agreement: enter Spain for three months as a tourist. It does not allow you to do paid work in Spain and after your three months are up you must leave the European Union for at least six additional months before you can return. You must apply for this visa if you are not from a country which has signed a tourist waiver agreement with Spain.
Spanish Student Visa
Allows you to remain in Spain for the duration of your studies, research or training. You agree to leave the country once they are complete. This is necessary to study at a Spanish university for extended periods or to do a doctorate or master in Spain. It is unnecessary, however, for short term studies which do not exceed three months in length, which can be done with a tourist visa. The student visa does not permit you to work in Spain, though you may undertake an internship so long as it is not paid.
Spanish Work and Residence Visa
Allows you to live and work indefinitely in Spain. Note that some work permits restrict the sectors you are allowed to work in.
Spanish Residence Visa
Allows you to live indefinitely in Spain but not to work.