Spanish student visas – all your questions answered!

25 Feb 2019 Maria Di Mario no responses

If researching the Spanish visa system is raising more questions than it answers, then we’ve got good news – we’ve done the legwork for you! Read on for everything you need to know about the Spanish student visa. 

1. What are the requirements to be eligible for a Spanish student visa?  

  • You need to be enrolled in a full time programme of study. This can take one of two forms – you can either sign up for our Developing Teacher course, or enrol in Spanish classes with our sister school, Languages4Life. 
  • Your passport needs to be valid for the length of your stay in Barcelona. 
  • You need to be able to show you have enough money to cover the time you’re planning to live here, though if you don’t have a lot of money in the bank there is a workaround – your parents/guardian can write a letter assuming financial responsibility for you. 
  • You have to have medical insurance. 
  • If you’re planning to stay for more than six months (believe us, you’ll be glad you did), you’ll also need a medical certificate giving you a clean bill of health and a criminal records check. 

2. Do I need to have all my documents translated into Spanish?

  • Yes you do – everything apart from your bank statement.

3. How long does it take to gather all the documents and complete the application process for the Spanish student visa?

  • It’s a minimum of two months – which gives you plenty of time to complete all levels of Spanish Duolingo!

4. Can I combine different courses for my Spanish student visa?

  • You can only do this if the courses are at the same institution and they specify that you’re doing a combined course in your visa letter.

5. I heard it can be difficult to work officially on a Spanish student visa – what do I need to do?

  • Good news – working officially is actually quite simple! You can work for up for 20 hours a week, and given that the average English teacher works about 25 hours a week it’s only slightly less than a full timetable, which just gives you more time for learning Spanish/exploring Barcelona/eating tapas.
  • TEFL Iberia and the school where you’re planning to work will need to sign a convenio de practicas, which is an agreement over how many hours you do (i.e. not more than 20).
  • Once you get a job, your employer will need to apply for a work permit on your behalf, but it’s a very simple process. The only complicating detail is that your job contract can’t exceed your stay as detailed on your student visa, but that’s not an issue for most language schools who operate on nine or ten month contracts for their teachers.

6. Is it even more challenging for non-native English teachers on a Spanish student visa to find work?

  • It’s the same process as it is for native English speakers from non-European countries – it’s actually fairly straightforward, and while native teachers are sometimes requested by private students, academies are usually more interested in your qualifications and teaching experience.

7. Does teaching private classes count towards my total number of hours worked?

  • No, any private, cash-in-hand classes that you teach won’t count towards the official number of weekly hours you can work.

8. I’m here on a tourist visa and I want to switch to a long term Spanish student visa – do I have to go home to apply and wait for the 90 days?

  • Yes you do – but processing the visa takes a minimum of two months so the 90 days will pass quickly, and once your visa is all sorted you’ll have just enough time to organise your “I’m moving to Europe” party!

9. Can I extend my student visa from within Spain or do I need to return home?

  • Yes you can! If you have a long term student visa (more than 6 months) you can apply from within Spain. You need to apply for an extension, with the supporting documents, within the final two months of your current visa. And if moving to Spain permanently is your long-term goal, then it is possible through the student visa system. Anyone who has spent three years living here on a student visa is eligible to apply for full residency and a work permit.

10. Is renewing my Spanish student visa as complicated as applying for it in the first place?

  • It’s not quite as complicated – you won’t need to redo your criminal background checks, but you will need to have a Spanish bank account with enough money to cover the period for which you’re renewing, along with all the necessary insurance. However, renewals are approved at a slightly lower rate so you’re best to go for the longer visa possible in the first instance, which is 12 months.

11. Can I travel while I’m waiting to renew my student visa?

  • Absolutely – you’ll need an autorización de regreso from the police station but once you’ve got it, you can travel freely. Go on, book that weekend in Paris – treat yo’self!

If you have any further questions, or you’d like to get in touch for our help with applying for the student visa, then just send a message to Carley who manages all the visa applications, at