This article was written in October 2022 for USA citizens looking to apply for a visa to study in Spain. Please note that USA Citizens that hold a USA passport do not need to apply for a visa if their studies are less than 3 months (up to 90 days ONLY)
USA is one of the listed countries that are eligible to enter Spain visa-free for up to 90 days. If you are a Permanent Resident of USA or a citizen from another country, please research specific rules for your country to see if you qualify for a visa-free entry or need to apply for a Schengen Student Visa instead.
What is a student Visa?
Please see the information in this other article: types of Spanish Student visas
It is important to consider that in the US each consulate is different and has its own rules and requirements. Please carefully check the website for the consulate in your jurisdiction before booking an appointment. Depending on the state you are in, you may be required to visit your consulate in person at your home address jurisdiction OR your school’s jurisdiction. Most consulates will not allow you to make an appointment more than 90 days from the start of your program.
If you are not interested in an Student visa but in another types of visa please check information for other visas to spain
The application process for USA citizens
The process is lengthy, please allow yourself enough time to gather all of the necessary documents listed below before making an appointment with your consulate.
- Valid passport or travel document, along with 2 copies of Passport photos recognized by Spain with a minimum validity equal to intended stay in Spain. Please provide the original passport and a photocopy.
- Driver’s license and/or Student Card to prove their legal residence in our jurisdiction Please provide the original and a photocopy.
- Certificate of admission in Spanish: The letter must be issued in Spain by an authorized academic institution verifying enrollment as a full-time student leading to a degree or a certificate. The letter must contain the name of the program, start and end dates, and the contact information of the school or University.
- Overseas medical health insurance coverage AND translated in Spanish ( some schools may provide this with enrollment, but if not you must purchase this from a health insurance provider, click here to see a list). Travel insurance will not be accepted.
- Proof of accommodation – hotel reservation or confirmation letter from the academic instruction indicating the conditions of your accommodation. Private housing must be accompanied by invitation.
- Proof of financial reliability : You must provide the last three months of your bank statements or the person who is covering the expenses (only parents, spouses and children will be accepted). If your family is supporting you financially, they must have the statement sworn before a Notary giving consent to cover your expenses during your stay in Spain. Please refer to your consulate for the minimum amount of funds needed.
- Medical certificate (with Spanish translation) is required if the duration of stay is over 6 months. Please have your medical doctor prepare a letterhead, sign and stamp to present to the Consulate of Spain. If your medical doctor prepares the letter in English only, you must have the letter translated in Spanish using a Sworn Translator from Spain. Click here for a list of Sworn Translators.
If your medical doctor is comfortable with issuing the letter in Spanish only or with both English and Spanish in the letter, signed and stamped, no Sworn Translators are required.
Please note that you need to provide two copies to the Consulate of Spain where the photocopy will be used to process the visa and the original will be sealed and returned to you to present later in Spain when processing your TIE application.
The medical certificate does not need to be apostilled.
- Police Check: if the duration of the stay is over six months, a Police Check issued by the authorities of all the countries where an applicant has resided for the last 5 years
The Police Criminal record check must be accompanied by fingerprints and cannot be older than 3 months from the application date.
For criminal record documents issued by a state authority, they must be apostilled by the Secretary of State of your state. If the document has been issued by a federal authority, you must get the Apostille from the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. You cannot get a criminal record document issued by a state authority apostilled by a federal authority.
- Flight reservation or travel itinerary.
- Visa application form completed and signed with two (2) recent full-face color photographs with white background taken in person by a commercial photographer or studio no more than six months before the application is submitted. Link to the visa application form can be found here
- Certified funds (money order or cashier’s check) for Visa fee. The payment must be made to “CONSULATE GENERAL OF SPAIN”. Student visa fee for US citizens is $160. Please note that credit cards, debit cards, and cash will not be accepted.
Disclaimer: Please also note that the information above should be used as a reference guide while applying for a Student Visa for Spain. Information may be subject to change with the Spanish Consulate of your jurisdiction, and it is up to the reader to be well informed and be updated by visiting the information on the Consulate of Spain website.
Get your tarjeta de identidad de extranjero (tie)
a) Registration of your address (Padron)
Applying for a student visa is just half of the work. Once you arrive to Spain the next step is to find housing and book the appointment to get an empadronamiento (registration of your address with the city hall).
To get an appointment for your Padron, you can dial 010 which will connect you to the office. The only languages spoken are Catalan and Spanish.
If you are finding housing through an agency, please remember that you must show the original handwritten signatures of your contract at the city hall for your Padron.
A photocopy of your contract is not possible.
If you do not have a contract, the other option is to have your landlord provide the following things to you: a written letter in Spanish or Catalan stating that the landlord authorises you to live in his or her flat at this address. The letter needs to have the landlord’s name, address, rent payment and the date of move in. The landlord also needs to provide a photocopy of her ID (DNI) as well.
If the landlord does not want to go through the documents, try to have him or her accompany you to the office where he or she will just show the ID and sign some papers.
b) TIE appointment:
It is important to clarify that the TIE is necessary for all non-Eus living in Spain whereas Eus not from Spain must apply for a NIE instead. We will not discuss the NIE in this article.
For Non- EUs who have applied for the student visa back in their home country, you will already have a NIE issued along with your temporary student visa that has been approved by the Spanish embassy or consulate. However, you must register a TIE which lengthens the duration of your visa.
To get a TIE you must book an appointment online and it is very challenging, but possible to get this appointment yourself. The government releases a handful of appointments each day, but they almost always get booked up. Unfortunately there is a group that is colluding in stealing these appointments and selling them in the market for exorbitant prices. Some can range to 100 euros or more to have an agency give you the TIE appointment. The Spanish government has not done anything to stop this activity. If you have the patience and want to save money, it is possible that you can find an appointment yourself. The website to access is here: https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/icpplu…/index
It will just take some time for you to be able to book the appointment. A trick is to try every Monday morning as I have been told that this is the day the system releases the TIE appointments.
If on the other hand you don’t mind paying an agency to assist you and you want to save time and peace of mind with securing a TIE appointment, finding an agency may be a better choice.
c) Getting your documents ready
Once you get the TIE appointment booked, the rest of the other things are easy. You must have the following this prepared for the appointment
1. Paid tax form 790 Codigo 012 Policia (15,92€ for the initial card). You print out the tax form and go to any bank to pay it (it is also possible to pay by some ATM machines).
1. Original passport
1xCopy of the entry stamp to the Schengen zone within the validity of the visa.
2. 2x recent ID photos with white background – SPANISH ID FORMAT ”tamaño carnet”
3. Empadronamiento (not older than 3 months)
On the day of your appointment please bring all of the 3 things mentioned above. If you do not speak Spanish you can hire someone to assist you with the translation or bring a friend to help. You will need to do your fingerprints and afterwards you will be asked to come back to pickup your TIE card.
The time to process can take anywhere from 30-45 days. However they will issue you a temporary TIE for you to have in the meantime while you wait for the original one to be issued. Although they require you to go on the website to book a day for TIE pickup, you can just show up at the office to pick up your TIE within the time period without really needing to book an appointment. Several of my classmates have gone and picked up the card without any appointments booked.