Student Visa Process for Spain

You are required to obtain a student visa to participate in a program in Spain that is longer than 90 days. It is your responsibility as a student in this program to obtain a student visa before departure. You will work with a regional Spanish consulate that corresponds to your local or permanent address (see below). 

The visa is an official stamp or seal that is affixed to the inside of your passport before your departure from the United States. A visa can only be granted to you by the consulate if you supply the proper documentation regarding the purpose of your stay (i.e., academics) and proof of housing, insurance, and financial support. The consulates issue student visas only for the duration of your period of study in the host country. As such, your visa may be returned to you listing the start date of university classes rather than the start date of the API orientation. U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter Spain earlier than 15 days prior to their program start date. 

You must apply for your student visa directly through the corresponding Spanish Consulate. To determine which consulate you should be working with, we have included a list of consulates for you to verify which consulate is located in your home jurisdiction or that of your home university. 

*Due to the impacts of COVID-19, the standard visa process is delayed and visa appointments may not be available at some consulates. API is monitoring consulate updates and will communicate any changes to the visa process as soon as possible. 

Please see below for temporary changes related to COVID-19: 

  • Miami: Only accepting student visa applications by postal mail. Must pick up the visa in person once it is approved. 
  • Chicago: Appointments must be made online. Limited appointments available. Encourage use of group visa service. 
  • Washington, DC: Will accept student visa applications by USPS postal mail. Appointments can be requested via email. 
  • Los Angeles: Only accepting student visa applications by postal mail. Must pick up the visa in person once it is approved. 
  • San Francisco: Only accepting student visa applications by postal mail. Must pick up the visa in person once it is approved. 
  • Boston: Appointments need to be requested via email. Limited appointments available.
  • Houston: Appointments need to be requested via email. Limited appointments available. 


API has been able to secure group visa appointments for students that fall within the jurisdictions of the Boston, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco consulates. This means that you would pay a visa processing fee ($185) to API, then send us your visa application and supporting documentation. An API representative will appear in person at the consulate on your behalf to submit your application, so you would not need to make an independent trip to the consulate. To be eligible for this service, you must hold a driver’s license from or attend school in a state within one of these consulate’s jurisdiction, and you must send your materials to API by the visa deadline. API Group Visa Service appointment dates are chosen by the consular official to accommodate their workload and may occur before API’s application and post-acceptance form deadlines. 

API will email a student visa guide and deadlines to all eligible students. For Fall 2022, the deadlines are:

Spanish Consulate: Student Deadline:
*Chicago April 22nd
*New York May 9th
Los Angeles May 13th
Miami May 16th
Boston May 27th
San Francisco TBA
*only available for students with a student ID in this jurisdiction

If you have not received an email within 2 weeks of acceptance, but you believe you are eligible to use the group visa service, please contact the API Visa Director at v[email protected] and request that they send the message to you. It is imperative that you closely follow API’s guidelines to be eligible for our visa service. 

API will provide the following document(s) to you to submit with your visa application: 

  1. API Acceptance Letter: All students will receive this letter from API by mail. It will provide verification that you have been accepted into an API program and are eligible to apply for a visa. 
  2. API Visa Letter: All students will receive this letter from API by mail. It is addressed to the “Spanish Consulate Official” and provides verification of enrollment, proof of insurance coverage, and a guarantee of living expenses (including room & board) for your time in Spain, as specified on the Consulate’s list of visa requirements.
  3. CISI Insurance Letter: All students will receive this letter from API by mail or email. This will serve as your proof of insurance coverage for your semester.
  4. Letter of Acceptance from the Spanish university: If our records show that you are working with a consulate that requires the letter from the Spanish university (Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco), we will send this letter to you once we receive it from Spain.
  5. Express Authorization of Caretaker in Spain (For participants under the age of 18 only): Our Resident Directors will sign this letter indicating their willingness to be a caretaker for a minor. These documents will be sent to the student’s permanent home address by regular mail unless otherwise requested. If we are aware that you intend to use the API Group Visa Service, we will not send the letter from Spain or the API letters to you; rather, we will hold it until we receive your other materials so that we can submit everything to the consulate on your behalf.


You should download and print the visa application form from the website of the consulate you will be working with. We have prepared a sample application and instructions sheet to assist you when you are filling out your application. Those documents are available at the following link: 

When you are completing your application form, consult these documents to ensure that you complete your form properly. 

We have also prepared a Frequently Asked Questions document to help you with common questions that can arise during the visa process. This document is located at the following link:  

Students not eligible for API’s group visa service will receive an email from the Visa Processing Coordinator with a student visa checklist for their designated consulate. This checklist will include a sample application and instructions sheet to assist you in completing your application. If you have not received an email and would like a step-by-step guide, please contact the API Visa Processing Director at [email protected]

Visas for Academic Year Students: 

The visa for academic year students requires additional documents that will be listed on the consulate’s website. One of these documents is a Certificate of Absence of Police Records issued by state or federal (FBI) police. Local/city police background checks will not be accepted! We recommend getting the certificate from your home state when possible, as that is a less demanding process. If you cannot get a state record for some reason, you can solicit a record from the FBI, but that is a very lengthy and involved process                            (click the following link for advice on the FBI record process): All consulates require the record (FBI or state) to have an Apostille of the Hague Convention, which you can request through your state’s Secretary of State. This means that after you get the record, you must take it to the Secretary of State’s office in your home state and they will verify the document by placing an apostille on it, so plan accordingly. Some consulates also require that the record be translated into Spanish, so follow your consulate’s instructions exactly. 

Students spending an academic year in Spain are generally issued a 90-day visa from the Spanish Consulate in the United States. They will be expected to extend the visa within the first 30 days after arrival in Spain at the police station in their host city and apply for a residency card. To do so, all academic year students must remember to take to Spain the copy of the police record and medical statement that are returned to them from the Spanish consulate along with their passport. API on-site staff members will be happy to assist students with this process, but it is important to note that ALL academic year students MUST extend their visa as it will expire after the first 30 days of your program. 


All of the consulates require that you appear in person to apply for your student visa and most require an appointment. This may involve extra travel expenses (air, hotel, car, etc.) to the city where the consulate is located. Make your appointment for 60-90 days prior to your departure date and do NOT wait until the last month to do so as it may then be too difficult to get an appointment or insufficient time for the consulate to process your application. 

Steps for Applying for the Visa 

These are the current steps to apply for a visa. We will provide some information regarding the latest requirements, but this information changes frequently. It is important that you double check what is printed here with the consulate – verify the information on the consulate website or confirm with them via email, fax or phone (see below for contact information). As a reminder, policies may change due to COVID-19. 

  1. Apply for or renew your passport immediately, if necessary! We recommend expediting all applications for the issuance or renewal of your passport. Your passport must be valid at least 6 months after the end of your program. 
  2. Determine which consulate handles students in your jurisdiction. Refer to the list of consulates below and the corresponding states in that jurisdiction. In most cases, you will need to apply to the consulate that serves the region of your permanent address. If permitted by the consulate in question, you may apply in the region where you attend school full-time.
  3. Obtain a visa application and the list of application requirements from the consulate in your region. Most consulates will have this information posted on their website to download. 
  4. Determine if the consulate requires that you make an appointment to have your visa processed and how the appointment should be made (online, via email, fax, etc.). If so, make an appointment immediately! Your appointment should be no less than 60 days prior to the program start date. The appointments for some consulates fill very quickly, so it is imperative that you make your appointment NOW! Some consulates require you to pay a fee to schedule an appointment. 
  5. Find out if the consulate will mail your passport back to you once they have issued the visa, or if you will have to return to the consulate to pick it up. 
  6. Complete the visa application and begin gathering the required documents. See below for more guidance and follow the instructions very carefully. Consulates are not flexible! 
  7. Check the consulate’s requirement regarding airline reservations. Some consulates require that you show an itinerary with your visa application. 

Follow Up With the Consulate 

Visa processing times vary by consulate but can range from 4-8 weeks. When submitting the application, please be sure to keep a copy of the tracking number of the return envelope so that you can track the package at a later date. Spanish Consulates do not have an expedited visa processing service. You must apply on time or you risk not receiving a visa before your program start date. Students whose passports and visas have not been returned to them prior to their scheduled departure date will have to wait for their passport and visa to be returned to them before traveling. They will not receive a discount for missed orientation activities from API. If you do not receive your visa within the consulate’s estimated timeframe, you should start tracking the return envelope to see if it has been sent, and you may want to begin contacting the consulate to check the status. Once issued, the visa is affixed to a page in your passport, and it will list the start and end date of your academic program. 

Travel Alert: 

Students should hold off on any international travel until you receive your visa and passport back. Before deciding to use our group visa service, please note that we are not in control of when Spanish consulates return the processed visas. API is given an estimate of the processing time. However, in some cases, the visas may not be returned until close to the program start date. We strongly advise not to book travel until you receive the visas and passports back! Should you have any concerns, we advise you to apply early, independently using the checklist given. 

Special Cases 

Extending your stay in Spain: Students that initially apply to study abroad for one semester and elect to extend their stay once in Spain may encounter difficulties with their student visa. Semester students are usually issued a 180-day visa from the Spanish Consulate in the United States. Students may or may not be able to extend the visa through a local police department, but policies vary by city. If students are unable to extend the visa locally, they would need to return to the United States and re-apply for a new visa before the start of the second program. The process cannot be done through mail, as the documents must be presented in person. 


Consulates may change their rules and regulations at any time. Be advised that API does not have any control over consular procedures, and requirements vary greatly between consulates. For this reason, your primary source of information regarding visas should be your local consulate. API can offer advice based on our past experiences working with participants, but please be aware that each situation is unique and immigration rules are constantly evolving. The ultimate authority on the visa process will be representatives of the consulate for your jurisdiction.

The information outlined here pertains specifically to participants who are U.S. citizens. Participants who are not U.S. citizens are advised to consult with their local consulate for requirements. API can only offer limited advice for students who are not U.S. citizens, but in many cases, non-U.S. citizens will have additional requirements for visas in terms of required documentation and locations where they are eligible to apply for their visa. Additionally, students who plan on traveling outside of Spain during their study abroad session may require additional documentation beyond the Spanish student visa for that travel. 


Generally, students must apply for a student visa at the consulate whose jurisdiction includes their permanent state of residency. Some consulates will allow students who attend school within their jurisdiction to apply based on that local address. 

*API will offer a facilitated group visa service for the consulates below noted with an asterisk. This will allow API to deliver visas on behalf of API students outside of the immediate vicinity of the consulate. Further details have been or will be sent to students living in this jurisdiction via email. Students must submit all materials and pay the required visa processing fee ($185) by the deadline stated in the email. 

Due to schedule preferences of consulates, API’s group visa appointment could be prior to regular API application deadline. 

Consulate General of Spain in Boston* 

Instructions for Boston-area students: 

  • All students living in the Boston Consulate’s jurisdiction must schedule an appointment to deliver their visa documents. Appointments must be made online. 
  • The link to schedule an appointment is at the top of the page. 
  • Scroll down until you reach the Student Visas section. 
  • The Boston Consulate will allow appointments up to 4 months in advance of the departure date. 

Consulate General of Spain in Chicago* 

Instructions for Chicago-area students:  All students studying in the Chicago Consulate’s jurisdiction must schedule an appointment to deliver their visa documents. 

Consulate General of Spain in Houston 

Instructions for Houston-area students: An appointment will no longer be required to submit your visa application. Visa applications will be accepted between 9am-12pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays. Only the first 16 applicants will be assisted. We highly recommend that you arrive at least 20-30 minutes before the consulate opens in order to submit your visa application to Spain.

Consulate General of Spain in Los Angeles 

Instructions for Los Angeles-area students: 

  • All students living in the Los Angeles Consulate’s jurisdiction must schedule an appointment to deliver their visa documents. Students must schedule an appointment by using the online appointment schedule calendar. Click the link that says “To make an appointment, please click here”. 
  • The Los Angeles Consulate will allow appointments up to 120 days in advance of the departure date, but it is recommended that you book an appointment no less than 60 days out from the start of the program. 
  • Some visa documents will have to be translated by an approved Spanish translation service. Please check your visa checklist and consulate website for more information. 

Consulate General of Spain in Miami 

Instructions for Miami-area students: 

  • An appointment will no longer be required to submit your visa application. Visa applications will be accepted Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM. 
  • We highly recommend that you come early in the morning in order to submit your visa application to Spain. 

Consulate General of Spain in New York* 

Instructions for New York-area students: 

  • All students living in the New York Consulate’s jurisdiction must schedule an appointment to deliver their visa documents. 
  • Scroll down to a list of requirements under “Student Visas”. 

Consulate General of Spain in San Francisco* 

Instructions for San Francisco-area students: 

  • Students should visit the website to schedule an appointment to deliver their visa documents to the consulate and access the visa requirements. 
  • Scroll down until you see the link for “Student Visa Guidelines” under the Long Term heading. This will open a .pdf document with the requirements. 

Consulate General of Spain in Washington, D.C. 

Instructions for Washington, D.C.-area students: 

  • Applications will be accepted on a first come first serve basis. 
  • The Visa office is closed on Fridays. 

Consulate General of Spain in Puerto Rico 

Instructions for students: The consular website does not list visa application procedures or required documents. Please contact the consulate to request the student visa application information.