Student Visa Process for Spain


This video recording will step you through the process of how to obtain a visa, who is required to get one, and will answer many of the most commonly asked questions.

Read these new updates regarding student visas in 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 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.

Please see below for important notes by consulate:  

    • Miami: This Consulate uses an agency called BLS to process visas.  You may mail in the visa  application to or schedule an in person appointment with BLS.  Must pick up the visa once processed.
    • Chicago: This Consulate uses an agency called BLS to process visas. You must request an appointment with BLS through their website.
    • Washington, DC: This Consulate uses an agency called BLS to process visas. You must request an appointment with BLS through their website.
    • Los Angeles: Appointments must be made online. 
    • San Francisco: Will accept student visa applications by USPS postal mail with a tracking number. You must email the consulate your visa materials before submitting your application by mail. 
    • Boston: They are now requiring all applicants to contact [email protected] no earlier than Sept 1 to secure an appointment. Students must make sure to bring every document required on the day of their appointment. Incomplete/Incorrect applications will automatically be returned and they will need to request a new appointment. Appointments are limited. They ask that they send only ONE email per student. 
    • Houston: Only accepting student visa applications by postal mail.
    • New York:  Visa applications must be processed using a batch service. If group visa service deadline missed, an appointment is necessary by sending an email to [email protected]. In your email, be sure to include the following information: 
      • Full name and address
      • Name of college you attend if you are a college student
      • Dates you are planning to stay in Spain
      • Copy of your college ID if you are a college student
      • Copy of your driver’s license in any case
      • Proof of residence within our jurisdiction if you are not American and do not have a driver’s license 


Please DO NOT plan any international travel during the 3 months before the start of your program. Your passport must remain at the consulate while your visa is being processed.


  • If you have a U.S. passport and your API program is 91 days or longer, you MUST obtain a student visa. 
  • If you do not already have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your planned return date, start the passport renewal process immediately. Expedited processing is recommended. Airlines will not allow you to board your flight if your passport expires within 6 months after your return date.
  • Students need a passport to apply for a visa, so make sure there is plenty of time to apply for both, if necessary! 
  • If you have a passport from a country in the European Union: You will, most likely, not need a Student Visa, even if your program is more than 90 days. The EU passport must be valid through the end of your session in Spain. EU citizens staying longer than 90 days must obtain a registration certificate at the local police station or Oficina de Extranjeros. 
  • If your passport is from a country besides the U.S. and European Union: You will need a student visa to study in Spain for more than 90 days. You must also provide your U.S. Permanent Resident Card or U.S. visa with I-20 to apply in the U.S..


  • Though processing times vary by consulate, it typically takes 4-8 weeks to issue a visa once applications have been submitted. 
  • Rushed or expedited service is not available. Visa processing cannot be expedited-please plan accordingly! 
  • Visa requirements are set and governed by the Immigration policies of the Spanish government. API cannot influence or control the time it takes to process visas nor check the status of student’s applications. It is the student’s responsibility to obtain the appropriate visa before departure. 


  • Students who are studying in Spain for more than 180 days will need to obtain a criminal background check and medical certificate.
      • Medical Certificate: Students must provide a recent doctor’s statement on the medical center’s letterhead certifying the student is free of contagious diseases.
      • Criminal Background Check (18 or older): Students must obtain an FBI background check with fingerprints legalized with the Apostille of the Hague. If you have lived outside of the U.S. within the past 5 years, you must obtain a background check from each country you have resided at. Foreign documents must be legalized or apostilled and, where applicable, must be submitted together with an official translation into Spanish. Please start this process immediately as this process can take several weeks!

Additional documentation will be required for minors. If you are a minor, please refer to the consulate’s website. It may take 1-2 additional months to process your application and obtain your materials, so we strongly recommend starting this process ASAP. API will provide an Authorization of Caretaker of Spain letter.


  • Students who live and study in the same jurisdiction may only apply at ONE consulate.
  • Students who live and study in different jurisdictions may be able to apply at one of TWO consulates*
  • Verify the consulate for your jurisdiction. Students must apply at the consulate that has jurisdiction over the state in which they reside or attend school. This website lists the jurisdiction for each consulate. 


  • If you qualify for the following consulates, you may be eligible for the API Group Visa Service*:
    • Boston
    • Chicago
    • Miami
    • San Francisco
    • Los Angeles
    • New York
  • Cost: $185-API Visa Service fee plus $160 Spanish Consular fee for U.S passport holders. For non-U.S. passport holders, students must check their consulate’s website for the exact fee.
  • Service includes:
    • API will provide expert review of submitted visa materials along with individually customized feedback regarding any corrections needed or if all is ok and ready to submit.
    • Optional one on one Spain Visa Advising via zoom or phone call.
    • Assistance with completing and assuring accuracy of visa application and supplemental information required for our batch processing appointment.  This will save you time and money from multiple trips to the Consulate.
    • API will appear on your behalf to the Consulate’s Office to submit your visa materials.  So, no need to worry about an individual appointment with the consulate or worry of getting there, etc.
    • After your student visa has been issued into your passport, API will retrieve it from the consulate and return it via FedEx; otherwise, the student must appear in person for pick-up.

API will email a student visa guide and deadlines to all eligible students. 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 [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.

*Please note that the Spanish Consulates decide the appointment dates we receive, and we are unable to offer this service outside of these dates. We strongly recommend submitting your application early to qualify for this service. 


  • If you do not qualify for the Group Visa Service or missed the deadline, you will need to obtain a visa independently through the consulate for your jurisdiction. 
  • You should book an appointment at your local consulate for a STUDENT VISA as soon as possible. Appointments can fill up quickly! 
  • Students must appear in person at the consulate to submit their visa application, if required.
  • The appointment itself should be within 90 days of your program start date and you must be enrolled in your host institution by API to attend. 
  • Aim to have the appointment scheduled no later than 6-8 weeks before the start of the program. 
  • Each consulate will have a list of required forms on their website. 

*The list of required forms is not an exhaustive list of documents, and the applicant could be asked for additional documentation if desired by the Consulate General of Spain. We recommend reviewing your consulate’s website for a full list of requirements. 


The consulate often requires original documents. API provides some of the documents. API will be sending the following documents by USPS* to your permanent address unless you indicate otherwise: 

  • API Acceptance Letter
  • API Visa Letter
  • API Housing Letter (if required by the consulate) 
  • Original Letter of Acceptance from the Spanish institution
  • Health Insurance Letter
  • Express Authorization of Caretaker in Spain – For participants under the age of 18 only

Please note that it can take 2-4 weeks after your forms are completed for your host institution to send your acceptance letter, and an additional 1-2 weeks for API to prepare and mail all your visa letters. Please keep that in mind when making your visa appointment. 

*If you would prefer to have these documents expedited once they are prepared for you after acceptance, please contact your Program Coordinator. We may be able to expedite for an additional fee. 


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. 


Most 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. 


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, 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! 
  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. 


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 later. 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. 


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. 


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. Students can apply for a visa extension in Spain, called a “prorroga de la estancia por estudios.” The extension must be requested within 60 days before to 90 days after the expiration of the student visa. The duration of this renewal is equivalent to the duration of studies, but always until a maximum of one year. 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. 


Jurisdiction: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
Address: 31 St. James Avenue, Suite 905, Boston, MA 02116
Telephone: (617) 536-2506/2527
Email: [email protected]
Average processing time: 9 weeks

Jurisdiction: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin
Website to Schedule an Appointment with BLS:
Address: BLS-200 E. Randolph Street, Suite 5100, Office Number: 5136/5137/5138, Chicago, IL 60601, USA
Telephone: (516) 888-1169
Email: [email protected]
Average processing time: 4-6 weeks

Jurisdiction: California (Counties of Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Bárbara y Ventura), Arizona, Colorado, Utah
Address: 5055 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 860 Los Angeles, CA 90036
Telephone: (323) 938-0158/0159
Email: [email protected]
Average processing time: 2-4 weeks

Jurisdiction: Florida, South Carolina, Georgia
Address: 2655 Le Jeune Rd, Suite 203 Coral Gables, FL 33134
Telephone: (305) 446-5511
Email: [email protected]
***If you prefer an in-person process instead of mailing, schedule an appointment with BLS at this website: 
Address: BLS 250 Catalonia Ave, Suite #706, Coral Gables, FL 33134
Telephone:  (786) 329-7199
Email: [email protected]
Average processing time: 4 weeks

Jurisdiction: New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey
Address: 150 East 58th Street, 30th Floor New York, NY 1015
Telephone: (212) 355-4080/81
Email: [email protected]
Average processing time: 4-6 weeks 

Jurisdiction: Alaska, Northern California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming
Address: 1405 Sutter St. San Francisco, CA 94109-5417
Telephone: (415) 922-2995
Email: [email protected]
Average processing time: 4-6 weeks

Jurisdiction: New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee
Address: 1800 Bering Dr, Suite 750 Houston, TX 77057
Telephone: (713) 783-6200
Email: [email protected]
Average processing time: 4-6 weeks 

Jurisdiction: Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, District of Columbia, North Carolina
Address:BLS-1660 L St NW, Second Floor, Suite:216, Washington, DC 20036
(516) 888-1169
[email protected]
Average processing time: 4-6 weeks 


  • Click HERE for Spain Student Visa FAQs
  • Chat with us using the chat feature on our website,
  • Email your Program Coordinator, or if you don’t have one yet, email [email protected]
  • Call the API main line at (512) 600-8900

DISCLAIMER: Consulates may change their rules, fees, 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 upon 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 their host country during their study abroad session may require additional documentation beyond the student visa for travel. 

To summarize, 

  1. You are solely responsible for obtaining the proper documentation for your study period program. 
  2. The university you will be attending requires that all students have the proper documentation for their period of study. Students who do not follow the correct procedures may not be eligible to complete their semester or obtain credit for courses taken abroad.