Getting Visas to Spain
Do I Require a Visa to Enter Spain?The rules with regard to obtaining a visa in Spain (and to who actually needs one) depend on a number of factors, including your legal country of residence, and the length and purpose of your stay.
Spain is one of the many countries belonging to the Schengen Area. The Schengen Area, named for a town in Luxembourg where the agreement was executed, consists of 26 European countries that have eliminated passport and immigration controls at their common borders. Once the agreement that led to its creation was signed by all parties, the Schengen Area essentially became a single country for the purposes of international travel, with a common visa policy. By joining the Schengen Area, member countries agree to abolish internal border controls with other Schengen Area members, while concurrently beefing up external border controls with non-Schengen Area nations. Currently, the Schengen Area is composed of the following countries, listed here in alphabetical order: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
As part of Portugal, the Azores and Madeira are also included in the Schengen Area, as are the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands, as part of Spain. A special case are Ceuta and Melilla—Spain’s autonomous cities in northern Africa. These two cities are considered part of the Schengen Area, but border controls are still in force in these cities. In addition, although France is part of the Schengen Area, its overseas possessions are not.
Residents living in any of the above-mentioned countries or regions—Schengen Area Members—do not require a visa to enter Spain, regardless of the length or purpose of their visit. However, they are required to register with the police after 90 consecutive days in the country, although many do not always abide by this rule and the policy is not heavily enforced.
Nationals of many other countries, including Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, NZ, and the USA, do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days in Spain, although some of these nationalities may be subject to restrictions in other Schengen countries and should check with the consulates of all Schengen countries they plan to visit. These additional countries/regions, whose residents can visit Spain for up to 90 days without a visa, are many in number. Together with the Schengen Area members they make up a list informally known as the “White Schengen List.” These additional countries include: Albania , Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda , Argentina, , Australia (including the Cocos Islands, Norfolk Island, Christmas Island), Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Japan, South Korea , Liechtenstein, Macao, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand (including the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau), Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Romania, Saint Christopher and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Taiwan, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (including the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Bermuda), United States of America (including Virgin Islands of the United States, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico), Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela.
While citizens from the Schengen Area states can essentially spend an unlimited time in Spain without obtaining a visa, this is not the case for individuals hailing from the countries mentioned in the list above. Without a visa, the citizens of the above-named countries “may not stay longer than three months every half-year or take up gainful employment requiring a work permit.” There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule:
- Individuals who are citizens of European Union member-countries are permitted to remain in Spain longer than the 90 days and take up employment.
- If necessary, citizens of member states making up the European Economic Area and some other countries may obtain a residence and/or work permit after entry into Spain.
- Individuals hailing from Honduras, San Marino and Monaco may obtain resident permits upon entry, as long as they do not intend to enter into employment.
- British nationals, living overseas with corresponding BN (O) passports are exempt from the visa requirement.
- The visa waiver applies only to holders of biometric passports, excluding holders of Serbian passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate.
Visa RequirementsCitizens of all other nationalities (and people from the “White Schengen Area” states who plan to be in the country longer than 3 months) must obtain a visa to legally enter Spain (student visas vary somewhat from resident, work and travel visas and will be explained in greater detail below). The requirements for a visa vary depending on the individual’s nationality, passport and type of travel document used, as well as the purpose and duration of his/her trip.
To apply for a Spanish visa, applicants will need to fill out and/or prepare several documents, including:
- The visa application, fully completed (a photocopy of the application must also be submitted).
- Valid passport and one copy
- Valid identification
- Passport photographs (2)
- Proof of health insurance document (and one copy)
- Proof of accommodations in Spain, whether a hotel or other residence
- A current bank statement (and one copy)
- Letter of reference from employer (or educational institution)
The time it takes to process a Spanish visa can also vary, but in most cases applicants will be notified within 30 to a maximum of 60 days. Keep in mind that no visa is ever granted on the spot, and travelers should always apply well in advance of their departure date to ensure the entire process will be completed before their trip commences. Upon being notified that their visa has been granted, applicants are required to collect their visa within two months, or risk having to repeat the application process. All visa holders, whether they hold a travel, residence, work or student visa, must obtain a foreign national’s identity card within one month of his/her entry into Spain.
Once a visa is granted, the purpose of the visit and/or the duration of the stay cannot be changed. Individuals are urged to carefully check their approved visa for any printing errors or omissions that may affect their ability to work or take up residence in Spain.
Spain and Student VisasWhile citizens of the United States, nationals from EU countries and students from Schengen Area member states do not require a student visa to study in Spain for less than 90 days, all individuals of all other nationalities do require a student visa, even for this short period of time. Moreover, all non-Schengen Area nationals who intend to study or perform educational research in Spain for a period exceeding 90 days must obtain a student visa.
All applications for a Spanish Student Visa must be submitted in person, either by you or through an authorized representative (it must have a notarized authorization). Applications are not accepted by mail.
Students who are married and/or have children under the age of 18 can also apply for a visa for their spouse and children when submitting their student visa application. Once granted, the visa will be affixed to your passport before you depart from your home country and it must be presented at your point of entry into Spain.
The documents required to apply for a Spanish Student Visa are similar to the documents mentioned above and include:
- Two fully-completed Student Visa Application Forms (and applications for spouses and dependents over the age of 6)
- Passport. The passport submitted must be valid for the entire period in which you plan to study in Spain and must have at least one blank page on which to affix the student visa.
- A valid identification card.
- Two recent, passport-size photos, each with a white background (staple one photo on each of the application forms).
- Letter of acceptance from either the Spanish University or Study Abroad Program you plan to attend. These should include the name, complete address, and registration number of the institution; proof of tuition payment; duration of the program; subject(s) being studied; and the hours of study per week (at least 20 hours of study per week are required in order to obtain a Student Visa in Spain).
- Proof of health insurance/coverage
Proof of financial means during your stay, which can include one of the following:
- Letter from Spanish University or other program assuming full financial responsibility for you during your time in Spain.
- Proof of financial aid or scholarship award (must include at least $1,000 per month for room and board).
- Notarized letter from your parents or legal guardian assuming full financial responsibility for you during your stay in Spain.
- Copy of personal bank account (current funds must be equal or greater than $1000 per each month of your intended stay).
- Money order for Student Visa application fees, made payable to the Consulate of Spain (the exact dollar amount of the fees required for application submission may vary depending on your nationality).
- Self-addressed-stamped envelope if you wish to have your passport/visa returned to you by mail.
- Legal copy of birth certificate, showing your name and the signatures of both of your parents.
- Medical certificate. Students who plan to stay in Spain for a period greater than 6 months must submit a certificate from their doctor, issued no more than 3 months prior to the application date, indicating they are in good physical and mental health and have no extraordinary medical problems.
Student visa applicants must submit their application at least 7 weeks before, and no sooner than four months in advance of their planned departure date. Student visas take approximately 6-7 weeks to process, and during that time, no telephone consultations will be taken by the Spanish Consular office regarding your visa application.
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