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What are the pros and cons of Spain’s student visa?

Enrolling on a course and applying for a student visa is one way for non-EU citizens of any age to be able to live in Spain beyond the regular length of a tourist stay, but what exactly are the pros and cons of Spain's student visa that applicants should know about?

Mature students in Spain
Spain's student visa. Photo: Mikael Kristenson / Unsplash

Student visas are available to all non-EU citizens, providing that they are accepted onto a course and that they meet all the necessary requirements.

Those who want to study for less than 90 days can do so without the need for any type of student visa, while those whose course lasts 90 days or more will have to apply for a short-term or long-term student visa, depending on the length of their course. 

Here’s what you to need know about Spain’s student visa process and its pros and cons, before you decide whether it’s right for you or not.


You are able to work up to 20 hours per week

If your student visa is granted, then you will have the right to get a part-time job in Spain, providing that you don’t work over 20 hours per week.

This could be a great help in supporting yourself while you’re studying. The only caveat is that your job can’t interfere with your studies – if you’re here on a student visa, then your course has to be your priority.

You are able to apply for internships in Spain

As well as being able to work in Spain, you are also able to do an internship. You may have to undertake a professional internship as part of your course or you may choose to do one and apply for it on your own.

In both cases, your internship cannot exceed 20 hours per week. You are also able to apply for residency for professional internships. This is a residence authorisation that is granted to those studying higher education degrees or those who have completed them within the last two years. The duration of the residency permit equals the duration of your internship.

You can bring some family members with you

Another great thing about the student visa is that you’re able to bring a family member with you to Spain. To do this, you can request a joint application and include them on your student visa.

Keep in mind, you can’t just bring any family member, it must be your husband or wife, your civil partner or any dependent children under the age of 18.

There is no age limit and your visa can be for many different types of studies

Anyone can apply for a student visa, no matter their age. It’s not just for typical college-aged students, it could be for mature students coming to do a Master’s Degree, a PhD or even someone undertaking scientific research. 

You are able to start your application from your home country or within Spain

Typically, you would apply for your student visa from your home country at the nearest Spanish consulate or embassy, however since 2018, it has also been possible to apply while in the country.

This means that you could technically arrive in Spain on a tourist visa, find and enroll on a course and then apply for your student visa, without having to leave the country.

You can extend your stay

Also since 2018, it has been possible to extend your stay in Spain for an additional year after your studies have been completed. This allows you to be able to search for a job or start your own company. Be aware though, the granting of the extension will depend on the length of your course. 

students in Spain

Students can work up to 20 hours a week in Spain. Photo: Naassom Azevedo / Pixabay


You can only apply for a regular work permit if you’ve studied in Spain for three years

If you’re hoping to be able to stay in Spain and get a work permit to enable to you work full time after your studies, unfortunately, you will only be able to do this if your course lasted for three years or more. This is one of the prerequisites that the Spanish government put in place for those wanting to change their visa from a student one to a work permit. 

If you were just on a one-year course, this will not be possible and you will only be able to get a job in high demand, for the highly skilled or go through the complicated process of setting up your own company and acquiring a business visa. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Spain’s visa for entrepreneurs

You will need proof of funds even before you’ve found part-time work in Spain

Unfortunately, you are not able to say that the 20 hours you hope to work in Spain is enough to support you. Along with your application form, you will have to prove that you have sufficient funds. This amount is equal to the full amount of the IPREM, which for 2022 is €579.02 per month or €6,948.24 for the year. 

Family members will not have the right to work

Although you will be able to work up to 20 hours on your student visa, the Spanish government states that any family member you bring with you does not have this right. This means that you will need to be able to support your family on a part-time job. 

If you do bring family members, you will also need to prove that you can support them when you first apply. This means showing funds of 75 percent of the IPREM for the first family member, and 50 percent of the IPREM for each additional family member after that. For 2022, this equals an extra €434.26 per month for the first family member and €289.51 for each after that.

You will need a lot of documentation

Applying for a student visa for Spain is not an easy process. It’s lengthy and can be a headache trying to get all the correct documents and paperwork. As well as your acceptance letter to the school or university, most consulates state that you will also need show evidence of a clear criminal background check, a medical certificate and possibly a homologation (validation) of your previous studies or qualifications.

If you are bringing family members, you will also need to show proof of your relationships, such as marriage and birth certificates.

You have to get private health insurance

As an international student, you will not be eligible for Spain’s public health care system and will have to pay for private health care insurance. Most Spanish consulates state that evidence of this must be presented along with your application form.

This means that being a student could prove quite costly – having to pay for your course fees, proof of funds to support yourself and your private health insurance, all before you can even begin to think about applying for a part-time job.

Short-term student visas cannot be extended

If you applied for a short-term student visa because your course only lasted between 90 and 180 days, you will not be able to extend your visa further and will have to leave the country once your course is complete.

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For members


Worker, retiree or investor: What type of Spanish visa do I need?

If you’re from a non-EU country you will need a visa in order to stay in Spain for longer than 90 days, but knowing which type of permit is best for you can be tricky. Here's how to find the right one for you based on your circumstances.

Worker, retiree or investor: What type of Spanish visa do I need?

If you are a citizen of a non-EU country then you may benefit from the 90-day rule, allowing you to visit Spain for 90 days out of every 180 without needing a visa. Countries including the UK, USA, Canada and Australia all benefit from this rule.

Citizens of certain countries require a visa even for a short trip – find the full list here.

However, the tricky part comes when you want to move to Spain and spend longer than just those three months. What are your visa options, whether you want to move to Spain to retire, to work or even to set up your own business? 


The best option for retirees is to apply for the non-lucrative visa (NLV). This allows you to live in Spain for one year, but as the name suggests you are not allowed to work.

In order to apply an applicant must show they have €27,792 at their disposal for one year (€34,740 if it’s a couple), as well as comprehensive health insurance.

If you want to stay in Spain beyond this year, you can either renew it for a further two years (again proving you have the financial means) or change your visa for a work permit or a self-employed permit through the residence modification process.

The NLV is also the best option for those who want to live abroad temporarily. Those who want to stay in Spain for more than three months, but are not planning on living here permanently. It’s ideal for those on a sabbatical for example who have savings or investments and who do not need to work in Spain while here, but want to stay here for a year. It’s also the best option for those who have the financial means to do so.

READ ALSO: What are the pros and cons of Spain’s non-lucrative visa?

retiree in Spain

The NLV is the right visa for most non-EU retirees who want to live in Spain. Photo: pasja1000 / Pixabay


If you plan on moving to Spain for work or in order to look for a job, then you will need a work permit. Unfortunately getting a work permit can be tricky because in most cases as a non-EU national, the position you apply for must be on Spain’s shortage occupation list.

Your employer will also have to prove that there were no other suitable candidates within the EU to be able to fulfill the vacancy. This means that only highly skilled workers or those that work in industries that need workers are likely to be successful. These mostly include jobs in the maritime or fishing industries or sports coaches.

If you are wanting to become self-employed, then the entrepreneur visa could be a good option, allowing you to live in Spain for one year in order to open up a business. Be aware however your business must be considered as anything of innovative character with special economic interest for Spain.

You will have to prove you have the necessary qualifications to set up your business and will also have to submit your business plan to the authorities for it to be approved. The entrepreneur visa can be extended for a further two years after your initial one has been granted.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Spain’s visa for entrepreneurs


If money is no object and you want to invest in a Spanish property then, you’ll want to apply for Spain’s golden visa. To be eligible, you must invest €500,000 before taxes in a property here. It won’t allow you to work, but it will allow you access to the entire Schengen area. This will also allow your spouse and any dependent children to move to Spain with you.

Another option for investors is the entrepreneur visa as described above, if you want to use your investment to set up a business in Spain.

Joining family members:

If you happen to have a family member who is an EU citizen and lives in Spain or a non-EU relative that has residency in Spain, then you have another option. This is called the family reunification visa. However, in order to be eligible, you need to be a spouse or a dependent child and your relative must have the means to financially support you. 



Enrolling on a course and applying for a student visa is one way for non-EU citizens of any age can live in Spain beyond the regular length of a tourist stay. 

You will have to apply for a short-term or long-term student visa, depending on the length of their course. A student advantages can several advantages such as being able to work part-time or bringing over family members. 

READ MORE: What are the pros and cons of Spain’s student visa?