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Visas

A visa is an endorsement placed in your passport that indicates that you are able to enter, exit and stay in a country — in this case, Spain — for a specific period of time. Although tourists from many countries may enter Spain without a visa, the length of their stay is limited to 90 days over a period of 180 days.

Visas

 

SLU-Madrid students who are not legal residents of the European Union must apply for a visa to enter Spain and study at Saint Louis University’s Madrid campus for a semester or an academic year. A visa cannot be obtained once in Spain. Be sure to leave enough time for the complete visa application process. SLU-Madrid does not reimburse visa costs, even in the case that a visa is not granted.

SLU-Madrid requires students to provide evidence of their legal residency in Spain. Failure to present the appropriate student visa upon arrival or to maintain legal residency as a student will result in immediate withdrawal from classes and expulsion from university housing. Refunds will be issued according to the refund policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a visa?

SLU-Madrid students who are not legal residents of the European Union must apply for a visa to enter Spain and study at the Madrid campus. This includes any student who plans to study for more than 90 days, in most cases.

The majority of students who plan to study at SLU-Madrid over the summer (one or both of the summer sessions) do not need a visa as they will be in Spain fewer than 90 days. However, a visa may be required for students of some nationalities, even in the case of summer sessions.

You can consult the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation’s list of nationalities for which a visa is required to enter Spain for a period of less than 90 days.

Which visa should I apply for?

There are two types of student visas for Spain:

  • Short-stay visa (valid for stays of up to 180 days): For students who will be studying at SLU-Madrid for under six months or one semester. This could be called "short-stay" visa or "long-stay up to 180 days" depending on the consulate.
  • Long-stay visa (valid for stays of more than 180 days): For students who plan to study at SLU-Madrid for more than one semester (two or more semesters). This visa is required in order for students to obtain their student residency card, the tarjeta de estudiante, within a month after arrival in Spain. This ID card will allow you to stay in Spain until the completion of your studies and to travel in and out of the country. SLU-Madrid’s Office of Student Life will assist you in obtaining the tarjeta de estudiante.
Where should I apply?

Students wishing to obtain a student visa to Spain must apply at one of the 117 Spanish consulates or within the consular section of an embassy worldwide. Note that proximity to a consulate does not mean you are within that consulate's jurisdiction; to check which consulate you should apply to, visit the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation website. Remember that you may have to travel to another country, as mail-in applications are not commonplace.

Each consulate has their own system for appointments, and some consulates allow walk-in applications. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to your consulate's web page.

We advise you to read the requirements carefully, as most of the frequently asked questions regarding application procedures and materials are answered on each consulate's web page. Note that requirements vary between consulates.

As a rule of thumb, student visas for Spain take approximately four to six weeks to process from the time an applicant submits an application. But keep in mind that collecting the documentation that you need to present as part of your application can take time.

What sort of documents will I need for the student visa application?

Generally speaking, a successful visa application will include, but may not be limited to, turning in the following:

  • Completed Spanish Visa application form
  • Photo ID in addition to a current passport
  • Proof of full-time university enrollment
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of sufficient funds
  • Certificate of Good Health (for stays of over 180 days)
  • Certificate of Good Behavior (for stays of over 180 days)
  • Fee (varies by country of application)

Your best source of information is the consulate to which you will apply, as requirements vary.

Applying from the United States

The United States is serviced by nine consulates in different geographic areas of the country, including Puerto Rico. Remember that proximity to a consulate does not mean you are within that consulate's jurisdiction; to check which consulate you should apply to, visit the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation website.

Applying from outside the United States

Students wishing to apply for a student visa to Spain must apply for this document at one of the 117 Spanish consulates worldwide or within the consular section of an embassy. Note that proximity to a consulate does not mean you are within that consulate's jurisdiction; to check which consulate you should apply to, visit the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation website.

In some cases, you may be asked to supply additional paperwork, such as proof of itinerary or proof of accommodation. Refer to your consulate's requirements and reach out to the Office of Admissions if you need additional help.

Should you need a legal translation, you can find a list of certified translators recognized by the Spanish Foreign Ministry. Search the document for the word inglés then scroll for translators within your country.

Remember that SLU-Madrid does not reimburse costs associated with applying for or obtaining the student visa, even in the case of a rejected application.

SLU Visa Service

Saint Louis University in St. Louis provides a visa service for those students who are enrolled at the St. Louis campus or whose permanent residence requires them to apply for their visa through the Spanish consulate in Chicago, Illinois. Students send the required documents and their visa application to the SLU Spanish Visa Service. A staff member submits the completed applications to the Spanish Consulate in Chicago and retrieves them on behalf of the students. During processing time, students will not have access to their passports. Students cannot use the visa service and retrieve their own passports. You can find more information about the Visa Service on SLU's study abroad website, including application deadline for fall and spring semesters.

The link contains information that may also be a useful reference for those U.S. applicants not applying through the service.

Should you need a legal translation, you can find a list of certified translators recognized by the Spanish Foreign ministry.

FBI Background Checks

U.S. students applying for a long-stay visa will need a certificate of good behavior, which documents criminal activity or the absence thereof in the last five years. This is verified by fingerprints. Some consulates ask that this document come from your state (state police background check), whereas others require it from the national level (FBI background check, in the U.S.). If you ask for a state background check, be sure to specify that it is for the entire state, and not merely the county of residence.

For a national background check, apply for an FBI background check authenticated by the U.S. Department of State with the Apostille of the Hague Convention. Obtaining background checks can take up to 12 weeks for mail requests: apply with ample time. Obtaining an Apostille can require an additional application, so allow extra time for this additional process.

The FBI now allows electronic submissions, which are processed in 3 to 5 business days after the fingerprint card has been received to the FBI offices. You can find the instructions on the FBI website.

If you submit electronically, allow an extra two business days for a hard copy of your background check to be mailed to the address you have listed on your application.

If you have lived outside of the United States for at least six months in the last five years, you will also need a background check from that country. Be sure to factor this into your application timeframe, as you may also need translations and legalizations.

FBI-Approved Channelers

If you find you are short on time for obtaining your FBI background check, there are channelers who, for a fee, will speed up the process.. SLU-Madrid strongly recommends using an FBI channeler if you are submitting your request through the mail. The FBI provides a list of approved channelers on their website.

Apostille of the Hague

The Apostille of the Hague is an authentication seal for documents obtained outside of the Schengen Zone. It certifies that the document is admissible within Schengen countries.

In the case of a state background check, you can obtain an apostille by contacting the Office of the Secretary of State for your state. FBI federal background checks require an apostille issued by the U.S. Department of State. For more information regarding the apostille at the national level, check the Secretary of State's Requesting Authentication Services page.

Remember that SLU-Madrid does not reimburse costs associated with applying for or obtaining the student visa, even in the case of a rejected application.

Visas for Minors

If you are under the age of 18 when you apply for your Spanish student visa, the Spanish consulate may require you to present additional documents. The requirements vary among consulates, so you must check with your corresponding consulate as to their specific protocol.

When you apply for the visa, at least one of your parents or legal guardians must accompany you to the consulate. The parent or guardian who does not attend needs to provide a notarized document in which they authorize the present parent or guardian to request the visa with you.

Contact your consulate directly for special instructions if you are a minor living in a single-parent/guardian household.

Spanish consulates routinely request the documents listed in order to apply for a student visa. The requirements are subject to change from year to year. Check with your consulate directly for the most accurate information:

  • Completed Spanish Visa application form
  • Photo ID in addition to a current passport photo
  • Proof of full-time university enrollment 
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of sufficient funds
  • Medical certificate (for stays that last longer than 180 days)
  • Background check (for stays that last longer than 180 days)
  • Fees (varies by country of application)
  • Written authorization from both parents/legal guardians to travel abroad,
  • certified with the Apostille of the Hague (In those countries which are not under the Hague Apostille Convention, you/your parents will have to take these documents to the Spanish Consulate for the Spanish Consul to sign and stamp the Consul’s seal.)
  • Notarized copy of parents' passports
  • Original and notarized copy of your birth certificate (issued in the last 12 months)

Spanish authorities require minors (under 18 years old) to have legal representation in Spain in order to process official paperwork. You are responsible for finding your own legal guardian. A legal guardian must be over 18 years old, a Spanish legal resident with the corresponding documentation and be available to represent you in different matters. Your guardian could be a family member or a family friend.

SLU-Madrid faculty and staff are not permitted to assume this role. The directors of some student residence halls are open to acting as legal guardians for minors. However, your parents or legal guardians must contact the directors personally to make this request and draft legal documentation prior to your arrival in Spain. The legal guardianship lasts until you turn 18. Homestays arranged by SLU-Madrid do not accept minors. 

To establish legal guardianship, you must secure the following prior to arriving in Spain:

  • Power of attorney from both parents or legal guardians authorizing the guardian in Spain, certified with the Apostille of the Hague
  • Original and notarized copy of your birth certificate (issued in the last 12 months), certified with the Apostille of the Hague
  • Your guardian in Spain must provide a letter assuming your legal guardianship while you reside in Spain (in Spanish)

Within 30 days of your arrival in Spain, you must apply for a residence card (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjera or TIE) if you will be studying in Spain for more than 180 days. The residence card establishes you as a legal resident in Spain during your studies. The visa alone does not. In order to apply for a residence card, the Spanish authorities will request the three documents listed above and a legal translation of the first two documents into Spanish.

The Office of Student Life can refer you to a legally certified translator who can provide an official translation of the power of attorney and original birth certificate into Spanish for a cost of approximately 60 euros.

When you go to the appointment to present your residence card application, your legal guardian in Spain must accompany you. Likewise, when your card has been issued and you pick it up from the police authorities, your legal guardian in Spain must accompany you.

For more information on the steps you need to follow to apply for your residence card, contact the Office of Student Life.