Due to the changing nature of visa regulations, please contact the PRESHCO Program Administrator for the most updated visa information.
You must obtain a Long Stay Visa from the Consulate General of Spain that represents the jurisdiction in which you live permanently or study. This process can take up to three months, so please do not plan to travel outside the United States during this time as you will have to leave your passport with the Consulate.
Most Spanish Consulates require you to apply in person, and some require you to pick your visa up in person. If you live or study in the Boston Consulate jurisdiction you can choose to have your visa processed through PRESHCO. You will be notified in your acceptance documents as to when you will need to turn in all of your visa paperwork.
If you plan to study in Spain for the full academic year you will need to obtain a background check from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). Some consulates allow state background checks (check with the consulate in your jurisdiction). FBI background checks can take 3-4 months, so you must start this process early. Background checks must be legally translated into Spanish and must carry an Apostille notarization.
If you only apply for Fall semester but think there might be a chance you will extend to Spring semester, you are highly encouraged to apply for a full year visa as it is very difficult to extend your visa once abroad.
FAQs About the Visa Process
Q: Who needs to apply for a student visa?
A: U.S. citizens studying in Spain on Semester or Academic Year programs that last longer than 90 days are required by Spanish law to obtain a student visa. Students who are not U.S. citizens should contact the Spanish embassy in their home country about visa requirements.
Q: Where do I obtain my student visa?
A: You must apply for your visa at the Spanish consulate for your jurisdiction. Check here to see which consulate you should use. Some consulates allow students, who attend a college or university in their jurisdiction, to apply even if the student's permanent address is in a different jurisdiction. However, you should always check with the consulate directly, as policies change and do vary from consulate to consulate. PRESCHO will process visa applications for students in the Boston Consulate jurisdiction as long as we receive all completed documents and a valid passport by the date specified in the acceptance letter.
Q: When should I apply for my student visa?
A: If you live or go to school in the jurisdiction of the Spanish Consulate of Boston PRESHCO can apply for the visa on your behalf. If you are outside the Boston jurisdiction, you should contact the consulate in your jurisdiction immediately to research the student visa application procedure specific to your consulate. Spanish consulates impose tight time restrictions on the student visa process, so plan ahead!
If your consulate requires that you schedule an appointment to apply for your visa, you must do so right away! Aim to have your appointment scheduled no later than 7-10 weeks before the start of your program; otherwise you may run into issues getting an appointment. If your consulate does not require that you schedule an appointment, you should apply for your visa no later than 7-10 weeks before the start of the program.
An FBI background check or state background check is required for Academic Year students or those staying in Spain for over six months. Please check the visa requirements for your Spanish consulate to see if this background check will be required, and allow ample time for its completion.
Q: How long does the visa process take?
A: Most consulates are slow and backed up with applications. Though processing times vary by consulate, it typically takes 7-10 weeks to issue a visa once your application has been submitted. Always check the consulate's website for the most up-to-date estimations on processing time.
You need a passport in order to apply for your visa, so make sure you have plenty of time to apply for both, if necessary! The consulate may keep your passport while processing your student visa. Plan accordingly, if you are traveling abroad between the time that you apply for your visa and the time that you depart for Spain.
Q: What if I am studying abroad during the fall semester?
A: Everyone is required to get a visa to study in Spain. If you are studying abroad during the fall semester in a Schengen Area country you may be able to apply for a Certificado de Movilidad en la Unión Europea at the local police station in Córdoba upon arrival with some paperwork the program would provide.
If you are studying abroad in a non-Schengen Area country then you will either need to apply from the United States between semesters, or at the nearest Spanish consulate or embassy in the country where you are studying.
Please contact the Program Administrator immediately if you are planning on doing a fall term elsewhere so you can be properly advised on the process.
Q: What if I am an international student at my home campus?
A: International students can still do the PRESHCO program. You are encouraged to study abroad during the spring semester since it is easier to apply for a Spanish visa in the States. If you go in the fall you will need to apply for your visa from your home country Spanish consulate or embassy during the summer when you are home.
Q: How can I learn more about the visa process?
A: The Program Administrator will include a comprehensive visa information guide to you upon acceptance. If you are applying for a full academic year then you will be contacted once you start the application process. There will be options to attend an in-person visa advising session or webinar prior to the application deadline, and the Program Administrator will walk you through the entire process.