International students (from outside of the EU/EEA/Switzerland) who wish to come to Spain to start their education or to continue with their higher education must in most circumstances, apply for a student visa before arriving in Spain to start their studies. There are different visa applications depending on the length of the program and the age of the student.
International students studying in Spain for more than six months.
If you intend to study in Spain for more than six months, you will have to get a student visa from Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country or closest to where you live before arriving in Spain. You will have to provide confirmation that you have been accepted to study in Spain in a recognised institution, proof of health insurance valid in Spain, and that you have sufficient funds to support yourself while you are studying in Spain.
After arriving in Spain you will need to apply for a student residence permit (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero or “TIE”) within 30 days of your arrival. This is a physical biometric card that can be obtained at the police station and must be renewed yearly. It is also possible to obtain a student visa within Spain if you are in Spain legally. If you are in Spain and hold a tourist visa or come from a country for which a tourist visa is not required to enter Spain, you can apply for your student visa in Spain. Very often that simplifies the student visa application process.
International students studying in Spain for less than three months (90 days)
If you intend to study or do academic research in Spain for less than 3 months, you won’t need a visa to enter Spain unless you come from a country where a visa is normally required for entry purposes.
International students studying in Spain for between three months (90 days) and six months (180 days).
If you intend to study or do academic research in Spain for more than 3 months but less than 6 months, you may be required to obtain a student visa before arriving in Spain but once you are in Spain, you will not be required to apply for the TIE.