To study abroad, you must have a signed, valid passport from your country of citizenship that will not expire for a minimum of six months after your planned program end date. If you do not have a passport, or it's about to expire, make sure you apply or renew it as soon as possible. This can impact applying for your visa. Without a visa you may not be able to attend your program in Spain.
Ideally, students should have a passport or apply for passport renewal before applying to USAC to ensure a smoother pre-departure process. However, not having a passport will not hinder your USAC application.
Passport applications and renewals can take time! Processing times vary and do not include mailing time. Mailing times vary across the country. U.S. Citizens can refer to the U.S. Department of State’s website for more information about passports and processing time.
A student visa is official permission by a foreign government to live and study in that country. It typically comes in the form of a stamp or sticker that is placed directly onto a page in your passport.
Depending on your citizenship, a student visa is only required if you are studying in Spain for 90 days or more. e.g., semester and yearlong programs. U.S. citizens participating on summer programs do not require a student visa.
All U.S. passport holders must obtain a student visa through a Spanish consulate/embassy prior to departure if they are studying abroad in Spain for 90+ days. Visa processing is out of USAC’s control as visas are not guaranteed and are granted at the discretion of Spanish consulates. Preparing to apply for your visa can take anywhere from 1-2 weeks (minimum) and up to (4-8 weeks) or longer depending on your length of program. Yearlong students will need to provide additional documents, which can take additional time to process.
Additionally, the processing of your visa can take 4-8 weeks or longer to complete by the Spanish Consulates. The entire visa process includes gathering application materials, application submission, and application processing time. Take this into consideration when selecting the best term for you to study abroad.
Certain consulates may require you to schedule an appointment and appear in-person to apply for and/or pick up your visa. Requesting an appointment with specific consulates will take additional planning, time, and money on your end. If you are required to personally travel for your visa, this will be at your own expense as part of the visa process.
Please keep in mind that consulates may not be responsive and may refer you to their website to answer your questions during your visa processing time. Your Program Advisor will guide you through this process as best as possible. Visa processing and approval are at the discretion of the Spanish Consulate.
Once you submit your application, the consulate will have your physical passport booklet while your visa is processed. Therefore, traveling internationally prior to the start of your study abroad program may not be possible and will interfere with your visa application process. USAC does not recommend travel prior to the program start date.
Consulates continuously update and change information on their websites. USAC does its best to communicate updates to students, however throughout the visa process, it is also the student’s responsibility to reference the Consulate’s website during the visa submission process. USAC is not responsible for any changes made by the consulate.