How do I apply for a student visa to legally teach English in Spain?

Spanish language schools often prefer to employ teachers from within the EU to avoid the hassle of applying for a work permit. Despite this, thousands of non-EU citizens still head to Spain every year to work as ESL teachers. A large proportion of these enter the country on a standard tourist visa and work illegally without a work permit. Although illegal, this practice is very common and rarely causes any problems for the teacher. However, one alternative for non-EU citizens to consider is to apply for a student visa which also allows you to legally teach a set number of hours each week.

What is the application process for a student visa in Spain?

To get the process underway you need to visit a Spanish Embassy at least three months before your planned departure date. At the embassy you can pick up an application form, verify the exact requirements of the visa, and make an appointment to submit your application. One obvious requirement is to enroll in a study program in Spain that is recognized by the local government. The documentation required may vary, but typically includes:

- Completed application form

- Valid passport

- Four extra passport photos

- Private health insurance policy

- Police criminal background check in English and Spanish

- Medical certificate in English and Spanish showing negative test results for yellow fever, cholera, the plague, mental illness, and drug dependency

- Proof of enrollment on study course in Spain

- Proof of accommodation

- Proof of finances (bank statement showing funds of $1,000 for every month of your stay, or notarized document from parent or similar declaring they will guarantee the funds)

What should I do on arrival in Spain?

Once you have been issued a student visa, you then need to apply for a Número de Identificación (NIE) within 30 days of arriving in Spain. This can be done via a police station or immigration office using the following documents:

- Completed application form

- Valid passport

- Copy of passport ID page

- Two additional passport photos

- Your Spanish address

How easy is it to get a student visa for Spain?

If you can meet all the criteria and provide all the required documents at the correct time, you should have a good chance of getting a student visa for Spain. Whether you plan to study in Barcelona, Madrid, Seville or Valencia, a student visa could be the perfect way to get your Spanish adventure underway.