US Citizens are allowed to stay in Spain for up to 90-days on a Tourist Visa. The Tourist Visa is free and doesn’t require any paperwork, but you cannot work or study long term in Spain with this type of visa. From my experience, you can only enrol in a short term course, such as TEFL Barcelona’s 4-week intensive TEFL Certification Course. Non-EU citizens interested in remaining in Spain for longer than 3 months should apply for a long term Student Visa (Type-D). The easiest and most affordable way to remain in Spain long term (and legally!) is to sign up for one of TEFL Barcelona’s Student Visa Programs. They provide all the support and resources you’ll need to apply for the Student Visa work permit in order to work and live in Spain legally. This program is ideal for TEFL teachers who want to teach English in Barcelona long term. To qualify for a long term Student Visa in Spain, you must study for at least 20 hours/week and for a duration of at least 7 months.

Student Visa Programs Offered by TEFL Barcelona

  1. 160-hour TrinityCertTESOL Course + Spanish Language Course
  2. 160-hour TrinityCertTESOL Course + Teacher Development Course
  3. 190-hour TEFL Certificate Course + Spanish Language Course
  4. 120-hour TEFL Certificate Course + Spanish Course + Teacher Development Course
  5. Teacher Development Visa Course: Ideal for TEFL graduates who are already certified and interested in further developing their teaching skills. 
  6. Spanish Language Visa Course: Ideal for those who wish to stay in Spain and work while learning Spanish

For more information about the student visa programs please see

How to Get Started

Step 1: Contact TEFL Barcelona ( to enrol in one of their Student Visa Programs. Confirm the type of course and the duration. 

Step 2: Book an appointment with the Spanish consulate but make sure you give yourself enough time before the appointment date to gather and prepare all necessary documents (listed in Step 4). Depending on which consulate you apply with, your appointment may be in-person or they may allow you to apply by mail.

Step 3: If you haven’t already done so, confirm your course start date with TEFL Barcelona, that way they can write you a letter of acceptance, which is required for the visa application process. (You can start working on the visa application if you haven’t decided on dates yet. Just make sure to have this confirmed and ready before your visa appointment.)

Step 4: Start preparing the necessary documents for your Student Visa application.

Check the exact requirements with your local Spanish consulate, but this typically includes:

  • Student Visa application
  • Valid passport
  • Letter of acceptance from TEFL Barcelona with course dates 
  • Passport size photo (to glue onto your visa application) 
  • Proof of financial means for the duration of your stay or a notarized letter from your parents/guardians having full financial responsibility during your stay. You must show bank statements with an ending balance that exceeds the minimum requirement of $700 per month of your stay. 
  • Criminal Background Check (from the FBI for US citizens)
  • Health insurance
  • Medical Certificate (stating you’re in good condition to study abroad)

Step 5: Once your visa is approved, contact TEFL Barcelona and confirm your course dates. 

The Student Visa Application Process

How do I know which consulate to apply for a Student Visa with?
You will need to apply for a Student Visa with the Spanish consulate in your home state. Simply search the web to know where your nearest Spanish consulate is located. For example, I’m from New York and had to apply through the Spanish consulate in New York City. Those from New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Delaware can also apply through the NYC consulate.

How do I apply for the Student Visa?
Go to the website of the Consulate of Spain in your jurisdiction for their specific instructions on how to apply for the visa. For those applying through the Consulate of Spain in New York, go to the tab “Consular Services” click “Appointments at the New York Consulate.” Scroll down to “Appointment System (Long Term Visas).” From there, you will create a username and password and be able to schedule an appointment with the consulate. Make sure to schedule this as soon as you can, as visa appointments may not be available as soon as you think. When scheduling your appointment, make sure you have enough time to prepare all the necessary documents. From my experience, at least 2 months is a good amount of time.

How much is it to process the visa?
Visa fees vary depending on your nationality and the type of visa you’re applying for. As a US citizen, the fee for a long term Student Visa through the NYC Consulate is $160. The only form of payment that the Consulate accepts for long term visas are money orders obtained from the USPS post office.




Obtaining an FBI Background Check (US Citizens)

How do I obtain a Criminal Background Check?
A criminal background check administered by the FBI is required. You can submit your request electronically or through the mail. I recommend submitting your request electronically directly with the FBI. Go to to request your background check. As part of the application, you will need to get fingerprints done. These can be done at your local or state police department, or any agency that provides fingerprinting for visa applicants.

Can my fingerprints also be submitted electronically?
If you take your fingerprints through a participating US Post Office, you can submit your fingerprints electronically. Go to for a list of participating locations. You may also mail in your fingerprint card. I had my fingerprints done with Identigo. The total cost was $48 and included 2 fingerprint cards. I then mailed these to the FBI. Make sure to submit your application for your background check first before mailing in your fingerprints. They’ll confirm the address of where to send the fingerprint cards.

How much does an FBI Criminal Background Check cost?
The cost of a criminal background check is $18. You may pay with credit/debit card, money order, or certified check.

The Visa Application says my Background Check must be apostilled. How do I get that done?
An apostille is an additional authentication process provided by the US Department of State that certain countries require in order to accept your documents. Spain is one of these countries. I chose to get mine done through They charge $195. There are plenty of companies that can provide an apostille for different fees. Simply search the web for “FBI Background Check apostille.

Getting Medical Insurance and a Medical Certificate 

Medical Insurance: You are required to have international insurance coverage for the duration of your course. The Consulate of Spain in New York states that your insurance must have a minimum coverage of at least 30,000. Make sure to check the exact requirements with your specific Spanish consulate. 

Here are a couple of recommended insurance options:

  1. AME
  • Go to their website
  • Scroll down to “Request more information” to request a quote 
  • In your message, include your:
    • Medical insurance dates 
    • The type of visa you’re applying for (Type-D Long Term Student Visa)
    • City and country of origin
    • Date of birth
  1. Cigna

Medical Certificate: You will also need a ‘Medical Certificate’ from your doctor (or any doctor you can see) indicating that you have been examined and are in good condition to study abroad. Let your doctor know that this must be on official medical letterhead. 


What to do Once You Arrive in Spain 

Step 1: Book your TIE Appointment 

  • You will need to request your Foreigner Identity Card (known as TIE) within one month of your arrival in Spain. 
  • You can schedule an appointment for a TIE card online through your local police department in Spain. 

Step 2: Get Empadronado 

Step 3: Documents needed for TIE

Extending Your Visa in Spain 

Step 1: Get Empadronado 

Step 2: Documents needed for TIE


Good luck and Happy Teaching!

For more about my TEFL experience and time living and teaching abroad, feel free to connect with me.

Christine Jacob