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Student Visas

Master's Student Visas

Important Message About Visas

If you need a student visa we highly recommend that you immediately begin informing yourself of the process by getting in contact with your corresponding Spanish consulate as soon as possible. The process will vary from consulate to consulate in the U.S. and around the world, and while the Student Services Department will help you as much as possible, there is only so much we can do as this process is external to Berklee College of Music.

Master's students need a long-stay student visa, which allows students to study for up to one year in Spain. The visa application process requires the student to present documentation at your corresponding Spanish consulate, and can take up to three months to process.

Students who fail to obtain the proper visas and authorizations for their studies at the Valencia campus cannot participate in their desired program and will forfeit any deposits that they have paid. Therefore, it is extremely important that you read the following information and clarify any questions as soon as possible with a Student Services staff member at the Valencia campus.

Who needs this visa?

All master’s degree program participants on the Valencia campus need this visa unless you are a citizen or legal resident of the European Union, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, or Switzerland.

Getting Your Visa

The following information describes the general process in order to obtain a long-stay student visa. However, you should check with your Spanish consulate before beginning the process, as the process varies from consulate to consulate.

Before Entering Spain

Step One: Make a Visa Appointment

Contact your local Spanish consulate and make a visa appointment. You can find the Spanish consulate that corresponds to you here.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • You must go to the Spanish consulate that corresponds to you in the country where you are a legal resident. In the U.S., for example, your consulate is assigned to you based on the state you live in.
  • Some consulates are busier than others. The first available appointment could be months away, or it could be within a few days. At your appointment you must present official documents provided by Berklee, which we will mail to you in an accept pack soon after sending the acceptance email.

Step Two: Gather Important Documents

Before your visa appointment you should get all the necessary documents together. You may need to have some documents translated into Spanish by an official translator, while some documents require an Apostille of the Hague. Check with your consulate for specific requirements.

The following documents are generally required to obtain a student visa, but you should check with your consulate for specific requirements:

  • Original, signed passport valid for 6 months beyond stay, with at least one empty page for the visa.
  • Visa application form and passport-size photos.
  • An official letter certifying admission to Berklee College of Music master's degree program. (Provided by Berklee in your accept pack)
  • The program of study outlining the course content. (Provided by Berklee in your accept pack)
  • A medical insurance policy covering medical expenses and repatriation in the case of accident or sudden illness for the entire period of the stay in Spain. (Provided by Berklee in your accept pack)
  • A letter from a doctor stating that the applicant does not suffer an illness that poses a threat to public health in accordance with international health regulations. This should be on the doctor's or health center's letterhead and stamped.
  • Proof of financial means during your stay. For example, an official bank statement or a notarized letter from your parents accepting financial responsibility for you.
  • A criminal record certificate issued by the authorities of your country of origin or any country in which you have lived for six months or longer during the past five years.

Again, this is a general list of required documents. You should check with your consulate for specific requirements.

Step Three: Go to Your Visa Appointment

Arrive to your appointment early with all your documents and copies prepared.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • You will present your physical passport, plus all your documents and copies.
  • Bring money to pay the visa fee. Check with the consulate beforehand to know the accepted form of payment and the amount.
  • At your appointment, ask how long they anticipate the visa processing to take, and how you will know when your visa is ready. Ask how it will be returned to you, if you need to pick it up in person, or if they mail it to you in a prepaid envelope. Each consulate has a different process.

Step Four: Get Your Visa

At your appointment you should ask how your passport and visa will be returned to you, as each consulate works differently.

The busiest time for consulates is the summer, when they process a high volume of visas for students coming to Spain in the fall, so this process could take up to six weeks or more.

Entering Spain

Enter Spain

As you pass through immigration upon entering the Schengen Area, an immigrations officer will stamp your passport. Make sure your passport gets stamped.

Once in Spain

Get Your Student Residency Card

From the time you enter the Schengen Area, you have 30 days to apply for your student residency card, which will be your national identification card while in Spain.

You will learn more about the process to get your student residency card at Berklee’s students orientation.

It will take approximately two months to complete the process and get your student residency card, which is valid for up to one year and renewable if you continue to meet the student visa conditions.

Visa FAQ

Schengen Area

What is the Schengen Area?

The Schengen Agreement, which five member states of what was the European Economic Community signed in 1985, aimed to harmonize short-term (up to 90 days) immigration practices among member countries. At present, 25 countries have signed the Schengen Agreement: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Please note that not all European Union members have signed or implemented the agreement and that not all signatory countries are members of the EU. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, and Romania are European Union members but have not yet implemented Schengen regulations. Ireland and the United Kingdom, also European Union members, have not signed the agreement. Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland, however, have signed the Schengen Agreement although they are not European Union members.
What is a Schengen Visa?

A Schengen visa is the typical 90-day tourist visa that people from some countries (for example, India, Kenya, Peru) need in order to travel to Spain (or any other Schengen country).

Citizens from certain countries are not required to obtain in advance any special tourist visa to visit Spain, and do not have to fill out a Schengen visa application. A tourist visa will be granted upon arrival in Spain and is good for 90 days in any six-month period. People who may obtain visas upon arrival in Spain include citizens of Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Holland, Honduras, Hong Kong and Macao (China), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Do I need a Schengen visa to study in a Berklee master´s degree program in Valencia?

No. Our master’s degree students stay in Spain for more than 90 days so these students need a student visa. Remember, a Schengen visa is only good for up to 90 days in any six-month period and our master’s degree students stay for up to a year; therefore, master’s degree students should not worry about a Schengen visa, no matter which country they are from.
Does my student visa allow me to travel around Europe while I am studying at Berklee?

To answer this question we need to highlight an important difference in how visas work. Visas are like keys that allow visa holders to enter Spain. Once in Spain, however, students will be required to get their student residency card, called a Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjero or TIE (often incorrectly called a NIE, because a NIE appears on the card), within 30 days of their entry into the Schengen Area.

A student visa stamped in your passport will allow you to move through the Schengen Area only while the student visa is in effect. The student visas are usually issued for 90 days, and, of course, during the first 30 days our master’s degree students are here, they will apply for their student residency card, which will allow them to stay in Spain during the rest of their studies (long after the visa stamped in their passport has expired).

Please note, however, that the student residency card, unlike the student visa stamped in your passport, does not grant you travel rights in any other Schengen Area countries. Students, please keep this in mind when you are planning trips around Europe while studying at Berklee. Simply put, while the visa stamped in your passport is valid, you should be able to travel through other Schengen Area countries but once this visa expires, your student residency card holder’s rights are tied to Spanish national territory; therefore, you may need a visa to travel to other Schengen member countries, depending on your country of origin.

Applying for a Student Visa

How many entries I should request?

You should request a multiple-entry visa.
What are the most important insider tips to remember about getting a student visa?

Challenge No. 1 Logistics
Many consulates suffer from a heavy workload during the summer months and therefore might not have an available appointment for a month or two.
Be aware of your timeline. Most students only need between two to four weeks to get their documents ready, and the Spanish government usually needs at least a month to process your student visa. You want to be here in September—don´t get caught waiting for a visa appointment.

Be sure to contact the consulate as soon as you are accepted and see when the next available appointments are for visa applications. If the consulate is asking people to wait a month or more, grab an appointment now, before you have all your paperwork done.

Challenge No. 2 Criminal Background Check
If you are applying for your visa in the United States, remember that the FBI usually takes six weeks to resolve criminal background checks. Ask the consulate if it accepts a criminal background check from the state police. If so, contact the state police where you live and see how long it would take to complete a background check. Usually, the state police can resolve your request much faster than the FBI.

Challenge No. 3 Medical Certificate
Contact the consulate and ask for information about the medical certificate. Pay special attention to what kind of wording the certificate needs to contain and what other elements have to appear (doctor´s letterhead, signature, etc). Also, you may want to ask the consulate if it has a list of doctors who provide such certificates. Many doctors on consulate lists are used to issuing the certificates and know what kind of language they need to use. If not, any family doctor can examine you and issue the certificate.

Challenge No. 4 Translating and Legalizing Documents
Verify with the consulate, which documents have to be:

a) Notarized
b) Legalized internationally (Apostille)
c) Translated by a sworn translator who is licensed to work in Spain. Often consulates have a list of sworn translators. Remember that many translators charge extra for emergency work, so be sure to notify your translators ahead of time to book their services.

I live in one country now but I used to live in another. Where do I get my criminal background check from?

Spanish law states that you need a criminal background check from all the countries in which you legally resided during the last five years.
If I present a defective visa application, how long do I have in order to correct it?

You have 10 business days to correct (subsanar) any problems in your application after you have submitted it. The 10 days are calculated starting the day after you present your application, and the days that count are Monday through Saturday (not Sunday, nor any holiday that causes the consulate to close. These holidays might be Spanish national holidays or local holidays in the country where the consulate is located).
Will I be provided a letter from the university or school in Spain or in the U.S. assuming full financial responsibility during my stay?

No. Unfortunately, Berklee does not provide students with this letter. You must fulfill this obligation by another means.
The Spanish student visa requires students to have proof of housing for their visa appointment. I don’t have my housing in Valencia yet, what should I do?

Do not worry too much about your housing requirement. Your acceptance letter should be enough proof of residence. In the rare case that it is not, you will have to book a hotel or a student residence for your first few days in Valencia so you can satisfy this agreement. Bring your paid receipt with you back to the consulate and that should fulfill the requirement.
I have a visa appointment in late August, and my visa won’t be ready in time to come to Spain. What are my options?

You CAN get into Spain for 90 days without a tourist visa IF you are from:

Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Holland, Honduras, Hong Kong and Macao (China), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, or Venezuela.

If your visa will not be ready by the time your classes start, and you are from one of the above countries, you could come to Spain and start your classes and then return to your home country to pick up your visa when it is issued. Remember, you have up to 90 days to be here without the student visa. Once you are notified that the visa is issued you have 60 days to pick it up in your home country; be careful, if you don't pick it up within 60 days, it will be canceled!

Also remember that the consulate will hold your passport while it processes your visa application, but you will need your passport to come to Spain. Therefore, you will have to ask the consulate if it will let you keep your passport while it processes your visa. The best way to convince the consulate is to bring paid plane tickets/hotel accommodations to your visa appointment. Since each consulate has a degree of administrative leeway, we cannot guarantee that it will let you hold on to your passport, but so far, all of our students and employees who have found themselves in this situation were able to keep their passports.

What happens if I arrive late for my program due to visa issues?

The academic consequences of late arrivals must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by deans Brian Cole and Camille Colatosti.
Do I have to pick my visa up in person?

Spanish law states that you must come to the consulate in person to get your passport. There have been cases in which a consulate will let someone use a courier service to retrieve his or her passport, but that decision is at the discretion of the consulate. You would have to negotiate that, and you may or may not be successful in doing so. The better you document your case (paid airline tickets, for example) the better chances you have of being able to have a courier pick up your passport. Also, there is an important nuance that you should be aware of. The consulate usually holds the passport while it processes the visa, so if you want to fly to Spain during this time, you should let the consulate know of your plans when you submit your application (again, bring paid airline ticket receipts, hotel receipts, etc.)

Immigration Issues in Spain

Can I enter Spain before the date posted on my Visa?

Entering Spain a few days before your student visa is in effect won’t be a problem if you are from the countries listed below*. Just be sure that when you enter the Schengen Area, you get your passport stamped. If, for some reason, an immigrations officer doesn’t stamp your passport (this is rare, but does occasionally happen), please be sure to keep your boarding passes and the paid receipt for your flight. You would need them to get your Spanish student residency card.

*These countries are: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Holland, Honduras, Hong Kong and Macao (China), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

The police didn’t stamp my passport when I entered the Schengen Area with my visa. What should I do?

Save your boarding passes and the paid receipt for your flight. You will need to present them to the police in order to get your student residency card.
Can my wife/husband and child/children accompany me?

Yes, your immediate family members can accompany you during your studies in Spain. Each family member will have to apply for a separate visa. Remember to bring a copy of your marriage certificate and/or birth certificates to Spain, because Spanish police will want to see them in order to issue your family members their own residency cards.
What is a NIE?

NIE stands for Numero de Identificación de Extranjero, or a foreigner’s registration number. This number is used to identify foreigners while they stay in Spain and it is imperative to have for all administrative and financial matters.
What is the difference between a student residency card and a NIE?

A student residency card is a type of Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero, or a foreigners’ residency card. This is a physical card that all non-EU foreigners must obtain if they are staying in Spain more than six months. This card contains your photo, your fingerprint, and your NIE.
Once I get to Spain, how do I get my student residency card?

There are three steps.

Step 1: Apply for your student residency card within the first 30 days of arriving in the Schengen Area: Berklee will help you fill out the form and a staff member will go to the police station for you to submit the initial application. This will be done during orientation. However, if you miss this meeting at orientation, you will be responsible for submitting your application at the police station yourself. You will need to bring a completed form, a copy of your enrollment letter, and your passport (original and a copy of every page). The police station is located at Comisaría de Patraix, calle del Gremis 6. There are no direct buses between campus and the police station. Most students take a taxi, but some have gone on bicycles as well.

Step 2: Police will send a notice approximately three to four weeks after submitting the form for you to go get fingerprinted. This is done at the police station. You must go in person. The police will be notify you about your appointment for fingerprints. They will send a letter to the address that you used on the application form. If you used the Berklee address, we will notify you when your letter arrives. Usually it takes several weeks for them to notify you.

The appointment letter will also contain an application fee form. You must go to a bank and pay the fee BEFORE your appointment.

Remember to bring to the appointment:

1. Application fee receipt
2. Your passport
3. Two passport-sized photos ("foto carnet" in Spanish). You can get these at almost any camera shop or in photo booths in most shopping malls. Please take off your glasses when you get your photos taken.

The police will give you a receipt (called "un resguardo") when you finish this appointment. Remember to keep this receipt!

Step 3: 45 days after being fingerprinted, you can go and pick up your card. Remember to bring the receipt (resguardo) and your passport. We recommend going between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. There is usually no line then. All you do is show your resguardo to the police at the door and they will give you a number to wait in a short line, and then they take you into the same room in which you were fingerprinted. The civil servant will find your card in the file, ask for your resugardo, and that's it, you're finished!

Six weeks have passed and I haven’t received a notification to get my fingerprints taken. What should I do?

You can go directly to the police station and take a number from the police officer who works at the door. Make sure you bring your passport and have 15 euros to pay the application fee. Please note that after they take your fingerprints you will have to go to a bank, pay the application fee, and then go back to the police station with a receipt. The closest banks to the police station are about a 15-minute walk away.
I lost my resguardo, can I still pick up my student residency card?

Yes, just go back to the police station with your passport and they will issue you another resguardo, which you can use to pick up your card. If your card is ready (45 days after having your fingerprints taken), then you can get a new resguardo and pick up your card at the same time.
Can I wait more than 45 days and then pick up my student residency card?

Yes, you can go a few days late and still pick up you card.
Does the time I spend in Spain as a student count toward getting Spanish citizenship?

The calculation for time spent in Spain in order to apply for citizenship is based on what is called residencia. Unfortunately, student visas don´t grant residencia, but rather estancia and, therefore, your time at Berklee doesn´t count toward the required time need to apply for citizenship.

Internships, Work, and Citizenship

Can I stay in Spain past the expiration date on my student residency card?

There is a gray area of the law that could be beneficial to you if you only want to stay for a few months after your card expires. Technically, you have to renew your card before it expires. However, there is a grace period of 90 days for people who did not renew in time. That means you could still legally be in Spain for up to 90 days after your card expires. However, remember that your card is what allows you to re-enter Spain if you leave, and your card will be expired during that 90-day grace period.

This means that if you leave Spanish national territory during the 90-day grace period, you will not have the right to get back in, especially if you are not from the following countries: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Holland, Honduras, Hong Kong and Macao (China), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, or Venezuela.

My spouse is getting a visa to accompany me to Valencia while I complete my master's degree at Berklee. Will he/she be able to work in Spain?

Unfortunately, your spouse cannot work because his/her visa status won't permit him/her to work.
Do you know if I will be legally able to work or do an internship with a student visa?

To answer your question, we have to break down the concept of "work" and "internship" into two separate categories, because Spanish law divides them into different legal concepts.

Internships: If the internship in question stems from your Berklee master’s degree program, your student visa grants you the right to participate in the internship. Spanish immigration law is designed, in part, to protect Spanish workers in a global labor market while giving students opportunities to continue their education with practical internships in both public and private companies. Therefore, foreign students have the right to participate in internship programs sponsored by their universities, and these arrangements are not considered labor contracts even if the student receives economic compensation by the company for his or her participation; this compensation is in the form of a student grant or expense reimbursement. Please contact the International Career Center on campus for more information about internships.

Work: Under Spanish law, the concept of "work" or "a job" involves a different kind of economic relationship that comes with different rights and responsibilities than does an internship. Your student visa permits you to work part-time in a job that does not conflict with your class schedule. It also permits you to work full-time for up to three months under the same conditions. However, the business that hires you must solicit permission from the government and many employers are reluctant to take this administrative step. Therefore, few foreign students receive legitimate job offers during their studies.

More information in English can be found here for student visas and here for work visas. Both links lead to the Spanish Ministry of Labor website.