Studying and Working in Spain | 12 Things Nobody Told You About

Studying and Working in Spain | 12 Things Nobody Told You About

Charlotte Koks
Charlotte Koks

Let’s be honest, when we listen to a conversation about Spain, we immediately start craving for moving there even if only for a season. Not only getting around its cities, but also diving into the culture, tasting the culinary offer, and enjoying the weather. In other words, everything we need to start considering the possibility of studying and working in Spain.

Then, we make up our mind. Start googling all the requirements we’ll need to study and work in Spain, define the place that suits us best because there is a lot more than just Madrid and Barcelona. We find out that everything is more or less perfect: costs, rent, quality education, and people.

However, the truth is that our dreams start falling apart as soon as we get into the paperwork. Why is that? Because nobody revealed to us some details that we could have appreciated to know in advance.

Keep reading until the end to learn the best tips and secrets no one else will tell you. Let’s begin!

12 Things Nobody Tells You About Studying and Working in Spain

studying in Spain

Don’t get us wrong, we wrote this article about studying and working in Spain based upon stuff we wish someone had told us before moving to the country, but no one did.

So, take a sip of that Rioja wine, chill out, and note down. Here are a few tips on how to work and study in Spain. After reading them, you will want to participate in those Facebook forums about paperwork, advice, and warnings for expats in Spain. Shall we start?

Studying and Working in Spain

studying and working in Spain

Obtaining your student visa takes patience and perseverance

You got it! You found the courage and decided that you’ll make it to Spain no matter what. Congratulations! Maybe the road won’t be the easiest, but we assure you that it will be so much fun and worth the effort.

There is something crucial to take into account, and few people will tell you. If you choose to live in Spain as a foreign citizen, either for work or study, you will need a good dose of patience to get through all the paperwork. It can feel like an endless road.

First, if you decide to spend more than six months in Spain, you will need to get a student visa. You can apply from your country of residence or within Spain if you enter the country as a tourist. You will have to comply with some requirements, such as:

  • Being admitted, registered, and enrolled in an official school (those are three separate steps).
  • Proving that you have the financial means to cover your expenses for as long as you stay in the country (the amount requested varies from one Spanish community to another).
  • Having international medical insurance valid in Spain.
  • Presenting a criminal record clearance.
  • Having an official medical certificate of good health.

After submitting all your documentation, you can consider you are in the wheel of fortune. Why is that? Every person has a different experience. Sometimes, they reject your visa application because you wouldn’t show verifiable economic resources. We know, however, that you got those funds.

If something like that happens to you, our best advice is to get a notarized statement from your bank that shows the amount of capital of your account in euros. That way, they will know that you have the funds you need (sometimes, they won’t even have the time to do the math). The more transparent and legal the statement is, the better.

Another way to get through that step is by asking your parents or tutor to issue a waiver with all their information declaring they will cover the expenses of your study trip. Of course, they will also have to prove they have the capital to take care of you by showing receipts, payrolls, bank statements, and so on.

As we said, DON’T GET DISCOURAGED. Even if your friend Susana got her student visa without complications after submitting the same documentation, they might still reject your application. They could also ask you to bring another insurance, an application for a different school, etc.

Each case is unique, and we won’t lie to you, it also depends on your luck and on the mood of the officer who takes care of your paperwork. So, try to make it easy for them and put together your documentation as thoroughly as you can. That will prevent you from having to go back over and over again.

When you apply for your visa, play safe and purchase a Spanish health insurance

One of the most common mistakes that lead to visa rejections has to do with health care insurance. We suggest you play safe and hire your health care plan with a Spanish insurance company, such as Sanitas or Adestas. And again, some people go fine with insurance from a local company, but some others get rejected.

It is also important to verify the amounts to cover in case of an emergency. Also, your insurance plan should cover repatriation and be copayment-free. Insurance companies are familiar with all these guidelines.

The insurance companies we mentioned above are not the only ones, but they are the best known. You can look for options that offer you the insurance you will need at an affordable price. Make sure that you meet all the visa application requirements for studying and working in Spain.

Make an appointment as soon as possible to get your TIE (Foreign Citizen Identity Card)

You already have your student visa granted by the Consulate of Spain in your country and your Foreign Citizen Identity Number (NIE). That’s it! You can travel to Spain to start an unforgettable journey. However, your visa is valid for three months, the time you have to apply for your Foreign Citizen Identity Card or TIE.

YOU HAVE NO TIME TO WASTE. As soon as you take your first steps in the land of Gaudí and Cervantes, Bosé and Nacho Cano, you should get an appointment to obtain your TIE. Why is that? BECAUSE THEY ARE SO HARD TO GET.

We’re not sure why, but it can take months to schedule an appointment. The best advice to get one is to go to the official Website during the week, preferably on Monday,  between 8:00 and 10:00 am local time. Yes, it sounds pretty awkward, but you will thank this tip forever.

Some people pay someone to get an appointment for them. We do not advise you to do that. Not only is it unnecessary, but also illegal. You had better start your paperwork for studying and working in Spain as soon as possible.

Finding a Job as a Student in Spain

studying and working in Spain

You must find your internship opportunities and fight for them

Well, you attend a talk in your school about internship programs, and they told you that some of them are remunerated, and some of them are not. In any case, they will open doors to the job world. It is a great idea, however, you will have to find your own.

What? Yes, it is how it usually works. Many schools and universities will tell you that they can get an internship agreement for you (which is already a great deal), but they don’t have any job listing. Sometimes they get some openings, but that depends on the school. Generally speaking, you will have to find your way on your own.

You won’t have any other choice than to dive into the online world. Find platforms like Indeed, Computrabajo, Infojobs, and Linkedin. There are some local pages as well, but that will also depend on the city of Spain you choose to live in. As soon as you arrive, ask around to find out what are the most popular job sites.

Find internship options, send your resume, and cover letter. We suggest you send your resume in English and Spanish. Keep in mind to write a motivational cover letter (we told you that you would have to fight for it, so this is where you must focus on).

Select the vacant you are willing to get no matter what and go for it. You should know that even though internships might be non-remunerated, they are highly coveted. Why is that? Because not only does an internship garnish your resume, but also most companies use them as a filter for their selection process of future employees.

It is widely known that companies use internships as a test before giving a work contract. Therefore, if you find your dream job, you will have to find a way to catch their attention and think about why they should give you an opportunity. So, take out your best cards, and go for it!

If your school doesn’t offer internship agreements, you can pay for an online course to learn how to make it yourself

Sometimes, schools won’t make agreements for students who are looking for internship programs. If that is your case, and you have found a place willing to take you as a working student in Spain, you will have to pay for an online course that allows you to make an internship agreement.

Besides, online courses can help you improve your skills in some areas. Not all these courses are expensive, and your employer might be willing to pay for them. Don’t miss the chance; start your search and pursue your dreams!

Paperwork to Study and Work in Spain

paperwork for Spain

You won’t need a lawyer to get your visa or foreign student card

Sometimes we think that it is better to put our paperwork in the hands of an immigration lawyer. The truth is that the information on the Immigration Spain Website is very clear, and you have all you need to start the process. You must read the instructions carefully because you can’t skip any step.

If you have been studying in Spain for a year and your TIE is about to expire, you can obtain an extension to keep studying and working in Spain or enrolling in an internship. Getting through the paperwork is not difficult. Take a look at the requirements and make an appointment at any immigration office in the community where you live and study.

Keep in mind that you can start your paperwork either 60 days before or up to 90 days after the expiration of your card. Start the process as soon as you can. Remember that immigration offices handle many applications. It can take more than three months before you get an answer.

Working part-time in Spain won’t cover all your expenses

This might not make you very happy but will give you a better view of reality. As we said, internships or part-time jobs for students sometimes offer symbolic payments. However, in most cases, the remuneration will be barely enough to pay for food and transportation.

Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes you can establish a test period, give your best, and later asking the company for higher pay. It will depend on the priorities of the company to agree. Nonetheless, it couldn’t hurt to give it a try.

If you plan on studying and working in Spain legally, we advise you to come with funds to support yourself while working part-time. After six months to one year, you might get promoted and start earning more money. Good luck!

If you don’t have an internship agreement, you won’t be able to get social security

Back in the day, getting your social security number as a foreign citizen in Spain was easy as long as you were registered. However, some Spanish communities require an internship agreement or a work contract to issue a social security number.

Find out what documents you will need to make sure your application won’t get rejected. And by the way, they love copies in Spain, so make sure you have duplicates of all your legal documents because you will need them to go through the paperwork.

Your private insurance will allow you to go to high-quality doctors

Something important we forgot to tell you is that when applying for a student visa, or an extension of any type of visa, you will need to have major medical insurance that covers more than just emergencies.

What we mean is that if you can go as many times as you need to specialists to get analysis, check-ups, and more. Having wide coverage health care insurance will cover high-quality medical specialties. Medical services in Spain are top-notch.

You can change your status from student to regular worker after spending three consecutive years in Spain

This is important information for international students who have completed their academic programs and want to work in Spain. If the company where they did their internship wants to hire them afterward, they will have to spend 3 years in the country before being able to change their status from students to independent workers.

This means that if you have been an intern for one year, and the company wants to give you a work contract, you will have to wait two more years. But don’t get disheartened, you can keep your status as an intern, only with a different remuneration, or you can get a 20-hours a week contract.

Be patient! Living in Spain will make time go by fast, and when you turn around, you will realize you already can change your status to worker.


You can change your status from student to highly skilled worker without a minimum time requirement

Sometimes the sky opens, the sun rises, and it turns out that you are the chosen one. Well, just like those miraculous days, there are extraordinary cases where international students travel to Spain to study and work and get the best of lucks. Perhaps they have remarkable professional experience, or a very unusual profile, or meet the requirements to be offered a position as a highly-skilled worker.

Can that be possible? Yes! It is an uncommon yet not impossible path for students who want to work and study in Spain. Also, the salaries of these jobs are above the average for residents of Spain. That’s the reason why they are known as contracts for highly qualified workers.

Generally speaking, multi-national corporations offer these positions since usually only big companies can afford to meet the procedures and requirements for these types of contracts. However, we shouldn’t dismiss the possibility that a start-up might want or be able to do so.

The greatest advantage of these contracts is that they allow you to change your status from student to worker ASAP, which means you won’t need to spend 3 years under student status.

So, if you have enough experience, you might apply to all the jobs you find suitable, and who knows, maybe the doors to the job market will open for you. You’re welcome!

Renting a Flat or a Room in Spain

renting a flat in Spain

It is almost impossible to afford a whole apartment as a student…

At last but not least, here it is a revelation about renting a place in Spain as an international student. It is not an easy task, most especially if you choose to live in high-demand cities like Barcelona or Madrid.

Generally speaking, renting a unit in Spain requires showing a permanent work contract and proving that your income is twice as high as the rent (you can get two contracts). You will also need a guarantor, paying two months of rent as a deposit, plus the current month, and a fee for the real estate company (this is now banned, but still many realtors keep charging this fee).

Sometimes, applicants are screened and filtered because of the high demand for rents, similar to what happens in the USA. So, not only will you have to disburse around 4 thousand euros upfront, but you also will have to catch the place you like the most.

Places for rent get taken fast, and you will also have to convince the landlord that you are their best candidate. Yes! We told you it would be a bit complicated… But as we said, it will depend to a significant degree on where you choose to live. Thus, the easiest way to go is renting a shared place. We suggest you look for Badi or other widespread platforms.

However, if you want to rent a place for yourself anyway, we suggest you get a private deal. You may negotiate with a real estate agent and pay in advance since it will be almost impossible to have a permanent work contract upon your arrival. And move quickly! Places get rented in a split second.

About the author

Charlotte Koks
Charlotte Koks

Hey there! My name is Charlotte, and I'm working as an International Project Manager at GrowPro Experience. My goal is to help students all around the world to live the experiences of a lifetime 🙌🏽. I'm trying to inspire students by means of telling the story of former growers, showing what we are doing at each destination and writing about our cities and tips on our blogs. I got a big passion for adventures, doing sports in the park, learning new languages and seeing new places 🌏. That's one of the reasons why I studied European Studies and why I currently work for GrowPro, to expand my horizons. Hopefully, I can inspire you to do the same!

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