Should I apply for the non lucrative Spain visa or a Spain student visa for language study?


We are planning to live in Spain for the year, applying through from the SF Consulate. My husband was awarded a year-long sabbatical from his teaching job to study Spanish.

The sabbatical will provide a stipend, but not enough for our family to meet non lucrative Spain visarequirements. We have savings to make up the difference with some margin, but we also have a mortgage (which will be covered by a renter). These make applying for the non lucrative Spain visa feel a little uncertain. Has anyone applied with similar conditions, and what has your experience been?

On the other hand, he will be studying Spanish, so a student visa may be better with fewer financial requirements, but I cannot find any accredited Spanish programs in Vigo (where we will be staying). Has anyone had luck applying for a student visa to study language at a non-accredited language center?
Additionally, the student visa lists “Volunteer services for programs working in areas of general and/or public interest” as an option for the student visa. Has anyone received a student visa for volunteerism? What agreement and what kind of organization did you need to make this work?
Finally, which would you apply for if you had a choice and why (we are not looking to stay beyond a year)?


These are the answers of some Facebook group members:

“I’ve done both visas. Student visa is best if you only want to come for one year. The problem will be the school, as you say. Wouldn’t chance it with trying a non-accredited language school. They’ve recently become much more strict about this in Madrid so it might be similar in other regions.”

“SF and LA consulates state you may not leave a mortgage in the states under their non lucrative Spain visa requirements. In your case if you can prove it will only be for one year and you will head back to the US after one year and that your rental income is crucial, they may let a mortgage slide. I’ve read several others have been able to bypass that rule”

“About having a mortgage with applying for a non lucrative Spain visa: These consulates look for mortgage interest reported on tax return and if they see that then they want to see additional financial means funds that clearly demonstrate you have both the minimums they’re looking for based on the visa requirement and the money to pay your mortgage. So, the phrasing that “you can’t have a mortgage” isn’t really accurate. I know numerous successful applicants who have mortgages (sometimes many mortgages due to rental property ownership). It’s unfortunate b/c it scares a lot of would be successful applicants from thinking they wouldn’t qualify for this visa and they do.”

Check out Spainguru’s Q&A “Is it true that you cannot have a mortgage in the US while residing in Spain for a non-lucrative Visa?

“Some language schools have staff to help with student visas. Ask your intended school if they have this help. I know that at Instituto Hemingway here in Bilbao they have staff to help with visas. All of the classes are 4 hours a day to meet the requirement of 20 hours a week. We went there for a few weeks last summer and had a good time.
As Patty said, the two California consulates have this no-mortgage requirement but some have said it was ignored.
You could apply for the non lucrative Spain visa and if it’s denied then just come to Spain and apply for student visas here”

“Since your husband is a teacher and doesn’t teach in the summer, he (or all of you) could enroll in an intensive Spanish summer program (really anywhere in Spain) and he wouldn’t need a visa for those three months since US citizens can stay 90 days without a visa. By the end of the summer he would have enough Spanish (level B1) to enroll at the University of Vigo as an international non-degree seeking students, choosing from their selection of classes at Vigo. He could transfer to a student visa for his year long studies with family as dependents.”

“Cervantes Accredited private language schools. Just Google your area. About 8 Schools in Barcelona. I loved Camino.”

“We applied for a student visa and go to Sevilla Habla in Sevilla. We love it here”

“Keep in mind that your ability to travel will be more limited on a student visa, given you “technically” have to be “studying” in-person a minimum of 20 hours per week. And to get the paperwork from the school that would be required for the visa application, the applicant would need to pay the school for that study time. But, it’s not like anyone in the Spanish government is monitoring the student’s weekly attendance.”

“The school that I’m at, Club de Español, offers online courses and I got a student visa with them.”

In conclusion, the decision between applying for a non lucrative Spain visa (NLV) or a student visa depends on individual circumstances and priorities. Based on the experiences shared by Spainguru’s group members, a student visa may be more suitable for those planning to stay for a year or less, especially if the financial requirements for an non lucrative Spain visa cannot be met. However, finding an accredited language program may be a challenge in some areas. It is worth noting that some consulates may make exceptions to the no-mortgage rule for NLV applicants, and some language schools may offer assistance with student visa applications. Ultimately, it is recommended to carefully consider all options and seek advice from immigration expters before making a decision and for the application for the right Spanish visa or residence.