• Quote: ‘This is the first academic year that student visas are needed after Brexit. British students and universities need to get used to the new regulation and the necessity of applying for a visa’ – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain

By Andrew Atkinson

UK students planning to start a university year in Spain are facing visa delays, with the finger pointed at Brexit.

4,500 UK students head for Spain annually, it being the top abroad destination.

Backlogged applications have lead to Visa appointment delays – with Spanish authorities saying time was needed for universities and students to adapt to the new system.

A spokesperson said student visas are a priority for all Spanish Consulates.

Universities UK International has written to the Spanish embassy and the Foreign Office, asking if students can apply in Spain.

A UK government spokesperson said: “Visa applications were a matter for Spanish immigration authorities but we have raised the issue with the Spanish government.”

Many students who plan to go to Madrid this year have delayed booking flights, due to the uncertainty surrounding visas.

Students began the visa process in June, as the visa documents have to be issued within 90 days of departure.

With the UK no longer in the European Union, students wanting to study in Spain have to compile a dossier of documents.

Students need a medical certificate; proof of income; a criminal-record check; proof of acceptance at a Spanish university.

Documents have to be translated and go through a legal process – Hague apostille – to verify them for international use.

Costs are spiralling to study in Spain under the new legislation. Also students have been left waiting to hear if they have a place to study in Spain, with some having asked for appointments in June.

Some students have booked and paid rents for accommodation, starting in September.

Time is running out with some students facing a decision whether to cancel studying abroad.

UK students facing delays to start university year in Spain
UK students facing delays to start university year in Spain

Despite sending emails, with no replies, some students have been turning up at the consulate in London and queuing for hours in an attempt of securing an appointment.

After speaking to staff at the Spanish consulate, some students are hopeful of receiving an email confirmation of a visa appointment soon.

“Delays in visa processing this year are causing real anxiety among students who are due to travel to Spain soon,” said Vivienne Stern, of Universities UK.

She has written to the Spanish embassy and the Foreign Office asking them to work together to resolve the issue.

One temporary solution is to allow students to travel on a tourist visa for the start of term and submit their paperwork in Spain.

“This is the first academic year that student visas are needed after Brexit; therefore, British students and universities need to get used to the new regulation and the necessity of applying for a visa, and some adaptation time is still needed,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain.

“All Spanish Consulates are offering all the facilities – in order to speed up the visa procedures,” they added.