The Forum, NAFSA and APUNE Issue Joint Letter to Spanish Embassy to Address Student Visa Delays

The Forum on Education Abroad, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, and the Association of North American Programs in Spain (APUNE) have issued a joint letter to the Spanish Embassy to address the extreme delays and recent challenges in getting student visas processed by Spanish consulates. The Forum thanks NAFSA and APUNE for their collaboration in this effort to address members’ concerns.


November 24, 2021

His Excellency Santiago Cabanas
Embassy of Spain
2375 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington DC 20037


Dear Mr. Ambassador,

We are writing today to ask for your assistance in devoting more resources and ensuring a timely response for student visa appointments in the United States. NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the Forum on Education Abroad and APUNE, the Association of North American University Study Abroad Programs in Spain, collectively represent thousands of study abroad advisors, who in turn assist their students to secure visas and study in Spain. We recognize that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been significant, and consulates all over the world, including United States consulates abroad, have experienced operational challenges. We are deeply concerned that our members and their students cannot secure appointments at Spanish consulates in the United States for batch processing or individual appointments to begin the visa process. Our members have reported a high number of students unable to secure appointments, in particular in Boston and Chicago. In spite of multiple attempts, many students are unable to make any contact with the consulate of their jurisdiction via any medium. Time is now running very short for students that need a visa to depart for programs in January 2022.

According to the latest Open Doors data released by the Institute of International Education, Spain is the most popular destination for American students. Approximately 30,000 U.S. students have studied in Spain every year for the last five years before the COVID-19 pandemic effectively ended study abroad for much of 2020 and 2021. U.S. students are eager to return and learn more about the Spanish culture, economy, and language. They also contribute to the local economy and support jobs at universities and businesses throughout Spain. According to the latest economic impact study led by APUNE, U.S. students contributed 163.2 million Euros directly to the Spanish economy during the 2018-2019 academic year.1

International education, including study abroad, provides a way for bourgeoning scholars, scientists, philosophers, linguists, and other young adults to collaborate and lay a solid foundation for global solutions to the complex problems that we face together. Your assistance to devote more resources to student visa appointments and increased communication from consulates will be critical to the success of these future leaders, and indeed, of our two countries.

We request an opportunity to discuss what can be done, to enable American students to travel to Spain this coming spring. We look forward to the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this problem and possible solutions.


Esther D. Brimmer, DPhil
Executive Director & CEO
NAFSA: Association of International Educators

Melissa A. Torres
President & CEO
The Forum on Education Abroad

Monica Pérez-Bedmar
Executive Director
Association of North American Programs in Spain


1 Grasset, Cristina, and Barbara García Menéndez. 2020. The Economic Impact of International Education in Spain. Association of North American Programs in Spain.