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Does time spent in a Schengen country under a student visa (issued by that country) count towards the 90 days permitted within the Schengen Area?

My (Australian) partner will be undertaking some studies towards her MBA in Barcelona, and will apply for a Spanish student visa. Her studies will span just over 90 days (the minimum for student visas in Spain). We'd like to do some travel before and after this period, within the Schengen Area, bringing our time in Schengen countries to around 4 months.

Is this a problem as far as the 90/180 rule is concerned, or does time spent under a given visa not count towards the 90 days? Our local Spanish consulate is being exceptionally vague and refuses to assist us until we've booked flights, which of course we don't want to do until we know what's permitted.

  • What would be your status? Can you get a student visa as well? – Relaxed Jun 28 '14 at 14:51
  • @Relaxed: I'm a Swiss citizen so for me it's easy! – jbaums Jun 29 '14 at 0:02
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Time spent under a category D national visa does not count toward the 90 days period for short stays in the Schengen area, the rules are clear about that. See Getting a tourist Schengen visa after working visa and Does tourist visa (90 days) apply after a long-term visa ends in Schengen countries?

One issue is that if the course was under 90 days, it would be perfectly fine to follow it without a visa, which would in turn force your partner to use her 90 days for the course (that's probably the reason behind the minimum duration for student visas in Spain). But if she gets a student visa for a course lasting longer than 90 days, it has to be a category D visa and time spent in Spain under this visa will not count towards the 90-day limit for visa-free short stays in the Schengen area.

Provided the Spanish authorities do grant her a visa, you could even theoretically stay 9 months in the Schengen area (3 months before the start of the long-stay visa, 3+ months on the long-stay visa and 3 months afterwards).

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