Immigration process and types of residence permission in Spain
If you took a decision to start a new stage of your life or business in Spain, it will not disappoint you, because Spain is a European country not only with a wonderful climate and more than 8000 km of picturesque beaches, but also a modern, tolerant and multi-cultural society. Since this country is chosen by many citizens of the European Union and other countries as their priority area for emigration and work, there are active communities of expatriates and foreigners everywhere. This will greatly facilitate your initial adaptation process in Spain.
In order to live and work permanently in the country, taking advantage of all its benefits, you need to take care of your legal status. This implies obtaining a residence permit (permanent residence in Spain), which can turn into a long and tedious bureaucratic process, depending on your specific situation. For many foreigners, the process of obtaining a residence permit in Spain can seem extremely confusing. In this brief review, we will explain the main types of residence permits in Spain and the main stages of its registration for citizens of non-EU countries.
General procedure for immigration to Spain
The general visa application procedure is applying for all citizens of non-EU countries. It is important to keep in mind that, except some cases of applying for a residence under the Law on Entrepreneurship (an entrepreneur’s visa or a highly qualified visa), an application for residence is always carried out in the country of your legal residence, outside of Spain. So, first you apply to the Consulate or Embassy of Spain in the country where you permanently and legally reside. They submit this application to the competent Spanish authorities for a positive or negative decision. If a positive decision is made, the Consulate or Embassy will issue you a corresponding visa. With this visa, you can come to Spain to continue with your residence.
You should arrive in the country within 90 days from the date of visa issue. Upon arrival in the country and having received the NIE number (we will talk about this later), you can request a residence permit. If all the necessary requirements are met and the relevant documentation is provided, you will be given a residence permit that allows you to reside permanently in Spain for one year, after which, if the same requirements are met, it can be extended for a new two-year period and then subsequently the same pattern. After permanent legal residence in Spain for 10 years with a residence permit, you can apply for Spanish citizenship.
The work permit
For the purpose of legalization in Spain, foreign citizens often use the option with a work permit. However, it is very important to understand that you cannot be in Spain at the time of applying for a work permit. First you should find a confirmed job offer while in your country of permanent legal residence. The procedure for applying for a work permit is very strict, and you can get a positive result only for professions published on the official list of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, for which there are not enough specialists.
Another residence permit is the Highly Qualified Professional Work Permit (HQP). For this residence permission, it is not enough to have an official job offer, but you also need to pass the established criteria for professional qualifications or be a graduate of a prestigious university or business school.
There is also the opportunity to request a work permit as a self-employed (Permiso de residencia y trabajo por cuenta propia), but this process can be delayed, since it will be necessary to prepare many documents, in some cases translated into Spanish by a certified translator and accordingly legalized. Taking it into account, only submitting an application may take more than 2 months, and about 3 months will be left for its consideration by the competent immigration authorities. In case of a positive decision, you can apply for a Spanish entry visa within one month. Both a general work permit and a self-employed permit are issued for a period of one year. At the end of the year, it will be necessary to request an extension for another two years, with the possibility of a subsequent extension for another two years.
After permanent residence and work in the country for five years, you can finally get a permanent work and residence permit. Meanwhile, you have a temporary work permit and residence, it is very important to be in the country for at least six months within each calendar year during the first five years.
Residence without the right to work – Non-Lucrative Visa in Spain
If the purpose of your stay in Spain is not a business or employment, then a non-lucrative residence will be the best option for you. The main condition for obtaining this visa is confirmation of the availability of sufficient funds to live in Spain. To do this, you will need to have on your bank account an amount equal to 400% of the Spanish Public Income Indicator (IPREM), sources of permanent income outside Spain, purchase health insurance, and you can apply for a residence permit without the right to work. You can read more about this residence here: Non-Lucrative Visa in Spain.
Golden Visa in Spain
If you are planning to start your own business or invest in Spain, a suitable option is the Golden Visa, which is relatively easy to obtain by confirming your investments in the country in the amount of 500,000 euros or more. This Golden Visa gives a work permit, and visa holders are not required to stay in Spain for at least six months a year.
If you are considering investing in real estate in Spain, you can find a large selection of attractive offers for both residential and commercial real estate from our partner company Lusa Realty. You can find more info at our page about the Golden Visa.
Another possibility of legalization is obtaining an annual student visa, which gives the right to permanent residence and work. This type of visa can be issued not only for admission to universities or business schools, but also to language schools to study Spanish. Upon obtaining such a visa, you are entitled to work in Spain for 20 hours a week (half the working rate).
The NIE Number
After obtaining a visa at the Spanish Consulate and arriving in Spain, the first step will be to issue the NIE number – the foreigner’s identification number. You need this number for any administrative actions within the country: opening a bank account, setting up a company, buying a property or obtaining a residence permit. Without the NIE number, you cannot complete any economic or legal procedure in Spain. NIE is issued at the police office of your city in Spain. This is a relatively simple procedure, if properly prepared and carried out – check this page for more details.
You can take your family with you
When you apply for a residence permit, you can include your family members there, so they can live in Spain with you. Depending on the type of the requested residence, which is most suitable for your goals and economic opportunities, it will be necessary to fulfil certain requirements so that the family can come to the country with you.
You can find more in information about requirements for different types of visas and other details about our immigration services on this page.
Moving to another country and starting a new life stage is always an exciting challenge and a difficult process, and it is important not to get confused in the numerous legal intricacies and documents. Lusa Legal immigration specialists will help you understand this issue and find the best solution to any problems when moving to Spain. Contact us, and we will help! +34 605 33 60 90.