Immigrate to Spain from South Africa

Updated on Friday 22nd May 2020

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The number of South African citizens who immigrate to Spain has increased, especially as a result of the policies that offer residency status to individuals who engage in real estate investments of a certain value. Some of the top reasons to immigrate to Spain from South Africa can include easy access to other EU countries (beneficial both for business and for personal purposes), the Mediterranean lifestyle and the healthcare as well as for retirement purposes.

Our team of Spain immigration agents highlights the main steps for moving to Spain in this article and can provide direct assistance and advice to South African citizens who are planning on coming to Spain, regardless of their reasons: work, study, business or others.

How to move to Spain as a South African citizen

A South African citizen is required to enter Spain based on an appropriate visa type. This can be a Schengen visa (for short-stays of less than 90 days), however, for those individuals who are interested in long-term stays in the country, the process will require a different type of visa, suited particularly to this lengthier stay.  The types of long-stay visas for Spain are the following:
  • Study visa: for South African citizens who have been admitted in a Spanish university or who conduct research activities.
  • Capital investor visa: this residence visa is granted to foreign investors who make a significant capital investment; the golden visa program for real estate is also available.
  • Non-lucrative temporary residence visa: this is commonly used by those individuals interested in emigrating to Spain after retirement who can prove that they can sustain themselves financially.
  • Work visa for employees: for South African citizens who take up employment in Spain; must be applied for in person and in advance.
  • Work visa for self-employed individuals: available for those entrepreneurs who wish to start their own business in Spain or engage in self-employment activities.

These are all methods of staying in Spain for longer periods and South Africa citizens can apply for the visa that suits their status. The documents required for these visa submissions differ according to the purpose of the visa (for example proof of admittance for study purposes or the employment contract for a work visa as well as proof of investment for the real estate or capital investments). Applicants are required to have a valid passport when submitting the visa application.

All South Africans who have been legally residing in Spain for ten years can apply for nationality. Shorter application periods can be awarded for individuals with refugee status or those who, at the time of the application, have been married with a Spanish national for one year.

One of our immigration lawyers in Spain can help answer any questions you might have about these procedures and the requirements for applicants. Below, we briefly describe the requirements for most of the visa types mentioned herein. For any further questions, as well as an initial evaluation according to the visa type you are applying for, please do not hesitate to reach out to our lawyers.

What are the conditions for obtaining the employment visa in Spain?

South African nationals who wish to come and work in Spain can qualify either for regular employment or for a visa issued for highly skilled professionals or those who are subject to intra-company transfers. A visa for those who research activities is also awarded. The visa for highly skilled professionals needs to be granted by the General Directorate of Immigration, in advance to the arrival of the professional. 

The residency visa for those employees who perform in the research or the training field can be granted for public or private institutions. The categories are:
  • Personal researcher
  • Personal scientist and technician 
  • Researcher
  • Teacher 

Individuals may move to Spain based on a relationship with a company established in the country. That business entity will need to handle the application for the residence permit for intra-company transfers. One of our Spain immigration agents can give you more details on the steps that need to be handled by the company with which the individual will work while in Spain. 

When is the investor visa awarded in Spain?

The visa for entrepreneurs can be a convenient manner in which a foreign national from South Africa can reside in Spain. Moreover, the applicant should know that the residency visa is extended to the spouse of the applicant and the children who are under 18 years as well as elderly family members who are under care. One of our Spain immigration agents can give you more information about how the entrepreneur visa can be beneficial for other family members. Below, we list the general requirements as well as the types of investment that qualify.

The applicant for the entrepreneur visa must:
  • be older than 18  years of age.
  • have no criminal record in Spain or in another country for the last five years.
  • have public or private insurance.
  • have sufficient financial resources for himself and for the family members who will be included on the visa (a fixed amount for oneself as well as a fixed amount for each family member).

The following types of investments are taken into consideration:

Capital investment: this needs to be a significant investment with the equivalent of 2 million euros or more made in Spanish government bonds or the value of at least 1 million euros in shares in Spanish companies or deposits in Spanish financial institutions. 

Real estate investment: the investment in real estate needs to have a minimum value of 500.000 euros and the applicant must prove that he has purchased the property through the relevant documentation issued by the Land Registry. One of our immigration lawyers in Spain can help applicants comply with the property purchase conditions. 

Entrepreneurial and business activities: a business that is of interest for Spain and the applicant is to come and stay in the country for one year, with the only goal to prepare the business or entrepreneurial activity. It must have an innovative nature and special approval from the Commercial Office is required.

How can one study in Spain?

Spain can be attractive for many South African nationals who are planning on continuing their studies at a university level. Likewise, this visa is also granted for those who will engage in student exchanges, in volunteer services or those who will participate in training activities or unpaid internships.

Having the approval of the business school, university or educational institution is key when applying for this type of visa. Like in other cases, the applicant will be required to prove that he or she will be able to sustain himself; in some cases, proof of tuition payment may be required, as per the institution’s payment scheme.  Students will need to apply for a foreign student identity card in those cases in which the program exceeds six months. This is done with the Foreigner’s Office or the Police Station. 

How is the family reunification visa obtainable? 

The spouses and the minor children of a residency visa applicant can accompany that individual, under certain conditions. Also, according to law, elderly family members who cannot provide or care for themselves could also accompany the applicant. The family members may apply jointly, at the same time at which the main applicant submits his/her visa application. The main applicant, who will serve as a provider for the dependents, will need to prove the sufficient financial means to sustain himself and the family. 

Issues to handle post-arrival

South African immigrants to Spain will need to handle a set of formalities once they enter the country. One of the first steps and an important one is to apply for a foreigner identity card within one month from the date of arrival. This is done with the Provincial Brigade of Immigration and Borders, as per the Ministry of Interior.  The foreigner’s identity number is also obtained after arrival from the Directorate-General of the Police in the region when the applicant resides. One of our Spain immigration specialists can give you more information about the application process and the required documents. The foreigner’s identity number is mandatory for any individual for economic, professional or social purposes and it will serve as an identification form comprised of a unique sequential number. Foreigners are required to translate ale legalize their documents in order for these to be valid in Spain.

Our team of immigration lawyers in Spain can assist you throughout the entire process, with proper guidance and information on how to fill in the visa application before you arrive in the country and with detailed information about the steps to follow once you are in a Spanish city.

Moving to a new country will require a set or preparations that can be handled in advance by our lawyers (when possible and when requested) or which our team of specialists can provide useful advice for, especially when the immigrant is not yet fluent in Spanish.

Emigrating to Spain is a process that can be handled easier with the help of our team of experts. Contact us for more information about our expat services and complete assistance for South African immigrants.



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