Residency in Spain
Updated on Friday 18th September 2020
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Individuals can obtain permanent residency in Spain after having legally lived in the country for a period of five uninterrupted years. When they fulfill this specific condition, they can apply for permanent residency and then gain the right to live for the rest of their lives in the country.
Our team of agents who specialize in Spain immigration matters can assist all individuals who have been employed and have lived in the country for this period of time. You can rely on us if you want to immigrate to Spain and need assistance in applying for a residence permit.
Types of residence permits for Spain
Foreign citizens who want to immigrate to Spain have several residency options. These are:
- short-term residency;
- long-term residency;
- permanent residency.
Depending on the type of visa requested at first, permanent residency can be obtained gradually, meaning that a foreign citizen must first apply for a temporary or long-term residence permit based on which he or she can obtain permanent residency in Spain. Then, the next step is Spanish citizenship.
If you are interested in emigrating to Spain, you can rely on the counsel of our lawyers for applying for residency.
Types of visas leading to permanent residency in Spain
Spain is one of the most welcoming European countries and as a member of the European Union, it offers specific facilities to citizens of other member states who want to relocate here. EU citizens do not need a visa when moving to Spain as they are only required to register with the local police office in the city they will reside.
Non-EU citizens, on the other hand, are required to complete various formalities that allow them to obtain temporary residence and then a permanent residency in Spain. Here are the main types of visas which lead to obtaining a permanent residence permit in this country:
- employment visas which is one of the safest ways to obtain permanent residency in this country;
- student visas based on which foreign students can relocate to Spain temporarily and then permanently;
- non-lucrative visas which are available for foreigners seeking to retire to Spain provided that they have sufficient financial means to support themselves;
- investment visas which are available foreign entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals immigrating to Spain.
Any of these visas can be used for obtaining permanent residency in Spain as long as the particular requirements and responsibilities coming which each type of residence permit are respected.
In order to make sure you comply with the requirements imposed by the immigration authorities, you can obtain the needed support from our immigration lawyers in Spain.
You can read more about residency in Spain in the infographic below:
Spanish residency based on studies and employment
One of the most common ways of obtaining residency in Spain is employment. This option is available for citizens of other EU countries, as well as for non-EU residents. It should be noted that it is simpler to obtain residency as a citizen from another EU country, as the process does not imply a specific procedure to follow.
Foreign citizens from non-EU countries can apply for residence in Spain if they come here to study or work, as these are suitable options for young persons. In the case of study visas, these can be obtained for the duration of the courses enrolled in and are usually granted for short stays (3 to 9 months), or long terms (2 to 4 years). This visa can be extended prior to expiration if the foreign student continues his or her studies within the same educational institution. The renewal of the visa is completed directly in Spain, without leaving the country. Also, provided that the student will remain in Spain for more than 9 months, he or she can obtain the TIE (tarjeta de entidad del extranjero, foreigner’s identity card).
In the case of non-EU citizens, an employment contract must be signed before entering Spain. Here too, there are several types of work visas that can be obtained. These are the seasonal work visas, the au pair work permits, the long-term work/residence permit, and the EU Blue Card.
In order to obtain a work visa as a foreign citizen, the job must be on a list with hard-to-find specialists and the employer must conduct specific operations in order to hire a foreign migrant from a non-EU country. Also, there are various requirements to meet when seeking to obtain residency in Spain based on employment.
Our immigration lawyers in Spain can offer detailed information on the requirements related to obtaining a work visa.
We can also help those interested in immigration to Spain from the USA.
How to obtain residency in Spain based on a business visa
Self-employed individuals and those who want to start businesses in Spain have special visas under which they can immigrate here. While self-employed citizens must have sufficient funds that will help them sustain themselves, business visa applicants must set up companies in Spain. This way, they can obtain residency in Spain by being shareholders or employees in the company. However, the simplest way of emigrating to Spain based on a business visa is under the Golden Visa Scheme.
Our immigration lawyers can assist foreign citizens who want to move to Spain and start their companies.
The EU Blue Card in Spain
One of the greatest benefits of residency in Spain is linked to obtaining the EU Blue Card. This can be acquired by persons who meet the following criteria:
- they have tertiary education degrees and are skilled professionals;
- they have at least 5 years of professional experience in their field;
- their work contract provides for a salary of at least 50% higher than the average wage in Spain (it can also be at least 20% higher if specific requirements are met).
The EU Blue Card has a one-year validity period and can be renewed. Our lawyers can provide more information on how to obtain an EU Blue Card.
Permanent residency by investment in Spain
Foreign entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals interested in Spain immigration can benefit from specific programs under which they are granted permanent residency. The first program is called the Golden Visa Scheme and is available for foreign investors from non-EU countries interested in making a substantial investment in the Spanish economy. The second program is the Wealth Visa Program which targets high net worth individuals seeking to obtain permanent residency in Spain without the right to employment.
At least one of the following conditions must be complied with when emigrating to Spain under the Golden Visa Program:
- a capital investment of a minimum 2 million euros which must be invested in the purchase of bonds approved by the Government;
- a capital investment of 1 million euros in the purchase of company shares in Spanish businesses approved by the Government;
- real estate investment is also allowed – the minimum value of the property is set at 500,000 euros;
- in case of real estate investment, the property must be bought 90 days before the application for the golden visa.
The Golden Visa Scheme is one of the fastest routes to permanent residency in Spain, however, it is important to note that various conditions apart from the investment must be respected. Among these, having a clean criminal record and medical insurance. Also, the applicant must also submit proof of being able to sustain themselves for an indefinite period of time. The advantage of the Golden Visa is that the applicant can move to Spain with close family members.
The Wealth Visa is the other Spanish permanent residency option for foreign citizens willing to move here. The conditions for this type of residence permit are less stringent, as the applicant must have a monthly income of 2,200 euros. Family members can also relocate to Spain with the applicant, however, an additional 500 euros per month must be secured for each dependent.
Our immigration lawyers in Spain can help you prepare the documents necessary for applying for residence by investment.
How to apply for Spanish permanent residency
A long-term or permanent residency document allows the applicant to continue to live in Spain without having to satisfy other conditions. More specifically, a foreign individual who obtains permanent residency in Spain will be allowed to live in the country indefinitely under similar conditions to a Spanish citizen. The process of obtaining citizenship is a different one and if this is what you are looking for, you can reach out to our immigration lawyers in Spain.
The list below describes the basic conditions for obtaining residency:
- live in the country for five years: this is a mandatory condition for all who wish to apply for residency and will need to be proved with appropriate documents; those interested in immigration to Spain from the USA will find that this requirement is straightforward because in most cases individuals plan on staying for at least several years.
- have the means to support oneself: the applicant must prove that he or she has a steady income in Spain either in the form of employee salary or pension income.
- be insured: the foreign applicant will need to have private or public health insurance and bring the relevant documentation to support this.
- submit the application: if all of the above conditions are met, the individual needs to fill in and submit an application with the Foreigner’s Office.
Obtaining permanent residency is important for those who are interested in emigrating to Spain. For those planning on living in the country, the abovementioned steps are already performed in most situations once they become employed (and thus have a steady income) and also subscribe to a private healthcare plan.
Documents required when applying for residency in Spain
In order to benefit from the advantages offered by being a permanent resident of Spain, the applicant will need to submit proof of living here legally for the past 5 years. The proof will consist of various documents, among which we mention the following:
- information about the current living status (employment contract, self-employed person, student, or retired individual);
- the registration certificate issued by the local police office in the city the applicant lives;
- proof of having a residential address in Spain (utility bills, rental contract);
- evidence of means of supporting oneself (paychecks, bank statements, etc.).
Based on these documents the immigration authorities through the Ministry of Exterior Affairs in Spain will issue the permanent residence card.
You can rely on our lawyers if you are interested in immigration to Spain from the USA.
Obtaining Spanish Residency by EU Citizens
Starting in 2007, an EU citizen no longer needs an EU Residence Card as this was replaced with the residence certificate (for those who want to stay for more than six months in Spain). However, if they already hold an EU residence card, they are not required to re-register until the expiration of the card.
Under Spanish law, within the first three months of your arrival, you need to register at a Foreigners’ Office in order to be added to the Central Register of Foreign Nationals. The residence certificate includes your name, address, your tax identification number (NIE), and your nationality. If changes appear in the certificate’s statement, such as a divorce, a marriage, etc., then you have to re-apply.
Our immigration lawyers in Spain can help you in every step of the residency certificate registration process or in other immigration matters in Spain, therefore, you can rely on our team.
The Spanish residency card
Once a foreign citizen has relocated to Spain, he or she can apply for their residency cards. For this, they must ensure that:
- they have obtained their NIE numbers (or foreign tax identification number);
- they have health insurance;
- they have paid the residency card issuance fee.
The applicants are required to submit proof of those mentioned above, as well as the application form for the residency card, proof of income (a minimum amount is required as proof of self-sustenance) and two passport-sized photos. The procedure of obtaining the residence card takes a few days.
Our lawyers are at your services with assistance in other matters than those related to the immigration procedure. Among these, we also offer housing and insurance services for foreign citizens who move to different cities in Spain.
Spanish residency or Spanish citizenship
As mentioned above by our Spain immigration agents, residency and citizenship are two different matters for expats living in Spain. When they have a long-term permanent residence in Spain, individuals can retain their nationality and passport issued by their state of origin. When they choose to become citizens, they must renounce their original nationality and the passport issued by the authorities there.
For more information about obtaining residency in the country, please contact our Spain immigration experts.