Generally, obtaining a Spanish work and residence permit is a lengthy and difficult process due to the restrictive policy adopted by the Spanish authorities. This is due in part to the current high unemployment in the Spanish labour markets and the recent spike in legal as well as illegal immigration in Spain. As such, the Spanish immigration system largely favours the hiring of Spaniards over foreign nationals. However, the Spanish authorities encourage the issue work permits to foreign applicants falling under one of the preference categories, namely investors, entrepreneurs, highly qualified professionals, researchers and employees under inter-company transfers.
A foreign company that wishes to employ non-EU/EEA nationals must first set up its Spanish subsidiary / branch / representative office. This Spanish entity is then required to apply for the relevant work permit for the employee before the employee commences work in Spain.
The Spanish employer must file an Application for Work and Residence Permits (Solicitud de Autorización de Trabajo y Residencia) with the Employment and Social Issues Section of the applicable Government Delegation (Delegación de Gobierno – Área de Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales).
Applications should be sent to the:
1. Immigration Office (Oficina de Extranjería) where the company undertakes operations;
2. If the employer has more than 500 workers, the Large Companies Unit of the Directorate-General for Immigration (Unidad de Grandes Empresas y Colectivos Estratégicos (UGE-CE).
Generally, to be issued a work permit, the following conditions (amongst others) must be satisfied:-
Step 1: Application for a work permit by the employer
Documentation relating to the worker:
Documentation relating to the company:
For applications where the employee is of senior executive / managing director-level, the following documents should also be included:
For cross-border service arrangements, the employer is also required to attach the services contract between the two entities i.e. the services contract between the two companies as well as proof of employment between the foreign employee and the foreign company, specifying the exact length of the service, the professional category of the applicant as well as the labour conditions of the position. In addition, the Spanish authorities may also require a copy of the individual’s social security certificate of coverage, if applicable.
Important note: All documents must be translated into Spanish or the official language of the territory where the application is submitted.
The application, together with all of the documents mentioned above, must be filed with the Spanish office dealing with foreign issues that is located where the Spanish company has its registered office. If a foreign official body issues the above documents, they must be legalized. A Spanish translator must prepare certified translations of the documents if they are not in Spanish. If any of the documents are missing or incomplete, the applicant normally has 10 days to provide the missing materials.
Time: 3 months from the day the application was submitted
Cost: €380.27 (if the salary paid to the foreign worker is equal to or more than twice the minimum wage) and €190.12 if otherwise
Step 2: Application by employee for a visa
Assuming the application for a work permit is successful, the Spanish company (employer) will receive a written notification. The foreign employee then has one month from the date of the receipt to file an application for the corresponding visa at the Spanish Consulate in the country where the applicant lives if he or she does not legally reside in Spain. All applications must be made in person. If the applicant is already in Spain as a non-working legal resident, the initial application may be made directly to the Spanish labour authorities; however, the applicant may not stay in the country beyond the maximum period corresponding to the terms of his or her residence visa.
If the above documents are not in Spanish, they must be accompanied by certified translations prepared by an official Spanish translator.
In general, two photocopies of each of the above documents are required. However, the consular officials have the right to request additional documents as well as the number of copies that an applicant must submit.
The Spanish Consulate can require the applicant’s presence and a personal interview.
The residence visa must be collected from the Spanish Consulate where the original Request for Visa form was filed. Depending on the individual Consulate, the applicant may be notified either by telephone or in writing when the visa is available. Consequently, the applicant should check periodically with the Consulate to see if his or her visa is available.
Time: Ranges from 1 week to 4 months
If the visa application is successful, the applicant must collect the visa from the Spanish Consulate within 30 days. After obtaining the visa, the individual should enter Spain within three months (this period should be always checked with the Consulate). If the application for a work permit is denied, an appeal may be filed with the Ministry of Labour and Social Issues and, if necessary, with the courts. However, in practice, such appeals are rarely successful.
Step 3: Registration of the employee with Social Security authorities in Spain
Upon granting a work permit, the applicant’s details will be transmitted to the Provincial Directorate of the Police for processing of the residence permit. The Spanish employer will also be notified of certain administrative costs that must be paid to the Economy and Finance Ministry.
Upon receiving the applicant’s materials from the labour authorities, the Provincial Directorate of the Police analyzes the application before issuing a residence permit. Additional documents may be requested if required.
After entering Spain, the company has three months to register the foreign employee at the Social Security office. Within a month after registration at the Social Security office, or the entry of the foreigner in the case of a cross-border work permit, the applicant must go to the Provincial Directorate of the Police to pick up the work and residence permits. The applicant is normally required to bring the following items:
The Spanish authorities are generally quite restrictive in issuing work permits / visas. Applicants falling under selected preference categories will be given priority under Spanish law, which are generally based on familial ties in Spain. Some of these preference categories include:-
Expedited procedure for applying for work permits are now available for the following types of applicants:
The authorities will also consider the following factors when making their evaluation:
Under Law 14/2013 [a new law for encouraging investments in Spain], the Spanish government grants residence visas or permits to foreigners in the following categories:
• Highly qualified professionals
• Employees with intercompany transfers
As a general rule, all visas have a one-year term, with the option of a two-year extension.
Shield GEO does not provide sponsored work permits in Spain at this moment.
|Category||Description of Visa|
Non-resident foreign investors may apply for this visa, provided they make a significant capital investment in the country. The following cases will be deemed to
— An initial investment for an amount equal to or greater than €2 million in Spanish public debt instruments, or for an amount equal to or greater than one million euros in shares in Spanish companies or deposits in bank accounts at Spanish financial institutions.
Time: One year. If the foreigner wishes to reside in Spain for a longer period, a residence permit can requested from the Spanish immigration authorities in Spain.
This visa is available for any entrepreneurs pursuing an activity of an innovative nature in Spain that is considered to be of special economic interest for the country. In taking into account whether the entrepreneur meets the requirements for this visa, the Spanish authorities will evaluate the business plan (including an analysis of the market, service or product, and the financing), the professional profile of the foreigner and the economic benefits that may arise through job creation and technological innovation etc.
|Highly qualified professionals||
Highly qualified employees assigned to a Spanish company may apply for the Intra-Company Residence Permit (Autorización de Residencia por Traslado Intraempresarial) [covered below] while senior executive or managing director type positions involved in general interest projects for Spain may apply for the High Qualified Professionals residence permit (Autorizaciones de Residencia para Personal Altamente Cualificado). Applicants must fall within one of the following categories:
1. Executive or highly qualified personnel, where the company or group of companies must meet one of the requirements indicated in Article 71 a) of Law 14/2013 (average headcount during the three months prior to the application of 250 workers in Spain; annual net revenues in Spain in excess of €50 million; gross average annual inbound foreign investment of not less than €1 million in the three years prior to submission of the application; companies with a stock value or position in excess of €3 million; belonging, in the case of Spanish SMEs, to an industry deemed strategic).
2. Executive or highly qualified personnel forming part of a business project entailing,
a. A significant increase in the creation of direct employment on the part of the company seeking to hire.
3. Graduates and postgraduates from prestigious universities and business schools.
Foreigners looking to enter Spain to pursue training research, development and
— The research personnel referred to in Article 13 and Additional Provision no. 1 of Science, Technology and Innovation Law 14/2011, of June 1, 2011.
This visa is for foreign employees who may be transferring to Spain under a labour or professional relationship or for professional training reasons, within a company or group of companies established in Spain. Documentation must be provided as evidence of the following:-
— The existence of an actual business activity and, as the case may be, of the business group.
EU nationals and their family members may live and work (as employees or self-employed workers) in Spain without obtaining a work permit. However, in general they must obtain the relevant EU citizen registration certificate or EU citizen family member residence card.
|Residence and self-employed work permits||
Self-employment work permits are issued to first-time applicants for specific activities, employers and geographical areas. These permits are granted for one year. They can be renewed for two additional years and afterwards for another two years.Where a foreign worker has resided legally and continuously in Spain for five years and has renewed his or her work and residence permits, he or she may obtain a long-stay residence permit.
Employed or self-employed work permit for workers residing in the frontier area of a neighbouring State to which they return each day. Its validity is restricted to the territory of the autonomous community or city where the worker has his residence. The Initial duration of the permit is for a minimum of three months with a maximum of one year. It may be extended at the end of the initial period, and each successive renewal may not exceed one year.
|Fixed- term employment work permits (temporary permits)||
Work permits may be granted for temporary, seasonal or cyclical activities having a maximum duration of 9 months within 12 consecutive months. These permits may not be renewed. They are granted for a specific employer and are not transferable.
Work permits may also be granted for other temporary activities, such as assembly of industrial plants and construction projects for infrastructure, electricity networks, gas supply and railways.
In addition, work permits may be issued for temporary activities performed by senior management, professional sportsmen and women, artistes in public performances,
Temporary work permits for the activities described in this paragraph have a maximum duration of one year and may not be renewed.
|Cross-border work permits||
A cross-border work permits allows a foreign employee of a non-EU company to work in Spain for a client of his or her employer (a Spanish company) or for a subsidiary of the foreign company that is located within the Spanish territory. This permit is valid for one year and renewable for an additional year. If the foreign country and Spain have entered into a social security agreement, the duration of the work permit will be equal to the period established in the social security agreement.
To qualify for a cross-border work permit, an individual must have been working for the company that posts him or her at least for nine months. The holder of a cross-border work permit must continue to belong to his or her home country’s social security system and must be paid by the foreign company.
The Spanish labour authorities may request a copy of the contract between the Spanish customer and the foreign employer or the assignment letter in the case of a subsidiary.
|Blue Card work permits||
Holders of EU blue cards that have resided for at least eighteen months in another EU country may obtain this permit. Blue Card work permits are generally granted to some highly qualified employees who provide evidence of higher education qualifications (which is understood as higher education of at least least three years) or, exceptionally, have a minimum of five years’ professional experience that could be considered comparable. Blue Cards have an initial period of one year, with two subsequent renewals of two years each. Subsequently, the foreigner can apply for an EU permanent residence permit.
A Blue Card allows the foreigner to do the following:
Family members can also obtain residence permits at the same time as the employee.
Family members must obtain residence permits if they intend to accompany a foreign national to Spain. Spouses of a foreign national do not automatically receive a work permit, except in the case of a Blue Card holder. He or she may file jointly with the foreign national or independently if he or she wishes to obtain a Spanish work permit.
It is possible to apply for a regrouping visa if the applicant’s spouse has a one-year residence permit that has been renewed for four additional years.
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