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Immigration & Work Permits

Work Permits

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.

 

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Use your own company

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:-

  • The employee is “high qualified” (see Special immigration procedure for “high qualified” employees, top executives, scientists and international artists).
  • The salary is at least 1.5 times the gross annual salary corresponding to the standard industrial classification in which the company is classified.
  • Persons in the Spanish labor market cannot fill the position.
  • The Spanish unemployment rate will also be a factor in the Spanish authorities’ decision, except in cases where an employee is posted to a Spanish branch of the company or the Spanish company has the required attributes for applying for the work permit at the UGE-CE.

Step 1: Application for a work permit by the employer

Documentation required:

Documentation relating to the worker:

  • Copy of passport or relevant travel documents
  • Three passport-size photographs of the applicant
  • Applicant’s curriculum vitae, attaching proof that the employee has the appropriate training for the job and, if the profession is regulated, the professional qualification required to legally practise it
  • Documents demonstrating that the applicant falls into one or more of the preferred immigrant categories. Because the majority of the preferences are based on family relationships in Spain (that is, the applicant is descended from grandparents who were Spanish nationals by birth), these documents normally consist of certificates issued by the Civil Registry (Registro Civil). If a foreign official body issues the documents, the documents must be legalized with the Apostil of Hague Convention (under the Treaty of the Hague Convention, this is a stamp that all documents in one country must bear in order to be accepted as legitimate in another country) or the approval of the Spanish Consulate in the country of origin. If necessary, the documents must be translated into Spanish (sworn translation).

Documentation relating to the company:

  • Documentation identifying the company requesting authorization:
    • If it is an individual entrepreneur: copy of the NIF or NIE, or consent to check its relevant identification through the electronic System of Data Verification of identity and residence.
    • If it is a corporation (SA, SL, cooperative, etc.):
      – A copy of the company registration number and a copy of the articles of incorporation duly registered in the corresponding register.
      – A copy of the public document proving that the signatory of the application for authorization is the legal representative of the company.
      – Copy of NIF or NIE or consent to check the company’s identity through the electronic System Data Verification of identity and residence of the person signing the application.
  • Original and copy of the employee’s work contract, signed by the company’s representative and the employee, with a special clause stating that the contract will enter into force when the work permit is granted. The copy will be stamped by the Foreign Office and returned for subsequent presentation abroad with visa applications for residence and work. This contract must have been stamped by the relevant Immigration Office
  • A certificate from Spanish labour authorities, proving that the employer has assessed the national employment situation and has proof that the company has assessed that no Spanish worker can fill the position.
  • Proof that the company has the necessary financial solvency and capacity to recruit the foreign employee:  VAT and corporate income tax declaration or a report of the working life of the company (VILE), based on the last three years.
  • Certificates from the tax and social security authorities proving that the company has no tax or social security liabilities.
  • Power of attorney granted by the Spanish company to the individual dealing with the application on behalf of the company. This individual must also be an employee of the Spanish company.
  • A memorandum describing the Spanish company, including its characteristics, activities, offices and employees, if applicable. It would be useful to emphasize the number of Spaniards employed by the company or plans to expand its Spanish workforce in the future. The memorandum must include a description of the employee’s job on company letterhead, along with any relevant attachments emphasising the special characteristics of the position, such as international or head-office experience, familiarity with head-office procedures and strategies, and language or technical capabilities. The purpose of this document is to demonstrate that a Spaniard with arguably similar qualifications cannot fill the applicant’s job.
  • Documents showing that the Spanish company is registered with the Spanish social security system, including Form A-6 (Inscripción en la Seguridad Social) and Forms TC-1/TC-2 (Boletines de Cotización) for the last three months paid.

 

For applications where the employee is of senior executive / managing director-level, the following documents should also be included:

  • A notarized declaration of the executive’s position and authority
  • A certificate describing the relationship between the executive and the company (for example, member of the board of directors)
  • Evidence of the company’s inscription in the Mercantile Registry

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.

Documentation required:

  • The notification from the Spanish labour authorities granting the work permit.
  • A completed Visa Application form (Solicitud de Visado). This form is available from the Spanish Consulate. When filling out this form, it is important to state that the purpose of the visit is “To work for the company (full name) in Spain,” and to provide a local address and phone number in the country where the applicant can be contacted in the next few months if the visa is granted.
  • A copy of the employment contract which has been stamped by the Spanish labour authorities.
  • The applicant’s valid passport.
  • A certificate stating that the applicant does not have a criminal record, issued by the authorities of the home country or countries where the individual has resided during the last five years.
  • Four passport-size photographs.
  • A medical certificate from the applicant’s country of origin or from Spain if the applicant is already residing in Spain. No prescribed form exists for this certificate, but the certificate should meet the following conditions: It clearly states that it is a “Medical Certificate”, clearly and fully identifies both the doctor and the applicant, certifies that the doctor has examined the applicant and that the examination included a laboratory test and certifies that, based on this examination, the applicant shows no physical or mental defect, no disease or disability, no abnormalities in the chest X-ray, no evidence of abnormal mental conditions, no addiction to, or use of, toxic substances and no contagious diseases. This certificate must be signed and dated by the doctor performing the examination.

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

Cost: €60

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 original approval letter from the labour authorities for the granting of the work permit
  • The applicant’s passport with the visa stamp
  • Three passport-size photographs
  • The original Application for Work and Residence Permit form that was presented to the labour authorities
  • An invoice establishing that the required fees have been paid to the Economy and Finance Ministry

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:-

  • He or she was born and is legally residing in Spain
  • He or she has dependent Spanish ancestors or descendants
  • He or she previously had Spanish nationality and now intends to reside in Spain.
  • He or she is a national of a Latin American country, Andorra, Guinea or the Philippines, or is Sephardic.
  • He or she is directly related to an officer or director of the Spanish company for which he or she is working (except for domestic help).
  • He or she holds a senior executive or managing director position with the Spanish company or is considered an important employee of the company.
  • He or she has a permanent residence permit or has resided legally in Spain for the past five years.
  • He or she is a “high qualified” employee
  • He or she is a famous artist.

Expedited procedure for applying for work permits are now available for the  following types of applicants:

  • An individual holding a senior executive – or managing director- type position with the Spanish company
  • An individual holding a position that is “high qualified”
  • Scientists and international artists

The authorities will also consider the following factors when making their evaluation:

  • The reciprocity accorded to Spanish nationals with respect to granting work and residence permits in the applicant’s country of origin
  • The number of Spaniards employed by the Spanish company intending to hire the applicant
  • The Spanish company’s plans for the future expansion of its business and its workforce

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:

• Investors
• Entrepreneurs
• Highly qualified professionals
• Researchers
• Employees with intercompany transfers

As a general rule, all visas have a one-year term, with the option of a two-year extension.

Use the Shield GEO Employer of Record Solution

Shield GEO does not provide sponsored work permits in Spain at this moment.

 

Types of visas in Spain

Category Description of Visa
Investors 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
constitute a significant investment of capital:

— 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.
— The acquisition of real estate in Spain with an investment of an amount equal to or greater than €500,000 per applicant.
— A business project to be developed in Spain that can be considered to be of general or public interest, taking into account the creation of jobs, the technology and scientific innovation of the project and its socioeconomic impact in Spain

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.
Entrepreneurs 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,
alternatively and providing the circumstance alleged is deemed and evidenced to be of general interest: -

a. A significant increase in the creation of direct employment on the part of the company seeking to hire.
„b. The maintenance of employment.
„c. A significant increase in job creation in the industry or geographic region in which the labour activity is to be pursued.
„d. An extraordinary investment with a relevant socioeconomic impact in the geographic region in which the labor activity is to be pursued.
„ e. The concurrence of reasons of interest for Spain’s commercial and investment policy.
„ f. A relevant contribution to scientific and/or technological innovation.

3. Graduates and postgraduates from prestigious universities and business schools.
Researchers Foreigners looking to enter Spain to pursue training research, development and
innovation activities at public or private entities may apply for this visa provided they fall within one of the following categories:

— 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.
— Scientific and technical personnel performing scientific, development and technological innovation work at Spanish businesses or R&D&I centres established in Spain.
— Researchers taken on under an agreement by public or private research bodies.
— Lecturers hired by universities or higher education and research centers, or business schools established in Spain.
Intercompany Transfers 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.
— Graduate qualification or the like or, where appropriate, at least 3 years’ professional experience.
— The existence of a prior, ongoing professional relationship of 3 months with one or more group companies.
— Company documentation evidencing the transfer
EU/EEA Nationals 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.
Frontier workers 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,
and such other groups as may be determined by legislation

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:
• He or she may work and reside in Spain.
• He or she may move freely for business purposes up to 90 days in EU territory.
• After holding the Blue Card for 18 months, he or she may apply for a new Blue Card in another country of the EU if he or she fulfils the internal immigration requirements for the country.

Family members can also obtain residence permits at the same time as the employee.
Family members 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.

It is also possible to apply for a Non-Lucrative Residence Permit if the applicant can prove that he or she has a monthly financial support of at least 400% of the Public Income Indicator of Multiple Effects (Indicador Publico de Renta de Efectos Múltiples, or IPREM). IPREM is a Spanish economic index. The 2014 IPREM is equal to EUR532.51 (it may change each year).
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