Entry conditions/visas for Spain

Living in Europe, Working in Europe | Entry conditions/visas, Work permit | Spain

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This section aims to help researchers understand what type of visa suits each particular situation and what they require to apply for them, as well as the procedure they must follow to complete the application.

Entry to Spain

An important aspect when coming to work in Spain concerns obtaining visas, residency and/or work permits both for yourself and for your family. In this context, the Scientific Visa and the EU blue card have made it easier for foreign researchers to enter and move around Spain.

On the one hand, the scientific visa is a European proposal that facilitates the admission and mobility of third-country nationals carrying out research for periods of over three months, making the EU more attractive to researchers from all over the world. On the other hand, the EU blue card is established as a regulation geared toward incorporating the most qualified workers to the European economy.

Furthermore, there are other permits that allow research personnel to enter and stay in Spain. These are regulated in Organic Law 4/2000 and its implementing regulation. The new procedure established under Law 14/2013, of 27 September, on Support for Entrepreneurs and their Internationalisation, is of particular interest, facilitating access to residency and the development of research activities at a university, in business, at R&D&I centres or in a research body established in Spain.

Universities and businesses, R&D&I centres, research bodies or a duly accredited representative of these entities may submit the application to the Large Businesses and Strategic Groups Unit (UGE-CE) belonging to the Ministry of Employment and Social Security, who, once a favourable ruling has been given, will permit the researcher access to a valid residence permit for a maximum of two years —if they are legally in Spain, directly, or, if abroad, with a residency permit issued at a Spanish consulate—.

If the researcher applies for a visa, this will be issued within ten days and be valid for one year. This visa permits the researcher to live and work anywhere in Spain, with their family (provided the age requirements established in the labour legislation are met).

There are various kinds of visa depending on the duration and purpose of the stay in Spain:

 

 

Procedures BEFORE TRAVELLING        PROCEDURES IN SPAIN

PROCEDURES BEFORE TRAVELLING. What procedures do I need to carry out?

  • Check that you are required to apply for a visa in order to enter Spain.

  • Apply for the authorisation to stay for study or residence, which allows a foreigner from a non EEA member country to remain in Spain for a period of more than ninety days.

  • Apply for the visa (once the stay permit has been obtained).

  • This permit does not authorise travel to Spain; the applicant must wait until he/she obtains the visa.

Depending on the duration of the stay, there are different entry and stay procedures:

The following sections describe the conditions researchers must meet in order to apply for each of the above permits, together with their duration, the possibility of renewal, etc. It also explains the fast processing of the UGE-CE40 for researcher-recruiting entities only, and the new procedure created by Law 14/2013, of 27 September, for Support to Entrepreneurs and their internationalisation.

Short stay procedures

Procedures for a long but not indefinite stay

Fast track for employers: the UGE-CE

Permits for a long or indefinite stay

 

PROCEDURES IN SPAIN. Procedures that must be carried out in Spain

Foreign nationals in Spain have the right and obligation to preserve and keep up-to-date the identity documentation with which they entered the country issued by the competent authorities of their country of origin or provenance , as well as that which proves their situation in Spain, for example the foreign national identity card.

  1. Foreign national identity card

    The foreign national identity card (TIE) is the document that identifies foreign persons in order to establish their legal situation in Spain. Foreign citizens have the right and duty to request it once they have obtained a residency or stay permit over 6 months. The application should be made within a period of one month of entering Spain or of the entry permit corresponding to the affiliation and registration of the foreign national in the Social Security Regime coming into force.

    This is a personal document that cannot be transferred, and which has the same validity as the residency or stay permit. Foreign National Identity Card holders are obliged to carry this document at all times and to present it when required by police agents or in order to undertake the corresponding procedures.

    The TIE can only be processed53 in Spain, at the Aliens' Office or, in its absence, at the police station in the town of residence of the party concerned. Foreign national identity card holders are obliged to make any changes to nationality, regular place of residence, family circumstances or any other details shown on the card known to the immigration offices or, in their absence, to the police station of the location in which they reside within the space of a month.

    The foreign national identification number (NIE) is granted automatically once the document or permit enabling the researcher to stay within Spanish territory is obtained. This number should appear on all documents that are processed or issued, including notes that must be made on passports (except on visas). Furthermore, if labour activities are also to be carried out, the researcher shall be registered with Social Security and shall be granted a membership number.

    Since the adoption of the Entrepreneurs' Law, a researcher may live and work in Spain during the first year on the basis of the residence visa issued, without needing to apply for the foreign citizen identity card.

  2. Renewing residency permits

    The foreign national identity card (TIE) is the document that identifies foreign persons in order to establish their legal situation in Spain. Foreign citizens have the right and duty to request it once they have obtained a residency or stay permit over 6 months. The application should be made within a period of one month of entering Spain or of the entry permit corresponding to the affiliation and registration of the foreign national in the Social Security Regime coming into force.

    This is a personal document that cannot be transferred, and which has the same validity as the residency or stay permit. Foreign National Identity Card holders are obliged to carry this document at all times and to present it when required by police agents or in order to undertake the corresponding procedures.

    The TIE can only be processed53 in Spain, at the Aliens' Office or, in its absence, at the police station in the town of residence of the party concerned. Foreign national identity card holders are obliged to make any changes to nationality, regular place of residence, family circumstances or any other details shown on the card known to the immigration offices or, in their absence, to the police station of the location in which they reside within the space of a month.

    The foreign national identification number (NIE) is granted automatically once the document or permit enabling the researcher to stay within Spanish territory is obtained. This number should appear on all documents that are processed or issued, including notes that must be made on passports (except on visas). Furthermore, if labour activities are also to be carried out, the researcher shall be registered with Social Security and shall be granted a membership number.

    Since the adoption of the Entrepreneurs' Law, a researcher may live and work in Spain during the first year on the basis of the residence visa issued, without needing to apply for the foreign citizen identity card.

  3. Other procedures

    During the three months in which the entry visa is valid, in the case of temporary residency and work permits (under any of the modalities analysed in Section 3.5.2. "Procedure for a long but not indefinite stay" of this guide) for a research centre, university or company, the worker must enter Spain and be affiliated, registered and subsequently make contributions to Social Security in the occupation and region for which the permit was granted, by the employer that applied for it.

    For temporary residency permits, with the exception of the work permit, affiliation and registration in Social Security is not currently a requirement.

    It is recommended that you register at your Town Hall as soon as you have a place to reside and that this be recorded in the municipal registry, which is an administrative record comprised of the people that reside within the territory of the town. This registration (padrón in Spanish) serves as a proof of residence and a registration certificate is required for access to many social services and aid.

 

dO I NEED TO VALIDATE MY QUALIFICATIONS TO OBTAIN A VISA?

PROCEDURES FOR FAMILY ENTRANCE AND RESIDENCY

SUMMARY OF ENTRY PROCEDURES FOR FOREIGN RESEARCHERS

DIRECTIVE (EU) 2016/801

Do I need to validate my qualifications to obtain a visa?

In general, foreign researchers applying for a visa to carry out their activity in Spain do not need to validate their qualifications in order to be able to apply for or obtain a visa. In cases when the validity of the qualifications required to apply for a visa is in doubt, the bodies affected will be authorised to perform the necessary verifications to confirm the validity of the qualifications presented. Only if the activity is a regulated profession will foreigners be asked to have their qualifications validated or recognised.

The research centres where the researchers have been accepted, either for training or to work activities, must determine whether such situations require the validation or recognition of the qualifications necessary to perform their functions.

Procedures for family entrance and residency

Any researchers who apply for a research visa or EU blue card can simultaneously apply for a temporary residency permit for the members of their family that they wish to regroup, providing the following conditions are met:

  • The applicant or research visa holder must have sufficient economic means to sustain their family, that is, a monthly amount that represents 150% of the Multipurpose Public Income Indicator (IPREM in Spanish) in the case of the first family member, and 50% of the IPREM for each of the remaining members that make up a nuclear family.

  • The foreigner provides due evidence of the family tie or relationship between them.

The following family members can apply for this type of permit:

  1. The spouse of the researcher.
  2. Any person who has an affective relationship with the researcher identical to a marital relationship, which implies a relationship that has been made official by a public register established for such purposes (de facto partnerships or similar), or a relationship that despite not being officially registered, has begun prior to the researcher starting his or her activity in Spain (documents issued by a public authority serve as evidence of this situation).
  3. The children of either the researcher or his or her spouse or partner, including adopted children, providing they are under 18 years old at the time their residency permit is applied for, or if they are disabled or objectively incapable of fending for themselves.
  4. Those legally represented by the researcher, when they are under the age of 18 at the time their application for a residency permit is submitted or who are disabled or not objectively capable of fending for themselves.
  5. The parents of the researcher, or those of his or her spouse or partner, when in their care, over the age of 65 and when there are reasons that justify the need to authorise their residency in Spain. In exceptional cases, when there is a combination of reasons of humanitarian nature, parents under the age of sixty-five may be regrouped.

The application may be submitted either by the research body or by the foreigner researcher.

In the specific case of researchers who are holders of study visas, their family members from abroad may apply to stay in Spain — although under no circumstances can they work in Spain — providing the following conditions are met:

  1. That the foreign citizen holds a valid study visa.
  2. The person has sufficient economic means to sustain their family, that is, a monthly amount that is equivalent to 75% of the Multipurpose Public Income Indicator (IPREM in Spanish) in the case of the first family member, and 50% of the IPREM for each of the remaining members that make up a nuclear family.
  3. Due evidence of the family tie or relationship between them is provided.

In all cases, the family member visa will be of the same duration as that of the visa-holder. If family members are to stay longer than six months, they must apply for the foreign national identity card no later than one month after entering Spain.

Any foreigner who holds a long-term EU residency permit issued by another Member State of the European Union can also apply for residency in Spain, without having to apply for a visa.

The following table summarises the entry and residency permits for family members according to the permit obtained by the researcher, as well as the criteria and details of when they can be applied for.

 

 

 

 

Summary of entry procedures for foreign researchers

 

The availability of the UGE-CE Procedure or fast track option does not depend so much on the kind of aid received in itself but rather on whether there is a work contract specifically for researching — in other words, one whose only or primary purpose is to carry out research projects under a framework agreement (scientific visa) — or if the professional is highly qualified and has training/education that enables him to be admitted onto an advanced research programme. If the researcher has higher education qualifications, he will have access to either of these two permits.

Summary of entry, residency and work authorisation procedures at the beginning of the procedures

Directive (EU) 2016/801

On 11 May 2016 the new Directive 2016/801 of the European Parliament and the Council, of 11 May 2016, on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of research, studies, training, voluntary service, pupil exchange schemes or educational projects and au pairing was published; the directive amends earlier directives 2004/114/EC and 2005/71/EC, with the aim of remedying the identified weaknesses, ensuring increased transparency and legal certainty and offering a coherent legal framework for different categories of third-country nationals coming to the EU.

The main changes are as follows:

  • In the earlier directives, the entry requirements were obligatory for students and researchers and optional for schoolchildren, volunteers and trainees carrying out unpaid work. However, the new directive establishes that the requirements are obligatory for students, researchers, trainees and volunteers in the context of the European Volunteer Service (EVS), while they remain optional for school pupils, au pairs and volunteers not participating in the EVS.

  • The new directive considers a definition of "researcher" with a more general approach as it refers to the person carrying out a "research activity", whereas before it defined it as the person carrying out a "research project".

  • As regards the type of permit, the previous directives considered that third-country nationals were required to hold a residence permit, whereas the new directive introduces changes in this respect: although they may have a long-stay visa, after a stay of twelve months —or after stays after a long-stay visa—, the Member State must issue a permit.

  • The latest directive adds new general conditions of entry, including, for example, the requirement that the Member State must determine whether the applications must be submitted by the third-country national, by the host entity or individual, or by either of these; or that the Member State is obliged to accept the applications made, provided that the applicant is already residing in the country.

  • As regards the specific conditions for entry of researchers, the new directive allows the hosting agreement to be replaced by a contract. In addition, the procedure for the approval of research bodies is optional and not obligatory, as several elements of the hosting agreement have become optional.

  • The specific conditions of entry for students accepted to a higher education institution are given.

  • The entry conditions for school pupils have been extended, so that they do not merely consider pupil exchange schemes but also participation in educational projects.

  • In the new directive, the specific conditions of entry for trainees are also applied to paid trainees.

  • The specific conditions for volunteers have been clarified, as exceptions for those participating in the European Voluntary Service are considered.

  • With the new directive, the process for approval of higher education institutions and other hosting establishments becomes similar to the procedure for the approval of the research organisations, although it considers greater flexibility for the Member States.

  • The length of the permit is extended in some cases. In the previous directives a length of one year was established for all cases, while the new directive specifies that —although generally it is maintained— the length of the permit for researchers increases to two years and it is made clear that, in the case of students, it is to last the length of the programmes.

  • In the new directive, the grounds for rejection, withdrawal or non-renewal of authorisations is in line with the most recent legislation on migration, and therefore considers more specific scenarios. In addition, a clause is added that permits Member States to reject an application when it has evidence or serious and objective grounds to establish that the third-country national would reside for purposes other for which he or she applies to be admitted.

  • Although in general, third-country nationals shall be entitled to equal treatment, the new directive establishes a series of restrictions which may be applied by each Member State.

  • With respect to access to the labour market by students during their studies in order to cover part of the cost of the same, until now the directives established a minimum of ten hours per week. However, the new directive increases the minimum number of hours per week from ten to fifteen, although it is up to each Member State to establish the limit.

  • The new directive establishes that Member States shall grant researchers who have completed their projects a period of nine months in order to seek employment or set up a business.

  • As regards family reunification, the earlier directives did not indicate any specific obligation for allowing researchers' family to join the researcher, whereas now it is based on the family reunification direction, with additional advantages.

  • As regards mobility within the EU, the previous directives stipulated that researchers were entitled to three months on the basis of the hosting agreement, whereas the new directive allows researchers (and their families) to stay, in order to carry out part of their research in any research organisation, in one or several second Member States for a period of up to 180 days in any 360-day period per Member State, subject to the conditions imposed by the directive. If the mobility is to be extended, the same conditions will be applied. Therefore, it will be necessary to determine a maximum period of long-term mobility of a researcher which shall be less than 360 days. In the case of students, the new directive establishes a period of up to 360 days, provided that the mobility is covered by a Union or bilateral exchange programme.

  • The former directives did not establish specific periods for deciding on applications, whereas the new directive considers that the Member State has ninety days to decide (unless the application is made in relation to approved hosting organisations, in which case the period is reduced to sixty days).

Nevertheless, the new directive shall enter into force on 24 May 2018, the date on which the Member States should make effective the legal, regulatory and administrative provisions necessary for compliance with that established.

 

For detailed information on visas, work permits and procedures, you can download our Guide for Mobility of Foreign Researchers in Spain 2017 (12.07 MB)