Working Visa Guides for Spain 2023: Moving to Spain for employment? Determine if you require a visa or permit, as well as the application procedures for your Spanish work permit.
Some nations are required to obtain a visa to live and work legally in Spain. There are numerous sorts of work permits in Spain, as well as various exclusions. These rely on a variety of variables, including your country of origin, immigration status, and employment circumstances.
This guide describes the steps necessary to secure employment in Spain, whether for yourself or an employer. Included are sections on:
- Working in Spain
- Who in Spain requires a work visa?
- Visas for employment in Spain
- Employment visas for employees
- independent work visa
- Work visas for students in Spain
- Work visas for family members in Spain
- Work visa appeals and complaints in Spain
- Useful resources
Working in Spain
Long-term residents and workers in Spain have many opportunities available to them. The country ranks highly among OECD nations for work-life balance. In addition, it has year-round weather, superb culture, and a thriving cuisine scene, which makes it extremely attractive to international expats. There were approximately 5.5 million foreign-born residents, with 45 percent from South and Central America, 30 percent from other EU nations, and 25 percent from the rest of the world.This group comprises seniors, students, professionals, and families, among others.
The average annual household income in Spain is 23,999 US dollars, which is less than the OECD average of 33,604 US dollars. Spain continues to attract foreign workers despite this. This is largely due to the lower cost of living compared to other countries. For example, living in Madrid is less expensive than in London or Berlin.
Additionally, Spain’s labour rules are among the most strict in Europe. Starting in September 2021, the minimum salary for full-time employment in Spain will be €1,125 per month, payable in 14 installments of €965 to account for bonus pay in July and December.
In 2019, a significant proportion (63%) of Spain’s foreign-born population was also employed. This figure is higher than in Greece (53%), France (58.9%), but lower than in the Netherlands (66.6%) and Germany (70%).The highest number of foreign nationals in Spain are Moroccan, followed by those from Romania, the United Kingdom, and Italy.
Who Needs a Work Visa in Spain?
If you wish to live and work in Spain, you will interact primarily with two parts of the government: the immigration authority under the Secretary of State for Migration and the labour and employment authorities under the Ministry of Labor and Economy.
Citizens of the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland can live, work, and study in Spain without limitation. However, the majority of non-EU/EEA nationals, generally known as “third-country nationals,” require a work visa and must obtain a job before applying for one. Citizens of the United Kingdom who intend to reside and work in Spain after Brexit will also need a residence and work visa.
Work Permit Exemptions
Some individuals can work in Spain without a work permit, but they may still require a visa to visit the country. This category includes professors, technicians, and scientists. Those moving to Spain to create scientific or cultural programmes, foreign journalists, artists coming for specific performances, clergy, and union representatives also qualify for this exemption. You may not require a visa if you are joining a family member with a valid Spanish work permit.
Rules for Volunteers
If you are a citizen of a nation allowing visa-free, short-term admission to Spain, you may enter the country without a permit to perform volunteer work. However, you must adhere to the restrictions imposed by Spain’s visa-free entrance agreements with your nation, such as the 90-day limit for U.S. citizens.
Within 30 days of your arrival in Spain, you must apply for a resident permit (Tarjeta de Residencia, or TIE) and a Foreigner’s Identity Number (Nmero de Identificación de Extranjero, or NIE) at the local Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or police station if you intend to stay for an extended period of time.
This involves creating a bank account, getting your paycheck, enrolling for social security, paying taxes, purchasing property, and obtaining a driver’s licence in Spain.
Remember that all workers in Spain, whether salaried or self-employed, are required to register with the General Social Security Fund (Dirección General de la Tesorera General de la Seguridad Social, or TGSS). If you are an employee, your employer will take care of this for you. However, if you are self-employed, you are responsible for this.
Types of Work Visas in Spain
Non-EU/EEA citizens who wish to live and work in Spain must get a residence and work permit (visa de trabajo y residencia).
There are numerous sorts of work permits for various occupations and durations of employment. The following are some of the most frequent visas that allow you to live and work in Spain:
Work job visas—including permits for professionals with advanced degrees and seasonal workers
Self-employed work visa: this permits one year of residence and employment in Spain.
When applying for a long-term visa, you must pay the stipulated price, which is typically between €60 and €80. If your application is declined, this is non-refundable.
Work Visas For Employed Persons
Prior to obtaining a work visa (por cuenta ajena), a job offer is required. For you to legally work in Spain, your employer must next request a work visa on your behalf. Permits are available for particular industries; therefore, it is typically possible to switch jobs within the same field.
Typically, the Spanish government provides work visas when the government identifies the position as a shortage occupation or when there are no qualified EU candidates. In this instance, the candidate is typically a highly qualified expert (website in Spanish).
Importantly, it is impossible to apply for a work visa in Spain. Because the immigration authorities consider any application submitted in Spain to be illegal, the application will be denied. Therefore, while applying for a work visa in Spain, you must do so through a consulate or embassy in your home country.
How to Apply
Your employer should submit a work permit application to the provincial office of the Ministry of Labor and Immigration (Delegación Provincial del Ministerio de Trabajo e Inmigración) on your behalf.
During this time, the Spanish government will mail you a copy of the application bearing the office’s stamp and your file number. You can then submit this as part of your visa application to the Spanish embassy. The embassy will then notify the regional labour office that it has received your application, which will subsequently be processed by the labour office.
Length of Validity
Up to eight months may be required to process a work permit application. The embassy will grant a work and residence visa once the labour office has approved the work permit. A work permit is valid for one year and is renewed if the conditions are met. You can seek permanent residency in Spain after five years.
Work Visas For Seasonal Workers
If you are a non-EU citizen seeking seasonal employment in Spain, you must obtain the following:
- work and residency authorization
- employment and residency visa
The visa application process is comparable to that of applying for permanent employment. Nevertheless, there are a few other prerequisites:
- Your employer must offer “conditions of acceptable dignity and hygiene” for your accommodation.
- Your employer must reimburse your travel costs.
- You must agree to return to your home country at the conclusion of the contract.
How to Apply
Before applying for a work and residence visa, your employer must obtain a work permit from the Provincial Aliens Affairs Office or any official labour department of the various autonomous communities.
Once the work permit has been approved, the Provincial Aliens Affairs Office issues the dwelling permit concurrently with the work permit.Once the work permit has been approved, you must apply for a work and residence visa at the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in your home country, which will allow you to work in Spain.
Length of Validity
Permits are valid for no more than nine months per calendar year and have the same term as the employment contract. Contracts and permits with a duration of less than nine months may be extended, but only up to a total of nine months.
The EU Blue Card
The EU Blue Card is a residency permit for qualifying individuals. It permits EU member states to recruit and employ skilled foreign citizens. In 2019, Spain granted 39 EU Blue Cards, substantially fewer than Germany, Poland, and France, who issued 28,858, 2,104, and 2,036, respectively. In spite of this, the fee for this visa is €418—which is more than many other EU nations charge.
You can apply for an EU Blue Card if you have a three-year degree or five years of professional experience at the equivalent level.
You also need a legally binding employment contract or job offer. The job must pay at least 1.5 times the average wage in Spain, or 1.2 times if the position is in high demand. The minimum yearly salary for EU Blue Card applicants in Spain is currently €33,908.
How to Apply
The company will submit the application on your behalf, together with job-related papers, proof that no EU citizen is qualified for the post, and details on your qualifications, passport or ID, and health insurance coverage in Spain.
Upon approval of your EU Blue Card by the Spanish authorities, you must apply for a visa at the Spanish embassy in your home country. You will need your passport, a medical certificate, a certificate stating you have no criminal record, and a copy of the employment contract. You have three months from the time you acquire your visa to enter Spain.
Length of Validity
The Blue Card is valid for one year and is renewed if you continue to meet the requirements. Within six months after obtaining an EU Blue Card, you may travel to other EU states for up to three months. You can move to another EU state after 18 months, but you must apply for an EU Card there.
You may migrate to Spain and apply for a Spanish EU Blue Card if you have held a Blue Card granted by another EU member state for at least 18 months. You or your employer can submit an application either before your arrival in Spain or within one month of your arrival.
Self-Employed Work Visa
If the thought of being your own boss in Spain appeals to you, you may want to consider becoming an autónomo, or self-employed individual. However, it is crucial to note that the procedure you must take will depend heavily on your nation of origin.
Citizens of EU and EFTA member states, for example, can freely enter and work in Spain without a work permit. Then, upon entering the nation, individuals can register as self-employed if they are of legal age (18 in Spain) or are emancipated (in the case of a minor).
Non-EU/EFTA nationals must first apply for a visa to enter Spain, then for a long-term residency permit, and finally for a self-employed work permit that permits them to work as a freelancer.
To apply for a visa to work independently in Spain, you must:
- not being a European Union citizen (EU).
- be at least 18 years of age.
- not be in Spain with an immigration status that is not legal.
- Possess a certificate from each country in which you’ve resided within the past five years stating that you have no criminal record.
- have the relevant professional qualifications or sufficient experience to conduct the intended business activity.
- Provide evidence that your business has adequate financial resources to operate.
How to Apply
This sort of work visa can be obtained by applying for it or amending an existing visa. You may learn more in our Guide to Becoming an Autonomous Individual in Spain. This visa costs $515 for Americans, $1,043 for Canadians, and $318 for everyone else.Irish, British, and Australian citizens are encouraged to review their respective countries’ agreements with Spain.
Length of Validity
A one-year work permit for self-employment allows non-EU/EEA nationals to reside and work in Spain. The visa can then be renewed for two years, and the process can be repeated until the five-year mark is reached.
Work Visas in Spain For Students
While studying in Spain, you may work up to 20 hours a week if you hold a student residency card. However, your employer is responsible for obtaining a work permit for you.
If your programme of study lasts between three and six months, you may need a student visa. If the stamp reads “180 days total studies,” you will be unable to obtain a residency card (TIE) that permits you to work in Spain.
Working Holiday Visa
The following countries have working holiday visa agreements with Spain:
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea
If you are under 30 years old and a citizen of one of these countries, you are eligible to apply for this visa.
To be eligible for the programme, you must meet the following requirements:
- Hold a passport valid for longer than your intended length of stay in Spain.
- be between the ages of 18 and 30 at the time of application; Canadians may apply until the age of 35.
- Have adequate finances for your personal needs throughout your stay in Spain.
- Pay the application fee for a visa.
- possess a return ticket or the means to acquire one.
- Have at least two years of postsecondary education.
- Possess a working knowledge of Spanish.
- Before entering Spain, you must meet the required health standards and have medical insurance.
- Meet the character standards (the equivalent of Spain’s “certificado de antecedentes penales”).
- You have no dependents with you.
- I have never participated in the Working Holiday Program in Spain before.
How to Apply
You must submit an application for a Spanish working holiday visa at an embassy or consulate of Spain in your native country. It is essential to be aware that processing times can vary based on your location and nationality; therefore, it is best to contact the relevant government. They will be able to advise you on the optimal application window. This visa carries a price tag of €60.
Length of Validity
The working holiday visa permits you to spend up to one year in Spain. You may only work for the same employer for a maximum of three months during this period. Importantly, the visa cannot be extended or renewed, and participation in this program is limited to a single visit. However, you may go to other EU nations throughout the year.
Work Visas For AU Pairs in Spain
In the past, many au pairs worked on a student visa; however, the Student Visa Program in Spain currently demands that you be enrolled as a full-time student. Furthermore, if you are a student looking for a work permit, your job must be related to your education and your working hours are limited.
Due to Spain’s lack of an official au pair visa programme, non-EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens have limited alternatives when it comes to au pair programmes in Spain.
Fortunately, Spain has signed the European Agreement on Au Pair Placement, which allows individuals from nearly every country in the world to work as au pairs in Spain. Nonetheless, they must adhere to the admission restrictions, which differ by country of origin.
If you are from a nation that does not require a visa to enter Spain for up to 90 days, you can simply use your passport to visit a host family during this time.
To work in Spain as an au pair, you must:
- Be between the ages of 17 and 30.
- Have an au pair agreement between you and the host family that outlines the duties and compensation.
- Have proof of your ability to support yourself as well as medical coverage.
How to Apply
During your stay in Spain, you will need to contact the local Spanish embassy or consulate to determine if your host family may sponsor you for a dependent residence permit. If the Spanish government gives you a visa to live there, you can go there and apply for an au pair work permit.
Length of Validity
If your requirements are approved by the Spanish authorities, the one-year permission can be renewed for an extra year.
Work Visas in Spain For Family Members
By applying for a family reunification visa, family members can join non-EU relatives who have been residing in Spain for one year and hold a residence permit for another year. After approval, family members are permitted to work in the country without a work permit.
If you are not a citizen of the EU but your relative in Spain is a citizen of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, you can enter Spain without waiting a year. Also, you may work without a permit.
Family members of EU Blue Card holders can apply for a temporary residence permit without having to wait a year if they meet the reunification requirements. Additionally, they can work without a work permit.
Appeals and Complaints About Work Visas in Spain
If your work visa application is denied, you may appeal the government’s decision. You can submit your application at the agency or at the Spanish Embassy in your country. This will enable you to justify your disagreement with the choice.
Following the Embassy’s review of the appeal, the visa application will be granted or denied once more. Consider the decision final if you do not receive a written response within one month from the date of your appeal. You may file a second appeal, but it must be submitted to the Spanish courts, and you will require an attorney.