If you want to work and live in Spain legally, you will need a work visa. Spanish work permits are closely linked to residency status and you will probably need to have the offer of employment before you can apply for residency.
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Residents from the EU, the EEA or Switzerland are entitled to live and work in Spain without a permit; however other foreign nationals will need one in order to relocate. There are a few exceptions such as scientists or academics engaged in a project, or relatives joining family members who have lived and worked in Spain for over a year.
Here’s how to go about obtaining a work visa for Spain.
1. Get a job offer
Before you can apply for a work permit, you’ll need an offer of a job in Spain. Once you have secured an offer of employment, it’s your employer’s responsibility to apply for a work permit to enable you to work in Spain. A permit will only be granted if the position is listed as a Shortage Occupation or if the job has been advertised, but no other suitable Spanish or EU candidates applied. When you have received authorisation to live and work in Spain you can apply for a visa.
2. Apply for residency and a work visa
Your employer will submit your work permit application and you’ll be sent a copy. You’ll need to forward this to the Spanish embassy as part of your application for a residency and a work visa. It can take up to eight months to process a work permit application. As soon as your work permit application has been approved, you’ll be issued a work and residency visa by the embassy.
The work permit is renewable and it is valid for one year. Each permit is valid for specified sectors so you can change jobs if you want to as long as your new position is within the same field. When you’ve been working in Spain for five years or more, you can apply for long-term residency.
3. Self-employed and freelance workers in Spain
You can come to Spain and work as a freelancer or be self-employed. To do so you’ll need to apply for a work permit through your home country’s Spanish embassy or consulate and you’ll need to provide some or all of the following documents:
- business plan (if appropriate)
- evidence that you have sufficient finances to support yourself and to invest in the business
- proof that you have the experience and skills necessary to do the work
- contracts or commissions from clients
- licences or registrations that are required to carry out that work in Spain
- information about the possibility of your company creating employment in Spain
On receipt of your residency and work permit, you can apply for a visa. Your work permit may be restricted to certain locations or activities and it will be valid for a year. When you’ve been in Spain for five years or more, you can apply for long-term residency.
4. When you arrive in Spain
On arrival in Spain you’ll need to apply for a Foreigner’s Identity Card/number (TIE/NIE) as soon as possible. You can do so at a Police Station or the local Foreigner’s Office and you have 30 days to do so. You’ll need an NIE in order to open a bank account, receive payment from your employer, apply for a driving licence, pay tax and buy a property.
All people working in Spain are required to register with the Spanish Social Security authorities. If you’re self-employed, you must do this yourself; if you’re employed, your employer will do so on your behalf.
See also: How to Start a Business in Spain
The Spanish work visa application process can be rather complicated especially if you are self-employed and do not have the benefit of a Spanish employer to handle the paperwork for you. It’s a good idea to use the services of a specialist relocation consultant to double check things for you as errors in your work permit application paperwork could mean a delay or even rejection.
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