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Visas, Work and Residence Authorizations and Permits

Spanish immigration legislation makes a distinction between foreigners subject to the European Community regime, and foreigners subject to general immigration rules.

Nationals of EU Member States 

Nationals from other EU Member States, the European Economic Area or Switzerland do not need an employee or self-employed work authorization, and have the same labor rights as Spanish citizens.

Foreigners belonging to this group that are going to reside in Spain for at least three months should apply personally for their registration in the Foreigners Central Registry, within the three months after their arrival. Relatives that are not citizens of the abovementioned Countries should apply for a special residence card.

Nationals from non-EU countries 

Foreigners not qualifying for the European Community regime require authorization to live and work in Spain. Employers wishing to hire non-EU nationals must obtain prior administrative authorization. 


To support entrepreneurs and their internationalization, Law 14/2013, of September 27, 2013, establishes, among others, the following visas and residence and work permits:

Type of Authorization



Visa and residence permit for investors

Non-resident foreigners that make a significant capital investment in the country.

The visas referred to will be valid for one year and must be issued by the Spanish Diplomatic Missions and Consulates.


Residence permits will as a general rule have a one-year term and applications for two-year extensions may be made, provided the conditions giving rise to the right are maintained. The residence permits will be issued by the Large Businesses and Strategic Collectives Unit and granted by the Directorate-General of Migration. A decision on the application will be made in not more than twenty days and will be deemed to have been approved by administrative silence.

Visa and residence permit for entrepreneurs

Non-resident foreign entrepreneurs pursuing an activity of an innovative nature in Spain with special economic interest for the country.

Visa and residence permit for highly qualified professionals

 Highly qualified professionals to develop a professional or labor relationship.

Visa and residence permit for training, research, development and innovation activities.

Any foreigners looking to enter Spain and to pursue training research, development and innovation activities at public or private entities.

Visa and residence permit for intra-company transfers

An application for the relevant visa and residence permit may be made in the case of foreigners transferring to Spain under a labor or professional relationship or for professional training reasons, within a company or group of companies established in Spain, provided some circumstances are evidenced (i.e.:  The existence of an actual business activity, graduate qualification or the like or, where appropriate, at least 3 years’ professional experience).

Apart from the latter, the following administrative authorizations could apply:


Type of Authorization



Employed work and residence authorization

Ordinary work authorization for foreign employees with a steady work situation in Spain.

One year, renewable for two year periods.

Self-employed work and residence authorization

Ordinary work authorization for self-employed foreigners with a steady work situation in Spain.

One year, renewable for two-year periods.

Cross-border workers

Employed or self-employed work authorization for workers residing in a frontier area of a State to which they return every day. This validity will only apply for the autonomous community where the worker has his residence.

The initial period has a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of one year. It may be extended at the the end of its validity taking into account that each extension can never exceed one year.

Fixed- term employed work authorizations

The following activities or occupations are authorized: seasonal work, project work or services, senior management, professional sportsmen or women, artists, and vocational training and work experience.

The length of the contract, or activity, with a maximum of one year (except for seasonal contracts up to a maximum of 9 months in an 12-month period).

Residence and work of highly qualified professionals in possession of an EU blue card

It is granted to those who certify higher education qualifications (understood as those deriving from higher education lasting at least three years), or exceptionally, have a minimum of five years’ professional experience that could be considered comparable.

Holders of EU blue cards that have resided for at least eighteen months in another EU country may obtain this authorization.

One-year duration, renewable for biannual periods, unless a long-term residence permit is applicable.

Foreigners who have been legally resident in Spain on a continuous basis for five years may, having renewed their employed or self-employed work and residence authorizations, obtain a long duration residence authorization. Once they have this authorization, they must apply for a permanent identity card, renewable every five years.

For more information, please review the ”Labor Guide” , elaborated by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. (Spanish)


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Last updated: 22|06|2015

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