Immigration to Spain
- All workpermit.com Immigration and Naturalization Services forms
- Use the General immigration enquiry form for Spain
This guide is aimed at employers. We apologise for lack of any Spanish guides optimised for employees, agents, or investors – if you fall into one of these categories, please feel free to contact us for advice (although you may find that this guide answers many of your questions).
Employers with inquiries for our services may contact us at our Riga, Latvia office for assistance.
- How long will it take to get an employee on site with an Spanish work permit?
- Can my company obtain Spanish work permits?
- Does the candidate qualify for an Spanish work permit?
- How do I apply for an Spanish work permit?
- Van der Elst – provision of service between EEA companies.
- Spanish work permit FAQs
In 2005, Spain announced a general amnesty for illegal immigrants. By registering with the relevant authorities, formerly illegal immigrants were able to legitimise their presence in Spain.
Spain recently announced that it will be opening its borders for workers from all EU countries in spring 2006. Therefore, as of that date, if you are an EU national you will not need a work permit to work in Spain — you can enter the country as a tourist and register with the Spanish national employment office (Instituto Nacional de Empleo - INEM) to look for a job. You then have 90 days to find employment — you can obtain an extension after that date or leave Spain and re-enter for a further 90 days. Once you find a job, you will need your employment contract in order to apply for your residence permit.
Residents non-EU who wish to work in Spain must obtain a work permit. They must also obtain a visa before moving to work in Spain.
Work permits must be applied for at the Foreigners' Office (Oficinas de Extranjeros) or to the provincial office of the Ministry of Labour (Delegación Provincial del Ministerio de Trabajo), if you are already in Spain. If you are not in Spain, a work permit must be applied for at the Consular office of your home country.
The provincial labour offices (Direcciones Provinciales de Trabajo, Seguridad Social y Asuntos Sociales) will decide whether the work permit will be issued or not.
The supporting documentation needed is quite extensive and can take some time to collect. It must be submitted in Spanish, so translations should be taken into both time and financial budgets. Once the application has been lodged, processing takes between 3 and 6 months due to the highly bureaucratic systems designed to protect the resident labour markets.
Spain has just acknowledged the provision of service ruling by the European Court, which means that some candidates may be able to be placed on-site within a week. See the section below.
When the work permit is approved the candidate must apply for a residence visa to travel to Spain and start work.
Can my company obtain Spanish work permits?
There are two possible ways for the candidate to be employed with a work permit for the first time:
- As the direct employee of an Spanish company. In the first instance this would be a type b, which is for a maximum of 1 year. This may be extended and would become a type B, valid for a maximum of 2 years.
- As the employee of a foreign company that is providing services to an Spanish company. This foreign company may not be a recruitment agency and must produce a service contract as part of the application. In this scenario, a Spanish accountant must administer the payrolling of the candidate to ensure that all tax and social security is duly paid. This would be a type A permit and would be valid for a maximum of 9 months.
Does the candidate qualify for an Spanish work permit?
The candidate must be shown to have sufficient experience to fill the position.
If the application is for an assignment permit then the candidate should have at least 6-12 months experience with the service provider, to justify the claim that they have experience with the company's systems.
Preference is given to candidates with some demonstrable link with Spain and Latin American citizens
How do I apply for an Spanish work permit?
The application is generally lodged through the Direccion Provincial de Trabajo, seguridad Social y Asuntos Sociales (local labour office), however they may also be lodged at the office for foreigners, the Gereral directorate for Migration, or even the post office. When the application is for provision of service and the employer has no presence in Spain, the Spanish consulate will accept the application.
Once the work permit application is approved, the candidate will need to make a residence visa application in their usual country of residence. The candidate will probably need to present a police clearance certificate and an original birth certificate to be granted this visa, so it is worthwhile assembling these documents in advance.
Provision of service ruling – van der Elst
The European court made a ruling that any EEA company should be able to provide services to its EEA clients without the need to obtain additional work permits for it's employees. i.e. if a British software house sells it's product to a Spanish company and to install the product on it's client's systems needs to send some non-EEA employees who have UK work permits to the client's offices in Spain they should not need a Spanish work permit.
This ruling is being acknowledged very slowly across Europe, and was acknowledged by Spain at the end of 1999. In order to fit into this category the employee must have been employed in the EEA by the supplier for at least 12 months before being seconded.
Spanish work permit FAQs
What is the difference between a work permit and a visa?
A work permit is permission for a company to employ a foreign worker given by the labour authorities. It does not allow the candidate to travel to or reside in Spain. Once the work permit has been approved the candidate should apply for a residence visa (type D).NOTE: that a Schengen (type C) visa is NOT sufficient to take up employment with a work permit!
What is the difference between "body shopping" and providing a service?
It is not possible to obtain a work permit for a candidate who is being body shopped, but it is possible for a candidate under a contract to provide services. The key differences are:
- The sponsor may not be a recruitment agency.
- The staff remain on the payroll and line management of the service provider.
- The services are above and beyond that of just a contractor – e.g. consultants assisting in the installation of a propriety product sold to a client.
- The services provided must be shown to be in the normal run of operations for the service provider.
What elements should be included in a service contract to ensure that it is suitable for a work permit application?
A provision of service contract should include the following elements:
- The day to day line management of the consultants remains with the service provider
- It should include warranted deliverables.
- It should cover the entire period for which the permit is required.
- It should be signed by both parties, and on the client headed paper.