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05 januari 2010

Getting a work permit for Spain: Spanish immigration law

The Spanish immigration process is complex and long winded. There are several different immigration categories. The process varies according to a number of factors, including the size of the sponsoring Spanish company, the location of the sponsoring Spanish company, and where the foreign employee is paid (home or host payroll). Premium, or fast track, processing is available for companies of a certain size, which meet the criteria listed below.

A list of the most common immigration categories follows:

Corporate Work Permits

Transnational Work Permit

Work Permit Type B

Premium Processing

Consular Visa

Residence Permit

Work Permit Renewal

EU/EEA/Swiss Nationals

EU Registration Certificate

NIE Certificate

EU Residence Card


Business Visa

Student Visa

Permanent Residence

For the purposes of this article, we will look in more detail at the corporate work permit categories.

Transnational Work Permit

Employees sent on assignment to Spain from a company outside the EU/EEA must secure transnational work permits.

The following conditions apply:

- Assignment duration must be at least one year

- Assignee must have been employed by sending company for at least nine months immediately prior to the transfer

- Assignee must remain on home (sending) company's payroll and social security*

*Where no social security agreement exists between the sending country and Spain, the assignee will need to move on to Spanish social security. Emigra can provide more details on request.

Transnational work permit applications are applied for at the local Immigration Office or, for larger companies, at the main Immigration Office of Spain. Further details follow:

For transnational work permit applications to the local Immigration Office, the following conditions must be met:

- Assignment is an intra company transfer (i.e. sending entity and Spanish entity are linked by common ownership

- Assignment is due to a service agreement between the sending entity and the Spanish entity

- Assignment is due to the award of a contract for a project that will be managed outside Spain

- Assignee must have been employed by sending company for at least nine months immediately prior to the transfer r Assignee must reside in the country where the sending company is located.

Approvals for such applications take approximately three months, depending on the workload of the immigration officers.

Employees may bring dependant family members, within certain guidelines; the dependants will apply for consular visas with the assignee once the transnational work permit has been approved.

The immigration process will be completed once the assignee is in Spain, has had his/her fingerprints taken and has obtained the Spanish ID card.

Transnational Work Permits (DGI - R.G.)

For companies with at least 500 employees in Spain and at least two different locations in different Spanish provinces, transnational work permit applications may be made at the main Immigration Office (Dirección General de Immigración). The conditions as outlined above must be met.

Approvals for such applications generally take 45-60 days, although according to the law, three months should be allowed for.

Work Permit Type B

Employees hired locally by a Spanish company must apply for a Type B work permit.

The following conditions apply:

- Application must be submitted by employee of Spanish company or by the appointed legal representative (Emigra may act as legal representative if appointed)

- Local labour market conditions will be assessed; evidence that no legal residents of Spain are available for the position must be supplied.

- Employee must be registered with Spanish social security

*Where a reciprocity agreement has been signed between Spain and the employee's home country, local labour market conditions will not be assessed.

The work permit will be valid for one year and can be renewed. The work permit will limit the employee to working in one geographical area and one sector of employment.

Transnational work permit applications are applied for in the province where the company is located (Delegación o Subdelegación del Gobierno) or, for larger companies, at the main Immigration Office of Spain (Dirección General de Inmigración) .

Processing times and requirements vary; contact Emigra for specific details.

Premium Processing – Unidad de Grandes Empresas (UGE)

Spanish companies meeting certain conditions may apply for transnational work permits and/or Type B work permits at the Unidad de Grandes Empresas. Advantages are as follows:

- Processing time for the work permit is 30 days

- Processing time for visas is maximum 10 days

- Dependant applications are submitted at the start of the case, with the work permit application, so dependants can have their visas approved together with the principal applicant

The following conditions must be met:

- Spanish company must have more than 1000 employees in Spain, or:

- Spanish company must have investments in Spain of minimum 200 million Euros, or:- Spanish company must have foreign investments of minimum 20 million Euros, and:

- employee must be highly qualified

Please contact Emigra for more details.

Consular Visa for Residence

Foreign nationals wishing to remain in Spain for over 90 days must obtain an initial authorisation for non-lucrative residence. This consular visa should be applied for at the Spanish Embassy/Consulate in the country of residence or nationality of the applicant. Supporting documents must be provided, including evidence of economic means for the duration of the stay in Spain.

The visa will be valid for one year; however, please note that foreign nationals wishing to remain in Spain for longer than six months must also obtain a residence permit/card post arrival.

Residence Permit

Foreign nationals wishing to stay in Spain for a period of more than six months must obtain a residence card within one month of entry to Spain. In order to obtain this, the applicant must have entered Spain on a visa issued for residence purposes.

Residence cards are issued for one year. Renewals may be granted for a period of two consecutive years, provided circumstances remain the same as they were at the time the first residence card was issued.

Work Permit Renewal

Applications for renewals of both transnational work permits and Type B work permits must be made within the 60 days immediately prior to the expiry date of the work permit.

Applications may also be submitted after the expiry date of the work permit; however, a financial penalty will be levied.

In some cities, the application can be made on behalf of the employee, as long as an authorization letter has been provided; however, in some cities, the employee must go in person to make the application. Emigra may be able to accompany the employee in such circumstances; please contact us for further details.

Renewal applications will require a valid employment contract, either the initial contract if it is still valid or has been renewed, or if a new contract with a new employer has been secured and work has commenced.

Contact Details

This information was provided by Emigra, Inc, Please contact Sophy King, Director of Consulting and Compliance Services at Emigra, if you found this article interesting and would like to know more. Sophy’s details are as follows:


Direct Tel: +34-91-7454-102


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