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Work Visas in Spain

If you are a non-EEA citizen planning to relocate to Spain for work, you must apply for a Spain work visa.

For more information on work visas in Spain, including which visa is appropriate for you, the visa requirements, and how to begin the application process, contact our expert immigration lawyers on (+44) 333 4149244 or get in touch with us online.


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    Benefits of Choosing IAS Spain Immigration Lawyers

    When it comes to obtaining a Spain visa or permit, IAS Spain immigration lawyers are well-equipped to help you.

    With IAS’ track record of successfully helping clients visit or immigrate to Ireland successfully, we can help businesses and individuals achieve their goals.

    Our dedicated immigration lawyers provide our services through a comprehensive and personalised approach. With IAS, you enjoy:

    Expert support from an experienced immigration lawyer dedicated to your success

    Support in gathering supporting documents and completing a high-quality application.

    Confidence that your case is being handled by an experienced team.

    In-house document checks done by lawyers who are accredited by the IBA in Madrid and Seville.

    Regardless of what your Spain immigration query might be, IAS is here to help and support you. Call us or enquire online to learn more about how we can help you.

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    An Overview of Work Visas in Spain

    A Spain work visa is an authorisation to enter the country for a specific period to take up employment or start a new business venture. It is in the form of a stamp attached to the visa holder’s passport.

    Spain work visas are issued to non-EEA citizens, also called third-country nationals. As a result of Brexit, this also applies to UK citizens migrating to Spain.

    In other words, if you are a non-EEA national looking to engage in a paid activity in Spain, you will need to apply for a work visa before you can work legally in the country. However, citizens from EEA countries and Swiss nationals can live and work in Spain without a visa.

    You must meet certain eligibility requirements before applying for a Spain work visa. For instance, before applying for an employment visa, you must already have a job offer from an organisation in Spain.

    If you are not certain whether you qualify for a Spain work visa, talk to our immigration lawyers. They will assess your eligibility and will help you with your application.

    Entrepreneur Visa

    The Entrepreneur visa allows foreign nationals to live in Spain for three years to carry out an innovative business venture. The entrepreneurial activity must be in line with the general interest of the Spanish economy.

    To successfully obtain an Entrepreneur visa, you must demonstrate that the intended business is viable and will enrich the country’s economy. As such, you will be required to submit a ‘favourable report’ as part of your application process.

    This report is typically issued by the Economic and Commercial Office or the Directorate-General for International Trade and Investments after going through and accepting your business plan.

    The favourable report indicates that:

    • The business can create new jobs and has a positive effect on the country’s socio-economic development
    • The business can create good investment opportunities
    • The business’ operating process involves a high level of technology (for example, the use of algorithms or machine learning)

    The Entrepreneur visa is valid for one year when issued. However, you can renew it after the initial validity period for an additional two years.

    Highly Qualified Work Permit

    The Highly Qualified visa or Highly Skilled Professional visa allows foreigners to work in Spain in a specialised or technical position or as a manager directing people. The visa is designed for the following individuals:

    • Chief executives or senior management personnel who manage a relatively large group of people in an organisation.
    • Those who work in highly technical and specialised job positions and require specific knowledge and advanced training.
    • Graduate or postgraduate degree holders from prestigious universities or business schools.

    As such, to qualify for this visa, you will require at least three years of work experience or a four-year university degree (which can include a Master’s). Also, the company you are joining must have a minimum number of employees or generate a minimum amount of revenue.

    The Highly Qualified work visa is valid for one year and is renewable as long as you fulfil the conditions.

    EU Blue Card

    The EU Blue Card is similar to the Highly Qualified work permit as it is also aimed at specialised professionals. However, there are significant differences between both.

    The EU Blue Card allows you to live and work in not only Spain but also other countries in the European Union.

    To qualify for this visa, you must have spent at least three years completing a higher education qualification or have a minimum of 5 years of professional experience in a field related to the job and at a high level.

    Another requirement is that you should have a valid work contract or employment offer of at least one year. Also, your contract must include a salary of at least one and a half times more than the average salary in Spain or at least 20% more if the skills are in demand.

    The EU Blue Card is valid for one year and can be renewed as long as you meet the conditions of the visa.

    Au Pair Visa

    The Spain Au Pair visa allows individuals from foreign countries to live with a local family in Spain to perform household activities like chores and babysitting. To successfully apply for this visa, applicants must meet the following conditions:

    • Be between 18 and 30 years old
    • Have an au pair agreement with a host family which states the details of the work to be done and allowance to be received
    • Provide proof that they can support themselves financially throughout their duration of stay.
    • Possess private medical insurance coverage
    • Speak Spanish, English, French, or German
    • Be living at the same address as the host family.

    Au pairs whose stay in Spain is less than 90 days will not need a visa to enter the country if they are from one of the countries or territories that have visa-free access to the Schengen area. Some of these countries include the U.S., Australia, and the UK.

    All non-EEA nationals staying as au pairs for longer than 90 days might be required to obtain an Au Pair visa or a student visa, depending on the country or territory they are coming from. This might require visa holders to enrol for Spanish lessons for at least 20 hours a week during their stay.

    Our expert immigration lawyers can assist you with your Spain work visa application.

    Working Holiday Visa

    The Spain working Holiday visa allows holders to take up casual employment while on holiday in the country.

    It is only available to citizens from nationals that have an agreement with Spain under its youth mobility program. They include Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and South Korea.

    To successfully qualify for the Working Holiday visa, you must meet the following criteria:

    • You have not participated in the program before.
    • You are aged 18 to 30 (not more than 35 if you are Canadian).
    • The main purpose of your trip is vacationing, and working is a secondary reason.
    • You have obtained the necessary work permit (NIE).
    • You will not be working for more than six months.
    • You will not work for the same employer for more than three months.
    • You have suitable accommodation in Spain.
    • You have no dependents accompanying you.
    • You must hold a return ticket or have sufficient funds to purchase it to return to your home country when your visa expires.

    The Working Holiday visa is valid for one year and cannot be renewed or extended.

    Intra-corporate Transfer Visa

    The Intra-corporate Transfer or Intra-company Transfer visa allows employees of multinational organisations to be able to relocate to Spain and perform a work-related activity from a branch located in the country.

    This visa authorises the transfer of workers, managers, or specialists for the following purposes:

    • To carry out or complete a specific training that must take place in Spain
    • To conduct a professional work activity at the Spain branch.
    • To manage one or more teams in the country

    To qualify for this visa, you must have been employed by the company for at least three months.

    The Intra-corporate Transfer visa allows you to live and work in Spain for three years, and your dependents can also obtain the visa.

    Residence Authorisation To Internship

    The residence authorisation to internship permit allows students to work legally in Spain with an internship agreement or contract.

    This is great for students studying in Spain who intend to extend their legal stay in the country, as it allows them to quickly switch from a student visa to a residence permit without the complex procedures involved in obtaining a regular work permit.

    Some of the requirements to obtain residence authorisation to internship include the following:

    • Applicants must be non-EEA nationals studying in Spain or outside the country.
    • Applicants must have obtained or are in the process of obtaining a higher degree in the last two years before the date of application.
    • The internship must be in the same academic field and at the same level of qualification as the higher education degree.

    The duration of stay for this visa depends on the kind of document the applicant gets from the company.

    If the applicant is granted an internship agreement, the visa will be valid for a maximum of 6 months or the duration of the agreement, if shorter. The authorisation can only be renewed for another six months.

    Under a trainee contract, the duration of stay is the same as the expiration of the contract, and the maximum period is two years.

    Digital Nomad Visa

    The Digital Nomad visa is a residence permit that allows foreign nationals to live in Spain and work remotely for an employer outside the country. To apply for this visa, you must fulfil the following requirements:

    • Show proof that you are working for a company operating outside of Spain
    • Meet the government’s minimum income requirement for digital nomads
    • Any income you receive from a company operating in Spain must not represent more than 20% of your total income
    • Show proof of accommodation in Spain, such as a residence contract
    • If you have a full-time contract with a remote company, you must show proof that you have been working with them for at least three months before your application date.
    • You must hold a clean criminal record and have not been previously prohibited from entering Spain.
    • You must have private insurance coverage throughout your duration of stay.

    The Spain Digital Nomad visa is valid for one year and can be renewed for up to five years, after which you can apply for permanent residency.

    Find out how we can assist with your Spain work visa application.

    Seasonal Worker Visa

    The Seasonal Worker visa allows individuals to work in Spain on a seasonal basis, such as during the peak holiday season.

    The process of applying for the Seasonal Worker visa is similar to that of the long-term work visas. However, there are some differences, such as:

    • The employer must provide you with a suitable accommodation
    • You must show proof that your travel costs to and from Spain has been covered, either by you or your employer
    • You undertake to return to your home country when the contract is finished.

    The duration of Seasonal Worker visas is the same as the duration of the work contract and is valid for a maximum period of nine months per calendar year. If you have a shorter contract, you can extend your visa duration, but only up to nine months.

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    Self-Employment Visas: Autonomo & Sole Trader

    The Self-employment or Freelancer visa allows freelancers to reside and set up a business activity in Spain. This visa is valid for one year and can be renewed if the conditions are met.

    There are two legal structures for being self-employed, or what the Spanish refer to as autonomo and they are:

    • Self-employed individual: An individual who runs a one-person company and assumes responsibility for all its liabilities. It is suitable for businesses that don’t have many employees or don’t generate a significant annual income.
    • Professional freelancer: An individual that undertakes work in exchange for remuneration from different clients but is not under an employment contract.

    To apply for the self-employment visa, you must meet the following conditions:

    • Be older than 18 years of age
    • Provide a business plan to support your application (if applicable)
    • Provide proof that you have sufficient funds to cover your personal expenses and provide for your business
    • Provide proof of your relevant skills and experience
    • Provide any contracts or commissions from client companies
    • Have no criminal record
    • Provide any required licences, permits, or registrations required to conduct your business

    Difference Between the Self-employment Visa and the Entrepreneur Visa

    The Self-employment and Entrepreneur visas are appropriate for foreigners who want to set up a business activity in Spain to enter the country. However, they both have key differences.

    The Entrepreneur visa applies to individuals who intend to set up an innovative company that does not yet exist in the market. These businesses are often characterised by advanced technological solutions.

    With the Self-employment visa, foreigners can set up any business that already exists or has already been in the market for several years.

    Research Visa

    The research visa allows foreign researchers to carry out training, research, development, and innovative projects in Spain. The research program can be with a private or public entity and applies to the following individuals:

    • Research personnel in Science, Technology and Innovation as referred to in Article 13 of Law 14/2011 of June 1.
    • Teaching staff hired by a university, business school, research body, or higher education centre in Spain.
    • A researcher in a hosting agreement with a research organisation, whether public or private.
    • A technical staff carrying out scientific research and technological development or innovations at an R&D&I establishment in Spain

    Foreign researchers, for instance, PhD students, carrying out unremunerated research work do not need to apply for the Research visa. Instead, they can apply for a student visa.

    The Research visa is valid for one year or the same period as the validity of the employment contract, if shorter. It can be renewed if the visa holder continues to meet the conditions of the visa.

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    Call us for further assistance with your Spain work visa immigration matter.

    Work Permit in Spain


    Foreign nationals might be required to hold a work permit before they can obtain a work visa. The work permit does not authorise travel to Spain, and applicants must wait till they get a visa before they can travel to the country.

    An essential requirement for obtaining a work permit is that the visa applicant must be in their home country at the time of applying for the permit. Otherwise, the application might be unsuccessful.

    The work permits are valid for one year and can be renewed if the conditions are met. After five consecutive renewals, permit holders can apply for long-term residency.

    There are two kinds of work permits in Spain. One allows a foreign national to live and work in Spain as a self-employed person, while the other can live and work as an employee.

    Work Permit for Employees

    For individuals seeking an employment visa, the employing organisation will be required to obtain the work permit on their behalf.

    The employer will initiate the application process at the immigration office where the worker will be working. They will be given a copy of a stamped document, which the visa applicant will present when applying for a visa at the consulate in their home country.

    Work Permit for Self-employed Individuals

    Applicants for the self-employment visa will be responsible for obtaining their work permits. This application must be carried out from the embassy or consular in your country of origin.

    To successfully apply for this work permit, you must meet the following requirements:

    • Develop and submit a proper business plan
    • Demonstrate that you have sufficient finances to start up your business
    • Demonstrate that you have adequate professional training and experience to carry out the business activity.

    Exemptions From Employee Work Permits

    Some exemptions exist where foreign nationals are not required to hold a work permit to work in Spain. However, they may need to get a visa to enter the country.

    Some of those exempt from Spain work permits include:

    • University professors
    • Technicians
    • Scientists
    • Foreign journalists
    • Clergy
    • Artists coming for specific performances
    • Volunteer workers

    The Foreign National Identity Card

    The Foreign National Identity Card (TIE) is a document that identifies foreign nationals residing in Spain.

    If you have obtained a residence permit with a duration of stay of more than six months, you must get this card. It is a personal document that cannot be transferred and has the same validity as your residence permit.

    You will be required to apply for it at the corresponding Foreigner Nationals office or police station within a month of arriving in Spain. You will then be given a Foreign National Identification number (NIE), which must appear on all documents relating to your visa.

    Once you have obtained your Foreign National identity card, you must carry it at all times and present it when required by the authorities.

    How To Apply For A Spain Work Visa

    To apply for a Spain work visa, you must submit an application at the consulate in your home country. The steps you need to take include the following:

    • Fill out the visa application form
    • Prepare the right documents
    • Make a visa appointment
    • Attend the visa interview
    • Pay the visa fee

    The visa processing time can take up to two months, depending on the country from which you are applying.

    How Can IAS Help?

    Applying for a Spain work visa can be challenging, especially if you are not familiar with the immigration laws of Spain.

    At IAS, we have a team of Immigration lawyers who can help you with your application. We will assess your qualifications and skills and help you determine which work visa is appropriate for your situation.

    Our lawyers will guide you through each aspect of the visa application process, especially ensuring that you submit the right documents to increase your chances of being accepted.

    Contact us now at (+44) 333 4149244 or use our online contact form to speak with an immigration lawyer.

    We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    You must first have a job offer to get a work visa in Spain. Your employer will then be required to obtain a work permit to enable you to work legally in Spain. Afterwards, you should apply for a work visa at the Spain consulate in your home country.

    The cost of work visas in Spain depends on where you come from. Generally, it costs between €80 to €700, with U.S. citizens and Canadians paying the highest fees.

    You must submit the following documents when applying for your work visa:

    • Visa application form
    • Work authorisation
    • Work contract
    • Two biometric photos in line with the requirements
    • Valid passport
    • Police record
    • Medical certificate
    • Medical insurance
    • Proof of accommodation
    • Proof of professional qualification
    • Licence or registration required to carry out work in Spain
    • Proof of sufficient financial means

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