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Spanish Immigration Schemes to Attract Talent and Investment

Spain has a variety of schemes to attract foreign talent and investment to the country. We outline a few of them here.

For help and expert advice on your move to Spain or for any other immigration matter, contact us on (+44) 333 4149244 or reach out to us online today.

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Overview of Spanish Corporate and Entrepreneurial Schemes

Spain has one of the most advanced legal frameworks to attract foreign talent and investments in Europe.

In December 2022 the Spanish government approved the so-called Start-up Law (“Ley 28/2022 of 21st December de fomento del ecosistema de las empresas emergentes”) .

This is a full global mobility package that aligns immigration with taxes, social security, and commercial and civil rules, creating a tailored legal ecosystem to facilitate entry and residence of foreign talent and start-ups not yet seen in Europe.

The immigration changes introduced by the Start-Up Law became fully operational in the first part of 2023 after instructions were issued by the General Business Unit.

After the Start-Up Law,  the business Immigration landscape comprises four corporate based and four individual-based routes.

The corporate-based routes are as follows:

  • The highly qualified route for local hires
  • The EU Blue Card for local hires
  • The European Union Intra-company Transfer visa
  • The National Intra-company Transfer visa

Meanwhile, the individual-based routes are as follows:

  • Investors
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Researchers
  • Digital nomads

All of these residence permit categories are processed in the large business unit based in Madrid (UGE-CE).

The main advantages of application processing through the large business unit are as follows:

  • Online applications are solely made through the UGE exclusive portal
  • Applications can be made either from abroad or while in Spain
  • A fast track application service that processes applications within 20 working days
  • It is possible to switch from one of the above permits to another permit under the general immigration regime from within Spain
  • No labour market tests necessary
  • A single permit for both work and residence in the same authorisation
  • Family members can accompany the main applicant and have an automatic right to work on their dependent visas
  • For all the 8 categories, except for intra-corporate transfers, the initial residence permit is to be approved for three years, renewable for an additional two years
  • Permanent residence can be applied for after five years. Before the Start-Up Law, initial residence permits for these categories were approved for two years, renewable

If you have any questions about Spanish immigration, our team is happy to assist.

General Requirements for Spanish Immigration Authorisations

The general requirements to qualify for all of the above corporate and personal immigration routes are as follows:

  • No criminal record. Criminal record certificates from countries where the applicant has resided over the previous two years must be provided and also be legalised/apostilled and translated into Spanish by a sworn translator.
  • Social security requirements: Bilateral SS Agreement (e.g. A1 Portable document for UK nationals). The issued A1 (if enrolled in UK social security) is a must-have for digital nomad and entrepreneur residence authorisations of British nationals in Spain. However for corporate applications, submitting the A1 application receipt will suffice.
  • Proof of financial means (meeting salary threshold for the main applicant and family members where required)
  • Proof of medical insurance

Specific Eligibility Criteria for Residence Permit Categories

Each category of residence and worth authorisation in Spain will have its own specific eligibility criteria, which are listed below.

A. Residence Authorisation (Highly Qualified Professionals-national scheme)

This category is for applicants with degrees or postgraduate degrees from universities or educational establishments, vocational training or prestige business schools qualification, or three years of experience.

UGE will also take the following into account when assessing whether an applicant is highly qualified:

  • Salary threshold established by UGE and any other employment conditions to be assessed
  • Job profile and tasks to be carried out
  • Any documents demonstrating the experience and skills of the applicant

B. The EU Blue Card (Highly Qualified Professionals-EU Scheme)

This is an alternative residence route for highly qualified individuals required to work in Spain that creates a path for EU Blue Card Residence Permit holders to work either short or long-term in other EU countries, provided some requirements are met. In the same way, EU Blue Card holders in other EU countries may potentially be able to work in Spain following a streamlined procedure.

The requirements for this route are as follows:

  • Higher qualifications at least corresponding to Level 2 MECU vocational training, or 5 years of professional experience related to the position offered (3 years for IT professionals)
  • Possession of an employment contract valid for at least 6 months
  • Gross annual salary minimum between 1 to 1.6 times the medium gross annual salary in Spain

C. Intra Company Transferees  (EU Intra Company Transfer Residence Authorisation)

This category applies to employees residing and employed outside the EU who are temporary assigned by their non-EU employer to Spain to a branch of the same company.

These employees are not locally hired in Spain and they maintain employment contracts, social security and remuneration in sending country while temporary assigned in Spain.

The EU ICT applies to managers, specialists or trainees.

Managers and specialists will obtain work and residence authorisation for 3 years while trainees will receive authorisation for a maximum of 1 year.

D. National Intra Corporate Transfer Work and Residence Authorisation (National ICT)

The EU and National ICT share some general requirements that apply for both:

  • Three months of continuous previous employment with their employer abroad
  • Remuneration during the assignment as per Spanish standards for the same position. Spanish employment regulations including collective agreements to be taken into account when assessing the applicant’s salary.
  • Bilateral social security Agreement/A1 must be applied for by the sending company to submit the work and residence permit application
  • The assignment must be in accordance with ley 45/99 (which stablishes the employment conditions for EU posted workers to Spain)

E.  Digital Nomad Residence Authorisation (“Teletrabajador de Carácter Internacional”)

Digital nomad visas authorise non-EU nationals employed by a company outside Spain to reside in Spain, provided the activity they carry out can be carried out exclusively with digital technology.

The eligibility criteria for this route are as follows

  • There must be the existence of continuous and real activity for at least one year of the foreign company employing or contracting the digital nomad
  • The applicant must have been working for the foreign company for at least for three months in either employment or while in a professional relationship
  • The foreign company must expressly authorise the applicant to work remotely
  • The applicant must earn at least 200% of the monthly Spanish minimum salary. which is €2,520. This is €30,240 per annum
  • The applicant must have a degree, vocational training or at least three years of experience
  • he applicant must not work for a Spanish company. Self-employed digital nomads may be allowed to work for Spanish companies if the percentage of their activities does not exceed 20% of their total professional activity
  • The applicant must provide a Bilateral Social Security certificate between Spain and the country of residence: eg. A1 certificate or a commitment to pay social security in Spain either through the foreign employer or as self-employee

Digital Nomad permits will be valid for up to three years if the application was made in Spain, or for one year maximum if the applicant applies from the UK.  In the latter case, 60 days before the visa expiry date, the applicant can apply for residence authorisation.

F. Entrepreneurs Residence Authorisation

The Entrepreneurs’ authorisation will require the applicant to show innovation and that the project is of special interest for Spain; or in other words, scalable in the Spanish market.

To prove innovation and economic interest, ENISA has put in place a specific questionnaire for companies to complete online.

The criteria for assessing the innovative nature of the venture include the presence of innovation in the business model, in the product or service, in the differentiated processes of the business project, in the use of proprietary technology, the use of patents and other industrial property rights:

  • Use of proprietary technology
  • Differentiation in company processes
  • Differentiation in the product or service
  • Differentiation in the business model
  • Development or use of patents

In order to assess special economic interest for Spain, ENISA will evaluate the degree of scalability of the company based on the following criteria:

  • Degree of market attractiveness
  • Phase of the company’s life
  • Business model
  • Competence
  • Team
  • Partners and shareholders
  • Contracts with suppliers, suppliers and rental contracts
  • Clients

In addition to all of the above, the financial means for the entrepreneurs must be 200% of the minimum wage in Spain, which is €30,250.

G. Residence Authorisation for Investors

There are a few different routes to obtain an Investor visa, including the following:

  • Show financial assets, conducting an initial investment than or equal to:
    • Two million euros in public debt securities
    • One million euros in actions or shares of Spanish companies with a real business activity, or
    • One million euros in investment funds, investment funds in a closed or venture capital funds constituted in Spain, including within the scope of the act 35/2003 of 4 November, of institutions for collective investment, or the law 22/2014, of 12 November, regulating capital-riesgo entities, other entities for collective investment-type closed, and amending act 35/2003 of 4 November, or
    • One million euros in bank deposits in Spanish financial institutions
  • Acquisition of property in Spain with an investment of value or exceeding 500,000 euros per person. Note that this option may be scrapped and retired sometime in 2024 and beyond. At the time of writing on 28th June 2024, it is still in use this route for investment.
  • A business project in Spain considered to be of general interest, such as one that creates jobs, has a significant socio-economic impact in the local area, or makes a significant contribution to scientific or technological innovation.

It is important to mention that with the new Start-Up Law, investors can benefit from a beneficial tax regime if they invest in Spanish start-ups.

Application Process and Processing Time through UGE-CE

Two different application itineraries apply to Highly Qualified, Intra Company Transfers and Entrepreneurs depending on whether the applicant is outside or in Spain when the application is made:

  1.  If the applicant is abroad when the residence permit application is submitted to UGE, it is required for him/her to obtain a D residence visa upon work and residence permit approval. This will add 10 working days to the process, then upon entry the residence card (TIE) must be applied for.
  2. If the application is submitted to UGE while the applicant is within his/her Schengen allowance (90 days in any 180 days), then once the application is approved, the final residence card (TIE) can be applied and there is no need to obtain a D visa.

Digital Nomads and Investors also have these two options but Option 1 can be initiated directly at the consulate without the UGE Pre Approval.

The general processing times for applications are as follows:

  • Gathering Documents: around 1 to 2 months.
  • Residence Permit Approval: The application processing legal time to resolve by UGE is 20 working days but you may receive a response after around 10/15 days either requesting additional info/documents, denying or granting the applications.
  • D Visa: If the applicant is abroad, the D visa application must be processed at the corresponding Spanish consulate to the place of residence. This will take around 10 working days.
  • Residence Card Application (TIE) at the corresponding police station corresponding to their place of residence, which will take around 30 days.

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

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