Changing from a non-lucrative visa to a long-term residence permit in Spain

Spanish residency permit

Like most temporary residency permits in Spain, they can be made permanent after five years if the criteria are met.

A non-lucrative residence visa allows successful applicants to reside in Spain without engaging in any remunerated activity during that time.

However, circumstances can and do change. Luckily, after five years, those who meet the criteria are eligible for permanent residence and gain the right to live and work as any Spaniard.

So how is it done? And what are the criteria?

Conditions for the non-lucrative residence visa

To obtain the non-lucrative residence visa, the interested party must apply for it in person in their country of origin.

To obtain the non-lucrative residence visa, the applicant must meet certain requirements. Primarily they cannot be an EU citizen, have a criminal record or be banned from entering Spanish territory or the EU. Additionally, they must have medical insurance and provide proof of financial means.

Importantly, the latter must be sufficient to cover the costs of their stay, livelihood and maintenance, both for themselves and for the rest of their dependent family members.

As with most residency permits, this initial authorisation is of a temporary nature, granted for a period of one year and then extended every two years.

Holders of this card must at the time of renewal prove that they still meet the requirements to maintain their residence permit.

Changing to long-term residence

Once five years of legal and continuous residence in Spain have been reached, the holder of a non-lucrative residence visa (as well as most temporary residence permits) can be granted a long-term card. This means that they would be granted a permanent permit, allowing them to reside and work in Spain indefinitely, under the same conditions as Spaniards.

To access this new card, applicants don’t have to comply with each and every one of the previous requirements (such as financial means), but they will have to be able to prove legal and continuous residence in Spain for five years (not having left the country for more 180 days a year) and that they do not have a criminal record.

26 thoughts on “Changing from a non-lucrative visa to a long-term residence permit in Spain”

  1. This is great information, if I have had a non lucrative visa for 3 years, and previously student visas for 3 years and I now eligible to apply for the permanent residency visa?

    1. MARIA LUISA CASTRO

      Unfortunately, the Student visa only half counts (1.5 years in your case) for permanent residency. And it does not count for Spanish citizenship. This only happens with the Student visa.

  2. Hi, is this the same from people from Mexico, Chile, Peru, Phillipines, etc? Or is it 2 years?
    Are there any other ways to switch from a non-lucrative to a long term or work visa?

  3. Buenos días,
    I have been living in Spain for two years now with a visado no lucrativo. I have heard that I can possibly apply to change it to a work visa at the time of my second renewal (coming up in March 2024) but I can’t find any information about this. Is it possible to do this without potential employer, or do I need a job offer first?

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Haleah,

      I understand that you have been living in Spain for two years under a non-lucrative visa and are interested in transitioning to a work visa during your next renewal.

      In most cases, in order to transition from a non-lucrative visa to a work permit, you would first need a job offer. This is because one of the main requirements for obtaining a work permit in Spain is typically having a work contract or a job offer signed by an employer in Spain.

      Once you have a job offer, your potential employer will need to apply for an initial residency and work authorization on your behalf at the Foreigner’s Office. If approved, you will then be able to change your immigration status.

      I wish you all the best in your process and hope you find the best solution for your needs! We will be pleased to assist you in the transition if needed.

      Warm regards,

      Maria L. de Castro
      General Director
      Costaluz Lawyers

  4. Hi , I have been living in Spain legally with non lucrative residency. Now, im about to apply for the larga duracion residency card but one lawyer told they will give give the card for 10 years based on the new law but other said it’s still 5 years . I want to know which one is sayin the truth.

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Good morning Jerry. This is Claudia Gonzalez from CostaLuz Lawyers. It is a pleasure to speak with you and be able to help you.

      We are happy to help you with your case, you must be residing in Spain for at least 5 years to be able to apply for long term residency.

  5. Hi again Maria, also how long before your non-lucrative visa expires can you apply for the the long-term residence permit? Usually for the non lucrative renewal, it is up to 60 days before expiration, but I don’t know what it is for the long-term residence permit. Thank you

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear John:

      The renewal of the foreigner identity card for a long-term residence authorization in Spain must be requested during the sixty natural days prior to the expiration date of the current card. If the application is submitted after this date, a sanctioning procedure may be initiated. This procedure is crucial to maintain the legality of your residency status in Spain.

      Best wishes,

      Maria

  6. Hello,

    My question, after completing the five years in Spain NLV and obtained the long-term visa, can I live out of Spain for more than six months a year.
    Thank you.

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Elias:

      After obtaining long-term residency in Spain, maintaining your residency status requires adherence to specific regulations, including the time you spend outside of Spain. Typically, for long-term or permanent residents, there are certain limitations on how long you can live outside Spain without affecting your residency status.

      Some tips below:

      Six-Month Rule: Generally, long-term residents in Spain should not be absent from the country for more than six consecutive months within a year. Prolonged absences can lead to the presumption that you have relocated your primary residence, potentially affecting your long-term residency status.

      Extended Absences: For certain specific reasons like employment, study, or serious health issues, exceptions might be made. However, these exceptions usually require proof and prior approval.

      Best,

      María

  7. I have been told that this 5 year rule for long term residence could be changing to 3 years, is this true?

    If so, do you know when it is likely to come into effect?

    We have been here for 2 years so far and hoping that it does become 3 years as this means our next renewal will be for long term residence and not another 2 years on non lucrative visa’s

    Thanks

    1. Dear Graham:

      There have been no concrete rumors or official news suggesting a change in the Spanish legislation to reduce the requirement for obtaining long-term residence from five years to three. The process for changing such significant legislation involves several steps, including proposal, debate, and approval through Spain’s government and legislative bodies, followed by the publication of the new law in the Spanish State Gazette (Boletín Oficial del Estado, BOE) before it can take effect. Given the absence of any official indication or news reports on this matter, it appears unlikely that such a change is imminent.

      Best wishes

      Maria

  8. Janice Doherty

    During the 5yrs of an NLV how long can I leave the country during the 5yrs to still qualify for the long term card?

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      In order to be eligible for permanent residence, a fundamental requirement is to have resided legally and continuously in Spanish territory for five years.

      Continuity will not be affected by absences from Spanish territory of up to six continuous months, provided that the total does not exceed ten months within the five years. If it is for work reasons, it may not exceed a total of one year within the five years required.

      Therefore, in order to be eligible for permanent residence, you cannot have been outside Spain for more than 10 months in the 5 years, unless it is for work reasons, in which case it will be 12 months.

  9. We own property in Spain and we are tax residents while here on a NLV. We return to the USA each summer for family and health check ups. We need residency after 5 years to avoid costly private health care here but we will not meet the requirements of the 10 month rule. Do we have any options? Thank you.

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Unfortunately, in order to be eligible for permanent residence, a fundamental requirement is to have resided legally and continuously in Spanish territory for five years.

      Continuity will not be affected by absences from Spanish territory of up to six continuous months, provided that the total does not exceed ten months within the five years. If it is for work reasons, it may not exceed a total of one year within the five years required.

      Therefore, in order to be eligible for permanent residence, you cannot have been outside Spain for more than 10 months in the 5 years, unless it is for work reasons, in which case it will be 12 months.

      You can try to apply for permanent residence by claiming and justifying that the time spent outside Spain is due to health reasons and medical consultations, but we cannot be sure that the Administration will consider it convenient or opportune.

  10. i am stying in Spain on NLV, now its almost five years and was invited to apply for long term visa, but it becomes very confusing when the conditions of the first five years of the temporary NLV ( 12 months every two years) is different from that of the permanent visa (no more than 10 weeks in five years), the real question here, is can i keep renewing the temporary visa every two years, or do i have to apply for the permenat visa after five years, i mean is that mandatory,

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Nagi:

      For those who aspire to obtain permanent residence in Spain, it is crucial to maintain a continuous presence in the country, avoiding residing outside its borders for more than 10 months within a 5-year period. However, i know that Spanish law allows for the renewal of the non-profit visa, providing an opportunity for those who wish to extend their stay. It is important to note that, in order to apply for this renewal, it is required to have fulfilled the minimum residence requirement of 180 days per year in Spanish territory.

  11. Is Menorca being Spanish considered to not being out of the country when counting the 10 month period allowed within the 5 years of a non lucrative visa? Has this not been challenged recently by someone and taken to the European court?

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Tracey:

      Menorca, being part of Spain, counts as time spent within the country for the Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV). Therefore, it does not affect the 10-month absence limit required for permanent residency. Recent legal clarifications affirm that there is no minimum stay requirement for NLV renewals, but for permanent residency, you must not be outside Spain for more than 10 months in five years

      Hope this helps,

      Best regards

      María

  12. Hello –

    Assuming we applied for and received a NLV, with the idea of moving to Spain from the US permanently, is it safe to assume renewing the NLV is routine and we wouldn’t have difficulties after the first year and again after year three?

    Also, sorry for a silly question, but vacationing to other European countries for short duration wouldn’t be a problem with the NLV, correct?

    Thank you.

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Mark:
      Renewal of the Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV) in Spain
      Assuming you have successfully applied for and received a Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV) in Spain, here are some key points regarding its renewal:

      First Renewal (After the First Year):

      Routine Process: The renewal process for the NLV is generally considered routine, provided you continue to meet the necessary requirements.
      Requirements: You must demonstrate that you have sufficient financial means to support yourself without working in Spain. Additionally, you need to have private health insurance and a clean criminal record.
      Timeline: You should apply for renewal within 60 days before your visa expires and no later than 90 days after its expiration.
      Second Renewal (After Three Years):

      Consistency: The requirements for the second renewal remain similar to the first renewal.
      Longer Validity: Upon the second renewal, the residency permit is typically extended for another two years.
      Financial Means:

      Proof of Income: You must continue to provide evidence of sufficient income, which usually means showing bank statements, pension statements, or proof of other steady income sources.
      Traveling to Other European Countries with an NLV
      Schengen Area Access:

      Travel: As a holder of the Spanish NLV, you are permitted to travel within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within any 180-day period without needing additional visas.
      Short Stays: Vacationing in other European countries that are part of the Schengen Area for short durations is allowed under the same conditions as any other Schengen visa holder.
      Non-Schengen Countries:

      Separate Visas: For travel to European countries outside the Schengen Area, you may need to apply for separate visas, depending on the specific entry requirements of those countries.
      Additional Considerations
      Permanent Residency: After five years of legal and continuous residence in Spain, you may be eligible to apply for a long-term residence permit, which offers more stability and fewer renewal requirements.
      Citizenship: After ten years of residence, you could potentially apply for Spanish citizenship, provided you meet all the necessary conditions.
      By maintaining compliance with the requirements and timelines, you should be able to renew your NLV without major difficulties, and enjoy travel within the Schengen Area as well.
      We will be pleased to assist you with this process if necessary

      Best wishes

  13. If we get an NLV for Spain ( we have a house in Spain) and renew as required every 2 years up to 5 years but we can not get permanent residency as we wish to travel out of Spain for example spend 5 months out of Spain every year for 5 years just staying in Spain 7 months a year therefore still tax residents but not eligible for permanent residency . What can we do when the 5 years is up. Can we just keep renewing the NLV on a 2 year basis or do we have to do something else

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      The Non-Lucrative Visa grants you an initial residence of one year and then at each renewal you will be granted two years of residence. This renewal can be applied for as many times as you wish as long as you continue to meet the requirements, so after two renewals you can continue to renew if you cannot or do not wish to apply for Permanent Residence.

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