The latest directive from the European Court of Justice rules that absences from long-term residency in Spain may amount to “just a few days” in a year. The decision finally brings clarity to a previously grey area on how long you could stay away from Spain without risking the loss of your residency permit.
Clarification on how long every year
The European Court ruling came last week in response to a claim by a long-term Austrian resident who had lost his right to a permit after being out of the country. The latest decision means that long-term residents do not have to spend long periods in Spain or the EU to continue to qualify for residency.
Under the latest court decision, it’s sufficient to be present for “just a few days” in a year. The European Court argues that the new ruling “seeks to ensure the integration of third-party nationals”. It also says that they are “free, as are EU citizens, to travel and reside, also for longer periods, outside the territory of the European Union”.
However, the new directive does not change the maximum time allowed to be absent. This period continues to be no more than 12 consecutive months if you hold a long-term residence permit in Spain.
At Costaluz Lawyers, we have welcomed the new directive. “These residents are close to acquiring citizenship in the countries where they reside,” said Maria Luisa Castro, quoted in Europe Street News. “They have got rights to education and vocational training, social security, tax benefits and access to procedures for obtaining housing,” she added.
We also believe that the latest directive provides long-term residents with “a better profile for mobility”.
New directive and the withdrawal agreement
The European Court did not pronounce judgement on whether the new ruling applies to British citizens living in Spain under the withdrawal agreement. Under Brexit rules, the period of absence allowed for long-term residents in Spain is up to five years.
At Costaluz Lawyers, we believe that the same principle should apply. British residents with long-term residency in Spain under the terms of the withdrawal agreement should, therefore, be able to leave Spain for “a few days” every five years.
However, it’s important to note that the European Court has yet to confirm this. Until it does, the rule of “a few days” every year applies.
How does the new ruling affect you?
If you’re a long-term resident and Spain and need advice on how long you may leave the country without compromising your permit, get in touch with our expert team. They will be only too happy to offer you help to ensure that you stay on the right side of the immigration authorities.