If you’re living or working in Spain without the correct permit, you may be interested in legalizing your situation in Spain. In this article, we look at how to change your status from illegal to legal. And the good news is that, with the right paperwork and legal assistance, it is easy to do.
Types of Legalization
In order to legalise your situation in Spain, you need to prove that your situation has its roots in one of the following:
Employment roots – if you have been in Spain for at least two years and can prove that you have had employment for at least six months. This is known as arraigo laboral in Spanish.
Social roots – if you have been in Spain for at least three years, have an employment contract and can prove family ties with other foreign residents or integration into Spanish society. This is known as arraigo social in Spanish.
Family roots – if either of your parents is/was Spanish or if you have a child with Spanish nationality. This is known as arraigo familiar in Spanish.
Did you know? Social roots are the most common reason for legalizing your situation in Spain.
Whatever your reason for legalizing your residency status in Spain, you will need the following documents:
- Your passport (original and copy).
- Completed form EX10 – you can download it here.
- Proof of residency in Spain with a certificate of local registration (certificado de empadronamiento). If you are not registered with the council where you live, you can prove that you have been in Spain using records of bank transactions, medical appointments etc.
- Proof of no criminal record both in Spain and any other countries you lived in before arriving in Spain. The records must go back at least five years.
The other paperwork involved is specific to each case.
Paperwork For Legalizing Your Situation In Spain With Employment Roots
This legalization process is the least common, mainly because if you don’t have an employment contract, you need to prove that you are illegally employed.
This step understandably dissuades many illegal immigrants because of possible repercussions from their employer.
However, Spanish law protects the illegally employed and reporting your employer to the authorities in Spain should have no effects on you.
To legalise your situation you need:
- Proof of residence in Spain for at least two years.
- An employment contract for at last six months or proof that you have been illegally employed for at least six months.
Did you know? You can avoid the problems of living illegally in Spain by applying for the correct visa before you come. Read our guide to long-stay visas in Spain.
Paperwork For Legalizing Your Situation In Spain With Social Roots
This has the longest list of required documents, but they’re also among the easiest to obtain. They include:
- Proof of residence in Spain for at least three years.
- An employment contract for at least one year, signed by you and your employer. If you work in agriculture, you can present two different contracts, each for at least six months and with subsequent dates (i.e. one after the other). Or if you work part-time for more than one employer, you may present several contracts, each for at least one year and with a total minimum working week of 30 hours.
- Proof of family ties with a Spanish resident. In this case, family means spouse, parent or child. OR
- Proof of integration into Spanish society. This includes the length of time you have been living in your present home, your efforts to fit in with local society and your economic means.
Did you know? You can obtain Spanish residency on the grounds of sufficient economic means. However, if you choose this option to legalise your situation, you cannot work in Spain.
Paperwork For Legalizing Your Situation In Spain With Family Roots
If you choose this reason, you don’t have to prove that you have spent a minimum time in Spain or that you have an employment contract. You can legalise your situation if you:
Are the child of a Spaniard – in which case, you need to provide proof of one parent’s nationality.
Have a child under 18 with Spanish nationality – you must provide the birth certificate. If you are living with the other parent, proof of local registration (certificado de empadronmiento) or if you are divorced, proof that you are up-to-date with alimony obligations.
How Long Is The Resident Permit Valid For?
Once you apply to legalise your situation and receive your residence permit, it is valid for a year.
Modifications to the regulations legalising your situation in Spain made in August 2022
The following changes came into force on 16 August 2022, after the July 2022 reform of the Inmigration Act (ROYAL DECREE 629/2022, amending the Regulations of Organic Law 4/2000), on the rights and freedoms of foreigners in Spain and their social integration.
While the requirements remain unchanged, there are changes to how you can prove that you have worked for the last two years. You may present any proof that shows you were employed for at least 30 hours a week for 6 months or 15 hours a week for 12 months, or were self-employed on a continuous basis for at least 6 months.
Third-country nationals with the following ties with a Spanish national now qualify for a 5-year work permit as an employee or self-employed:
- Spouse or partner.
- Ascendants over 65 or dependent relatives under 65.
- Descendants under 21 or dependent relatives over 21.
Occupational training ties
The latest changes in long-term visas for residency in Spain also contemplate ties with Spain through occupational training. A 12-month residence permit is now available for foreigners who have lived in Spain for at least the previous two years if they commit to professional training for employment.
Did you know? As with all Spanish paperwork, legalising your situation in Spain is much easier if you use the services of an expert. They will also ensure you get the procedure right the first time, saving you time and stress.