How to convert a student visa to a work permit in Spain

Costaluz Visa

We don’t know what it is about Spain, but our home country has something that appeals universally and, as a result, ranks as one of the world’s most popular places for relocation.

Students are an example – they arrive to study and then decide they’d like to stay on a more permanent basis. But, how do they convert a student visa to a work permit in Spain?

If this scenario sounds familiar, the good news is that the procedure is straightforward, particularly if you’ve already been resident in Spain for three years. The even better news is that because you’re already a resident, you don’t have to fulfill some of the standard work visa requirements.

Read this guide if you’d like to find out more about the two options available to convert a student visa to a work permit.

Find out how to get a student visa

First requirement

If you’d like to swap your student visa for a work permit in Spain, you should be aware of a minimum residence requirement. You cannot apply to convert the permit unless you have been living in Spain with your student visa for at least three consecutive years. Any less, and your application will not be considered.

First benefits

Although the three-year residence requirement might sound like an obstacle, it is actually a benefit because it gives you a real advantage over other non-EEA nationals applying for work permits in Spain. For example:

No need to prove that there’s a shortage of professionals doing your job in Spain – regular work permit applications from non-EEA nationals must first pass the ‘shortage test’. This test lists job positions in Spain that have a shortage of applicants.

If the job is not on the list, a regular work permit application is not considered. However, applications from holders of student visas are exempt from this requirement.

No need to bear national unemployment in mind – when approving work permits from non-EEA nationals, Spain also considers the rate of national unemployment. The higher it is, the fewer approvals for work permits. But, as a holder of a student visa, you are also exempt from this consideration.

If you don’t meet the minimum residence requirement (three consecutive years), explore these other residence options.

Option 1 – Student visa to work permit as an employee in Spain

If an employer has offered you a job in Spain, this option is for you. And in most cases, the procedure is straightforward because the conversion from student visa to work permit is automatic.

You do, of course, have to make the corresponding application, but in our experience, this is probably one of the easiest ways to get a work permit.

How to apply

Regional governments are responsible for issuing work permits in Spain, so you need to apply to the government in the region where you live. So, for example, in Andalusia, you would make the application to the Junta de Andalucía.

You and your employer need to fill in the appropriate documentation and go to the corresponding regional government office.

Option 2 – student visa to work permit as self-employed in Spain

If you like the idea of setting up on your own as a self-employed individual or through a company, the procedure is to convert your student visa into a self-employed work permit.

The procedure in this instance is slightly more time-consuming, but in our experience, it’s also relatively straightforward. The main requirement is a detailed business plan explaining what you plan to do and how you will do it, plus projected income.

If you’re planning to have premises for your self-employed activity, make sure you include information about them in the business plan. It’s also useful to mention your qualifications and experience.

Find out about setting up a company in Spain

What’s next?

If you’d like to convert your student visa to a work permit, contact our expert team. We’re more than happy to assist and, most of all, make sure that you meet all the requirements and make a successful application the first time around.

26 thoughts on “How to convert a student visa to a work permit in Spain”

  1. Hi! I am a student and i’ve been here in spain for 4 or 5 months for studying but recently an employer has offered me a job in Spain and i did an interview with them and they accepted me and they also gave me an offer letter but they need my visa to be converted to a work permit visa and my starting date should be at 20 March 2023 but they can delay it more if the visa hasn’t been finished yet. Also Im going to finish my study in masters this month but my thesis defense would be in mid march. Is it possible to convert it with the job offer? Thank you very much

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Hi Fawwaz,

      You would need to have finished your studies in order to be able to convert your residence permit.

  2. Thank you very much for this valuable information, I was looking for this type of information only and I got it here. The way you explained all Visa Application Process & Checklist of Documents is really useful to get a knowledge.

  3. Hi! I am a Filipino but currently living and working in Dubai, UAE. I am planning to apply as an Aux in Spain. If I am holding a student visa [as an aux], and during the 10 months program I found an employer who’s willing to provide me an employment visa, is it possible? Do I have to finish the 10 months? If in the long run I plan to apply for a Spanish citizenship, will it affect the application? Hoping for your reply. Thank you so much in advance.

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Hi Alyanna,

      You will need to have finished your program, as you will have to prove it in order to apply for a Residence and Work permit.
      In your case, to apply for Spanish citizenship you will need to have resided for 2 years with a residence permit.

  4. I am a PhD student, that joins the university on 17 November 2022, and now my supervisor says that he is not continue me as a student as I was on my home country funding. He says that better to look for some job or some other university. If I got a job and my NIE can’t be renewed if my supervisor not supervising me more. So can I change my visa type as program is for 3 years study, but I almost have one year till now and my PhD journey is over now so what can I do


      Regarding your question, we would recommend you to look for another student program. Also, as a student visa holder, you are allowed to work 30 hours/week (as long as you can combine it with your studies).

  5. Hello, I am finishing my Masters’s in Mid October, which is when the defense is, but my TIE and visa expire on 30th September. I am already working under a company and we want to make a working visa after my studies, so will I be able to easily do that? Because my visa expires before my studies. Thanks


      The application must be submitted within sixty days before or ninety days after the period of validity of the main residence permit. We recommend doing so before the expiry date.

  6. Hi! I have been an auxiliar for the previous 2.5 years here in Spain and was recently offered a job here with a company willing to sponsor my work VISA. However my previous student VISA said “no autoriza a trabajar”, will this hinder me from being able to apply for a work VISA modification? As well per the modification in 2022, I believe I no longer need to wait the 3 years for the student to work VISA modification, I just need to finish my studies?

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Kate,

      Thank you for reaching out and congratulations on your job offer!

      The note on your student visa that states “no autoriza a trabajar” indicates that the student visa does not allow you to work in Spain. However, this does not necessarily prevent you from applying for a work visa modification.

      In accordance with Spanish regulations, a modification from a student visa to a work visa is possible under certain circumstances. It’s important to note that while previously you were required to have been on a student visa for a minimum of three years before you could apply for a modification to a work visa, changes in 2022 mean that this requirement may not apply if you have completed your studies.

      Nonetheless, the specifics of your situation and the requirements of the company that is sponsoring your visa are important factors to consider. Please email us for detailed and personalised advice.

  7. Hi Maria,
    im from the Philippines and I have been a language assistant for 6 years and a masters in School management at Universidad de alcala. Most of my time is dedicated to private classes. is it only practical for me to apply for academies so i can increase my chance of getting permanent residence?

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

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

      We would love to help you in your case, but we need more information about you to be able to advise you better, such as what type of visa you have here in Spain. If you have a visa, when does it expire and if you have a job offer here in Spain.

      If you tell us a little more about your case we will be happy to help you.

      We look forward to hearing from you. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

  8. Hello Maria,
    I am Indian, I am here in Malaga on a student visa, I am currently doing a one-year Spanish course (up to level B2). Since my visa allows me to work, I currrently work part-time as a technical support engineer. My current employer is willing to offer me a full-time job with around 1500-1800€ net per month. Is it possible for me to change my student visa to a work visa upon completing my Spanish course here?
    I read that students have to wait a minimum of 3 years to change work visa or I should find a highly skilled job, so I’m a little confused. Please advise.

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Linto:

      Greetings! I hope you’re settling well in Malaga. I understand your query regarding changing your student visa status to a work visa. Let me clarify the process for you.

      In Spain, many non-EU foreign citizens who come to study often wish to work after their studies. If you have a job offer, one of the options available is to modify your student card to an Authorization for Residence and Work for Others.

      Applicable Regulations:

      Organic Law 4/2000, of January 11, on the rights and freedoms of foreigners in Spain and their social integration (articles 36 and 38).
      Regulation of Organic Law 4/2000, approved by Royal Decree 557/2011, of April 20 (articles 62 to 70 and 199).

      Authorization for Work for Others:

      When applying to change a Study Stay to an Authorization for Residence and Work for Others, the employer or businessman must request what is essentially a residence and work permit on your behalf.

      Family members of the worker who are living with him in a stay obtained due to being a relative of a foreigner in a stay for studies can obtain a residence authorization for family reunification.

      Requirements for Modifying the Study Stay:

      Prove that you have passed your studies or completed research, training, or internships satisfactorily.
      Not being prohibited from entering Spain or being rejectable in countries Spain has agreements with.
      Have no criminal records in Spain or in previous countries of residence for the last five years.
      Not being within the commitment period not to return to Spain that the foreigner has assumed when voluntarily returning to his home country.
      Pay the fees for processing the residence and work for others authorization.
      Present a contract signed by the employer and the worker ensuring continuous activity during the validity period of the authorization to reside and work. The conditions set in the employment contract must comply with current regulations.
      The employer must be registered in the Social Security system and be up-to-date with tax and Social Security obligations.
      The employer must have adequate economic, material, or personal resources for their business project and to meet the obligations assumed in the contract with the worker.
      Have the training and, if necessary, the professional qualification legally required to exercise the profession.
      Documentation Required:

      Official application form (EX-03), in duplicate, duly completed and signed by the hiring company.
      Full passport copy or travel title or, if applicable, valid registration card.
      Documentation verifying the training and, if necessary, professional qualification.
      Documentation identifying the company requesting the authorization.
      Signed employment contract.
      Proof that the company can guarantee the necessary solvency.
      Certification proving that you have passed your studies or completed research, training, or internships satisfactorily.
      If not previously presented, a certificate of criminal records issued by the Authorities of the country or countries where you have resided during the last five years prior to entering Spain.
      While you mentioned a 3-year requirement, this is often a general guideline. Each case is unique and, given your circumstances with a job offer, it may be worthwhile to pursue the change from a student visa to a work visa.

      It is very advisable to have personal/ individualized advice from a lawyer to guide you through the process and ensure that all criteria are met. This is just a basic outline, and there could be additional requirements or conditions based on your specific situation.

      Wishing you the best in your endeavors,


  9. Hello, thank you so much for this breakdown. I came to Spain in January and completed my study in September. However, though I have received job offers when they see my TIE card they say they cannot give me a contract. My NIE is valid, I also have social security because I did an internship during which I was paying taxes. It’s demoralizing. On Tuesday I got a job offer which I accepted, however when I reported to work the next day the manager apologized and said she cannot give me a contract because I don’t have work papers. I tried to explain to her that giving me a contract will enable me switch to a work permit but she didn’t budge. So I lost the job

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Shalom,

      Firstly, I’d like to express my empathy for the challenges you’ve faced since completing your studies. It can indeed be disheartening when you are met with obstacles, especially when you have all the right intentions and qualifications.

      Spain is indeed a popular destination for many, and while it offers various opportunities, it also comes with its share of bureaucratic procedures, which, unfortunately, can sometimes be not very clear to employers.

      Regarding your situation, here’s some information that might assist you:

      Residence Requirement: If you’ve been living in Spain with your student visa for at least three consecutive years, you’re eligible to apply for a work permit conversion. This tenure acts as an advantage since, having already been a resident, you don’t need to meet certain work visa requirements that apply to other non-EEA nationals.

      Benefits for Students: As a student visa holder, you are exempt from:

      Proving there’s a shortage in your professional field.
      Considering national unemployment rates.
      Conversion as an Employee: If you have a job offer, converting your student visa to a work permit should be relatively straightforward. Both you and your prospective employer need to fill out the necessary paperwork and apply to the regional government where you reside.

      Self-employed Option: If you are considering setting up as a self-employed individual or through a company, you’ll need to provide a detailed business plan outlining your intentions, projected income, and any other relevant details, such as premises or qualifications.

      Given your situation, it might be beneficial to approach employers with this information to clarify any misconceptions. Sometimes, a lack of awareness about the regulations can lead to missed opportunities.

      If you’d like more detailed assistance or guidance on how to present this to potential employers, please let us know.

      We hope this helps, and wish you all the best in your endeavors in Spain.

      Warm regards,

      Maria L. de Castro

  10. Hi, I appreciate the detailed information provided and the responses to all previous inquiries. I do have a question. I’ve submitted an application to switch from a student visa to a work visa, anticipating a potential delay of up to 6 months due to the current situation. I am considering a trip to my home country this winter and aim to apply for an “Authorization de Regresso” to ensure legal re-entry. Although I’ve successfully obtained this authorization previously for my student visa, I’ve been informed that this situation differs as I don’t yet have an assigned “reference number,” which might hinder the issuance of the “Regresso” document. I’m unsure of the accuracy of this information. My intention is to visit the police and present all the documentation used in my work visa application, hoping to secure the necessary documents from them. Is this a viable option, or are there alternative methods available?

    Thank you very much.

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Sir/Madam:

      Obtaining an “Autorización de Regreso” (Authorization to Return) is indeed a common procedure for foreign nationals residing in Spain who need to leave the country temporarily while their residency renewal or modification is being processed. However, the requirements and processes can vary based on your specific situation and the current policies of the immigration authorities.

      If you have already submitted your application to switch from a student visa to a work visa and you do not have a reference number yet, this could potentially complicate the process of getting an “Autorización de Regreso”. Typically, this document requires proof that a renewal or modification application is in process, which is often demonstrated by the receipt that includes the reference number.

      Going to the police or the foreigner’s office (Oficina de Extranjeros) with all your documentation is the best step in your case. Be prepared to show:

      Your passport.
      The application form for the “Autorización de Regreso”.
      The receipt of your work visa application submission.
      Any additional documents that prove you have initiated the process of changing your status from a student to a work visa holder.
      If the lack of a reference number is an issue, they might still be able to verify your application status with the documents you provide. It’s also beneficial to show evidence of the necessity of your travel, such as family matters or other urgent reasons.

      Best of lucks! Please contact us if you need further personalised advise.

      Best wishes


  11. Hello Maria. Thank you fort the informative article.
    I came to Barcelona last year, did a master course and graduated in July.
    There after I enrolled in a Phd course. my visa renewal process is ongoing and I should receive an answer soon.
    Recently I have found a full time job.
    Can I change my student visa to full time job?
    A: stating that I will do my Phd in my free time
    B: Quitting Phd program to do the full-time job

    C: Can I apply for a blue card, while on student visa, before finishing my Phd course?

    Appreciate your guidance on this.
    Kind regards

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Hello Shayda,

      Thank you for your message and congratulations on completing your master’s program and finding a full-time job in Barcelona. I’m glad to hear that you found the article informative. Let me provide you with some guidance regarding your situation:

      Yes, it is possible to change your student visa to a full-time job while pursuing your Ph.D. In this scenario, you would typically inform the authorities that you intend to continue your Ph.D. studies in your free time while working full-time.

      If you decide to quit your Ph.D. program to pursue a full-time job, it’s essential to inform the immigration authorities and follow the necessary procedures to change your visa status.

      The Blue Card is typically for highly skilled non-EU workers, and it requires a job offer with a certain minimum salary threshold. You may apply for a Blue Card if you meet these criteria

      Hope the above helps. We will be very pleased to advise you further if you need.



  12. I have been living in Spain as a student now for 3 years but my card has expired and I have to re-enter with a new visa for the last 2 years as a student . Does this affect the transition from student visa to a residency ?

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Julia,

      I hope this email finds you well. I am writing in response to your inquiry regarding the transition from a student visa to permanent residency in Spain, considering your situation of having to re-enter Spain with a new visa.

      Based on your circumstances and the information you’ve provided, I would like to inform you that as long as the time you have spent outside Spain during these five years does not exceed six consecutive months, or a total of ten months within the five-year period, you should be eligible to apply for permanent residency.

      Should you have any further questions or need assistance with your application, please feel free to contact me. I am here to assist you through every step of your journey towards securing permanent residency in Spain.

      Best regards,


  13. Hi Maria, the information you’ve wrote is highly informative. With my situation here in Spain, I’m a language student and it will be 3yrs next month. On my TIE it says „no autoriza a trabajar“. I have an offer and a contract as camarera, Am I able to revision my student Language visa into a full work contract? Do I have to show a proof that I have finished the language studies before modifying? Thank you.

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Joyce,

      To modify your student visa in Spain to a work permit, you need to:

      Complete Your Studies: Provide proof of successful completion.
      Legal Status: Ensure no entry ban or non-admissible status in Spain.
      Criminal Record: No criminal records in Spain or previous countries of residence in the last five years.
      Return Commitment: Not be within a no-return commitment period to Spain.
      Fees: Pay the processing fees for residence and work authorization.
      Work Contract: Present a contract guaranteeing continuous work, meeting minimum wage and legal conditions.
      Employer Compliance: Employer must be registered, financially capable, and meet social security and tax obligations.
      Professional Qualification: Have necessary training or qualifications for the job, with recognition if required.

      Best regards,


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