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.

Maria Luisa Castro

Director and Founder
María founded CostaLuz Lawyers in 2006 and is the Firm’s Director. María is registered Lawyer number 2745 of the Cadiz Bar Association and is licensed to practice in all areas of law throughout Spain. Working closely with her team, María has developed the firm into one of the most highly regarded and trusted Spanish Law Firms acting for English-speaking clients with legal problems in Spain. We’re here to help. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation, initial legal orientation.
María Luisa De Castro - Costaluz Lawyers

16 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,


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