In order to attract more highly skilled and qualified workers to come and live in Spain, on 9 May 2023, coinciding with Europe Day, new reforms to the so-called Ley de Emprendedores were announced.
The ‘Entrepreneurs Act’, which introduced measures to attract investment and talent from outside the European Union, as well as to streamline procedures and specific channels for processing residence permits for highly qualified professionals, has now been altered to make the process easier and to attract more applicants.
Two avenues for highly skilled workers
As part of the reforms, there will be two ways for non-EU nationals to gain residency, depending on the activity to be carried out in Spain and the qualification required for such activity. These are:
1) Residence authorisation for highly qualified professionals holding a Blue Card
Residence may be granted to those already holding an EU Blue Card (more below), if they meet one of the following criteria:
- They have at least three years of higher education training, equivalent to at least Level 2 of the Spanish Framework of Qualifications for Higher Education, Level 6 of the Spanish Framework of Qualifications for Lifelong Learning, or Level 6 of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF)
- They can demonstrate a minimum of five years of knowledge, skills and competencies attested by professional experience that can be considered equivalent to this qualification and that is relevant to the profession or sector specified in the employment contract or job offer. In the case of information and communications technology professionals and managers, this is reduced to three years within the seven years preceding the application.
2) Residence authorisation for highly qualified professionals
In the absence of a Blue Card, there is a more basic option that has less stringent demands. Here, a residence may be granted if the applicant:
- Is going to perform an occupational or professional activity for which a qualification equivalent to at least level 1 of the Spanish Framework of Qualifications for Higher Education, corresponding to level 5A of the Spanish Framework of Qualifications for Lifelong Learning is required
- Or they have the knowledge, skills and competencies, supported by at least three years of professional experience, that can be considered equivalent to the said qualification.
In both cases, the application for authorisation may be submitted by the foreign worker themselves or by the company.
Valid for up to five years
The residency authorisation will be valid across Spain for a period of three years or, if the duration of the contract is shorter, up to three months after the end of the contract term.
That said, renewal may be requested for an additional two years (in the 60 days prior to expiry) if the original requirements are still being met.
After this period (total of five years), the applicant will be able to obtain long-term residence if the requirements are met.
Family applications are now to be processed simultaneously
In order to encourage an increasing number of applications, the new reform ensures that all residency applications filed by relatives of these highly skilled workers are processed jointly with that of the main applicant.
Although the possibility of a simultaneous presentation was already in place, this change will ensure that the outcome of an entire family unit’s request arrives at the same time, limiting any disruption and allowing family members who depend on the holder and who will be residing with them in Spain to stay with them at all times.
What is the European Blue Card?
The European Blue Card has been in existence since 2009 and was introduced as a way to attract talent from abroad. It is intended for workers who are considered highly qualified professionals, allowing them to temporarily reside and work – during the period of validity of the card – in any European Union country (except Denmark and Ireland).
European Blue Card holders gain the same freedom of movement as EU nationals, making it possible for them to reside in different EU countries – not just Spain, for example.
This is especially beneficial for companies, generally large multinationals based in different EU countries, which would see the usual obstacles to transferring non-EU workers between their different subsidiaries eliminated.
Need help with residency applications?
Get in touch now to find out how our expert team at CostaLuz Lawyers can help you apply successfully for residency and visas in Spain.