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How to Gain Permanent Residence in Spain

In this article, we will outline how non-EU/EEA migrants can gain permanent residence in Spain. For expert assistance with your immigration matter, contact Reiss Edwards, immigration lawyers and solicitors in London, on 020 3744 2797 or by email at

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The dream of living in Spain is one shared by many others from around the world. The warm climate, rich culture and history, relaxed pace of life, wonderful food, and easy access to the rest of Europe make Spain a truly attractive proposition for migrants and their family members seeking a new life in a new country. Thankfully, Spain is incredibly welcoming and open to new arrivals who wish to live, work, and settle. According to official statistics, there were 5,434,153 immigrants in Spain in 2020, representing nearly 12% of the country’s total population. The large majority of immigrants to Spain come from Colombia, Venezuela, and Morocco, followed by the United Kingdom, Peru, and Argentina. In this article, we will outline how non-EU/EEA migrants can gain permanent residence in Spain.

How can non-EU/EEA migrants gain permanent residence in Spain?

Like other EU countries, Spain allows migrants to gain permanent residence after living there for five years. Citizenship can then be applied for after a further five years of lawful residence in Spain (i.e. ten years in total). The guidance published by the Spanish immigration authority states, “Residence in Spain can be temporary or permanent. Temporary residence is the situation authorising a stay in Spain for a period longer than 90 days and shorter than five years. Authorisation for a period not exceeding five years may be renewed regularly, at the request of the person concerned, depending on the circumstances leading to their issuance”. It also states, “Long-term residence is the situation authorising indefinite residence and work in Spain, under the same conditions as Spaniards”.

Time spent in other EU countries can also be counted towards the five years required for permanent residence, as long as this was continuous; “Foreigners who have been temporary residents in Spain for five uninterrupted years and meet the conditions established by regulation shall be entitled to a long-term residence. Prior periods of uninterrupted residence in the other Member States, as an EU Blue Card holder, shall be counted for the purpose of obtaining long-term residence. Residence shall be considered uninterrupted even if for holidays or other reasons established by regulation the foreigner has left national territory temporarily”. In general, absences of more than six months in one year, or ten months in total over the five-year period, will break the continuous period of residence.

What Are The Main Immigration Routes To Permanent Residence In Spain?

Permanent residence is offered to foreign nationals with the following visa types:

Work Visas

In order to secure a temporary work visa, you will first need to find a job in Spain. The employer is then required to submit a formal request to the Spanish authorities to issue you with a work permit to allow you to legally work in Spain (be aware this can take up to eight months to complete). This is typically granted where the role is on the Spanish Shortage Occupation list or if the vacancy was advertised domestically and there was no suitable candidate available. Once the permit is approved, the foreign national can apply for a work visa and travel to Spain to commence their employment.

International Student Visas

International student visas are typically granted initially for the period of the course on which the student is enrolled in Spain, typically two to four years for long-term courses. This can then be further extended before it expires if they wish to go on to complete further studies (e.g. a masters degree or PhD). It is also possible to then secure a TIE (Tarjeta de entidad del extranjero (foreign entity card).

Retirement Visas

Spanish retirement visas, also referred to as a non-lucrative visa, allows non-EU nationals to retire in Spain without the need to work. It is also possible to live in Spain and work remotely for a company in another country. Applicants need to undergo a medical exam and have sufficient funds to support themselves while living in Spain without needing to work.

Investment Visas (The Golden Visa)

The Spanish immigration investment (Golden visa) route is available to those investing in property, businesses, or government bonds. The investment amounts are as follows:

  • a capital investment of at least €2 million in the purchase of bonds approved by the Spanish government
  • a capital investment of €1 million in the purchase of company shares in Spanish businesses approved by the Spanish government
  • a real estate investment of at least €500,000 (the rules also state that the property must be purchased within 90 days of applying for a golden visa).

The initial permit granted to investors lasts for two years, and this can be further extended.

How Do I Apply For Permanent Residency In Spain?

To make a successful application for permanent residency in Spain, you will need a Número de identidad de extranjero (NIE) (i.e. your tax identification number) and evidence that you have resided in Spain lawfully and continuously for five years. The application form is available from your local immigration office in Spain or online. In addition to the completed application form, you may also need to provide your passport, proof of residence, proof of residence in another EU country (e.g. an EU Blue Card), your birth certificate, and any other documents relevant to your situation, such as your contract of employment, proof of investment, and proof of savings/income.

Final Words

Given the language and administrative barriers to acquiring permanent residence in Spain, many migrants prefer to engage an immigration lawyer to handle the process on their behalf. They will take the time to understand your current situation and your long-term plans and recommend the immigration routes available to you. They can then assist you with the application process and deal with any queries raised by the Spanish immigration authorities quickly and fully. We wish you and your family all the very best with your life in Spain.

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