The Complete Guide to Obtaining a Spanish Work Visa

According to official data released in 2020, there are well over seven million foreign-born people living in Spain. With its high quality of life, cosmopolitan cities and areas of great natural beauty, it’s no surprise that the country is such a draw for those looking to start a new life and career abroad.

If you’re keen to become one of the many people who annually move to live and work in Spain, then you’ll have a lot of things to think about – from finding a place to live to setting up an account with a Spanish bank. If you’re not a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you’ll also need to obtain a work visa. It’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed by all the information out there, so let’s break things down and see exactly what’s involved.  

Step One: Work and Residence Permit

In order to work in Spain, you’ll need to have a job secured ahead of time. You’ll then have to obtain a work and residence permit before you can get a work and residence visa.

Getting the permit is actually your employer’s responsibility. They must apply to the immigration authorities in Spain and show that your job role has been officially classified as a Shortage Occupation. This means there’s a national demand in Spain for people to take up that kind of role. If it isn’t on the Shortage Occupation list, that doesn’t necessarily mean the application can’t progress. As long as your prospective employer can show there have been no suitable job applications from Spanish locals, then the work and residence permit can be authorised.

Bear in mind that you are not required to obtain this permit if you’re any of the following:

  • A technician or scientist invited or contracted by the Spanish state
  • A professor invited or contracted by a Spanish educational institution
  • A staff member of a prestigious public or private cultural institution that is officially recognised in Spain, coming to the country to develop educational or cultural schemes
  • A civilian or military civil employee of a foreign state on official business
  • A journalist employed by an officially recognised foreign media organisation
  • An artist coming for a specific project
  • A scientific researcher coming to carry out work that is officially recognised by Spanish authorities
  • A member of the governing or administrative board of an internationally-recognised trade union, coming to Spain on trade union business
  • A member of a religious organisation, coming to Spain on business related to that

Step Two: Work and Residence Visa

Once the work and residence permit has been approved, it’s down to you to get your work and residence visa. You’ll have to book an appointment to apply in person at the Spanish embassy or consulate in your country of residence, within one month of your work permit being authorised.

The exact documents required for the application will be made clear by your embassy or consulate, but you can expect to have to provide:

  • A completed visa application form
  • A valid passport
  • Passport photos
  • Documentation related to the job role, such as the employment contract
  • A medical certificate signed by a doctor stating you are healthy according to the International Health Regulations 2005
  • An official criminal record check document
  • Proof of a health insurance policy provided by an officially recognised Spanish insurance company

All documents not in Spanish need to be translated by an officially recognised translator – you can consult with your local embassy or consulate for their recommendations. You will also have to pay the visa application fee, which at the time of writing is €60.

Other visa types

There are a few other types of visas available, depending on your status and the kind of job you’re taking on.

Highly qualified specialists

This visa is intended for highly specialised professionals or those in senior management positions. It requires you to have at least a four-year university degree (which can include a Master’s) or three years’ work experience. There are also minimum salary requirements, which will depend on your exact job role and the kind of company you’re joining. The company must also have at least 250 employees or generate a minimum amount of annual revenue.

EU Blue Card

This is another type of visa aimed at specialised professionals, except that it also allows you to live and work in other European Union countries – not just Spain. Again, there will be minimum salary stipulations. You’ll also have to have a four-year degree or at least five years’ work experience. 

The process of obtaining these visas mirrors what we described earlier, with your prospective employer first making an application in Spain before you submit your own application to your nearest embassy or consulate. 

Ready to start sending?

Moving to Spain is sure to be an exciting but complicated process, and you’ll inevitably be ticking your way down a massive to-do list. However, at Remitly we know that no matter how busy you are, your thoughts may be on the loved ones you’re leaving behind – and the question of how best you can support them in your absence. We’re proud to provide an international money transfer service that is fast, secure and fairly priced, with great exchange rates and a completely transparent fee structure. 

If you’d like to join the millions of people around the world who already rely on us when sending money back to their friends and family, visit our homepage to find out more. Alternatively, you can simply download our app to try our easy-to-use service for yourself.