The Complete Guide to Obtaining a Spanish Work Visa

Obtaining a Spanish work visa

According to data released in 2020, more than 5.8 million foreign-born people live 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.

You’ll also need to obtain a work visa if you’re not an EU, EEA, or Switzerland citizen. 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

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 getting a work and residence visa.

Getting the permit is actually your employer’s responsibility. They must apply to the regional labor office in their area 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. If your prospective employer can show no suitable candidates among Spanish locals, then the work and residence permit can be authorized.

Who doesn’t need a Spain work visa?

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

  • EU citizens and citizens of Switzerland and EEA nations

  • Technicians and scientists invited or contracted by the Spanish state

  • University professors invited or contracted by a Spanish educational institution

  • Staff members of a prestigious public or private cultural institution that is officially recognized in Spain coming to the country to develop educational or cultural schemes

  • Civilians or military civil employees of a foreign state on official business

  • Journalists employed by an officially recognized foreign media organization

  • Artists coming for a specific project

  • Scientific researchers coming to carry out work that is officially recognized by Spanish authorities

  • Members of the governing or administrative board of an internationally-recognized trade union coming to Spain on trade union business

  • Members of a religious organization coming to Spain on related business

If you need clarification on whether your profession qualifies, contact the Spanish consulate or embassy in your home country.

Step Two: Work and Residence Visa

Once the labor office approves your work and residence permit, you’re ready 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 home country of residence within one month of your work permit being authorized.

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

  • Completed visa application form

  • Valid passport

  • Passport photos

  • Documentation related to the job role, such as the employment contract

  • Medical certificate signed by a doctor stating you are healthy according to the International Health Regulations 2005

  • Official criminal record check document

  • Proof of a health insurance policy provided by an officially recognized Spanish insurance company

All documents not in Spanish need to be translated by an officially recognized translator — you can consult with your local embassy or consulate for their recommendations.

Obtaining a Spanish work visa

Other visa types

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

Highly qualified specialists

The highly skilled worker visa is intended for highly specialized professionals or those in senior management positions.

To qualify, you must meet a higher education qualification. Generally, a highly skilled employee must have at least a four-year university degree, which can include a Master’s. If you don’t meet the education requirement, you may still qualify for a highly skilled worker visa if you have at least three years of work experience.

There are also minimum salary requirements, depending on the average wage for 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 specialized professionals, except it 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 of 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 application to your nearest embassy or consulate. 

FAQs about getting a work visa in Spain

Have lingering questions about getting a work permit in Spain? We have answers. Check out these Spain work visas FAQs for more information.

How much does a Spain work visa cost?

Whether you’re an EU citizen, a US citizen, or from somewhere else entirely, you’ll need to pay a visa fee when you apply for a visa to work in Spain. The cost varies by home country and type of work visa and is subject to change. Consult this guide for a listing of fees for 2023.

How long can you work in Spain with a Spanish work permit?

Generally, a work visa is valid for one year. If your work contract is longer, you can renew your visa annually as long as you meet the requirements. After five years, people in the country with visas for Spain workers typically qualify for permanent residence.

Do self-employed people need a Spain work visa?

Yes, self-employed individuals do need to obtain work permits to legally work in the U.S.

The self-employed work visa is the type of work authorization that you’ll need to apply for if you’re self-employed. To qualify for one of these Spanish work visas, you’ll need to provide proof of your training and qualifications and that you have sufficient funds to support yourself.

In addition, you may be asked to present additional documents like a business plan or proof of an investment to verify your self-employment status. You can learn more about the self-employment work visa on the government’s official website.

Does Spain have a remote work visa?

Yes, Spain does have a telework or digital nomad visa. This visa program is open only to those considered to be non-EU citizens who are employed by a company located outside of Spain. Dependent family members of a teleworker can also enter Spain through the program.

To successfully apply for a remote work visa in Spain, you’ll need to provide:

  • A labor contract to prove that you will remain employed during your stay

  • Proof of financial independence, like a bank statement

  • Criminal record of the last two years

  • Proof of private health medical coverage, as you won’t qualify for public health insurance

Do people from EU countries need a Spain work visa?

If you’re from an EU member state, you don’t need a work visa to enter Spain and work in the country. Other EU countries will usually allow Spanish citizens to work within their borders without a visa as well.

Can I work on a student visa in Spain?

It is possible to work while on a student visa in Spain, but you must apply for a work permit to do so. Typically, international students can work a maximum of 20 hours while classes are in session.

Learn more: Studying Abroad in Spain: A Complete Guide for 2023

Can I work on a visitor visa in Spain?

Obtaining a Spanish work visa

No, if you enter Spain on a tourist visa, you can’t work legally in Spain. However, Spain has a working holiday visa program open to citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea who are aged 18 to 30.

The working holiday visa entitles eligible individuals to gain employment as seasonal workers or temporary employees while on vacation in Spain. You must apply for the visa in-person at a Spanish embassy or consulate.

Do I need a Spain work visa to work as an Au Pair in Spain?

Generally, Au Pairs don’t need to fill out visa applications if they have an Au Pair agreement lasting 90 days or less. Otherwise, they will need to obtain work visas.

The type of work visa you should apply for if you plan to work as an Au Pair depends on your home country. For example, you might qualify for a working holiday visa, or you may need to apply for a general Spanish work permit with the host family serving as your employer.

Do I have to have a job offer to get a Spain work visa?

Yes, as previously mentioned, you must have a job offer before applying for a visa in Spain. Your employer submits the required documents to verify that you have obtained employment.

What if I still have questions about how to apply for a visa or work permit?

If you still have questions about the process of applying for Spanish work visas, contact an embassy or consular office in your home country. The government of Spain has a directory that makes it easy to find the contact information for the Spanish embassy and consulate locations. You can find the Spanish consulate and embassy director here.

Ready to start sending?

Moving to Spain will surely 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 how you can best support them in your absence.

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