Aerial view of the Cathedral of Málaga in Málaga, Andalusia in southern Spain

How to Get a Spain Work Visa: Step-By-Step Guide

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Expanding into the Spanish market offers global companies strategic access to European and North African markets in an environment that welcomes foreign direct investment. 

At the same time, many professionals migrate to Spain for attractive jobs in booming fields like engineering, tourism, and finance—backed by strong labor protections in an enjoyable climate. 

Understanding the ins and outs of Spain’s immigration procedures is vital for global companies and professionals alike.

Read on for a detailed outline of the different Spain work visas and how to apply for them. Plus, find a list of key considerations for companies hiring foreign nationals residing in Spain and answers to commonly asked questions about Spain work visas.

Who requires a Spain work visa?

Citizens of countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland don’t need a work visa to reside and work in Spain. However, individuals from all other non-EEA countries do. 

The EEA includes all 27 European Union (EU) member states plus Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Norway. As a result of Brexit in 2020, the U.K. is no longer a part of the EEA, which means U.K. citizens must apply for a work visa if they want to live and work in Spain.

Types of work visas in Spain

Spain offers five types of work visas to foreign nationals: the Long-Term work visa, Seasonal work visa, Au Pair work visa, EU Blue Card visa, and Self-Employed visa.

Below we discuss each of these work visas in detail.

Long-Term work visa

The Long-Term work visa is Spain’s standard work visa. It’s valid for one year, and holders can renew it indefinitely as long as they continue to meet the requirements.

To apply for a Long-Term work visa, candidates must first sign a work contract with a local company incorporated in Spain.

Local authorities must also consider the candidate’s job position a “Shortage Occupation,” or the employer must prove that there were no suitable alternative candidates within the EU.

Seasonal work visa

As the name suggests, the Seasonal work visa permits foreign nationals to live and work in Spain on short-term employment contracts for several months.

The qualifications are similar to the Long-Term work visa, with a few additional requirements:

  • Proof of accommodation
  • Employer-provided travel
  • Candidate’s commitment to return to their country of origin upon finishing the work contract 

Au Pair work visa

Spain offers a work visa specifically for foreign nationals coming to Spain to provide Au Pair services for a local family. The Au Pair work visa is valid for one year and is renewable for one year at maximum, for two years total.

Applicants must be between 17 and 30 years old, speak English, French, or German fluently, have basic Spanish language competency, have no children of their own, and must secure a host family before applying.

EU Blue Card visa

Europe’s EU Blue Card program establishes a unique route for highly qualified foreign nationals to obtain a work visa in participating states. 

The Spanish EU Blue Card is valid for one year, renewable for as long as the holder satisfies the requirements, and offers favorable conditions for individuals to bring family members with them to Spain, including access to work for spouses.

Requirements for this work visa include:

  • A three-year higher education diploma or at least five years of professional experience at the same level
  • A signed work contract from a locally-incorporated Spanish company offering a salary of at least 1.5 times the average Spanish wage (or 1.2 times for in-demand jobs)

The current minimum annual salary for EU Blue Card applicants in Spain is €33,908.

Self-Employed visa

Spain’s Self-Employed visa allows foreign nationals to work as freelancers, or autónomos, in the country. 

This work visa is valid for one year, and applicants can renew it for an additional four years. During this time, they may resign their autónomos status and work as an employee without undergoing additional procedures.

Applicants must be over 18 years old, have no criminal record, have appropriate professional qualifications or experience, provide proof of sufficient financial resources to conduct their business, and have irregular immigration status in Spain.

Spain work visa requirements

To obtain a Spain work visa, candidates must meet several requirements. For example, they must provide a valid passport, signed work contract, medical certificate, and criminal history report. 

While the exact list of requirements varies depending on the applicant’s nationality and work visa category, below is a general list of required documents for most Spain work visas:

  • Work contract. Unless applying for the Self-Employed visa, all applicants must have a job offer from a local Spanish entity outlining their work terms, including their monthly salary.
  • Valid passport. Applicants must provide an original, unexpired passport—no more than ten years old—containing two blank pages, plus copies of all pages with biometric data. 
  • Photograph. Applicants must provide a recent, passport-size, color photograph. 
  • Work authorization. Employers must obtain a working permit (Autorización de Residencia y Trabajo por Cuenta Ajena) for their employee before they can apply for a work visa.
  • Criminal record. Applicants must provide a document no older than three months from each country they have lived in over the past five years that proves they haven’t committed any criminal offenses.
  • Medical certificate. Applicants must provide a document from a legally certified physician stating the applicant does not suffer from a disease that may threaten public health, such as H1N1 influenza, polio, or ebola.
  • Proof of accommodation. Applicants must provide a document, such as a lease agreement, that proves they have arranged housing for the duration of their visa.
  • Proof of professional qualifications. Applicants must provide a document proving the employee’s professional qualifications or equivalent experience relevant to their job offer in Spain.

How to get a work visa in Spain: 5 steps

To get a work visa in Spain, the employer must first obtain a working permit for their employee. The employee may then gather the required documents and apply for the visa at a local consulate in their home country.

Below we outline each of these steps in detail. 

1. Request a work visa from the Ministry of Labor

First, the employer must request work authorization on behalf of the employee from Spain’s Ministry of Labor. This process can take up to three months, so starting in advance is essential.

To apply, the employer must submit necessary documents, such as a copy of the employee’s passport, a document certifying the employee’s professional qualifications, and a company identification document. They must also pay the administrative fee.

2. Apply for a work visa at a local Spanish embassy

Upon receiving the Spain working permit, the employee must schedule an appointment with a local Spanish consulate in their home country, either through the consulate’s call center or online.  

On the day of the appointment, the applicant must provide all of the required documents and biometrics, pay the relevant visa fee, and attend a short interview with a consular officer to answer several questions about their trip to Spain.

3. Obtain the work and residence visas from the embassy

Visa processing can take up to three months, depending on the country where you apply. Upon visa approval, the candidate must return to the consulate within one month to collect their passport with the visa stamped inside. 

4. Travel to Spain

Upon receiving their work visa, the applicant may travel to Spain. 

5. Register with the Spanish Social Security authorities

Upon arriving in Spain, the employer must register their employee with the appropriate Social Security system before starting work.

If the employee intends on staying in Spain for longer than six months, the employee must also apply for a Foreigner Identity Card (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero) at the Foreign Nationals' Office, which proves their legal status in Spain and includes their Foreign Identity Number.

Note that Seasonal Work visas are valid for the entire period the individual has authorization to work in Spain, exempting them from applying for a Foreigner Identity Card upon arrival. 

Also, individuals from select backgrounds, such as researchers, artists, and civil servants, may hold a unique visa with six-month validity that indicates “exempt from work permits,” allowing them to start work immediately.

Considerations before obtaining a Spain work visa

A unique consideration for obtaining a Spain work visa is that every applicant must have an employment contract from a legally incorporated Spanish entity. This complicates the process for global companies hiring foreign nationals in Spain.

A simple workaround is to partner with an employer of record (EOR). An EOR is a third-party organization that serves as the legal employer of your global workforce, allowing you to enjoy global mobility by hiring or relocating talent worldwide without establishing local entities. 

An EOR handles everything from hiring and onboarding to immigration and compliance, allowing international organizations to test the Spanish market and quickly hire foreign nationals without violating Spanish employment and immigration laws.

Learn more: What Is an Employer of Record (EOR)?

Spain Work Visa FAQs

Below you’ll find answers to commonly asked questions about Spain work visas. 

What is the cost of obtaining a Spain work visa?

The cost of obtaining a Spain work visa varies depending on the visa duration, visa category, and applicant’s nationality. 

We provide a general outline of application costs for each visa below:

Long-Term work visa

U.S. citizens: €167 (US$187.50)

Canadian citizens: €100 (US$112.28)

Other nationalities: €80 (US$89.82)

Seasonal work visa

€73 - €550 (US$82 - US$617.50), depending on the visa duration and nationality

Au Pair work visa

U.S. citizens: €141 (US$158.31)

Canadian citizens: €83 (US$93.19)

Other nationalities: €80 (US$89.82)

EU Blue Card visa

€418 (US$469.32) for all nationalities

Self-Employed visa

U.S. citizens: €238 (US$267.22)

Canadian citizens: €674 (US$756.76)

Other nationalities: €80 (US$89.82)

Visa fees change according to reciprocal agreements between Spain and other countries.

How long does a work visa last in Spain?

The validity of a Spain work visa varies depending on the visa type, ranging from several months to one year. 

For example, the standard Long-Term work visa is valid for one year and is renewable indefinitely. However, Seasonal work visas are valid for several months, and the individual must return to their home country when the visa expires.

Is a Spain work visa equivalent to a Spain remote work visa?

The Spanish work visa and the Spanish remote work visa both permit foreign nationals to reside and work in Spain. However, these two visas are distinctly different. 

A standard Spanish work visa permits a foreign national to reside and work in Spain under an employment contract with a locally incorporated company. On the other hand, a remote work visa permits a foreign national to reside and work in Spain on a self-employed basis.

Easily hire or relocate talent in Spain with Velocity Global

Spain’s immigration requirements pose unique challenges for foreign companies looking to relocate or hire talent in Spain. Simplify your global hiring efforts and eliminate the risk by partnering with Velocity Global.

Velocity Global’s integrated Global Immigration solution simplifies visa acquisition for global employers and their distributed workforce. Our expert team handles document collection, translation, administration, and compliance so you can hire or relocate foreign talent in Spain and beyond without the added burden. 

Check out this global immigration success story, where we helped a client quickly transfer top talent from the U.K. to Switzerland in under three weeks by streamlining the entire immigration and visa process.

Or contact us today to learn how to simplify your global hiring efforts and hire top talent in Spain with ease.

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