We discuss the suitability of a golden visa for you and other ways of getting a Spain residence permit.
Spain residence permit by investment
In 2013 Spain launched a program for investors and entrepreneurs (PRIE) in order to attract investment into the country, create jobs and promote economic growth.
A residence permit can be obtained by investors, entrepreneurs, researchers, highly qualified specialists and employees of companies that are transferred from other divisions.
The most attractive conditions for obtaining a residence permit are provided for investors. They receive a golden visa (Autorización Inicial para Inversor), which is effectively a residence permit on special conditions.
The investor chooses one of three options:
- buys real estate for €500,000;
- invests in financial assets: €1 million in shares of companies, investment funds, venture funds, or in a bank deposit; or €2 million in government bonds;
- opens a business in Spain that serves the public interest, for example, by creating jobs. There is no minimum investment amount stipulated, but the regional authorities must approve the project.
Every fifth Spain residence permit by investment from 2013 to 2020 was issued to a Russian.
The process of obtaining a golden visa takes at least two months. During this period, the investor visits the country to submit their biometric data. Please note that you must continue to own the property purchased in relation to the program for the entire period of validity of the residence permit in order to be able to extend the permit.
At the first stage, the investor receives a residence visa for a year, which can then be extended twice for two years.
Requirements for the investor:
- over 18 years old;
- without a criminal record;
- valid medical insurance policy;
- confirmation of financial independence: monthly income of €2,152 for the main applicant and €538 for each family member;
- confirmation of investment, such as an extract from the cadastral register of the property and a notarized contract of the sale of the real estate. The package of documents depends on which investment option is selected.
With a golden visa, you can live and work in Spain. Moreover, the investor needs to spend just 7 days a year in Spain to maintain and extend the visa; in contrast, to extend the standard residence permit, you need to spend at least 183 days a year in Spain.
However, if the investor plans to obtain permanent residence or citizenship in the future, they will have to live in the country permanently and document this when submitting their application.
A residence permit in Spain can also be obtained by the investor's close family members:
- minor children and financially dependent children under 26;
- dependent parents.
Family members can apply for a residence permit together with the investor or at a later date.
Selecting an investment option
Buying a home is the most popular way to get a residence permit in Spain. The investor must own the property for 5 years before selling or renting it out. On concluding a preliminary purchase agreement, the investor can obtain a temporary residence permit for up to 6 months.
Chinese citizens have received the most golden visas by purchasing property, followed by Russians.
The average cost of housing depends on the region: 44% of foreigners who invest in housing choose properties in Barcelona; 16%, in Madrid; and 15%, in Malaga.
When submitting an application for a residence permit by investment, the investor must also attach the property sales contract and certificate of registration of ownership in the real estate register.
If the purchase has not yet been registered in the register, a preliminary contract certified by a notary and a certificate from the bank stating that the account has the necessary funds for the purchase are required.
Investment in stocks, bonds, shares in a fund, or a deposit account. Risk-averse investors prefer to invest in government bonds. Investors seeking the maximum return from their investment often select venture funds that invest in technology startups.
Creating a business is the path taken by those who believe in the Spanish economy or want to enter the European market. The Spanish government supports the business sector and offers benefits to new entrepreneurs.
There are no minimum requirements in terms of the investment amount or the number of jobs that must be created. For example, under the terms of Portugal's investment program, at least 10 jobs must be created.
In the Spanish program, the main conditions are that taxes are paid on time, the company earns stable profits, and it respects all the relevant laws.
Stages of obtaining a Spain residence permit by investment
Applicants who plan to invest in real estate enter Spain on a tourist visa in order to choose the property. At this point they apply for their NIE, an identification number for a foreigner, or NIF, a fiscal resident number, open a bank account, and register themselves at the tax office.
After selecting their preferred investment option, applicants need to enter Spain on an investor visa, make an investment and apply for a residence permit.
On average, it takes 2 to 3 months to process the application. A Due Diligence check is carried out on the investor, and the authorities also make sure that the investor is in compliance with the terms of the program.
A residence permit card is initially issued for a year; it can then be extended twice for 2 years. If the investor permanently lives in the country and complies with the conditions of the investment program, after 5 years they can apply for permanent residence.
Other ways to get a Spain residence permit
A residence permit for family members of a citizen of Spain or an EU member state (Residencia de Familiar de Ciudadano de la UE) is applicable to their spouse, civil partner, children and parents. Such a residence permit can also be obtained by any family member who needs constant care for health reasons.
The main applicant must be employed in Spain or abroad, study or have sufficient means on which to live.
Reunification of a family member with a relative who has a residence permit in Spain (Reagrupación Familiar). If an engineer works in Spain on a blue card issued by the European Union to highly qualified specialists, their children and wife will also be eligible for a residence permit. They will also be granted the right to work or become self-employed.
A residence permit for exceptional circumstances (Residencia por Circunstancias Excepcionales) is issued to foreigners for humanitarian and socially significant reasons. For example, such a residence permit is obtained by those who illegally lived in Spain for several years, but then got a job or started a family.
A Spanish residence permit can be obtained by foreigners who help solve a crime.
A student or study visa (Estancia por Estudios) is not a residence permit, but a long-term visa for at least 90 days. To get it, you need to confirm that you are studying at a Spanish university and you are financially independent. After three years, you can apply for a regular residence permit.
The visa is issued for the duration of full-time studies and includes the right to work, as long as it does not interfere with your studies.
10 universities in Spain were included in the ranking of the best universities in the world according to Ceoworld Magazine: three of them are located in Madrid and four in Barcelona.
Spain residence permit with the right to work
A Spanish residence permit card may include the right to work.
A residence permit with the right of self-employment (Residencia Temporal y Trabajo por Cuenta Propia) is issued to self-employed professionals when creating a business in Spain. The applicant confirms their professional training and financial independence. The business plan is approved by the union for the self-employed in Spain.
A residence permit with the right to work under a contract (Residencia Temporal y Trabajo por Cuenta Ajena) is issued if a Spanish employer invites a foreigner for work. At the same time, the employer must confirm that it is difficult to find a specialist with the required competence in the domestic labor market.
The EU blue card (Tarjeta Azul-UE) gives the right to live and work in Spain to highly qualified specialists and their family members under the single European program. The card is issued by all EU countries.
Spain residence permit without the right to work
The residence permit card does not always give the holder the right to work in the country for themselves or under a contract. Getting a residence permit without the right to work is easier, as unemployment is one of the most pressing problems in Spain.Although the unemployment rate fell from 26 to 16.2% from 2013 to 2020, it still remains above the European average.
A residence permit without the right to work (Residencia Temporal no Lucrativa) is issued to foreigners who have sufficient means to live in the country. This can be confirmed in different ways: a declaration for the past 3 years, a certificate from work, a lease agreement, or a bank statement.
The required minimum amount is calculated based on IPREM, an analogue of the minimum monthly wage, which is €565 in Spain.
The investor needs to confirm a monthly income of 400% of IPREM and the family members of the investor included in the application need to confirm an income that matches IPREM. Thus, the initial savings for a family of three for one year must be at least €41,000. After obtaining the residence permit, this amount is no longer required to be kept in the account.
A prerequisite for obtaining a residence permit card is the availability of your own or rented housing in Spain. When issuing a permit, your efforts to integrate into Spanish society are assessed.
Residence permit: a path to Spain citizenship
One of the reasons to get a residence permit in Spain is that it offers the prospect of Spain citizenship. In some ways the process follows the standard procedure of citizenship through naturalization, but the Spanish authorities have made certain concessions for citizenship by investment applications. A Spanish passport can be obtained by close members of the main applicant’s family.
First, the applicant needs to obtain a Spain permanent residence permit, which is practically the same as citizenship, except that it does not allow you to enter politics or the civil service.
With permanent residence in Spain, the holder can enter and leave the country at any time, work, start a business and study. They can also live up to 90 days in any EU country without additional registration.
To obtain permanent residence or citizenship in Spain, the applicant must live in the country for at least 6 months during the year, confirm their integration in the local economy and social life, pay taxes regularly and have a good reputation.
Spain does not allow second citizenship with most countries. The exceptions are citizens of France, Portugal, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinearnand a number of Latin American countries: only citizens from these countries can keep their original citizenship after obtaining a Spanish passport.
Citizens of other countries must renounce citizenship of their original country after obtaining Spanish citizenship.
Benefits of a Spain residence permit
A residence permit in Spain offers the holder many opportunities:
- a safe and comfortable place to live. According to HSBC's Expat Explorer, Spain is one of the top-5 countries for foreigners. Barcelona is one of the 10 most comfortable cities in the world to live in, according to a study by Resonance Consultancy;
- visa-free travel in the Schengen countries;
- ample opportunities for recreation and a comfortable climate;
- a high quality medical system and access to the prestigious European education;
- profitable investment opportunities in one of the largest economies in Europe;
- the opportunity to transfer your business to the European arena and keep money in Spanish banks;
- tax benefits for residents;
- the opportunity to obtain permanent residence and Spanish citizenship.
Frequently asked questions
There are several ways to obtain a Spanish residence permit. First, foreigners apply for a temporary residence permit, which gives them the right to live in and enter the country without a visa. Some types of residence permits also allow you to work in the country. A Spanish residence permit can be issued in the following circumstances:
- When a family member is reunited with a person who already has a residence permit in Spain.
- For family members of a citizen of Spain or another EU country.
- On a student visa. First, a visa is issued for a year, after which a residence permit is issued.
- Under exceptional circumstances. The Spanish authorities can issue a residence permit to those who are in the country without a visa or residence permit, but have acquired a socially settled way of life.
- According to the golden residence permit program, a state investment program.
5 years after getting a Spanish residence permit, the holder can apply for a permanent residence permit. The permanent residence card is renewable every 5 years. It gives the holder the right to work in Spain without any additional permission.
A Spanish residence permit by investment gives a foreign citizen the rights of a resident of the country. The holder can live in the country for an unlimited number of days a year and move freely around the Schengen countries. Depending on the type of residence permit, the holder may also be able to work or do business in Spain. The same rights are extended to close family members participating in the program together with the investor. The investor can include in their application their spouse, children under 18 years old and financially dependent children under 26 years old. These additional family members also have the right to apply for permanent residence after 5 years, and for citizenship after 10 years. To do this, during this period they must live in Spain for at least 183 days a year as permanent residents. It is important to remember that as Spain does not recognize second citizenship with most countries, in most cases the investor will have to renounce their original citizenship.
Some types of residence permits allow a foreign citizen to start their own business or work under a contract in local companies. However, all types of Spanish residence permits allow the holder to travel freely around the Schengen states, for example, for a holiday or to meet your business partners. Residence permit with the right of self-employment is issued to those who participate in the investment program. Residence permit with the right to work under a contract: if an employer cannot find a local specialist, they have the right to invite a foreign worker and conclude an employment contract with them. Residence permit for qualified foreign specialists and their family members. This type of residence permit is called the blue card of the European Union. The EU website contains detailed information on the employment conditions, a list of professions in demand, and the minimum wage.
A residence permit by investment is issued only through an official representative of the state investment program. Our company, Immigrant Invest, has a representative office in Spain. We accompany our clients at all stages of the application from the first consultation until they obtain a residence permit. We also help them extend the residence permit when its period of validity expires, as well as any other issue that might arise. The registration procedure begins with the selection of the investment option. Most investors choose to buy real estate. We provide a selection of properties that meet the objectives of the buyer and the conditions of the program. If necessary, we organize a video film of the property to help our client make a preliminary choice. We usually show 2–3 properties at this stage. We then arrange a trip for you to inspect the property in person. You choose the property you like and, together with our lawyers, conclude a pre-purchase agreement. During the trip, we also arrange for you to submit your biometric data, which will save you from having to visit Spain a second time when submitting documents to the program department. In parallel, we prepare all the necessary documents for a residence permit application and submit them to the program department on your behalf. The relevant government department checks the application and then issues a residence permit card.
If you do not have any relatives in Spain, you will have to wait at least 10 years for citizenship. First you must obtain a temporary residence permit for 5 years. Then you can apply for permanent residence and then after another 5 years you can apply for citizenship. Under the golden residence permit program, the investor and their family members included in the application can apply for Spanish citizenship after 10 years. To do so they must live in the country for at least 183 days a year during this period, and they cannot be absent for 6 consecutive months. They also have to pass a test on their knowledge of the Spanish language. Spain does not recognise second citizenship with most countries. As a result, the investor and their family members will in most cases have to renounce citizenship of their country of origin.