How to change from a student visa to a non-working residence visa?

QuestionsCategory: Entrepreneurs/FreelancersHow to change from a student visa to a non-working residence visa?
Auston asked 3 years ago

Hey there. Great site and resource. I haven’t yet seen any information about the non-lucrative visa option, or in other words – a residence visa without permission to work. Basically, I am a freelancer and earn all my income from the US working remotely in Spain. I don’t have any intention of working for a Spanish company nor starting a Spanish business. I’m currently here on a family member student visa, as my husband is studying for a masters in Spain. I’d like to change from my student visa and apply for the non-lucrative visa and really want to avoid returning to the states to apply, if at all possible. I’ve been in Spain for 2 years now. Can you comment on whether or not you think I can apply for and change my visa status here in Madrid? Also, what document do they generally want to see in order to prove how long you’ve been in Spain? Thanks!

1 Answers
Shaheen S. answered 3 years ago

Hi Auston, I think the best option for you would actually be a self-employed visa, which is the same as a “starting a business”/entrepreneur visa. If you are self employed in Spain that’s considered running a business in the eyes of extranjeria, and they want you to pay taxes in Spain.  The good news is you can do most of the application process from Spain, and would only have to go to the U.S. to pick up the visa when its ready. (Or if you wait one more year, you wouldn’t need to make that trip.) Here is some information on the requirements: 
The non-lucrative visa would also likely serve your purpose, however, in that case you have to show that you have enough money to support yourself without any income. In other words, the financial means requirement would likely be higher. Also, doing freelance work as a fiscal resident of the U.S. while on a non-lucrative visa would technically be violating the terms of the visa which state pretty clearly that you’re not supposed to work (although it is extremely unlikely anyone would bother you about that).

Auston replied 3 years ago

Thanks for the response. I’m purposely avoiding the self-employed/entrepreneur visa because I don’t really want to go through process of registering in Spain, getting the licenses, business plan and all the documents that are required for the application. From what I’ve read (and what’s listed in the link) it sounds like a pretty big effort and one I think I can avoid with the non-lucrative option.Actually I applied for the non-lucrative visa already last year and was denied just because I didn’t have enough in savings. They gave me the student visa instead knowing that I am working remotely still. They didn’t have a problem with me still working for a US company. I even asked this question to a completely seperate consulate via email and they also confirmed I could work remotely, so long as the job wasn’t a Spanish job/Spanish company, etc.Can you comment on a few questions directly?1. Re: going to the US to pick up the self-employed visa. Can you explain? What exact document would I be picking up in the US? Am I mailing the application to the consulate or submit the application here in Spain? Do I just show up in person at my local consulate in the US then they fix the visa sticker to my passport when it’s approved? 2. What documents do you use to prove how long you’ve been in Spain? Just a copy of your Enpadronamiento or some other document(s)?Thanks again! this is all very helpful.

Shaheen S. replied 3 years ago

Hi Austen! Sorry for the slow follow up, we had some technical difficulties this week… At any rate, the process of getting self-employed residency isn’t as hard as you might think! I did it myself, and it was pretty straight forward. They told me I needed to have at least 8,000 euro in the bank, but the exact amount depends on your business plan. I worked with the non profile organization called UPTA, who gave me free advice and helped me make the business plan. As far as applying from Spain for an autonomo visa, the lawyer we work with, Ainhoa, has done many of those applications. From what she has told us, yes you can apply from here and you only need to go to the U.S. to swing by the consulate and get the visa affixed in your passport. If you want to set up a consultation with her, she can tell you exactly what to do (she charges 35 euros, but she is really, really good! And she speaks English). You can reach her directly at

Auston replied 3 years ago

Ok interesting. this is helpful. I’m going to your info session later this month. If I still have some questions after that I’ll consider meeting Ainhoa for a consultation.