What kind of Spanish visa should I get if I want to work remotely while my wife is studying?

QuestionsCategory: Entrepreneurs/FreelancersWhat kind of Spanish visa should I get if I want to work remotely while my wife is studying?
RDLG asked 3 months ago

Hey guys,  Thank you for putting this awesome website together.  My wife and I have decided to move to Valencia for a year (maybe two). She will do a Masters in Peace Education & I will work remotely for my company in the US. She will get a Student Visa of course  1) What kind of visa should I apply for? Non-lucrative Visa?  Is there a better option for me? 2). Can I legally work for a US business in Spain with a Non-lucrative Visa? Can my company pay me as a US tax resident without registering their business in Spain?  If my company can\’t pay me without going through the hassle of registering their business in Spain, I will need the option to work in Spain.  FYI – I have an LLC.  Thank you! – Rodrigo

RDLG replied 3 months ago

Clarification: I’m currently a W-2 employee with my company, which is the status that I prefer, but I have proposed becoming an independent contractor to my boss if that facilitates the process for them. That’s why I mentioned having an LLC. I was told that they haven’t found a way to legally pay me without registering in Spain. Thanks again!

1 Answers
Shaheen S.Shaheen S. Staff answered 3 months ago

Hi Rodrigo,

You can apply for a visa as the spouse of a student (known as “Autorización de estancia para familiares de estudiantes”). It is essentially the same as a non-lucrative visa in that it allows you to live, but not work, in Spain. The main difference is that the non-lucarative visa allows you to establish residency, and is possible to modify to another type of residency in the future (such as work residency, for example, if you get a job offer in Spain). Your visa would also not be dependent on your wife’s.  That way if she decides not to stay a second year, you would be able to renew to stay for another year on your own.

Applying as the spouse of a student only gets you the status of “estancia” (meaning “extended stay” – not residency), and would only allow you to stay in Spain for as long as your wife is a student there. In your case, you could apply for either one. The only advantage of doing the “estancia” would be that the requirements should be slightly less stringent than for the non-lucarative visa, especially in terms of the financial means required to demonstrate. But, in either case you need to show that you have enough funds to support yourself during the time in Spain, because they are assuming you won’t be working.

That said, with either visa type you could continue to work and pay taxes in the US (as either an employee or contractor), but that wouldn’t count as an official source of income in the eyes of the Spanish government.

Technically, by law, if you live in Spain for more than half the year, you are supposed to start paying your taxes in Spain. But if you are only staying for a year or two, and then never live in Spain again, you shouldn’t have any problems (in all practicality, the tax authorities aren’t going to come after someone who has no record of ever paying taxes in Spain and doesn’t live there anymore.

If you do plan to stay in Spain long term, however, it’d be better to apply for a visa as a freelance worker and to start paying Spanish taxes/establish your residency in Spain.  In that case, the easiest would be for your US employer to pay you as a contractor. You’d just need to send them invoices with your Spanish tax information. Lots of detailed information on that process can be found here: http://spainguru.es/2016/12/21/self-employment-visa-timeline-becoming-an-autonomo-freelancer-in-spain/

But from what you’re saying it sounds like either the “estancia para familiares de estudiantes” or “non-lucrative” option would make more sense in your case. Becoming an official freelancer is costly and a hassle if you don’t plan to stay in Spain long term.

RDLG replied 3 months ago

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. – Rodrigo

Shaheen S.Shaheen S. Staff replied 3 months ago

No problem! Another thing that’s worth noting is that there is an agreement between Spain and the US that prevents double taxation.

Also.. tax policy separate from labor policy. It’s illegal to *hire* someone without a work permit, but it’s not a crime to *be hired*. So, despite your legal working status, you could still file taxes in Spain.

Technically if you live more than half the year in Spain you’re supposed to file. However, if you’re paying taxes in the US you likely wouldn’t owe anything in Spain. And, again, if you’re here a short time it might be easier to just stay off their radar. If you want to make sure to do everything 100% correctly you may want to talk to an accountant familiar with tax laws in both countries!