How to get a work permit in Spain

Here we’ve listed out the main routes to getting a work permit in Spain. Most of these residency types can be applied for while living in Spain, without having to return to your home country. We decided to focus on the do-it-yourself options that are the most accessible, rather than those options that require making hefty investments or having a corporate sponsor. At the end of this page you can find links to information on other types of residency.

residencyoptions

Social Integration (“Arraigo Social”)

Who? An “Irregular” Non-EU citizen who lives in Spain and who wants to regularize their situation.
Main requirements: Can prove they’ve lived in Spain for at least 3 years (with no more than 120 days out of the country over the 3 year time span), speak Spanish fluently, and are integrated into Spanish society. You must have a job offer that is valid for at least 1 year (30 hours per week minimum) or apply as a freelancer with a business plan and pre-signed contracts with clients that equal or surpass the Spanish minimum wage after expenses (6,390.13 euros/year as of 2015).
You must NOT have a valid residency card at the time of application. That means if you are currently legal, you would have to let you residency expire or ask extranjeria to cancel it before you can apply for arraigo social.
Residency type: Temporary work residency, valid for one year and renewable.
Official government information (in Spanish)

Student Visa Modification

Who? Students who want to change from student to work residency.
Main requirements: Have studied in Spain for 3 years or more on a valid student residency card. You must have a job offer that is valid for at least 1 year (30 hours per week minimum) or apply as a freelancer with a business plan and pre-signed contracts with clients that equal or surpass the Spanish minimum wage after expenses (6,390.13 euros/year as of 2015).
Residency type: Temporary work residency, valid for one year and renewable.
Official information on the job contract option (in Spanish)
Official information on the self-employment option (in Spanish)

Other types of Modifications

There are many other different “modifications.” If you currently have legal status in Spain, you may be able to “modify” your residence to be able to work. See the entire list of modification types here (in Spanish).

Highly skilled workers

Who? College educated professionals with a job offer. Your chance of being approved is higher if you went to a prestigious university or the job offer is from a major corporation or in a “strategic sector.”
Main requirements: Have a college education and an offer for a job that matches your skills and experience. You must be in Spain legally (can be on a tourist visa) at the time of application, or apply from a consulate outside of Spain. While it’s not an official requirement, the rule of thumb is that the job should pay at least around 25,000 euros per year, otherwise there is a lesser chance your application will be approved.
Residency type: Temporary work residency, valid for two years and renewable
Check out the official government information (in English) on this topic, as well as our blog post.

Tech entrepreneurship

Who? Those with a high-tech, high-growth business idea and the qualifications to pull it off.
Main requirements: Business plan approved by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and financial means to start the business. You must be in Spain legally (can be on a tourist visa) at the time of application, or apply from a consulate outside of Spain.
Residency type: Temporary work residency, valid for two years and renewable
Check out the official government information (in English) on this topic, as well as our blog post.

Residency as the family member of an EU citizen via a Civil Union (“Pareja de Hecho”)  or Marraige

Who: Those who are in a relationship and cohabitate with a partner who is an EU citizen.
Main requirements: To qualify for “pareja de hecho” you must be living with your partner for at least 1 year. You must have at least 2 witnesses who can declare your relationship valid. And you must both be legally considered Single, widowed , divorced or legally separated in both Spain and your home country. Once you have your certificate of “parjeja de hecho” you would apply for your residency card as a family member of an EU citizen, which qualifies you for a long-term residency. “Pareja de hecho” is a lesser commitment than marriage, but grants you the same rights in terms of residency.
Type of residency: Work residency, valid for five years and renewable
Official government information about pareja de hecho (in Spanish)
How to apply for the residency card (once you are married or have a civil union certificate) (in Spanish)

Self employed visa

Note: You must go back to your home country to pick up the visa, however, you can start the process from Spain. This is the only “do it yourself” route to a work permit if you’ve been living less than three years in Spain. (Otherwise you’d need an employer to apply on your behalf as a highly skilled worker.)
Who: Those who want to start a business in Spain, or work as a freelancer.
Main requirements: A business plan that will allow you to earn the Spanish minimum wage after expenses (6,390.13 euros/year as of 2015). Pre-signed contacts with companies agreeing to pay you that amount.
Type of residency: Temprary wrk residency, valid for one year and renewable
Info from ICEX (in English)
Official government information (in Spanish)
Do none of these options fit your situation?  Check out the full list of official “information sheets” where you can find information (in Spanish) on all the possible options.
 
Also check out this useful English list of types of visas you can get to come to live and work in Spain, while you are still in your home country. (If you are already in Spain, most of these would require you to go your home country and apply at your consulate).