The Job Search Visa: A new door for recent graduates to work in Spain in 2023

Two men shaking hands

I came to Spain last year from Iran to begin my master’s degree. The original plan was to finish my studies and go back home to work but I soon fell in love with the country, the culture, the people and the fantastic food. So, I decided I wanted to stay and try to find a job here.

For a non-EU citizen, finding a job in the euro region can be a tough and time-consuming process. It often requires constant availability for interviews and assessment tests, among many other things. To make matters worse, my NIE was set to expire one month after my graduation.

I didn’t know what to do. With so few options and time running out, it seemed my Spanish dream might end before it started. Then I found about a new visa initiative called “The Job Search Visa.” I was immediately interested.

The Job Search Visa: What is it?

The “job search visa”, formally known in Spanish as “estancia por estudios superiores que cesa, para búsqueda de empleo”, is a one-time 12-month residency permit that allows graduates to search for a job in Spain without any problems while it lasts. While in English we commonly say “visa” to refer to any status that allows you to live in a country, this status actually isn’t technically a “visa.” It is what is known as an “estancia” in Spanish, which means it’s a special kind of permission to remain in the country for a limited amount of time. It does not come with the same rights that come with formal residency, or “residencia“. However, if you successfully find a job during the period, you would then be able to apply for residency with permission to work.

A quick overview

  • It is non-renewable and you can only apply for it 60 days before the expiration of your student NIE until 90 days after its expiration.
  • As the job search visa scheme is new, the process is done entirely online.
  • The standard processing time is supposed to be 20 days but in reality it can vary from 20 days to three months.
  • You can include any dependents in the visa who relied on you during your studies.

Job search visa: Do you make the cut?

Hatchet in log

To have a chance of getting the job search visa, you need:

  • You should be residing in Spain at the time of your application, and you should apply just before or immediately after your graduation for the best chance of approval.
  • A recent university degree or higher* from a Spanish university. You can apply up to six months after your degree has been awarded.
  • Proof that you can support yourself during your stay in Spain and have the financial means according to the IPREM index.
    • 100% of monthly IPREM for the main applicant = 600 EUR per month (As of 2023)
    • Additional 75% of monthly IPREM for first dependent (if applicable) = 450 EUR per month.(As of 2023)
    • Additional 50% of monthly IPREM for each additional dependent (if applicable) = 300 EUR per month.(As of 2023)
  • Supportive documents, such as your updated CV and a motivation letter which outlines your plans for the future and your time in Spain.
  • Proof of healthcare coverage in Spain.
  • Legal documents including your passport, a copy of your student visa, and a student ID (NIE)
  • Government Fee payment form, which can be paid at most of the banks. You have to select 2.1 Initial authorization for temporary residence, unless your situation differs according to the form.
  • The Non-Lucrative Permits Application Form EX01. (Select Titular de estancia por estudios superiores que cesa, para búsqueda de empleo)

*Level 6 or above according to European Qualifications Classification

The cost

Coins spilling out of a jar

One of the first things people want to know is how much all this will cost. Well, the short answer is… It depends.

The slightly longer answer is:

  • You have to pay 10.72 EUR for the government fee payment.
  • Healthcare might cost you between 50 and 100 EUR per month.
  • Financial means you demonstrate to support yourself should be at least 6,500 EUR for the whole year.

How long it takes

If you already have healthcare coverage, the rest of the documents should only take about one or two days to prepare.

Many banks give your financial statement online and otherwise they can provide it in person at a branch. The government fee can be paid almost at any bank and it’s a relatively easy process. From there, it’s just a matter of getting digital scans and filling out forms!

Submitting your application

After gathering the documents, it’s time to submit your application. The job search status was implemented on November 2018, so the only way to submit your application is online. In order to do this, you will need a digital certificate.

Obtaining a digital certificate is a relatively easy process and has four essential steps.

Requesting your job search status

Once you have downloaded the Digital Certificate, you should go to the Registro Electrónico Común (RED SARA) to request your job search status and submit your supporting documents.

Make sure to send your request to Delegación del Gobierno en Madrid – Área Funcional de Trabajo e Inmigración.

Files are too large!

If your documents exceed file limit, don’t worry. Just submit a second request with the remaining documents and mention the tracking number of your original submission so it can be linked to that.

I started collecting my documents 10 days before the expiration of my NIE because I wanted to apply before its expiration. But because of some issues with my digital certificate, I applied two days after it expired.

Playing the waiting game

Monkey sitting waiting

After your application is submitted, it’s time to start waiting. They say the application should take 20 working days to get processed. However, sometimes it can take longer. Thankfully, if you pass the 20 days without hearing anything, you will be automatically accepted. So don’t worry if your request is taking longer!

While waiting, you might get an update saying some of your documents are missing. If that’s the case, just submit another request with the newly added documents and mention your original tracking number.

For me, this process took about 25-26 days and then my request was automatically accepted because of “20 days of silence.”

Success: Request accepted

When your request is accepted, you will receive an email with further steps. This involves getting your fingerprints scanned at the police station. For this you will need some further documents which are listed below and you’ll have to make an appointment.

Your document checklist:

A checklist
  • Your passport, NIE and passport. (Don’t forget photocopies!)
  • Recent 3×4 photos on a white background. (Take a couple copies to be sure.)
  • A copy of the resolution document, showing your request has been accepted.
  • A printed screenshot of the “resolved-favorable” page.
  • Certificado de empadronamiento. (City hall registration)
  • EX-17 form. (For question 4.1 select Tarjeta Inicial and for 4.2 select Residencia temporal con excepción de la autorización de trabajo.)
  • Proof of payment of the 790-012 fee from the Ministerio del Interior. Simply fill out the form and take it to the bank.

The cost

Aside from travel expenses and the price of passport pictures, the only cost here is around 16 EUR for the 790-012 fee.

How long it takes

The most time-consuming step is getting your appointment. There’s usually a long waiting list, which can sometimes last up to two months. After this, it should take three to four weeks before your new TIE card arrives at the station your appointment was in.

Also, make sure to change your identity number to your new TIE number in city hall and all the other places you’re registered.

I’m still waiting for my TIE card but it should be ready in the coming weeks. I’m very excited about this opportunity as it’s given me time to broaden my job search and even expand on the opportunities awaiting me in this amazing country. You should keep in mind that you cannot work with this card. Even though now I’m going through different job application processes, as soon as I have a fixed job opportunity, I’ll have to change my  status. If you find a job or decide to become a freelancer during this period, you should switch your status to temporary residency with work permission, or highly qualified worker.

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