The Spanish Immigration Law Regulation reform in 2022

The Spanish Immigration Law Regulation reform has already entered into force on August 16 2022, and it implies a large number of important changes that will benefit any foreigner in Spain..

The changes that this reform has brought benefits clearly to the foreigners who seek to live and work in Spain, it is now much easier to obtain a residence and work permit, the “Arraigo” figures are also changed. Foreign students can also benefit from changes in this reform; among many others.

It’s important to notice that this reform is not retroactive. Applications submitted prior to the entry into force of this Royal Decree and the Regulations approved by it will be processed and resolved in accordance with the regulations in force on the date of submission, unless the interested party requests the application of the provisions of this Royal Decree and the Regulations approved by it and provided that compliance with the requirements for each type of application is accredited.

Link to the official text Real Decreto 629/2022, de 26 de julio

If you are interested in knowing how you can benefit from these changes, this article is for you. 

The Spanish context

The Spanish government has made a clear movement to improve the Immigration law regulation, to face the current labor market challenges.

Even though many jobs in Spain have problems finding qualified candidates, it has been difficult to secure a work permit up until now, which has hurt the country’s economy. Many modifications that simplify the application of Spanish immigration law and improve it for foreigners wishing to live in Spain have been adopted in an effort to find a solution.

The main takeaways from this reform are as follow:

  • Adapts the types of Arraigos to current needs.
  • Eliminates the requirement for foreign students to stay for three years in order to enter the labor market, which makes it easier for master’s students to stay.
  • Expands the channel for covering vacancies, through the articulation of flexible channels for hiring workers who are abroad.
  • Facilitates the application for self-employment from abroad (self-employed workers).
  • It makes the seasonal work model (circular migration) more flexible, which was more rigid.
  • It changes the immigration management model, through the reduction of administrative burdens and simplification of procedures.

Below you will find the list of the main improvements that this reform is bringing.

Expanded list of job positions that are difficult to fill

Prior to this significant adjustment to the law, the list of hard-to-fill jobs (and the shortage list) was much smaller and did not reflect the demands of the labor market at the time.

As a result, a first employment permit could only be obtained if the job position was on this unusually small list or by a difficult to obtain certificate of inadequate candidates for the job.

The catalog’s professions are now far more varied, making it simpler to locate open positions. Now it will be easier for foreigners to come to live in Spain.

Faster timing to hire foreigners in origin countries

The possibility of obtaining a work permit will be much faster thanks to a great reduction in deadlines.

Any company that needs to fill a job position (that is not included in the catalog of difficult-to-fill occupations) and cannot hire anyone else who is in Spain, will be able to hire foreign nationals more easily and more quickly from their country of origin.

From mid-2022, the job offers to prove the lack of applicants will only have to be published for 8 days on the Empléate portal. In the case that after this period no workers are found, the public employment service (SEPE) will issue a “certificate of insufficiency” within 3 days.

This will happen after the issuance of a report with all the details of the selection process, including, for example, how many vacancies there were, applicants to the position, and the reasons why they have not been hired in the end.

After this 3 day period, the application for an official residence and work permit may be submitted to the foreigners office or Oficina de Extranjería.

Work permit renewals will be for 4 years instead of 2

This is the most remarkable and foreigner-friendly changes of the entire immigration reform, making it easier for foreigners to stay in Spain for a longer term.

Until now, as a foreigner you got your temporary card for 1 year. After that first year, you had to renew for 2 more years. After those 2 years, plus the first one, so three years, you renewed for 2 extra years, totalling five years before you could go for a long-term residency.

As for the work permit, after the initial one-year card, the renewal will be for four years, substantially simplifying foreigners’ lives in the country and removing a significant bureaucratic load. Renewals will also be more simpler going forward with fewer arduous procedures, and making the renewal assumptions more flexible.

An initial residency and work authorization or a social arraigo, for example, may be renewed with simply having worked 3 months (instead of 6) and having actively sought employment (registering with the SEPE).

Getting a self-employment permit will be simpler

The government wants to assist self-employed persons by obtaining their work permits, even though we have already seen two policies that directly benefit employed workers.

Therefore, the goal is to lessen the restrictions that must currently be met by any foreign applicant for a permission to engage in their economic activity as independent professionals in Spain.

More specifically and significantly, the economic evidence that the foreign applicant must provide in the application to show that the project will receive adequate financial backing is decreased.

Additionally, they have started to take into account data for self-employment that is highly relevant in the current economic climate, such as individuals who own digital/internet based businesses or provide advice online.

The number of hours that foreigners with student visas can work will increase.

Up until recently, anyone from outside the country who had a student visa could only work a total of 20 hours per week while finishing their education or training.

This range is now from 20 to 30 hours a week as a result of the recent immigration law reform, which undoubtedly benefits the student population by making it simpler for them to make money while they are in education.

Limitations on geographic scope are lifted. This means that students may work wherever in Spain so long as doing so does not interfere with their ability to finish their education.

Students’ student visas will immediately allow them to work.

Before now, if you were on a Spanish student visa and wanted or needed to get a job, the company you were hired by had to begin the immigration process in order to get you a work permit.

That is history: students will now be allowed to work immediately for their own account and for someone else’s account with their student visa without having to go through any additional formalities.

Here’s an example of an old TIE and a new TIE, where you can see “AUTORIZA A TRABAJAR”

Spanish Immigration Law Regulation reform
Student Visa TIE Example (After the reform vs before the reform)

That will continue to be the case while the international student is in school studying one of the four types of education:

  • Higher education
  • Specific education for a job
  • Training aimed towards acquiring a technical aptitude or professionalism certificate
  • Professional certification or license required for the entry into a certain occupation

However, if none of the above is met, but your studies include the need to do an internship, you will neither need a work permit and you will be able to do it directly.

Changing from a student visa to a work permit will no longer require a three year period

The government has also accelerated the conversion of student visas to residence and employment in order to encourage the hiring of foreign workers and provide better facilities for obtaining a work permit.

Currently, a student must have had his study visa for at least three years in order to obtain a student visa modification to residence and employment permit.

The foreigner’s plans were complicated by having to renew and continuing renewing until they could achieve this criteria because the studies often last for significantly shorter periods of time. But now that the new law has been approved, both the employment geographical restriction and the three-year term are gone.

Larger family reunification (Reagrupación familiar) facilities 

Reuniting your family and traveling to Spain with them will be much simpler from now on. This is particularly true for everyone who makes less money, because the costs associated with doing this procedure have decreased and are now less onerous.

We have the situation of minor children as an example. You can now regroup all of your kids, regardless of the amount, if you make €1,000 a month, which is equal to the Minimum Interprofessional Salary.

In the case that you do not earn that quantity, in order to regroup a youngster, you must show proof of 110% of the Minimum Vital Income (Ingreso Mínimo Vital), which works out to be €702 in total. You will also need an additional €64 for each additional child you wish to bring with you.

Major adjustments to Arraigo Laboral

It will firstly be limited to foreigners who have previously worked lawfully but are presently in an irregular circumstance at the time of the application.

In the situation of immigrants who have engaged in irregular employment, the labor authorities must work with a new, separate figure called permission for extraordinary circumstances (permiso por circunstancias excepcionales en colaboración con las autoridades laborales).

It is still necessary to have lived in Spain continuously for at least two years; this is defined as having had no more than 90 days of absences throughout the previous two years.

Additionally, the two years in Spain are still required, but you must now show that you have worked for six months while putting in more than 30 hours per week, or 15 hours per week when calculating a year. Part-time employment is accepted too, from now on.

And last but not least, the freelancer is added to the Arraigo Laboral, making this residence permit also available to those who have been self-employed for at least six months.

Modifications to the Arraigo Social requirements

Significant changes will make it simpler to access and establish an Arraigo Social.

Up to this point, finding a one-year contract was required to apply for Arraigo Social. After the reform, however, it won’t be necessary anymore because any contract that ensures a minimum wage and length is valid. For example, a 3-month contract, would be sufficient.

In particular, if it is a single contract, the applicant must merely show (at the time of the application) that the remuneration to be earned is at least the Minimum Interprofessional Salary (SMI).

It will be crucial to ensure that the sum of the days is at least 30 hours in the overall calculation and that the total amount to be received is, once more, at least the Minimum Interprofessional Salary (SMI) if, on the other hand, Arraigo Social is requested with more than one contract (i.e., multiple part-time offers), which is entirely possible.

However, if you have small children, the contract can also have a minimum time requirement of 20 hours.

The criminal record may be valid for a maximum of six months.

On the other hand, less documentation is required to operate independently (as a self-employed individual) in terms of Arraigo social or social roots:

  • A business plan
  • The necessary economic means to make an investment
  • The necessary economic means to live in Spain

In many circumstances, the Arraigo Familiar (Family ties) will replace the community card.

Another significant alteration due to the fact that authorizations will now be granted based on family ties rather than a community card, all relatives of Spaniards will now be included in the general regime (Régimen general).

Along with the parents of Spanish-speaking children, this also covers the partner, spouse, descendants, and ascendants.

The latter scenario would result in them receiving their card as long as they cohabitate with the minor or do not cohabitate but are in compliance with their parent-child obligations.

There are also beneficial changes regarding our Spanish ancestors (now as a result of family roots)! It will be much simpler for them.

There is a definite distinction between the two situations: ascendants under 65 must demonstrate that they live as dependents in order to formalize their family ties, while those over 65 who do not live as dependents can obtain their residence directly.

Also, it is possible for caregivers of the disabled who reside with the person’s family to obtain this type of residence.

Read more about the Arraigo Familiar here.

New Arraigo para la formación (Training arraigo)

On the other hand, Arraigo para la Formación is a brand-new residency form that has been developed as a result of exceptional conditions.

All foreigners who have been continuously in an irregular position in Spain for at least two years and decide to begin training or studies that lead them to obtain an official or regulated degree will be awarded this one-year residency , which is renewable for an additional year.

It will be necessary to dedicate yourself to completing this training in order to obtain it; however, it cannot be any kind of education: it cannot be online, it must fall under the list of permitted trainings, and it can last no longer than 18 months.

Additionally, it must begin as soon as the Arraigo is requested and within six months of the application’s submission. There is a window of three months after this permit has been granted to present registration documentation.

In two situations—first, if the training lasts longer than 12 months, and second, if its length exceeds the expiration of the authorisation granted—a single extension may also be requested for an additional 12-month period.

After completing the studies, they could change to a work permit as long as you find a job offer that offers, at least, the interprofessional minimum wage (SMI). It is important to bear in mind that the modification will have to be requested within the validity of the card, and it will be granted for a period of 2 years.

No longer a requirement after a renewal to apply for to get (or change to) a new work permit when going from employee to self-employed or vice versa.

The new regulation eliminates the requirement to obtain a modificación from employee to self-employed or vice versa, since once you renew your work permit for the first time, you can now work as an employee or self-employed without the need to formalize any additional legal procedure.

Renewal of the family reunification card is substantially more beneficial.

There is an important improvement in the renewal of a family reunification card.

As a result, even if the couple has been dissolved or divorced, once the regroupee renews his card, the duration of this renewal will now be equivalent to the card held by the main holder (regrouper).

When renewing, the regrouped, for instance, would also receive a long-term residence if the holder has a long-term residence.

Last but not least, this updated card will grant permission to work as an employee or self-employed.

The updated visa application process

Your visa application can now be formalized electronically (online) at the Spanish consulate in your country of origin. This procedure will take much less time than before.

This change is extremely beneficial because it eliminates the need to schedule an in-person appointment and travel to the consulate in your country of origin to make the presentation.

The Immigration Files Processing Unit is established (Unidad de Tramitación de Expedientes de Extranjería)

Many immigrants experienced lengthy delays in the settlement of their files prior to the implementation of this revision in the immigration regulation.

Resolutions that should have taken no more than three months took up to eight or ten.

The Immigration Files Processing Unit (UTEX) was established with the goal of assisting the most overworked immigration offices in order to solve this issue.

As a result, it will begin contributing at the beginning of 2023, making it possible to receive a much faster response.

Please notice that this article is no legal advice. If you need immigration experts, please contact Spainguru’s recommended lawyers here.