Spanish Digital Nomad Visa June 2024 – 30 FAQS Answered by an Immigration Lawyer

Spanish Digital Nomad Visa June 2024 - 30 FAQS Answered by an Immigration Lawyer

Joined by immigration expert Ainhoa Manero from Sterna Abogados, we unpack all your pressing questions about the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa — ranging from eligibility to application nuances and beyond. If you’re considering making Spain your new remote work base, this guide is tailor-made for you.

Interview with Ainhoa Manero about the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa part 1 of 2

Interview with Ainhoa Manero about the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa part 2 of 2

1. What is the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa, and who is it for?

Ainhoa explains that the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa caters to individuals who can perform their job remotely for clients or companies outside of Spain. Unlike the non-lucrative visa, which also applies to remote workers but has stricter consulate application rules, the Digital Nomad Visa allows applications directly from within Spain, providing a more accessible pathway for remote workers.

2. What are the main benefits of the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa?

The visa comes with significant advantages:

  • Applicants can choose to apply either from a consulate abroad or directly within Spain, offering flexibility.
  • It grants an initial three-year stay, which is renewable for two additional years.
  • Family members can accompany the visa holder, and they are permitted to work in Spain.
  • The application process is quick, with decisions typically made within 20 days, allowing for rapid adjustments if needed.

3. What are the eligibility criteria for the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa?

To qualify, applicants must:

  • Have been working remotely for clients or as a freelancer for at least three months.
  • Possess a minimum of three years of professional experience or hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
  • Earn an annual income of around €30,000.

4. How does the application process work, and what documents are required?

The application process varies slightly depending on whether it is done from a consulate or within Spain. Key documents include criminal records from countries where the applicant has lived in the past two years, a marriage certificate if applicable, educational degrees, proof of professional experience, and evidence of income such as contracts and payment receipts. For those applying from within Spain, the process is standardized and conducted online through the immigration platform.

5. What challenges might applicants face with the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa?

One significant hurdle is the requirement for an employee to obtain a social security certificate from their home country, indicating permission to work remotely. This document has proven difficult to secure, particularly for employees from the U.S., as the American social security administration does not issue such certificates for remote work.

6. What tax implications should applicants consider?

Ainhoa, while not a tax advisor, notes the interaction between tax and immigration status. She mentions the “Beckham Law” (a special tax regime in Spain), which offers a flat tax rate of 24% on up to €600,000 of income sourced from Spain. This regime is particularly beneficial for high earners but may not suit everyone, especially those earning below €50,000, who might benefit more from standard tax rules that allow for deducting certain expenses.

However, this special tax regime would only be benefitial for earning over €60.000 since it has its pros and cons. Also, the applicant will have to proof eligibility, which is quite tough, as it is a regime thought and designed for employees and not freelancers.

6. What tax implications should applicants consider?

7. Are there any minimum income variations depending on the application’s origin?

The minimum income requirement is generally consistent regardless of where the application is submitted. However, applicants earning slightly below the typical threshold of €30,000 may need to demonstrate additional savings to compensate.

8. Is it better to apply from within Spain or from a consulate?

Ainhoa recommends applying from within Spain whenever possible due to several advantages:

  • A longer initial residence duration (three years compared to one year from consulates).
  • Less dependency on consulate appointment availability.
  • Direct handling of the application within Spain, avoiding potential misinterpretations or additional document requests often encountered at consulates.

9. How long does the visa process typically take?

The processing time for the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa is remarkably swift, generally resolving within 20 days. This rapid turnaround is designed to facilitate quick decisions, allowing applicants to adjust their plans or reapply if necessary. It’s important to note that if immigration services do not complete their review within the 20-day window, the application may automatically be approved by what’s called “administrative positive silence.”

10. Are there any restrictions on the types of work one can do while on the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa?

Yes, there are specific limitations to keep in mind. While the visa is flexible, it requires that no more than 20% of your income should come from Spanish sources, as the primary intention of the visa is to attract individuals working for clients or companies outside of Spain. This ensures that the visa holders are contributing economically without displacing local labor.

11. What happens if my work situation changes while on the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa?

If your employment situation changes, such as losing a job or a major client, it’s crucial to notify immigration authorities promptly. The exact implications are still somewhat unclear as more data and precedents are needed. However, notifying authorities can often provide additional options or grace periods to adjust your status and maintain your visa.

12. Can I renew the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa? If so, what’s the process?

Renewal of the Digital Nomad Visa is straightforward. It can be initiated from two months before to three months after the visa’s expiry. The application is processed online, and applicants must demonstrate that they continue to meet the eligibility criteria or notify of any significant changes in their circumstances. Upon renewal, the visa is typically extended for two more years.

13. What are the key tips for obtaining and legalizing required documents?

Obtaining and legalizing documents can be complex, depending on where you’re from. Ainhoa suggests understanding whether your country is part of the Apostille Convention, which simplifies the legalization process to a single stamp. If not, documents generally need three stamps: from the issuing institution, the relevant ministry in your country, and the Spanish consulate. Knowing the specific requirements and starting early are crucial to avoid delays.

14. Can I use savings to meet the income requirements if my earnings are slightly below the threshold?

Yes, savings can supplement your income to meet the visa requirements, particularly if your earnings are close to the minimum threshold. However, the exact amount of savings required can vary, and it’s advisable to show that you have a stable financial buffer. Typically, demonstrating savings is more about showing overall financial stability rather than strictly compensating for a minor shortfall in income.

Spanish Digital Nomad Visa June 2024 Edition - 30 Key Questions Decoded by an Immigration Lawyer

15. Is there a benefit to applying from a consulate outside of Spain?

While applying from within Spain is generally recommended due to the longer visa duration and streamlined process, there may be specific circumstances where applying from a consulate could be advantageous. For example, if you are not yet ready to relocate but want to secure the visa in advance, or if local conditions or regulations in Spain are temporarily unfavorable, applying from a consulate might be a practical option.

16. What about the challenges related to specific document requirements for companies and freelancers?

Ainhoa mentioned that obtaining documents like Articles of Incorporation of the company you work for can be challenging, as clients or companies might be reluctant to provide them. This is especially true for freelancers and those whose employment depends on personal choice rather than company relocation. There are also nuances concerning documents proving the existence and legitimacy of the company outside Spain, which can be tough to obtain but are essential for the visa application process.

17. What specific advice does Ainhoa give regarding health insurance during the processing period?

Ainhoa advised that, although it is not mandatory, it is wise to have some sort of health insurance coverage during the processing time for the social security enrollment to ensure you’re covered in case of any health issues, as this process can take some time. She emphasized the practicality of having at least temporary private health insurance during this interim period.

17. Is family reunification possible under the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa, and what does the process look like?

Ainhoa explains that, although Family reunification is not the technical term as it refers to another specific procedure, bringing family members is straightforward under the Digital Nomad Visa. Family members can accompany the visa holder from the start, receiving similar residency and work permissions. Unlike the main applicant, family members do not have income restrictions from Spanish sources and the work type doesn’t need to be remote.

18. How does healthcare work for digital nomad visa holders in Spain?

For freelancers, enrolling in Spanish Social Security is mandatory, which includes public health insurance covering the visa holder and their family. Employees might initially need private health insurance, but this may change if a family member starts working in Spain.

19. What’s the challenge with American applicants and Social Security certificates?

The issue with American applicants is that the U.S. Social Security Administration does not issue certificates for remote work in Spain, complicating the process for those applying as employees. This problem has extended to other countries as well.

20. Can digital nomads apply for permanent residency or citizenship after some years?

Yes, after meeting the necessary residency requirements in Spain, digital nomads can apply for permanent residency and eventually citizenship. The specifics depend on the amount of time spent outside of Spain and fulfilling other regulatory requirements. There can be a 2 year citizenship fast track for certain passport holders, such as Mexicans, Puerto ricans, Filipinos, and others.

21. What is the maximum time allowed outside of Spain for long-term residents before applying for citizenship?

For Long term residency, it is allowed to spend at most 2 months every year for the last 5 years. For citizenship, it’s crucial not to spend more than six months per year outside Spain, with specific limits on time spent abroad over five years.

22. Can you apply for the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa with one passport and apply for citizenship with another?

Yes, you can apply with one passport and use another for citizenship advantages, but it’s advisable to use the passport that gives you a fast track from the start to avoid potential issues if immigration policies change.

23. What are common pitfalls or mistakes people make when applying for this visa?

Common issues include timing the 90-day tourist period incorrectly, not properly declaring entry into Spain, and failing to prove a client or company has existed for at least a year. Proving the authenticity and validity of payments and contracts is also crucial.

24. What about apostille requirements and document validity?

Ainhoa highlights the importance of understanding the distinction between the validity of the document itself and the apostille. Documents like criminal records have a six-month validity for visa applications, and the documents must be directly apostilled, not just the notarization.

25. How long can you stay in Spain after applying for the visa on the 89th day of a tourist visit?

Once you submit your application within the legal timeframe, you can stay until the resolution, which should be around 20 working days, plus an additional 10 days to leave Spain if necessary.

26. How do authorities verify the authenticity of documents like work contracts or proof of income?

Authorities verify these documents by ensuring that all details such as contracts, payrolls, and bank statements match up. They may also check if the income is deposited into your bank account as claimed.

27. What types of visas or work permits can you transition to from a Spanish Digital Nomad Visa?

You can transition to other types of visas or permits, such as highly qualified professional visas, student visas, or family member visas, depending on your circumstances and after meeting specific criteria.

28. What about opening your own business in Spain?

After a year on the digital nomad visa, you can open your own business. There are specific visas for entrepreneurs, especially if the business is considered innovative or beneficial to the Spanish economy.

29. What kind of legal support is recommended during the application process?

Ainhoa recommends obtaining legal support, particularly from immigration and tax professionals, to navigate the complexities of the application process and ensure compliance with all requirements.

30. What changes or updates to the digital nomad visa policy should applicants be aware of in 2024?

Applicants should be aware of tighter regulations regarding the Social Security certificate, even from countries that have agreements with Spain. Changes aim to ensure applicants genuinely meet the remote work criteria.

31. What advice would Ainhoa give to someone whose application might get denied?

Ainhoa advises having a backup plan and understanding the options for reapplying or appealing a decision. It’s crucial to stay prepared for any outcome.