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Moving to Spain: Ultimate Spain Visa Guide for Expats

Spain is one of the best (and most popular!) countries for foreigners looking to relocate abroad. There is so much to draw expats to Spain with near-perfect weather, fascinating culture, and delicious, varied food.

Plus, with more than 5 million foreigners already calling Spain home, many expats and expat communities are ready to welcome new transplants. Plus, long-term travelers and digital nomads are headed here in droves, many using the non-lucrative visa in Spain to stick around for longer than ever and make the most of living in Spain.

However, before booking your ticket and moving to Spain, it’s important to know more about Spain visa options available to foreigners. Spain visa availability and accessibility depend significantly on an applicant’s home country, financial state, and intentions of working from Spain. This ultimate guide to Spain visa options for relocating to Spain will break down the options for you.

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Spain Visa

From simple tourist visas to permanent residency permits and everything in between, there are countless Spain visa options to consider when looking to visit – and live in – this beautiful Mediterranean country. The following are some of the best options for those looking to stay in Spain for any significant period of time.

Spain’s Golden Visa

In 2013, the Spanish Government approved a new visa, giving investors, entrepreneurs, and expats a new opportunity to live abroad in Spain. With the hope of drawing investors looking for a second home to Spain, the golden visa for Spain was born. The program hopes to boost the Spanish economy, create new jobs, and help expats relocate here with ease.

Golden Visa Specifications

Spain’s golden visa makes it easier for an investor to obtain a residence permit through an investment in Spain, such as the following:

  1. Starting a business project in Spain of interest to society and which contributes to technological and scientific innovation.
  2. Making a deposit of 1 million euros in a Spanish bank account.
  3. Investing 1 million euros in Spanish companies through shares.
  4. Investing 2 million euros in Spanish public debt.
  5. Investing at least 500,000 euros in Spanish real estate, without the use of a mortgage, to promote real estate investment.

Who Can Apply for the Golden Visa?

The golden visa is a Spain visa option for a range of individuals looking to relocate here. Another requirement for obtaining the Golden Visa, in addition to making an investment, is to demonstrate that you are part of one of these profiles:

  1. Investor
  2. Entrepreneur
  3. Researcher
  4. Qualified professional
  5. A transferee within the same company or business group

Golden Visa Requirements

In addition to the investment-related requirements of Spain’s golden visa, there are a few important visa requirements to keep in mind. Take these requirements into account before applying for this visa:

  • Applicants must be over 18 years old
  • Applicants must have (or be able to purchase) medical insurance (public or private) from a company that is authorised to operate in Spain.
  • Applicants must have sufficient financial means to make the proposed investment
  • Applicants must not have been refused entry to any of the Schengen countries.
  • Applicants must not have entered or stayed in Spain illegally.
  • Applicants must not have a criminal record in Spain or their country of residence for the last five years.

Golden Visa Benefits

Having obtained a Golden Visa for Spain means that the visa holder is allowed to enter the EU within the Schengen area for an unlimited period of time. In addition, visa holders can apply for the same visa for their spouse, partner or children who are financially dependent on them.

Moreover, visa holders only have to visit Spain once a year in order to keep the permit. After the two-year validity has expired, people who are still interested in investing and residing in Spain can apply for a new 5-year renewal. After ten years, you have the option to apply for Spanish citizenship.

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Spain’s Non-Lucrative Visa

For expats looking to establish residency in Spain, and have sufficient means of subsistence to live in the country, the non-lucrative visa is another visa for Spain worth considering. This attractive visa option does not require the applicant to carry out any commercial activity or make any investment, so it is ideal for retired people or students.

It’s important to be aware that the non-lucrative residence visa allows the visa holder to reside in Spain, but does not entitle the visa holder to the opportuity to engage in professional or employment activity. Obtaining a residency in Spain provides other benefits such as free access to 26 European countries in the Schengen area.

For young people with a bit of money saved up, it is one of the best options for residing in Spain, as it opens the doors to study in the country and carry out paid internships. Although this visa does not allow work, internships that are considered of an educational nature are permitted activities.

Non-Lucrative Visa Benefits

In addition, this visa provides a number of other benefits for those who are approved. Visa holders will be able to apply for long-term residence permits. Thus, once the first year has elapsed, the next renewals are for two years. Once this period has elapsed, you will be able to apply for a long-term permit and, after ten years, you will be able to apply for Spanish residency.

In addition, if the applicant can prove that they have sufficient financial means to support a family member, they may also be able to apply to live in Spain with them. As an applicant, the application will be rejected if you do not prove that you have 400% of the IPREM per year in a bank account (€564.90 per month), or its equivalent in foreign currency. For each additional family member, 100% of the IPREM is required.

Non-Lucrative Visa Considerations

Keep in mind, if you intend to stay longer in Spain and renew your visa, you will have to take into account that you will become a tax resident. After 183 days, you will be liable to the Spanish tax authorities for the income you have earned. But, don’t worry. You won’t have to pay twice for the same income, as there are double taxation agreements between countries.

As a non-lucrative visa holder, the visa stipulations allow you will be able to make investments, but not work a Spanish company. This allows the visa holder more opportunities while holding this type of visa.

Another important detail to keep in mind for potential applicants: if you have previously had the opportunity to live in Spain on a student visa, you are not allowed to immediately obtain a non-lucrative visa without leaving the country. To apply for the visa, you have to return to your home country before making your application.

Spain’s Digital Nomad Visa

In the wake of the pandemic, many people transited to working remotely on a full-time basis, with no desire to return to the office any time soon. Many countries, including Spain, have decided to create a visa to open their doors to foreign remote workers, called a digital nomad visa.

Lacking many of the requirements needed to apply for a traditional work visa, such as a contract with a local entity or a letter of invitation, digital nomads are often stuck frequently moving or relocating to countries with easier visa policies. Digital nomad visas, on the other hand, are specifically designed to allow remote workers to stay in the country longer than they would be able to with a traditional tourist visa.

The digital nomad visa will be a game changer for digital nomads who often have to jump through hoops to remain in popular digital nomad hotspots like Barcelona, Madrid, and smaller Spanish cities.

While Spain’s digital nomad visa isn’t ready yet, the Spanish government expects to approve this visa by the end of this year. Prior to releasing the visa, the government has already specified a number of possible requirements for applicants, which closely align with those of other nations’ digital nomad visas:

  • Have at least three years of professional experience;
  • Be a highly qualified professional (with a university degree or postgraduate degree);
  • A minimum of one year’s professional relationship with the company;
  • Proof that telecommuting is allowed in the activity in which you work;
  • Proof that you are teleworking in your country of origin.

Digital nomad visas are new, and the first only recently came into existence, at the start of the pandemic. European countries are at the forefront of these changes, with many countries finalizing specific rules for their own versions of a digital nomad visa. Drawing remote working professionals from around the world to Spain is seen as a priority.

Final Thoughts

Though the Spain visa process can be confusing, with a bit of research and perhaps some professional help, it’s possible to navigate the bureaucracy of the process and cruise into the dreamy expat lifestyle you’re dreaming of. With more visa options for moving to Spain available than ever before, expat life may be closer than you think.