Spain work visa: only for Spanish companies

Increasingly aware of the economic advantages involved, several European nations have launched new visas to attract international talent. Countries like Norway, Malta, and Greece offer favourable working conditions for digital nomads. Global interest in these sorts of visas is on the rise, especially since the pandemic. Spain has been quick to react, with the government approving a new digital nomad visa for 2023.

Is a work visa in Spain obligatory? 

Currently, EU citizens can live and work in Spain without requiring a visa. They simply need to obtain a NIE (Foreign National Identity Number).

If you are not from an EU country, you will need a permit from the Spanish government to live and work in Spain. There are several types of Spanish work visa you can apply for, including seasonal work visas, the EU Blue Card, long-term work visas, au pair visas, or visas for highly skilled workers. 

If you are already in Spain and you are a highly skilled worker, you can apply for a European Blue Card (the equivalent of the US Green Card). This work and residence visa allows highly skilled non-EU workers to live and work in most European countries. The eligibility for this type of work permit depends fully on your professional qualifications. Another requirement for this Spanish work visa is a minimum salary. Your contract must include an annual gross salary that must be at least one and a half times the average national salary. In 2022, Spain set the minimum salary threshold at €21,000. 

Entrepreneur visas are available for those looking to start their own company (working por cuenta propia). If you plan to be self-employed or an entrepreneur in Spain, the procedure to apply for a self-employment visa is similar to the process for an employee work visa. 

Fees vary for work visas in Spain. Further information can be found on embassy and consulate websites. It is worth noting that you will not be refunded if your application is denied, so ensure that you have all the Spanish work visa requirements ready before you apply! 

If you want to move to Spain and want to invest, the Golden Visa for Spain is a visa issued to non-EU nationals under certain conditions. With an investment in public debt or real estate, you may be eligible for this one year residency, which is renewable. 

Advantages of the new digital nomad visa

In November 2022, the Spanish parliament approved the Spanish digital nomad visa and special tax regime for startups. The new law is to come into effect at the start of 2023. The proposed legislation aims to open Spain up to new talent across various economic sectors. 

Foreign nationals from third-party countries (including the UK) may apply for this type of visa if they work for companies based outside Spain.

Applicants must fulfil a number of requirements, including proving that they have worked remotely for at least a year, and they have been employed for three months by a company that permits remote working. Freelancers must show that they work with at least one company outside Spain and provide the terms of the remote work. 

Digital nomad visas are similar to a full employment visa, granting temporary residency rights from six months to two years, as long as employment is ongoing and the visa holder  can meet Spain’s minimum monthly income requirement. The visas are specifically designed for individuals who work remotely in digital technology, employed by a non-Spanish company operating outside of Spain.

A major point of interest of the new visa is that holders are to be eligible for a reduced rate of non-resident income tax. Another benefit is that your spouse or partner and children under 18 can also move to Spain with this visa. 

How about Spain’s non-lucrative visa for remote work?

Current options for digital nomads involve onerous paperwork procedures. There is a type of residency called the non-lucrative residency, also called a non-lucrative visa (NLV). If approved, the NLV grants the person one year of legal residency in Spain, which can be renewed. However, the person is not allowed to work in Spain while they have this residency status. It is therefore a popular option for retirees. A requirement to apply for this residency includes proof of sufficient economic resources to support yourself throughout your stay. 

There has been ongoing debate about the Spain non-lucrative visa for remote work, and whether someone can work remotely while they are living in Spain with an NLV. This is because Spanish legislation on NLVs does not explicitly mention remote work. It is a grey area, and in some cases, consulates may deny an application if you are a remote worker. Therefore, if you are wondering how to get a visa to work in Spain, you should consider a digital nomad visa early next year, which will be more adapted to your situation.