The arraigo social can be your best alternative to regularize your situation, obtain residency and start working in Spain. In this article you will discover all its requirements in detail, how long does the process takes, how to apply without an employment contract, and much more. The definitive guide that will clear all your doubts!


What is arraigo social?


Arraigo social is a temporary residence and work permit designed for those foreigners who have been living in Spain for 3 years under an irregular situation. It is one of the easiest ways any non-European Union has to legalize her situation in the country.

And without the need to get it from your country of origin (and therefore, being able to complete the entire process from Spain).

Why? Because you can enter Spain as a tourist, live during the required years illegally, and get the papers afterward. And that will be possible as long as you meet all the requirements we will explore in this article, basically being able to demonstrate that one has remained in Spain continuously (albeit irregularly) during these three years. 

This process is regulated by law 4200 of the immigration regulation, and the Royal Decree 551/2011; and undoubtedly after the reform of the immigration regulations, it has undergone important and advantageous modifications.


How long do I need to be in Spain in order to get social arraigo?


You must have stayed for a minimum of 3 years in the country (and it is not possible to obtain it before those 3 years). Of the three four of arraigo, this is the one with the longest time requirement (only 2 years are required for labor arraigo and arraigo for studies, and none for the family arraigo).

In addition, within those years you can’t have left the country (i.e. do not register absences) for more than 120 days.



Which are the main requirements to get arraigo social in Spain?


The requirements to apply for this type of roots procedure are different depending on the Autonomous Community in which you live. However, most of them are general, so here you will find the main ones. 

  • First of all, you must prove that you have resided, albeit illegally, for a total of three years in Spain
  • It is important that you are a citizen from outside the European Union
  • Obtain a favorable report from the regional government from where you are living (unless you have a relative who is a legal resident in Spain)
  • Pass an interview with your local council
  • No criminal background records, neither in Spain nor in your country of origin, during the past 5 years.
  • Obtain a job offer, with the requirements we will see below
  • Demonstrate your link with Spanish society, whether at an economic, family, or social level
  • If the autonomous community in which you live has a second language, you must show that you understand and speak it. In order to do this, and for example in the case of Catalonia, you will have to take a 45-hour Catalan course

In the following questions, we will resolve the main doubts about each of these requirements in greater detail.

But remember that, if due to your particular circumstances and the main requirements you cannot apply for social grounding, there are still 3 other types of arraigo that you may be able to apply for


What type of job contract do I need?


This is undoubtedly one of the most important requirements for this procedure, and one that has been made more flexible with the entry of the new immigration regulations.

Thus, for the contract to be valid, it must comply with the following requirements:

First of all, bear in mind that there is no minimum duration required (as opposed as how things were before, in which you were required for a minimum of a 1-year contract. Hence, temporary and permanent-discontinuous contracts are also accepted.

What is important is that:

  • The job offer must be of, minimum, 30 hours per week. That is unless you have a minor child, which then allows for a contract of just 20 hours
  • In addition, the salary must be at least equivalent to the minimum wage or higher than that corresponding to the specific agreement


How can I prove that I have lived in Spain for three years?


The easiest and most usual way is to do it through the census and the “histórico empadronamiento”. The census is the document that shows in which city hall you are registered and where do you exactly live

The most common is that when a foreigner enters Spain, he or she registers in the town hall of her city or town. And the immigration office takes this date as the beginning of the time lived in Spain.


How can I apply for Spanish residency through arraigo social?


The procedure for obtaining this type of temporary residence can be divided into the following phases:

Entry to Spain and live in the country for three years


The first step is simple. The foreigner arrives in Spain (without getting any type of tourist visa), and begins to live in the Spanish territory irregularly.

Although it seems that absolutely nothing has to be done in this step, this is not entirely true. By the time the application is made, and as we have seen in previous sections, we must be able to demonstrate that we have indeed been living in Spain.

That is why the foreigner should register her address (preferably), and begin to integrate with the country. That is to say, it will be very beneficial if you can register in centers or social clubs such as libraries, start paying rent, etc.


Appointment with the town hall


After three years in Spain you will start with the legal procedure. The first thing will be to get an appointment with the town hall. During this appointment, you will mainly submit a set of documents (we will see them in the next section), and fill a form out.

Once they verify that everything is correct and nothing is missing, they will schedule a personal interview with you.  In this interview, they will check that you speak and understand Spanish (as well as Catalan in the case of Catalonia), and will ask a series of questions to see if you are really integrated into the Spanish society.

In the case of passing the interview, they have 30 days to issue the favourable report. And with that report we can move on to the next step.


Appointment with the immigration office


Once you have the favorable report, you will be able to get an appointment with the foreigner’s office to apply for the residency. The list of documents to provide is different in this case (we will also see them below).

To get an appointment for the social arraigo, you can do so by clicking here.

You will have to choose your region, the procedure, and see the available dates on the platform. Please note that, depending on the time of year, you may experience certain delays and may not be able to get an appointment until a few months from now.

After a maximum of 3 months of waiting for an answer, the application will be approved.

You can get to know if your arraigo social application was approved through an electronic notification. In the case you rely on our lawyer team to handle all the procedure, we will call you right afterward your application has been approved to notify you.

Finally, with the positive resolution, you will have 30 days to go to a police station, register your fingerprints, and get the TIE or identification card as a foreigner. And with that you will already have temporary residence in Spain, being able to live and work legally in the country for one year. 


Which documents should I submit?


As we have seen in the previous section, each phase of the process requires different documents. So that is why we wanted to divide the answer into two different sections:


Documents to provide in the appointment with the city hall


  • Passport (original and copy)
  • NIE number (if the foreigner has it, otherwise there would be no problem)
  • Townhall registry (census) together with the historical census
  • If possible, rental contract or deed of ownership of the housing in which you are living
  • Job contract
  • In the case of having family ties with legal residents in Spain, documentation that proves it. This point helps enormously to achieve a successful application.
  • Filling out the application form for the arraigo report, which you will be given directly there.
  • If you live in Catalonia, you should take a 45-hour Catalan course and provide documentation showing that you have completed it.
  • Any document or card that proves your integration with the country, such as a library card. 


Documents to be provided at the appointment at the Immigration Office


  • Again, copy of passport and, if you have one, NIE number
  • Application form EX 10, completed and signed
  • Census and historic, showing a minimum of 3 years in the country
  • Favorable report from the Autonomous Community obtained after the personal interview
  • Criminal records, properly legalized and translated into Spanish
  • Accreditation of family ties (for example with a marriage certificate, birth or civil partnership certificate)
  • Report on the work that the foreigner is going to do in the company
  • Payment of the 790/052 fee

Regarding criminal records, please note that in general, they must be valid for a maximum of 6 months. And it will not be necessary to provide them in case of either being able to prove five years of continuous stay in Spain or a reiteration in a previous application (without having left Spain).


In addition, depending on whether the job offer is received from a company or from a self-employed worker, the required documentation also varies.

  • If your employer is a company (natural person):
    • The employment contract you received, which must be signed by both parties
    • Identification number of the company, i.e. its CIF
    • Report of the company’s working life
    • Constitution deed of the company, a document that was signed on the notary
    • Document that certifies that the company is up to date with its payments with the Tax Agency. This document is issued directly by this institution in the form of a certificate and shows that there are no debts.
    • Document that demonstrates that the company up to date with its payments with Social Security and its workers. These documents are reports TC1 and TC2.
  • In the case the employer is not a company, but a self-employed individual willing to hire you:
    • Copy of the ID card or residence card of the employer (if he is a foreigner too)
    • Again, signed employment contract
    • The last income tax return of the employer who hires us
    • Registration of the employer in the self-employed worker regime
    • Registration with the IAE (tax on economic activities)
    • Certificate that demonstrates he has no debts with the Treasury or Social Security
    • The last 4 VAT declarations
    • Three latest TC1 and TC2 models
    • Working life report of the contribution account
    • Model 100 of the IRPF (income tax) for the past 2 years
    • Models of declarations of the Fractional Payments of the income tax, corresponding to the last four quarters

Thus, as you can see, it is NO LONGER necessary for the employer to provide financial means to demonstrate that it can cope (economically) with the hiring.

However, the employer must have the capacity to meet such contractual obligations. If the Immigration Office has doubts about the employer’s ability to hire you, it may require the employer to demonstrate such financial means (although it will not be necessary at first).


How long is the process?


The total time depends on different factors. However, it usually takes 3 to 4 months from beginning to end.

But everything will depend on:

  1. How long it takes for you to gather and prepare all the necessary documentation.
  2. Getting an appointment at the immigration office.
  3. The time it takes for the administration to emit a favorable response.

Out of these 3 points, the second is the one that can present greater uncertainties. Because preparing all the documents is something relatively fast, and we know that the administration has a total of 3 months to issue its response.

However, the day in which we will get the appointment will depend on the demand and availability of the immigration office at that particular time. 


What do they ask in the interview for the arraigo social?


This is, undoubtedly, a part of the process that generates a lot of uncertainty for immigrants who want to apply for social roots.

And, in fact, this is completely normal. The interview with the city town hall is an essential part of getting your application approved.

So, what are they going to ask you?

The questions on the arraigo interview have two main purposes.

The first is to see that you really understand and speak Spanish (and Catalan if you live in Catalonia). They will discover this by asking you if you have enrolled in a language course, and by directly checking it via how you express yourself.

And the second one is to understand how you belong to the community.  That is to say, these questions will be mainly about what you have been doing during the last 3 years in the country and what your current situation is. All to see if you can effectively be given arraigo or not.

If you don’t have a work contract, it will also be verified if you have sufficient economic means.

Would you like us to help you prepare for the interview so that your application can be approved? Then do not hesitate to contact us. We will provide you with the main questions that are usually asked and help you know how to answer them.  


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Can I apply for arraigo without a job contract?


Yes, it is totally possible to get social arraigo in Spain without having an employment contract or job offer. And, in that sense, you have two different paths to follow.

First of all, by demonstrating the possession of sufficient economic means, which you can possess yourself or any direct relative with whom you live (and who is a legal resident) and who must be economically in charge of you.

In this case, you must demonstrate the possession of at least 100% of the Minimum Vital Income in Spain. This criterion has been made more flexible with the entry into force of the reform of the immigration regulations, since the IPREM was previously used. Currently, this 100% of the Minimum Vital Income is equivalent to about €590 per month.

In addition, bear in mind that the residence authorization you are granted will not allow you to work in the case of applying for arraigo without a job offer.

However, the second alternative will allow you to work, but on your own account. That is to say, you can formalize the process of arraigo as long as you start your own business as a self-employed worker (as an “autónomo”) and have sufficient funds to set up and maintain that business.

You must also provide a business plan with all the required details.

Arraigo for freelancers or self-employed workers. How does it work? 


As we have seen, social arraigo can become one of the ways to become a self-employed worker in Spain.

Once you have obtained this type of temporary residency due to exceptional circumstances, you will be able to begin to carry out economic activities on your behalf. That is because this residency has a work permit attached to it.

Thus, instead of submitting a job offer to carry out the procedure, you can provide a business plan detailing your business idea and your application will be approved so that you can work as an independent professional. This business plan must be sent to any of the recognized institutions, like the ATA (“Asociación de Trabajadores Autónomos”), for its validation, who would then submit a viability report.

In this case, in addition, it is no longer necessary to provide proof that you have sufficient financial means to maintain yourself in Spain during the year of arraigo.

You will simply have to provide enough money to prove that you have the financial capacity to start up the project and maintain it for the duration of the residence authorization (1 year).

Finally, in these cases, the “informe de arraigo” must also be provided.

How to renew it?


It is not possible to renew the social arraigo permit. This type of temporary residency lasts only one year.

However, it is possible to modify it towards an ordinary residence and work authorization valid for 2 years. In other words, once the first year as a legal foreigner has ended, you can continue being a legal resident if you meet the necessary requirements. In that sense, you can change to a work permit, either as a company’s worker or as a self-employed; or to a non-lucrative residency visa (if you do not want to work).

That’s why we recommend that during the last few months of your arraigo year, you start looking for a job. Otherwise, without one, you won’t be able to renew it. 

However, you could also extend the arraigo social for one more year (what in Spanish is called “prórroga”); or make a new application for arraigo (of the same or different typology).

How much does the arraigo social procedure cost?


You can get arraigo for about 500€. The cost of the procedure is divided into two main parts:

  • The service of the lawyer who will prepare and submit all the documents for you
  • The cost of the corresponding fee to be paid to the immigration office, model 790/052, which is 15.75€

As for the legal assistance, at Balcells Group we manage the whole process for you for just 499€. This price includes preparing all the necessary documentation, guiding you step by step through the whole process, helping you to prepare the interview with the town hall, etc.

And all that while eliminating any administrative burden, so that you only need to sign and easily get the residency in Spain.

If you have any doubts about the regularization, do not hesitate to contact us. We can start now managing the entire legal application process for you step by step so that you do not worry about anything!


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