Did you know that you have immigration benefits and rights as a family member of an EU citizen? By applying for the EU family member residence card, you can easily live and work in Spain, for 5 years! Plus, the even better thing is that this authorization permit does not only apply to blood relatives, but is also applicable to civil partners or spouses of EU citizens.
In this article, you’ll learn all the nuances and specifics of the EU family member visa, and you’ll see exactly what you need to prove to apply for this residence permit. Don’t worry it’s not complicated at all.
What is the EU Family Member Residence Card in Spain?
The EU family member residence card is a residence permit that enables relatives of Spanish or EU citizens to live and work in Spain under the same conditions as any other EU citizen.
Thanks to that family relationship, those non-EU citizens are entitled to a 5-year residency card that has many advantages. And they can obtain it even if they are under an irregular status in Spain.
Executing and obtaining the Spanish residence permit via this procedure is called the family member of a European Union citizen.
Which countries fall under the community regime?
We have provided a complete list below of all the countries that fall under the community regime:
Who does the EU family visa apply to?
Let’s now tackle the application scope of this permit. To which relatives does the family member of an EU citizen visa apply to? Article number 2 lists:
EU Spouse Visa
This visa is also sometimes referred to as the EU or Spain Spouse Visa. This is because this right applies EU citizen’s spouse or civil partner registered in the EU public registry.
In other words, this right also applies to those who are married to EU citizens living in Spain, and registered civil unions that start living with their EU partner in Spain for a period of time longer than 3 months.
That is why many relationships that are composed of one individual from the EU and another from outside the area get married or constitute a civil partnership so their partner can get the Spanish residency.
This pertains to the children of both the European Union national or of their spouse. If the child is under 21 years old, the community regime will be applied to him or her. However, if the child is above 21 years old, it must be proven that he or she is dependent on the EU national. Situations in which the child above 21 are considered a dependent include: if the child is still studying, has no or insufficient income to support themself, or has health/medical issues.
This procedure also applies to the parents of the EU national, provided that he or she is in charge of them. However, the EU family member residency does not apply to grandparents.
Extended relatives of EU citizens
What do we consider an extended family member?
Extended family members are other family members, regardless of nationality, that do not fall under the 3 previous conditions. In these situations, there must be cohabitation with the EU national, or the EU national must be in charge or the extended family member due to severe health problems.
This list includes:
A civil partner that is not registered. In this case, it will be necessary to demonstrate a minimum of a year of living together or to have children in common.
Other relatives of the EU citizen, under the following conditions:
- That the EU national is in charge of them in their origin country
- Other individuals who are part of the immediate family circle and who due to health issues must be under the care of the EU citizen
- Individuals who have lived together with the EU national for a minimum of 24 months or under their care
Important note. Despite the fact that you can read this list here, what the Immigration office will actually request can be a bit more strict. They will always require from you to accredit both the cohabitation and the economic dependence of the non-EU citizen who wants to get their permit in Spain.
Furthermore, brothers or sisters of the EU national are also considered if it can be demonstrated that they lived with and are economically dependent on the EU national.
Important note: When the EU family card is not applicable
We have given you this information, but it is important to bear in mind that some immigration offices are more flexible than others.
That being said, certain modifications to Spain’s Immigration Law in 2022 have stated that all direct relatives of Spanish citizens (partner, spouse, descendants, and ascendants) can now also fall under the General Immigration Regime. That means that their residence permits can be processed through the family member of an EU citizen card, but also through Arraigo Familiar instead.
Now, some Immigration Offices, for example, those in bigger cities, allow the relatives of Spanish citizens to choose either the EU citizen family member residence card process or the Family Arraigo process. However, in smaller cities, they sometimes require the relatives of Spanish citizens to only process their authorization through Family Arraigo.
That is why we recommend that you speak with an experienced attorney before you start the process to understand 100% not only which route is the most appropriate in your particular case, but also what is available in your region.
Entering Spain as a Non-EU Citizen
Now, traveling to Spain. So, whether you come from a country that requires a visa to enter Spain or not, your EU citizen relative should provide you with an acta de manifestaciones from the notary.
This is a document that states that the EU citizen wants their non-EU citizen family member to come to Spain and live with them.
For countries that need a visa, this document is necessary to obtain the visa to travel to Spain as a family member of an EU citizen. Once the non-EU citizen arrives in the country, they have 90 days to begin the process for the physical residence card.
For countries that do not need a visa, this document is still a necessary requirement that may be asked for at the airport or border control.
This differs from the carta de invitación (invitation letter), because this document only states that the non-EU citizen will be staying with the EU citizen as their guest. This means that the EU citizen is fully responsible for the actions of the non-EU citizen, and will have to be the one to report it if their guest is overstaying the 90 days.
Then, where is the EU family member residency card processed?
It’s processed at any of the Immigration Offices located in your Autonomic Region. For example, for Barcelona City, the autonomic region is Catalonia.
Bear in mind that you just have 90 days to process the physical card once you have entered the country. You can even do it after entering as a tourist in Spain, or online using a digital certificate on the Mercurio Platform.
For how long is the EU spouse visa valid?
The residence and work authorization as a family member of an EU citizen is valid for 5 years from the date it is issued. If the EU citizen states that he or she will be living less than that in the country, then the card will be valid for that same time frame. This is usually the case for EU citizen students who will only be studying in Spain for one or two years.
This means that this residence card is only valid as long as the EU national is living in Spain. Why? Because, as we have already mentioned, the EU citizen must be in charge of the non-EU national, or be his or her partner, as a general rule for this procedure to hold. Therefore, if the first one is not in Spain, these conditions do not hold.
Do you have any doubts so far? You can ask our immigration lawyers anything:
What is the difference between civil partnership and family member of an EU citizen?
Now before we get into the procedure and requirements of this residence permit, let’s clear up one thing.
The civil partnership (pareja de hecho) procedure and the family member of an EU citizen visa procedure are not the same procedure. However, they can be confused as the same one because one can be a means to obtain the other.
As we have seen in the first section, the family member of an EU citizen procedure is one of the ways in which you can obtain a residence authorization in Spain. It is one of the many paths you have to obtain a visa in Spain.
And, exactly as how its name defines, for this procedure to be applicable you need to already be the relative of an EU citizen. That is why many couples register themselves as a civil union: just to grant the non-EU citizen of the partnership the right to apply for this procedure.
Now that you know it, don’t make the mistake again. You need to constitute a civil partnership in order to be able to get your residency in Spain as a relative of a European Union citizen or a Spanish national.
Requirements to get the EU Family member residence card
The list of requirements is really short and simple. If you have an EU relative or partner, you are lucky. You can avoid the hassle and required documents that other types of permits demand.
Which then are the exact requirements you need to meet to get your residence card as a family member of an EU citizen?
- You will need to accompany or join the European Union citizen in Spain. This means going to the country to live with him or her
- The European Union citizen must be a resident in the country. Remember that being a resident implies living for more than 183 days per natural year in Spain
- The EU (or more specifically, Spanish) national must be working under a legal contract, studying in the country, or with sufficient economic funds. These economic means must be certified under the EU citizens’ name
- If they are an employee they can provide: an employment contract; an employment contract registered with the Public Employment Service; a hiring declaration from their employer; a hiring declaration on the CONTRAT@ platform; Social Security registration
- If they are self-employed they can provide: Census of Economic Activities registration; Social Security registration; Mercantile Registry registration
- If they are not involved in any economic activity they must provide: proof of public or private health insurance; proof of economic means through property titles, certified checks, bank certificates
- If they are a student, they must provide: an enrolment certificate; proof of public or private health insurance; and proof of economic means for their time in Spain; in case of student or teacher exchanges, a document accrediting the EU exchange program
- Since August 2018, the majority of Spanish regions no longer require private health insurance. In these regions, any given criteria derived from universal health will be accepted
- Two copies of the application form EX-19, filled out
- Applicant’s passport and a copy
- European citizen’s national ID and copy (the DNI if the individual is Spanish)
- Proof of paying the legal fee
- You will need to accredit the familial tie, which means, for example, demonstrating that you actually are the civil partner of the EU national. In the next section, we are going to focus specifically on this requirement
Important note: Through the Vienna agreement, the plurilingual certifications do not require being legalized or any sworn translation.
How to accredit the tie between both relatives
In this section, we are going to cover the legal steps to accredit the bond between the UE national and the non-EU citizen effectively. This is a crucial step in the application procedure for the residence permit.
The correct way to accredit the relationship will vary depending on the concrete type of bond:
If you, as an EU citizen, have constituted a marriage with a non-EU national, will need to present a marriage certificate issued during the last 3 months. But not all certificates will be valid:
- It must be issued from a country member of the European Union
- Conversely, if it is issued by a country outside the EU, an additional registry will be usually required.
In cases wherein you haven’t registered your marriage yet, you can also apply for the family member as an EU citizen visa, but they will only give you the residency card for 2 years.
Registered Civil Partnership
If you have already constituted a civil partnership, you can demonstrate it the same way as a marriage.
There is no need to present a singleness certificate. You will need to enroll the pareja de hecho in the municipal registry, the registry of the corresponding Autonomic Region, or in the Stable Couples Registry (in the case of Catalonia). Nevertheless, there are some provinces in which you can also do it at the Police Office.
You will need to present a registered census certificate (certificado de empadronamiento), which demonstrates that both members of the civil partnership are living together.
Lastly, you will also need to provide the document that accredits that the civil union is valid at the point of application. For that, you will need to go to the Civil Partnership Registry and ask for this certificate.
So we have just seen how it is possible to get the residence permit as a relative of an EU citizen both via a civil partnership and via marriage. But, which of the two is better? Which option is gonna yield more benefits according to our situation? In order to solve this issue, we have created a blog post in which we talk about the main legal differences between marriage and a civil partnership in Spain.
Unregistered Civil Partnership
If the civil partnership is unregistered, it must be proven that the relationship is stable and real. This can be proven by demonstrating that the EU citizen and non-EU citizen have been living together in a marital manner for one continuous year.
If the couple has a child together, this minimum of one continuous is unnecessary. They only need to present their child’s birth certificate, and prove stable coexistence.
Dependent relative that the EU citizen is in charge of
As we have already talked about, in the case of the extended family, it is a requirement that the EU citizen is in charge of them. But we do not mean just being in charge economically speaking. It also implies that the relatives need the material assistance of the EU national. Thus, being in charge is not solely providing economic resources, it also means three different things:
- Your relative (dependent one) does not have any income to sustain his or her basic needs because he or she does not have any or enough income
- You, as an EU citizen, must have been in charge of your relative. This can be accredited, for example, by showing that you have been sending money to the origin country regularly
- The EU citizen is the person who must take care of the non-EU citizen, and they are the only ones who can be in charge of their relative
Necessary Economic Means: Exact numbers
In the case that you are required to demonstrate the possession of sufficient economic means, what will that exact amount be?
Now, although this law has not specified a certain amount, if we take the amount specified for the Family Reunification Visa as a reference, we can say that the EU citizen must have € 10.167 for a family of two.
Then € 3388.2 for each additional family member.
Aside from bank statements this can also be proven through:
- A work contract, if they are an employee
- Officially registered business, if they are self-employed
- Enrolment certificate, if they are a student
Now, if the EU citizen is unable to prove economic means, another option is the Family Arraigo. As previously mentioned, family Arraigo is also a procedure aimed at bringing the non-EU relatives of EU citizens to Spain, except it doesn’t require to demonstration of economic means and does require clear criminal records.
Renewal process for the family member of an EU citizen visa in Spain
The Spanish renewal process for the family member of an EU citizen visa is done online. When renewing, it will be really important that the EU citizen you applied with is still a Spanish resident, and the relative bond is still valid.
Finally, let’s talk about the TIE, the card that contains your NIE number and your residence permit type. For this residence permit, the TIE (“tarjeta de identificación del extranjero” in Spanish) of the community citizen generally expires after 5 years of being issued. After 5 years of legally living in Spain, the non-EU citizen can apply for a permanent residency. In this case, direct ascendants and descendants of the EU citizen will no longer have to provide documentation accrediting the family bond.
Keep in mind that the community citizen can be outside Spain as long as he or she wants. But if the non-EU citizen who has obtained this visa is outside the country for more than 6 months, his or her card will expire and be lost.
So, when it’s time for renewal, the non-EU citizen will have to start the process again and apply for a new permit.
Living in Spain for more than 5 years under the EU regime
Let’s suppose that you have obtained your authorization to live in Spain as a relative of a European citizen. After getting the actual residence permit and renewing it twice, you would have lived in the country for 5 years.
If within that period of time you haven’t left the country, you will able to get permanent residency in Spain, which will allow you to live and work in the Spanish territory for the long run. That is, indefinitely.
Its requirements are really simple to meet, and that card will be valid for 5 years (with the possibility to renew it afterward).
However, if the marriage or civil partnership is terminated before reaching those 5 years, you may lose the right to renew your residency. Click here to find out the requirements to keep your family member of an EU card even if your relationship is over.
Apply for your residence permit now!
You have now seen the benefits and possibilities that the residence permit as a relative of a European Union national can provide you.
But maybe preparing all the documents and going through all the legal steps can be a tedious and boring task. How can you make sure you are doing everything right?
Don’t worry, we can help you. Our expert immigration lawyer team will handle all the application procedure for you, from the beginning to the end. Our mission? Help you move to Spain easily.
Whether you would like to start NOW enjoying this procedure or you still have any question…
Undoubtedly this is one of the most popular and most requested residency permits by foreigners from all over the world who start their new life in Spain. The fact that its main requirement is to be a relative of a European citizen makes this option a completely accessible permit for many.
Thus, and to ensure that you can enjoy an effortless application, in this post you will discover the 5 most important keys and tips to get the EU family member card successfully; the same tips that have helped hundreds of clients in our office complete the process without any type of rejection.
Who is eligible for this card?
The first thing we must answer before even considering starting with the application is who can apply for this card.
Generally speaking, the EU family member card can be applied for by family members of Spanish or EU (European Union) citizens living in the Spanish territory.
However, it is important to further explain this requirement, since it is one of the most important keys to the whole process.
Thus, among the family members of EU citizens, those that can apply for this residency are:
- The spouse (after getting married)
- The registered civil partner
- Children under 21
- Children over 21 who are under the care of the European citizen
- Dependent parents (ascendants)
- Partner in a relationship analogous to marriage (not registered)
- Partner with whom you have a child in common
How to enter Spain in an effective way in order to complete the procedure
Many foreigners know that this residency can be applied for as a tourist directly from Spain.
However, most of them focus on the procedure and application process since they are already in the Spanish territory, but they forget to put emphasis on the previous (and also important) part of the procedure: properly entering the country.
Thus, in order to finally obtain this residency, you will also have to consider how you should enter Spain (in case, as an applicant, you are outside Spanish territory).
And this will depend on your country of origin:
- If you are from a country that does not require a tourist visa to enter Spain, you will be able to travel and enter directly (without making any previous application), but taking with you the documentation that proves that you are indeed a family member of a Spanish/European citizen.
- On the other hand, if your country requires a Schengen visa to cross the Spanish border, then you must first apply, at the Spanish consulate located in your country of origin, for a visa as a family member of an EU citizen in order to travel.
So, as you can see, everything depends on whether your country of origin has an agreement with Spain regarding free movement without a visa. You can find here the list of countries that do not require a tourist visa to enter Spain.
The first step to take after entering Spain
This recommendation is also very important.
Once you enter Spain (with or without a visa depending on your country of origin), the first thing you must do is to go to the town hall of your municipality to register jointly with the EU family member with whom you will make the application.
This step is essential and must be done before submitting your application to the immigration office.
In order to carry out this type of EU reunification process, both family members must be registered in the same municipality and at the same address.
In addition, the immigration office where you must apply for the residency card depends exclusively on your address (you will be assigned to the nearest one), so it is necessary to have this registration (“padrón”) first.
Thus, as a conclusion of this section, we can extract that jointly living with the European citizen is a fundamental requirement for the process. That is, both relatives must live in the same domicile.
But, what are the rest of the requirements?
The 4 main requirements to consider
The fourth key is a reminder of the main requirements you must meet to apply for the EU card. It is not enough to be a family member of a European Union citizen.
More specifically, the 4 main requirements you must meet are:
- Submit proof of your kinship bond with the Spanish or EU citizen
- Demonstrate that you live with him/her
- Ensure that the European citizen has sufficient economic means (either own funds, being self-employed, or working for a company with a job contract)
- Present your medical insurance in Spain, either by accessing a public health card or by taking out private health insurance with no co-payments or co-payments.
Avoid losing your card this way
Finally, the 5th tip or key is not so much related to the application and its requirements, but to the maintenance of the card.
In order to be able to live in Spain legally with this card, it is equally important to enjoy a successful application and to avoid losing it during its 5 years of duration.
Thus, in order to maintain the community card, the first thing you must take into account is that both family members (you as a non-EU citizen and the EU citizen who has allowed you to obtain the card), must reside in Spain.
On the other hand, there is also the typical case in which non-EU citizens who have obtained the EU card through civil union (“pareja de hecho”) or marriage, wonder what will happen if the union or marriage is dissolved. Will she lose her residency?
- If the marriage or civil partnership has lasted, at least, 3 years and
- Of these 3 years, a minimum of 1 has been in Spain
Then she will not lose her residency.
And so far these 5 tips and keys. If you need more information about this card or help to apply for your residency, our team of lawyers is at your complete disposal.
Book a consultation with one of our lawyers and solve all your doubts: