Whether you are currently studying or you finished your course in the past months, this post is for you. Here you will find all the information that you need to know about one of the best ways to stay in Spain for the long run while legally working: the residency for professional internships. If you would like to find out how the legal application process works step by step, requirements you must meet, and legal tips for a successful application, keep reading!


How to legally do an internship in Spain as a foreigner


In 2018, an update within the Spanish Law for Entrepreneurs gave rise to a new residency card that would start benefiting a large number of students from all around the world who wished to move to Spain or stay in the country for a longer period of time: the internship residence permit.

We are talking about a residence authorization that is granted to those foreigners who are either pursuing higher degree studies (which must be at least level 6) or who have completed them within a period not exceeding the past two years.

This first statement is important, as this is not a stay period (like the student visa that foreign applicants may be in possession of before starting their internship) but a residency one.

This option, together with residency to look for a job or the modification to employment/self-employment work permit is one of the few immigration alternatives that allows any foreigner to move from stay status to residency in Spain.

In addition, as we saw in our post on how to go from student visa to work permit, the main option requires a minimum of 3 years studying in the country to finally get a permit to work. But, with this option, there is no such minimum period.

As we will now see, this is just one of the many advantages this residency offers. 

Let’s explore them all.


What is the duration of this card?


The duration or validity of the residency for internships is directly linked to the duration of the internship contract or agreement (either with the company or with the academic entity), in addition to being directly linked to the company that hires you (if you change companies, you will lose the residency).

In other words, if the internship contract is for 9 months, the validity of the card will be for those same 9 months.

Thus, in the case of an agreement with the university, this authorization will be valid for 6 months or for the same duration of the contract if it is shorter than that, and will be valid for a maximum of 1 year.

Note that this card can just be renewed once if the contract is for 6 months. Therefore, the initial duration plus the duration of the renewal cannot be extended beyond 12 months.

On the other hand, if it is an internship contract directly with the company, then the duration is equivalent to the duration of the contract, with a minimum duration of 6 months, and the maximum duration is 2 years.

In either case, once this first year (or second year if you have a contract) is over, you can change to a work permit and continue working legally in Spain if the company decides to hire you indefinitely.


Advantages of the internship residency


As we can start understanding, this residence permit is a highly recommended option for many without any doubt, as it offers many advantages for both the hiring company and the student who will be doing the internship.

What are these benefits?

  • First of all, the internship contract can be for just 6 months (and can be renewed if desired), so the employer is not forced to hire for a long period of time and is, therefore, more likely to decide to receive foreigners for internships
  • As mentioned above, it can be applied for by both students already in Spain and those abroad
  • In addition, it is not necessary for this contract to be full-time, allowing the foreigner to combine working life with her studies
  • It offers the possibility of immediate incorporation in the company, as the application deadlines with the Immigration Office are very fast
  • The process can be carried out completely online, without the need for long waiting times or appointments at the foreigners’ office
  • Finally, the national unemployment status is not taken into account when hiring, something that made the process much more difficult when you tried to apply for a regular work permit


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Authorization for internships through a university agreement or through a contract?


To obtain the residency card to internships in Spain you have two different options: to do it through an employment contract with a company or employer, or through an agreement with your academic institution (university).

These two options imply important differences in terms of requirements.

First, if you are still pursuing your higher education studies (i.e., you have not yet obtained your degree), either in Spain or abroad, then you must apply for this residency through an internship agreement (there would be no employment relationship with the company, as the university acts as an intermediary).

If you do it with an agreement, you must prove that you have sufficient economic means (100% of the IPREM) and have private medical insurance with full coverage, without co-payments.

From this point we can deduce another equally important one: if you are in Spain, the only way to obtain your residency for internships is to have previously obtained a student visa.

But the situation is different if you do it through an employment contract, where there would be a direct contractual and labor relationship with the hiring company.

This second case is reserved for foreigners who have already finished their studies (i.e., they have the degree that proves it).

And doing it through a legal contract means that it is not necessary to have private medical insurance (since you will be registered with the Social Security and paying contributions to it, and that means having access to the Spanish public health system); nor is it necessary to prove sufficient economic means (the salary of your internship contract is the proof of your economic capacity).

Moreover, in the latter case, you will be entitled to receive unemployment benefits and the company will not be able to pay you a salary lower than the minimum interprofessional wage according to the position you will occupy.


Extra requirements and documents


In addition to the requirements seen in the previous sections, for a successful application it will be important to comply with the following:

  • The company must prove that it is up to date with payments with the Social Security and the Tax Agency through a certificate of no debts
  • The foreigner must have an internship agreement approved and signed by the university that includes a description of the program, duration, tasks, daily hours, and supervision method by the company
  • The internship must be in the same academic field and must require a level of education equivalent to the course of study. In other words, if you are studying biology you cannot do an internship in accounting.
  • The application must be submitted using form EX-04
  • The foreign student cannot have criminal records or have the entry prohibited to Spain
  • The application must be made by an administrator of the company or by a legally authorized employee


Process and duration of the application


As with any type of work permit, it will be the hiring company (and not the student) who initiates the legal application, and will do so completely online through the REDSARA platform using a digital certificate.

Unlike the rest of the visas under the entrepreneur’s law, in this case, it won’t be the UGE who studies and resolves the application, but the immigration office itself.

This resolution will be obtained within a maximum period of 30 days through a notification.

In case of not receiving such notification, it will directly imply that the file is approved since there is positive administrative silence.

Once the company receives this resolution:

  • If the foreigner is in Spain legally with her student visa, she must go to the immigration office to register her fingerprints and the contract or agreement will be registered
  • If she is abroad, she must receive the visa stamped in her passport to be able to enter the Spanish territory and carry out the same process


If you have any doubts about this residency or you would like our immigration lawyers to guide you step by step in your application, do not hesitate to contact us:


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