Everything you need to know about the red card (which will allow you to get asylum or international protection in Spain) in this article! Discover what exactly this document is, how and where you can obtain it, what is its duration, how renewals work, and how to work in the country with it. All this and much more below!


What is the red card in Spain?


The red card is a provisional document that allows a foreigner coming from a country in conflict, natural disaster, or similar disastrous situation to stay in Spain while awaiting the reception of a resolution of political asylum or subsidiary protection for humanitarian reasons.

But let’s first understand in depth the reason that makes this card something useful.

In Spain, in addition to the general Immigration Law and the Entrepreneurs Law, there is also the Law on Asylum and Subsidiary Protection.

This is the law that allows a foreigner to apply for asylum or international protection and that regulates this procedure.

Logically, in order for this foreigner to become a resident, she must first initiate an immigration application procedure.

This application can take up to 2 months.

That is why, in order to allow the applicant to remain in the Spanish territory during this time, she is granted this red card (hence its name) while waiting for the resolution.

Thus, this document will be granted as long as it has been demonstrated in a sufficiently valid manner that the procedure can reach a final resolution (that is, it is admitted for processing).

The official name of this card is document certifying the status of an applicant in the process of international protection, in Spanish “documento acreditativo de la condición de solicitante en tramitación de protección internacional”.


What can a foreigner do in Spain with this document?


As we mentioned in the previous section, this red card is the document that allows the foreigner to remain legally in Spain while awaiting a decision on asylum or international protection, without having to return to his country of origin, the country she has left in search of a better situation.

But that is not all.

In addition, after the 6th month of being the holder of this document, she will be also able to work in Spain; either as an employee (for a company) or as a self-employed person (as a freelancer).

And, on the other hand, the fact that the red card contains an NIE number will allow this foreigner to carry out a series of procedures, such as opening a bank account in Spain, enrolling in any training or educational center, signing up in any of the different job centers, etc.

Finally, she could also get married or register a civil union, which would allow her to obtain the community card (residence for 5 years) if this union takes place with a European citizen residing in Spanish territory.


What is the duration of this card?


The validity of the red card is equivalent to the period of time that must pass until the foreigner obtains a final resolution on her international protection application (which usually lasts approximately 2 years).

That is, until a resolution is issued, the red card will be valid.

In that sense, it is important to keep in mind how renewals work within this period.

Although its effective validity will last until the resolution is issued, the card itself is valid for 6 months; but if after this period the resolution has not yet been obtained, it will be renewed for 6 extra months.


How to obtain the red card in Spain?


The process to obtain the red card works as follows.

The first thing you must do, once you enter Spain, is to make an appointment at the nearest immigration office.

You can do this through this link, selecting your region and then “Policia – Solicitud Asilo”.

During your visit to the police station, you will be interviewed to understand the situation in your country and the reasons that brought you to Spain.

In addition to your passport, you will have to bring a criminal record certificate and an EX-10 application form.

Upon handling all your documents, the authorities will issue a white card in which you will find your data and the specification that your application is waiting to be admitted for processing.

In that sense, the Immigration Office will have 30 days to finally decide whether or not to admit your file. Everything will depend on the verisimilitude of your situation and justification to obtain this card.

In the case that your application is admitted for processing, you will be directly granted this red card.

But be careful! It is important to note that getting the red card is not at all equivalent to being granted asylum. It is simply the document that will allow you to stay in Spain while you wait for the official resolution.


The 2 possible resolutions and what to do in each case


Once the process comes to an end, there are two different options:

  • First, your resolution may be favorable, so this provisional red card will become a definitive card (you will be granted a TIE)
  • But, on the other hand, it is also possible that your application gets rejected (something that is usually common), which would mean that the card would be invalidated

What to do in the latter case?

Since this resolution usually takes 2 years, the foreigner should only have to wait an extra year to complete the 3 years in total required to be able to apply for and obtain the arraigo social.


Can I travel outside Spain with the red card?


While you are waiting for your asylum decision (i.e., while you get the red card holder), you will not be able to travel outside of Spain.

While it is true that traveling within the Spanish territory itself would not be a problem, crossing borders would be.

This is because when you present your asylum application you will hand in your passport, which will be held by the authorities until a final resolution is issued.

Without this document, you will not be able to pass the border control to enter another State (especially if we are talking about countries outside the Schengen Area).


If you have any doubt about this or any other immigration procedure, do not hesitate to contact our team of lawyers.


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