Many foreigners who want to stay in Spain for the long run make the same mistake. They associate the ability to legally work in the country with the need to obtain a work permit.

This, without a doubt, generates many problems, since in the vast majority of cases it will be very complicated to obtain a regular work visa, with neverending requirements that seem almost impossible to fulfill.

It is in those situations when the foreigner is forced to look for alternatives (and in this article we will explore the main ones).

The truth is that there are a series of residence authorizations that, not being work permits strictly speaking, also allow you to work legally in the country.

So you can avoid the need to go through the complicated and extensive requirements of a work visa, but still manage to develop a professional or labor activity in the country with these alternatives.

Knowing which are those alternatives will be fundamental, since it is very likely that some of them are an easy path for you due to their more flexible requirements.

So let’s see which are the different residencies that allow you to work in Spain.


Residence authorizations with which you can work in Spain


We are bout to explore the 5 residence permits that allow you to legally work in Spanish territory, in addition to reviewing the main alternative to a regular work permit.


Social arraigo


This is undoubtedly one of the most common ways followed by non-EU foreigners in Spain to regularize their situation in the country and obtain residency.

So much so, it has also become one of the best alternatives to gain the capacity to legally work in the Spanish territory.

The social arraigo (residence authorization due to exceptional circumstances) will give you the possibility to live and work in Spain for one year.

In order to apply for it, you must have lived for 3 years in the Spanish territory under an irregular status, have no criminal records, and demonstrate your link with the Spanish society and its culture.

As we detail in this complete article on arraigo social, you have two alternatives, as this procedure will allow you to work either as an employee or self-employed.:

  • Find a job offer and start working for a company.
  • Prepare a business plan to start developing your own business project.


Family member of an EU citizen card


The community card (“tarjeta comunitaria”) is one of the residence authorizations offering the greatest benefits within the Spanish immigration law.

This residence permit is granted to couples registered as civil unions, spouses (i.e. united by marriage), and children who are relatives of citizens from any country within the European Union who are living in Spain.

Thus, one of its main benefits is that the residence authorization obtained by non-EU citizens through this procedure is neither for one year nor for two: it is for 5 years (with the possibility to renew once this period comes to an end).

But, in addition, another of the great advantages is that it grants to the foreigner the capacity to work.


Investor or golden visa


The golden visa has become the best alternative for investors from all over the world who wish to obtain residency in Spain in exchange for an investment in real estate, which must be equivalent to or greater than € 500,000.

One of the main benefits of this two-year visa, in addition to its simplicity in terms of requirements, is that it grants the ability to work both as an employee and as a self-employed worker in the country.

But, in addition, family members with whom the principal investor makes a joint application (i.e. spouse and/or children) are also granted the capacity to work.

Therefore, if in addition to moving to Spain you are planning to buy a house instead of renting accommodation, this option can be ideal for you and your family.


Student visa


Another way to work in Spain is through a student visa.

While it is true that for the duration of your studies you can only work through curricular or extracurricular internships, here we find another alternative that may become the best choice depending on your case.

In that sense, you can only internship for a total of 20 hours per week (taking into account that the total of class hours plus working hours cannot exceed 40).

These internships may even be paid.

In addition, the student visa can become the path to a regular work permit; because after finishing your studies, you can modify to a work permit or to a residence permit as a student looking for a job (a residence authorization with which you can stay in Spain for a year while you find a job offer or prepare your own business project).

In this article you can find a step-by-step process on how to change from a student visa to residence and work.


Residency for professional internships


Finally, there is another option not widely spread due to its recent introduction in 2018, but that can be an optimal alternative to enter the Spanish working force for the first time.

The internship residency is the authorization that allows you to work as an employee perhaps in the simplest manner.

Whether you have just finished your studies or you are currently studying, and whether these studies have or are taken place in Spain or in your country of origin, it is possible to apply for this residence to internships in a Spanish company.

The basic requirement you must meet is to have been studying higher education (such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree) for the last two years, or to be doing so at the present moment.

The application process is very fast, with resolutions in 1 month or even less. Furthermore, it can be done completely online both from Spain and from your country of origin.

You can find out all the legal requirements and application procedure for this residency here.


Alternatives to the regular work permit


To conclude with list, it is also important to mention the main alternatives to the regular work permit.

As you already know, applying for work permit to start working for a Spanish company can become an almost impossible task due to the existence of the shortage occupation list that takes into account the national unemployment situation, therefore limiting the amount of jobs foreigners can access.

On the other hand, the residence authorization to start working as an independent professional often generates rejected applications due to the lack of a business idea that meets the requirements demanded by the administration.

Nevertheless, there are two alternatives under the Entrepreneurs Law that may be the path that you as a foreigner need.


Remember that if you have any questions, our immigration lawyers will answer them all immediately and provide you with step-by-step legal advice.


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