No matter if you hold a residence permit or Spanish nationality, we have some good news. You can now bring your relatives to Spain and get them a residence and work permit. And you can do it easily! In this article we will explain everything you need to know so you can do it. We will go over the main documents and requirements for the residence visa for family reunification in Spain.
You will learn how to bring your parents, children, spouse (and any other relative you have).
What is the family reunification visa in Spain?
The family reunification is the legal immigration procedure by which any foreigner who lives in Spain with his or her renewed residence card can bring his or her relatives to the country with her. In that way, she can easily grant them a residence and work permit.
Although we will analyze each and every one of the requirements in detail throughout this guide, there is one that is of special importance.
With the first residence card you obtain once you have landed in Spain, you cannot opt for this procedure. Neither you can apply for the family reunification with the card obtained through any of the different types of arraigo.
You will just be able to apply for the family reunion visa once you have your residence permit renewed.
This means that you have lived in Spain for one year, you obtained your residence permit, and you can legally live in the country for an additional year.
New law and other regulations
However, in the case that the applicant is a member of an EU country, the process is regulated by the Royal Decree 240/2017.
What these regulations establish is that you can bring your family to Spain under a legal status, so they will be able to live and work in the country without having to apply for any type of additional residence permit.
Finally, it is worth noting that in 2015 a modification is introduced to include a larger number of family members to bring. This is what is known as extended family (which we will see later), and will allow you to regroup any type of relative, even if he or she is not in the first line of consanguinity.
Which are the family members you can bring to Spain?
Once you know if you are eligible to regroup, you must consider which are the relatives you can bring to Spain.
As a foreigner who holds a residence permit in the country, you can apply for the family reunification residence visa for:
- Your parents: father and mother
- Your spouse or civil partner
- The parents of your spouse/civil partner (your mother and father in law)
- Your son or daughter provided that they are under 18 years old
- Children of your spouse/civil partner (putative children)
We will now discover how to bring each of these relatives to the country. Depending on the relative, some documents will be required, so we will note them down them in each section.
In addition, we will also analyze in which cases you can bring other relatives not included in this list.
How to bring your parents
We will start with the most complex case of the three: regrouping your father or mother.
Why is it the most complicated? Because there are a series of extra requirements that you will have to fulfill:
- First of all, it is important that your father or mother is over 65 years old.
- Second, you must demonstrate that they really need to start living with you and you need to take care of them. For exmaple if, because of their age, they must have someone by their side. If they are in full physical condition or have full faculties it won’t be possible.
- It’s necessary to show that they depend economically on you. This is proven by showing money transfers that you have made to them and how you have been in charge of their bills and expenses for the last few months.
- Finally, it is necessary for the applicant (foreigner in Spain) to have a long-term card in order to be able to regroup them. In other words, you must have lived in Spain for at least 5 years.
In this case, the document that proves the family bond and therefore the document you must submit during the application is the birth certificate.
It is also possible to regroup the parents of your husband or wife (your in-laws). The requirements are exactly the same, but you must also provide your marriage certificate.
How to bring your partner or spouse
You can regroup your civil partner (“pareja de hecho”) as well as your husband or wife as long as the marriage is registered in the Civil Registry.
And that will be the document to present: either the marriage certificate or the civil union registration certificate.
Thus, as you can see, both marriage and legal partnerships are two viable options for obtaining residency in Spain. Which is better? Here is an article in which we deal with the main differences between the two types of marital relations.
In addition, you will have to show that it is not a convenience marriage. In order to prove that you can use, for example, the joint census or rental contract in which both of you are registered.
How to bring your children
Finally, the third group of relatives you can regroup: your children.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that they cannot be more than 18 years old. The birth certificate will again be the probative document.
In the following sections we will see how to regroup children over 18 and 21.
Perhaps you’ve read the last few sections and haven’t found the relatives you really want to regroup. But there is an alternative that can make it possible, the reunification of the extended family.
This type of reunion can only be carried out by foreigners with Spanish nationality or from any other country within the European Union.
And it allows you to bring to Spain:
- Brothers and sisters
- Children over 21
- Your partner if you haven’t registered the relationship
- Any other family member with a recognized and sufficiently serious disability
In addition, another requirement for bringing to Spain any of the relatives of the extended family is that they must be economically dependent on the relative in Spain and they must be responsible for the relative in the country of origin. Money transfers must have taken place in the last 12-24 months, and the applicant must be paying all her expenses.
Family Reunion under the Community Regime
There is a special case we should take into consideration, the case in which the individual who would like to bring his or her family already is a Spanish national (has Spanish citizenship). Even though it is commonly given that name, in fact we are talking about the visa as a family member of an EU citizen.
And you shouldn’t confuse this process with the extended family one. Although both options require Spanish nationality, with community regrouping we can only regroup parents, in-laws, children, and couple/spouse.
In this case, the conditions regarding which family members can join the applicant are a bit softer and will favor you.
Firstly, your relatives will get a community card; and not a regular residence and work permit.
In the case that you would like your children or the children of your spouse to join you in Spain, the maximum age permitted is extended, in this case, until 21 years old (vs the 18-year limit we mentioned before).
Now you can completely understand the importance and the benefits of having the Spanish citizenship. You will be able to bring all your family (children up to 21 years old) and your extended family provided that you maintain that person economically.
Therefore, if you have lived in Spain during the required years with a residence permit, we really recommend you to apply for the Spanish nationality. The effort will pay off its benefits!
Requirements for the family reunion visa
Let’s now see what the main requirements are for bringing your family to Spain as a foreigner.
Nationality of the foreigner in Spain
We must emphasize that the family reunion is designed for non-European citizens only. If you are from an EU or EEA country or from Switzerland, you must apply for the visa as a family member of a European citizen.
Minimum residency time spent in the country
You can only start the application procedure when you have lived legally in Spain for one year with your residence permit and have renewed it for the first time.
In addition, you must be a resident of Spain. It is not possible to carry out the process if you reside in any other country.
monetary part is one of the most important requirements for this procedure.
In this case, it will be necessary to demonstrate that the applicant has sufficient funds or economic means to maintain the applicant once he/she enters Spain; and that the applicant does not have sufficient means to live without the economic aid of the foreigner in Spain.
How can you demonstrate that?
First of all, let’s analyze the situation of the main applicant (foreigner in Spain). He must ensure that the economic means accredited to the Immigration Office are stable over time. That is, demonstrating that he will have this source of income, at least, during the following year after the application process.
- If you have a work permit and work for a company, you must present the contract plus the last six payslips.
- If you are self-employed, a corporate income tax return is required.
- 150% of the IPREM is required for the first family member. In the case of regrouping more than one, you must add 50% to this amount for the extra family member.
- The working life report, which is granted by the Social Security
- The last income tax return (IRPF)
Warning. If your job contract is gonna expire in one month, you shouldn’t try to apply for the family reunification. Why? Because you need to show some stability. Your job contract must last, minimum, for another year (preferably if it is regarded as indefinite).
In order to prove that the reunited relative depends economically on the one regrouping him or her:
- She must present bank accounts certificates in which it is clearly seen how the one in Spain sends money to the foreigner, apart from maintaining her daily expenditures.
- Showing how the foreigner in Spain pays him/her any type of important expense. For example, if we want to regroup a child, we must show how the father (who will regroup him), pays the university or school.
The family member that is joining you in Spain can use welfare benefits, like social security, to accredit the minimum means that must be possessed to maintain them.
Another requirement that the immigration office will analyze is the house in which the regrouped person will start living.
In this sense, you will have to prove that this house has enough quality conditions for both members (and other people who live in that same place) to live in dignity and with guaranteed minimums.
How can you prove it? You will ask for an adequate housing report to the town hall of the city or village in which you live. Among other things, this report takes into account how big the house is, how many people live in it, its state, how many rooms it has, and so on.
Demonstrating the kinship bond
Of course, another requirement is to prove that the relative we bring to Spain is really a relative of ours. We have already seen what these specific documents are according to the family member. But to summarize, the two most common documents are the birth certificate (to bring children and parents); and the marriage certificate (for spouse).
Private health insurance
In those cases in which the applicant does not work, private medical insurance is required with total coverage in Spanish territory, without deficiencies or co-payments, for the relative that we are bringing to the country.
If the foreigner in Spain works, that won’t be necessary. He already has Social Security, which includes his husband/wife or children.
Finally, there are other general requirements (and present in any other Spanish immigration procedure) that you must comply with:
- Not having criminal background records during the last 5 years
- You cannot find yourself in an irregular situation in the Spanish territory
- The person to be reunited must be in the country of origin at the time of starting with the application
Process and legal steps
Let’s now review the legal process, step by step, that both you (foreigner in Spain) and the family member who will join you must follow.
But first we will answer one of the most frequent asked questions.
Visa processing time
As we will see in detail below, the process of family reunification, from beginning to end, takes around 4-5 months. However, the exact period will depend on how long it takes to prepare and gather all the documentation; and how long it takes to get an appointment with the immigration office.
The Spanish resident initiates the application at the Immigration Office
The individual who already has a residence and work permit in Spain should be the one who starts the procedure. He or she will initiate the application process with the Foreigners Office.
She will need to submit the documentation pointed out before. But remember, there is no need to legally certify these documents in this step.
Within 45 days from that moment, she will receive a response. If that is not the case, and no response is received during that time period, the procedure will be regarded as denied (due to administrative silence).
If the response to the application is positive, the individual who we are bringing to Spain (spouse, children, parents), has 2 months to solicit the visa.
Getting the visa by the foreigner at the Spanish consulate
The relative living in his country of origin must request the Spanish visa at the Spanish consulate located in his or her origin country or there where he usually lives. Here is where all the documents must be legally certified.
The consulate will send a response within 2 months. Once the response is received, the applicant has two months to grab the visa. In the case of being under 18 years old, it will be a legal representative of the one in charge of the collection.
Entering Spain and getting the residency card
Then, with the visa collected, the joining relative will have 3 months to travel to Spain. Once landed, he or she has just one month to solicit the TIE (on the Police Office).
This is a really simple step in which an application form must be summited, along with the payment of the corresponding fee. The police will take the fingerprints of the foreigner and give him the residency card.
As with any other residence permit, providing the right documentation will be crucial for a successful application. In this case, if you would like to bring a family member to Spain through the family reunification process, you should make sure to bring the documents we will now see.
To make things easier for you, we have divided them into the three phases of the process. As soon as the foreigner in Spain starts the procedure at the immigration office, he or she will have to contribute:
- Copy of your passport
- Copy of your residence permit
- Photocopy of the passport of the family member that is gonna join you in Spain
- A document that accredits your kinship bond. In this case, if you would like your spouse to join you, you should provide the marriage certificate. If you are willing to bring your children, his or her birth certificate will be needed.
- Adequate housing information, which is emitted by the City Hall from the location in which you live regularly. In some Spanish regions, like in the case of Catalonia, the emission of that document depends on the regional government, the Generalitat the Cataluña. Therefore you should get it from that institution.
- Documentation accrediting sufficient economic resources (mentioned in previous sections).
- Private health insurance.
You should bear in mind that, as we will see in the procedure part, you, as the individual who is already in Spain, don’t need to certify any of the documents. Legal certification of the papers must be done just by the regrouped family member in his or her home country.
- The national visa application form
- Criminal background records, properly legalized or apostilled
- Medical certificate proving that you do not suffer from any serious illness recognized in the regulations and which would make entry impossible
- Documentation proving the family ties with the applicant
Once the foreigner enters Spain with his visa, to obtain the TIE or residence card, the applicant must carry with him:
- Card photos (color)
- A document certifying he or she has already paid the required fee
- EX-17 model filled out
How to renew this residence permit
The authorization of residence and work obtained under this process will allow the relative to live for one year in Spain. However, if he wants to stay in the country after that period comes to an end, he will have to renew the residence permit (not the visa).
The renewal is carried out in the foreigner’s office that corresponds according to the region in which he lives (within Spain).
And it is done during the 60 days before the expiration of the card and the 90 days after its expiration. So you must keep these dates in mind.
Under what requirements? Basically he must show that all the requirements that were asked for the initial application still hold true. After making an appointment with the immigration office and presenting the documentation for the renewal, the administration will have 3 months to issue a response. If no response is received after this period, the application will be understood as approved by positive administrative silence.
Let us guide you: immigration lawyers for the family reunification visa application
Bringing your family relatives to Spain is really simple. You already know the documents you need to submit and which are the requirements.
Nevertheless, the legal process can be a bit complex, especially in regards to all the documents you need to fill out. That is why we want to help you. Our immigration lawyer team has helped over 1000 clients worldwide to legally start their new life in Spain. And we would like to be the ones who make it easy for your family too.
Therefore, if you are willing to apply for the family reunion and bring your relatives to Spain, let us be your reliable immigration solicitors. We will manage the whole legal procedure for you, step by step, so you don’t need to worry.
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