If you are a non-European citizen who has been legally residing in Spain for more than a year, you have the right to bring your relatives to the country with you. And this can be done through the family reunification visa.

It’s actually quite simple, and in this article we will break down all the details, requirements, and big questions for you. How do I get a family visa in Spain step-by-step? Which relatives can benefit from it?

Let’s dive in.



What is the family reunification visa in Spain?


The family reunification or family visa 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


This procedure is regulated by the Immigration Law 4/2000 and by the Royal Decree 557/2011.

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.


Which relatives can you bring to Spain under the family visa?


Once you know if you are eligible to regroup, you can consider which relatives you can bring to Spain.

As a foreigner who holds a residence permit in the country, you can apply for the family reunification 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.


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Family reunification for parents


We will start with the most complex case of the three: bringing your father or mother to Spain.

Why is it the most complicated? Because there are quite a few things you will have to justify:

  • First of all, to regroup your parents you need to have a long-term residency card. This means you must have already been living in Spain for at least 5 years, instead of the usual reunification rule of one year
  • Second, it is important that the first-degree ascendant is over 65 years old. First degree ascendants also apply to your spouse’s parents (i.e. your parents in-law). You just need to validate the relationship with your partner (ex. present a marriage certificate)
  • Third, you need to demonstrate that you are in charge of the ascendant, and that they depend economically on you.This is proven by showing that, for the last year, you have transferred funds to them, or that you have supported their expenses costing at least 51% of the anual gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of their country of residence
  • Fourth, and the most basic, you need to prove they are your parents through a birth certificate

In the case of humanitarian reasons, the ascendant can be regrouped even if they are under 65 years old.

Humanitarian reasons include being in charge of the ascendant because they cannot live alone, are incapable, or cannot provide for their own needs. If they are in full physical condition or have full faculties it won’t be possible.

Humanitarian reasons are also valid in cases wherein ascendant spouses submit a joint application and only one of them is above 65 years old. In other words, they will not separate spouses if one is below the required age.


Family reunification for your spouse


You can regroup your spouse or your civil partner (ex. pareja de hecho) and bring him or her to Spain with you.

For marriages, you will have to present a marriage certificate.

If you have been married more than once, you need to justify the current marriage through common housing, or pension to the current spouse and children.

And you must also provide a judicial resolution that explains the situation of your previous marriage and any children.

In the case of a civil partner, the partnership must be registered in the Civil Registry, and you will have to present the registration certificate.

Additionally, you will have to show that it is not a convenience marriage or partnership. In order to prove that you can use, for example, the joint census or a rental contract wherein both of you are registered.

You must also provide a sworn declaration that no other spouse or partner lives with you.

So, as you can see, both marriage and legal partnerships are two viable options for obtaining residency in Spain through the family reunion process. Which is better? Here is an article where we compare and contrast the two types of marital relations.


Family reunification for children


Finally, the third group of relatives you can bring is your children.

In the case of adopted children, you will just need to provide proof of the adoption.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the child cannot be more than 18 years old. The birth certificate will again be the relevant document.

This also applies to children below 18 years old who are legally represented by you, as long as the conditions do not contradict those of the Spanish legal system.

Children above 18 years old who are disabled and cannot provide for their own needs can be regrouped if supporting documentation is provided.

If you are a single parent, you will need to prove that you exercise sole parental authority, and have custody granted. If not, you must demonstrate that the other parent authorises that their child moves to Spain.


Family Reunion under the (EU) Community Regime


There is a special case we should take into consideration.

The case wherein the individual who would like to bring his or her family already is a Spanish national (has Spanish citizenship) or from any EU country.

Even though it is sometimes called “family reunification under the community regime,” what is being referred to is the visa as a family member of an EU citizen.

This process mustn’t be confused with the family reunification process, the one we have been talking about in this article.

First of all, the family member of an EU citizen process requires that the individual living in Spain has Spanish or EU nationality, while the family reunification visa only requires that the individual living in Spain is a legal resident, regardless of nationality.

Under the community regime, the conditions regarding which family members can join the applicant are a bit more flexible as you can justify bringing extended family, as well.

Relatives will also get a community card; and not a regular residence and work permit.

If 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 your entire 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 in the end!


Requirements for family reunification in Spain


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 previously mentioned 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 legally lived 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.


Economic means


The monetary part is one of the most important requirements for this procedure.

In this case, it will be necessary to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds or economic means to support the relative once he/she enters Spain; and that the relative does not have sufficient means to live without your economic aid.

How can you demonstrate that?

First of all, let’s analyze your situation. You must ensure that the economic means accredited to the Immigration Office are stable over time. That is, demonstrating that you will have this source of income, at least, during the following year after the application process.

  • You must demonstrate 150% of the IPREM per month 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
  • 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
  • The employment history report, which is granted by the Social Security
  • The last income tax return (IRPF)
  • If you do not participate in any economic activity in Spain, certified checks or bank certificates are required

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 for the relative to prove that they depend on you economically:

  • They must present bank accounts certificates wherein it is clearly seen how you, in Spain, send them money, and maintain their daily expenses
  • They must show how you pay any type of important expense for them. For example, if we want to regroup a child, we must show how the father (who will regroup him), pays their 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.


Special circumstances regarding economic means


In certain cases wherein the reunification involves minors and the required amount for economic means is not reached, the requirement may be reduced like shown:

  • In the case of regrouping minors and the amount is not met, the Spanish resident can demonstrate a stable source of income equal or greater than the Interprofessional Minimum Wage
  • If this Interprofessional Minimum Wage is not met, 110% of the amount of guaranteed income of the Minimum Vital Income will be required on an annual basis for the regrouped minor. Then, for every additional minor, an additional 10%


Proper housing


Another requirement that the immigration office will check is the house wherein the regrouped person will start living.

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.

You will need to ask for an adequate housing report from the Town Hall of the city or village you live in.

In some Spanish regions, like in the case of Catalonia, the issuing of that document depends on the regional government, the Generalitat the Cataluña. Therefore you should get it from that institution.

Among other things, this report takes into account how big the house is, how many people live in it, its current state, how many rooms it has, what each room is used for, and so on.

You will also have to provide a rental or ownership contract for this housing.


Demonstrating the kinship bond


Of course, another requirement is to prove that the relative is really your relative.

We have already seen what these specific documents are depending on 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


If you do not work, private medical insurance is required with total coverage in Spanish territory, without deficiencies or co-payments, for the relative that you are bringing to the country.

If you do work, that won’t be necessary as you already have Social Security, which includes your husband/wife or children.


Other requirements


Finally, there are other general requirements that you must comply with:

  • Not having criminal background records during the last 5 years
  • Not being in an irregular situation in the Spanish territory
  • Your relative must be in their country of origin at the time of application


Necessary documents


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 you, in Spain, initiate the procedure at the Immigration Office, you will have to submit:

  • Copy of your passport
  • Copy of your residence permit
  • Photocopy of the passport of the relative to be regrouped
  • The document that accredits your kinship bond
  • Documentation proving adequate housing information
  • Documentation accrediting sufficient economic resources
  • Private health insurance
  • Form EX-02 filled-out
  • Paid administration fee (Model 790)

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 relative in his or her home country.

The relative will need to present:

  • The national visa application form
  • Passport
  • Criminal background records, properly legalized or apostilled
  • Medical certificate proving that they do not suffer from any serious illness recognized in the regulations that would make entry impossible
  • Documentation proving the family ties with the sponsor

Once the relative enters Spain with their visa, to obtain the TIE or residence card at the Police Office, they must bring with them:

  • Colored ID photos
  • Proof of paid administration fees
  • Form EX-17 filled-out


How do I get a family reunification visa in Spain? Step by-step-process


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 frequently asked questions.


Visa processing time


As we will see in detail below, the process of family reunification in Spain, 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.


Requesting the proper housing report


The Spanish resident must first go to the city hall where he or she is living, something done after booking an appointment.

On that day, she will request the visit of a public worker so that they city hall can evaluate the house has the minimum conditions for them to live together.

After the day of the visit, the city hall will issue a certificate, called “informe de vivienda adecuada” confirming those proper conditions.

This document is essential for the next step.


The Spanish resident initiates the application at the Immigration Office


You, as the individual who already has a residence and work permit in Spain should be the one who starts the procedure. You can initiate the application process at the Immigration Office, or online through the Mercurio Platform if you have a digital certificate.

You will need to submit the documentation listed before.

There is no need to legally certify these documents in this step. Keep in mind, however, that you must pay the previously mentioned administration fee before submitting the documents.

After 45 days, you should 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 relative has 2 months to solicit their visa in their home country.


Getting the visa at the Spanish consulate


Once the Spanish resident receives the positive resolution, the relative living in their country of origin must apply for their Spanish visa at their respective Spanish consulate.

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 pick-up the visa. If the relative is under 18 years old, a legal representative will be in charge of the collection.


Entering Spain and getting the residency card


Then, with the visa, the joining relative will have 3 months to travel to Spain. Once they land, they have one month to solicit the TIE (at the Police Office).

This is a really simple step wherein an application form must be summited, along with the payment of the corresponding fee. The police will take the fingerprints of the foreigner, and after around 30 days, the residency card will be ready for pick-up.


How long does it take for family reunification?


The process to finally obtain the family visa is quite long and can be extended for several months. In order to give you a broad overview, it can last between 4 to 12 months.

If we break the process down into steps:

  • Obtaining the proper housing report takes 3-4 months (even though it can be a bit faster)
  • Once the Spanish resident submits the application, around 3 months will pass until obtaining a positive response
  • Once with the resolution, the relative coming to Spain will book an appointment at the Consulate, and after 1 month (even though usually it tends to be less time), obtain the visa to travel to Spain
  • Once in Spain, the process to register the fingerprints and obtain the physical residency card can be extended up to 1 extra month

So, as you can see, we are facing a long process, which could work faster depending on the situation of each local institution.


How to renew this residence permit


The authorization of residence and work obtained under this process will allow the relative to live in Spain for one year.However, if they want to stay in the country for longer, they will have to renew the residence permit (not the visa).

The renewal is carried out in the Immigration Office in the region that they live in (within Spain).

This can be done during the 60 days before the expiration of the card and the 90 days afterwards.

To renew, one must show that all the requirements that were asked for during the initial family reunification permitapplication 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 relatives to Spain is really simple. You already know which documents you need to submit and what the requirements are.

Nevertheless, the legal process can be a bit complex, especially in regard 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 legally start their new life in Spain.

We would like to be the ones who make it easy for your family too.

Therefore, if you want to apply for 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.

When should we start?

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