Are you in Spain illegally without a residence permit and have been in the country for some time now? Then keep on reading. Because the residency through arraigo may be the option you need to regularize your situation and obtain temporary residence for exceptional circumstances. In this post you will learn in detail about the 4 types of arraigo in Spain, the requirements for each of them, and the step-by-step application process.

Once you finish reading this article you will find out how to live and work legally in Spain in the long run. Let’s get started!

What exactly is arraigo?


The arraigo (also called roots procedure) is the process that allows any non-European citizen who has been living in Spain illegally for a certain amount of time to obtain the residency in the country and regularize their situation. Thus, this residence authorization due to exceptional circumstances will allow you to live in the Spanish territory for one year; with the possibility to renew it and modify it to a regular residence permit. 

So, basically, it is the right choice for all those individuals who are in an irregular situation in Spain.

Those who entered the country with any kind of permit or visa and overstayed; but who want to become legal. 

And the arraigo is the solution to that. Trough the roots procedure, you are allowed to legally live and work in the Spanish territory both for a company or as a self-employed individual in any Spanish region. And that thanks to the regulation included on the Organic Law 4/2000 and the Royal Decree 557/2011.

One of its main advantages is that you can apply directly from Spain. This is a much more comfortable option compared to the rest of residence permits, which in most cases require more complex procedures that must be initiated from the country of origin.

Thus, the arraigo is one of the different possibilities you have to enter Spain as a tourist and get a residency

But, what do we mean by exceptional circumstances? What requirements must be met to apply for arraigo in Spain? 


Can I work in Spain with arraigo?


Yes. This temporary residence permit is linked to a work permit. That is why once you get it, you will be allowed to work in the country legally for one year, either for a company or as a self-employed.

In addition, once you renew your roots residency for the first time, you will be able to continue with your job without any problem (as long as you meet all the requirements). We will explore what happens after the first year later in this article. 

In that sense, once the foreigner obtains her temporary residency thanks to any of the three types of arraigo, she must register with Social Security within 30 days following the granting of the authorization in order to be able to legally work in Spain (which can be done in any region or city).

However, bear in mind that children under the age of 16 will not be able to work no matter how successfully they obtained their arraigo.

And, all of those who are between 16 and 18 years old will need explicit authorization from their parents or legal representatives to work.


Do you have any doubts so far? Ask our lawyers anything or keep reading for more information:

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Requirements to apply for arraigo in Spain


There are four different types of arraigo: arraigo familiar, arraigo social, arraigo laboral and the recent arraigo for studies. Each of them has certain specific requirements associated with, which we must fulfill if what we want is to carry out the application procedure. We will explore each now.

Nevertheless, there are some generalizations we can extract.

First of all, the concept of arraigo is only designed for those individuals that are not from a European Union country. If you are living in Spain and come from a Latinoamerican country, for example, you can apply for arraigo.

In addition, one of the most important requirements is to demonstrate a link with the country. As a foreigner, you will have to prove that certain cultural, social, economic, familiar or academic factors directly link you to Spain. And that is the reason why you will be granted residence after all. How to demonstrate that? With the contribution of certain specific documents, which we will also go through in this article.

Finally, bear in mind that having no criminal records (neither in Spain nor in the country of origin) is another requirement for a successful application.

Let’s see which are the 4 types of arraigo and the particularities of each one of them. 


The 4 types of arraigo


The 4 existing types of arraigo are: social (social roots), family, labor and for studies. According to your particular situation, one of them will be the ideal option to become legal in Spain.

When it comes to immigration issues, it is highly probable that the arraigo is your best alternative in order to live and work legally in Spain. And that is because it does not require a difficult application procedure from your country of origin. But before getting the temporary residence under this process, you should clearly know what each of the three types consists of in order to choose the one that best fits your case.

To start, we have created a table to give you an idea of each arraigo: 

Arraigo para la formacion


Family arraigo (family roots)


The residency via family arraigo will be granted to those non-EU foreigners who have any type of link with a Spanish citizen.

The main upside of arraigo familiar is that, in comparison to the other three types, it is the only one that does not have tied to itself any kind of timing requirement (as well as not requiring to proof of economic means).

That is, although arraigo social or arraigo laboral require you to live in Spain for a certain period of time and the need to prove that, the family arraigo does not. So you can get it, for example, after just 4 months of living in the country. 

Who can apply for this arraigo?

  • Ascendants (parents) or legal guardians of a Spanish child
  • A foreigner who provides support to a Spanish person with a disability
  • Spouse or accredited unmarried partner of a Spanish citizen
  • Ascendant (father or mother) over 65 years of age or under 65 years of age who lives as a dependent
  • Descendant under 21 years of age or over 21 years of age who is a dependant
  • Spouse or accredited civil partner
  • Children of a father or mother who had been originally Spanish


Who can apply for the family roots?


This type of arraigo can be applied by two different groups of foreigners:

  • The father or mother of a Spanish child who is under 18; although it is also admitted if she is the father of an EU citizen (not necessary that the kid is Spanish). It is important that the kid lives with you, or that you are economically in charge of her. In other words, it is possible for the child to live with the mother, but if the father pays her food and other expenses, he can apply for the family arraigo.
  • Children of Spanish origin. This would be the case of the children of Spaniards who acquired nationality by historical memory. Obviously it would also be the case in which the parents, being children of Spaniards, were also nationals of the country. 


Labor arraigo


With the labor arraigo, we do find a temporary requirement. It will only be granted to those individuals who can accredit legal labor relations in Spain. In addition to having lived in Spain continuously for 2 years.

This means that, in order to get the labor roots, you need to demonstrate that within those 2 years, you have been either:

  • Working legally for a company for at least 6 months, wherein the work week is equivalent to 30 hours, or 
  • Working legally for a company for at least 12 months, wherein the work week is equivalent to 15 hours


Proof of the continued residence in Spain


In what way can we prove that we have been living in Spain for 2 years continuously?

Documents such as the census will be effective proof, this being the probative document par excellence. However, there is freedom as to how we can demonstrate the duration of the residence.

And what if we cannot present the census? Well, in that case, we can make up for its absence with other alternative documents.

The existence of a bank account with some transactions, a rental contract, or medical certificates (if we had to go to the emergency department for example) are equally valid documents for that purpose.

The ideal at this point (in the absence of the census) would be to provide an alternative probative document for each of the corresponding months of residency.


Studies arraigo


The studies arraigo is quite unique as, unlike the others, it is not a residency to live and work in Spain. Instead, it allows you undergo training or studies for up to 2 years in Spain, in order to later modify to a work permit. To apply, you must have been living in Spain illegally for 2 years. 


The course 


The studies arraigo requirement that must be given significant consideration is the course that you are taking. Not only does it influence your job options in the future, it also must fit into certain conditions. Generally, it can either be fully in-person or a hybrid (in-person and online). 

You have 5 options for the type of training that you take: 

  1. Regulated training under the Vocational Training System
  2. Training to obtain a technical aptitude certification
  3. University studies, such as a Master’s Degree
  4. Training authorised by the Public Employment Services
  5. Training to obtain micro-credentials

It is important to note that you don’t have to already be carrying out your training at the time of application, you just have to already be evidently committed to it. However, you must begin within 3 months of obtaining your permit. 

You can find the list of valid centers and training courses in the following 2 links:


Social arraigo (Residency in Spain after 3 years)


Finally, the last type of arraigo: arraigo social (also called the social roots procedure). This is, without any doubt, the most demanded procedure within the 4 existing ones.

This is one of the residencies due to exceptional circumstances granted to all those individuals who have lived in Spain for 3 consecutive years (although illegally), and who also have an employment contract (they have found a job).

So let’s see what are the main important requirements to formalize the application for temporary residence due to social roots.


Demonstrating the 3 years of residency for social roots


As we have just mentioned, it is essential in order to get the social arraigo to demonstrate that we have stayed continuously in Spain for 3 years.

What do we mean by the term continuously? For the duration of the residence to be considered as continuous, the applicant must not have been outside of the country for more than 120 days.

In this way, it is necessary to prove that you have lived in Spain for at least the last three years. Therefore, you must provide the census historic of each location where you have resided during all this time.

Nevertheless, that census or “empadronamiento” is not the only way to demonstrate continued residency. We can also prove it troughs bank payments, like payments to local establishments (such as pharmacies) over the course of months, or other similar movements.

Even the passport, with its entry and exit stamps, will be a valid proof.


Having a job contract


Crucial requirement. In order for the application to be approved, an employment contract must be submitted. That is to say, we have to find an employer (company or self-employed) who is willing to hire us and offer us a job, no matter its duration.

That is, part-time and permanent-discontinuous contracts will also be valid for your application.

The most important thing will be that this work pays at least the minimum wage (SMI), and that it is at least 30 hours per week.

In relation to this employer or company, it will be essential that their economic activity has been running for at least one year. We will have to present the documentation that accredits his identity (DNI or CIF) and his solvency, among others.

It is totally possible to work for more than one company at the same time to get arraigo. The important thing if we have several employers is that the job is the same or within the same occupation and that the working week consists of a minimum of 30 hours.

Finally, we need to mention that it is also possible to submit the application without having an employment contract, because either:

  • You are going to develop your own business activity as self-employed, or
  • You have sufficient financial means (100% of the Minimum Living Income, which is around 590€ per month)


Demonstrating family ties


Another of the valid but not essential documents to achieve this type of arraigo is that which demonstrates the existence of family ties with foreigners residing legally in Spain. We refer to children, parents or partners.

Nevertheless, social arraigo has certain peculiarities. In the case of not having those family members, we will need a certificate of social integration to demonstrate the link with the Spanish society.

As we have said, it’s a basic requirement for us to prove that we’re linked to the country in some way. And this specific requirement is one of the ways of doing so.

So in which additional way can we prove it? Through a favorable report.


Favorable report to apply for social roots


The demonstration of social insertion in Spain and its community is achieved through this report. And it is, without any doubt, one of the most important requirements in order to achieve arraigo in Spain.

First of all, you will go through an interview with the town council of the pertinent locality. There it is necessary that the person requesting the arraigo demonstrates its connection and integration to the Spanish State (knowledge of the language, culture, etc.), that institution issues its assessment and proceeds to validate the report.

How well you speak and understand Spanish will be something that is analyzed and valued in the interview. In addition, in the case of Autonomous Communities with their own language, such as Catalonia, it is also important to understand and/or speak Catalan.

At our office, we can help you with that. We will give you the typical questions they usually ask and we will guide you with the best way of answering them so that your application is not denied. 

This report must also include the applicant’s financial means, any existing ties with relatives legally residing in Spain, how long the applicant has been registered in his or her current home, and any information that shows the integration with a Spanish socio-cultural institution. 


Other requirements: language courses


Depending on the Autonomous Community in which the applicant is located, it is very likely that certain requirements will arise in order to obtain the arraigo social.

For example, in the case of residing in Catalonia, it will be necessary to take a 45-hour Catalan course in order to demonstrate the understanding of that language.

That is why you must research in detail which are the exact requirements according to your region, just to make sure you do not forget anything.


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Arraigo application procedure step by step


The process to obtain this type of residency is the same in the 4 types of arraigo we have seen in this post. Below, we detail the exact duration of the procedure, as well as where to start it.


Where should I submit my application?


As we have already mentioned, arraigo is requested directly from Spain (unlike other permits that are generally requested in the country of origin).

In this case, you should get an appointment and present all the documentation at the nearest immigration office according to where you live, which you can find here. Once the application has been approved, you will have 30 days to apply for your TIE or residence card.

Nevertheless, one of the main advantages of this procedure is that it is one of the immigration residencies that can be applied online.


Required documents


On the day of the meeting with the foreigner’s office, you must provide the following documentation to start your application:


Apostille and legal translation of the documents


There is something we must bear in mind regarding the documentation to be presented. All documents that are submitted for the roots process and that come from the applicant’s country of origin (among others, criminal records) must be legalized/apostilled and translated into Spanish.

If you have any problem with the apostille or the legal translation, our lawyers will take care of all these necessary procedures for you.


How long is the procedure?


The exact time it takes to get arraigo depends on many factors. These include how long it takes to prepare all the documents, how long it takes to get an appointment, and how long it takes to get a favorable response. You can estimate a maximum of 5-6 months.

Once we have submitted our application to the immigration office, the administration has a total of 3 months to emit a response.

What happens if after that time we do not get any response? In that case, your application has been denied due to administrative silence.

But not everything is bad news then. You will then have one month to lodge with the administration an appeal for reconsideration or two months to initiate an administrative appeal. Thus, it is possible to get a successful application after one of these two procedures. Even if the application was initially rejected. 


How to get the residency in Spain trough arraigo


As we have seen throughout this article, once you get the temporary residency through arraigo (whether social, familiar or labor); you will be allowed to live and work legally in the Spanish territory.

But just for a period equivalent to one year.

And then? Can we renew or extend this permit? The answer is no. It is not possible to renew it.

However (and here comes the good news), you can continue living legally in Spain. In fact, you will be able to get a regular residence permit. That is to say, after finishing the first year with the initial authorization of arraigo, you can modify this authorization towards an ordinary one.

This will allow you to live in Spain for another year, with the possibility of indefinite renewals. Thus, there are three different options you will have available when the renewal time comes. You can modify your arraigo to:

Since the most common thing is to modify towards a work permit, it will be essential that before the end of the year with arraigo you find a job offer. Otherwise, you will not be able to get your residence permit.

In addition, there is a time limit for this extension. It is crucial that this modification is done during the 60 days before the expiration of the card due to exceptional circumstances, or 90 days after its expiration


Spanish citizenship through arraigo


The Spanish nationality can be obtained in different ways, and one of them is through continuous residency in the country. That is to say, Spanish citizenship is granted to those foreigners who have lived legally in the country for a sufficient period of time. 

Therefore, once you get your “arraigo” you will have taken the first step to obtain nationality. Let us continue to understand how this process works.

The general rule is that any foreigner who has lived in Spain with her residence permit uninterruptedly for 10 years can obtain Spanish citizenship by residence. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule: 

  • If you are married to a Spanish citizen, you will only have to live 1 year in Spain to obtain it
  • Just 2 years for citizens of Portugal, the Philippines, Andorra, or any Latin American country or Equatorial Guinea
  • If you are a refugee, the time required is 5 years

That is to say, depending on which of these three groups you are in, you will have to wait more or less time living legally in Spain; but the important thing is to know that it is indeed possible to obtain the nationality by any of the 3 roots residencies

Why? Because your first year with your permit for exceptional circumstances does count for citizenship (but of course, not those you have been in the country without a legal residence permit).

After one year of validity of this authorization, you will have to modify your permit for any of the authorizations contemplated in the immigration law. In this sense, this change of card does not imply a loss of the continuity of the period of residence in the country, but rather, once the second card is granted, the period will continue to count from the time the resident status was recognized with the first concession. 

On the other hand, the situation is a little different if the modification of the card is denied (that is, moving from arraigo to any other residency).

If, for any reason, you lose your card, this would entail the loss of your resident status. Thus, if you regularize your situation again in the future, the periods of residence required for nationality will begin to be counted from zero, since the continuity of your legal residence has been interrupted.


Start now and get your arraigo residency fast


Would you like starting to carry out all the required steps for arraigo and solicit your residence permit in Spain? If the answer is YES, and you want to do it FAST…

Then do not hesitate to contact our lawyer team, we will take care of everything!


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