Visa and Residency for International Remote Workers
Law 28 of 21 December 2022 on promoting an ecosystem for start-up businesses has brought with it a long-awaited change – the creation of the Visa for international Remote Workers, popularly known as Digital Nomads.
Who is eligible for this visa?
It is aimed at third country nationals (non-EU and non-EEA) who:
- Are going to carry out remote employment or professional activity for companies based outside Spain.
- Are graduates or postgraduates (European Level 6 and 7) from:
- universities of recognised standing;
- Professional Training Universities and Business Schools of recognised standing;
- Or who have at least three years’ professional experience.
What does “remote work or professional activity” mean in this context?
It refers to activities exclusively using computers, telematics and communications devices and systems.
This would include occupations such as consultants, translators, data analysts, programmers, etc. In short, any job that has to work with a computer connected to the Internet and a telephone.
Sales positions, which require face-to-face visits to customers or suppliers in Spain, do not fit this profile. If this face-to-face work is carried out outside Spain and takes up only part of their time, that is an entirely different matter.
What types of studies need to be accredited and how?
This would be a standard of Level 6 and 7 in the European Qualifications Framework. But unlike other existing residency permits and visas, both university and vocational training and business school levels are recognised in this scheme.
This is important to attract digital nomads who have studied in education systems such as those in France or Germany, which have recognised levels 6 and 7 of vocational training (graduate and master’s degree); whereas by contrast in Spain these are limited to level 5.
In fact, most European Business Schools are accredited to teach at these levels of vocational training.
However, the use of the expression “of recognised standing” to qualify the eligibility of universities, centres of education or business schools rasies its own problems. Generally speaking, we can say that at least the following will be admissible:
- European educational establishments, both public and private, whose diplomas are recognised by the educational authorities of their country.
- Public universities in countries that have signed international agreements with Spain for the mutual recognition of university degrees (https://www.educacionyfp.gob.es/mc/convalidacion-homologacion/convalidacion-no-universitaria/informacion-especifica-paises.html).
What requirements must be met?
In all cases:
- Their remote employment or professional relationship with non-Spanish companies must have been going on continuously for more than one year. People with a new remote working agreement do not qualify.
- Documentation proving that the occupation can be carried out remotely.
- Employment contract with a non-Spanish company that has come into effect during the three months preceding the application.
- Documentation proving that the company authorises the applicant to carry out their work remotely.
- Documentation proving their relationship with one or more non-Spanish companies during the last three months prior to the application.
- Documentation accrediting the terms and conditions under which the applicant is going to exercise their remote activity (contracts, annexes, etc).
What other documents must be provided?
As it is an application regulated by Law 14/2013 on entrepreneurial activity, the following documentation will also be necessary:
- Copy of a full, valid passport.
- Criminal record certificate from any countries in which the applicant has resided in the five years preceding their application.
- Justification of sufficient financial means to meet their needs in Spain, when the salary does not cover the minimum (400% of the IPREM – Public Multiple Effects Income Indicator).
- Health insurance arranged with a Spanish company, with no co-payments. It is important to be aware of the possibility that the non-Spanish company may be based in a country that has an international agreement with Spain on health benefits for expatriate workers (those from the EU, for example).
Very important: all non-Spanish documents must be legalised (at a consulate or by official stamp) and translated into Spanish by a sworn translator approved by the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
How long does the visa last?
The visa authorises residency in Spain for one year.
A new aspect of this scheme is that it is not necessary to apply for a Foreigner’s Identity Card (TIE).
Will I be able to stay in Spain after the Visa year ends?
In the sixty days prior to the expiry of the visa year, international remote workers who wish to continue residing in Spain may apply for a residence permit for international workers.
The main condition to be granted this permit is that the applicant’s situation remains unchanged. The conditions for employees who change employer are yet to be clarified.
The regulations governing this residency permit includes foreigners who are in Spain on a regular basis, for example for the purpose of studying. Therefore, if they find work remotely with non-Spanish companies, they can remain in Spain.
How long will the International Remote Work Residency last?
Three years, renewable for another two years as long as the applicant’s situation remains unchanged.
When will the forms and instructions be available?
The Law imposes a deadline of 31 March 2023 for the necessary Regulations and Circulars to be issued in order to implement these new rules.
As things stand, we know that applications will only be able to be submitted in electronic format, accessed with an approved digital certificate.
The Large Business Unit of the Directorate-General for Migration will be responsible for setting this up.
The procedure will take a maximum of 20 working days to complete, with any lack of response from the authorities indicating a positive outcome.