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How can a non-EU citizen get a job in Spain?

Updated: Feb 13

Date of publication: 02/07/2023

As Spain is part of the European Union (EU), EU citizens do not need a work permit to live and work in the country. Instead expatriates can secure a job if the employer meets the conditions to apply for permission to work legally in Spain. This type of work must be referred to as a shortage of employment. This actually means that there were no suitable candidates in Spain or the EU.

visa permits

For non-EU citizens, the authorization to work in Spain is combined with the worker’s residence permit. After authorization employers must submit an application for a work permit on behalf of the employee. Last but not least, work permits are valid for one year and employees can renew them when the right conditions are met.

Permissions typically apply to specific sectors and some options include:

  • Seasonal work visas

  • Au Pair visas

  • EU Blue Card

  • Visas for self-employed persons

  • Fast Visas

  • After five years of holding a work visa, employees can typically apply for long-term residence.

Requirements for obtaining work visas for Spain

When a non-EU citizen employee arrives in Spain, they must apply for a foreign ID number/card (TIE/NIE). This takes place at a foreign office or a local police station within 30 days. NIE must be used for all financial and administrative processes in Spain, including employment.

Employers are responsible to employees for work permits in Spain. They must refer to Oficina de extranjeros or Provincial Ministry of Labor to obtain this document.

Instead Employees must provide photocopies of their passport, criminal record, medical records, three passport size ID photos and copies of their job offer. So, if the employer applies while the foreign worker is still in another country, they must submit the application to a Spanish embassy or consulate in that country.

applications process for visa

Application process

After submitting an application for a Spanish work visa at the office of the Ministry of Labour the employee will receive a copy of it.

This copy will be accompanied with a stamp and a file number.

Then, the embassy will inform the regional employment office to have the application and the employment office will process it. This can take up to eight months to process an application for a work permit, so it is best to plan ahead.

When the employment office approves the work permit, the embassy or consulate will issue the employee’s work and residence visa. Apart from the application process, all employees in Spain must register with the Spanish social security authorities and the General Social Security Fund.

Other important considerations for EU citizens

Sometimes employees will also want to take family members to live in Spain.

When employees have lived and worked in the country for one year they can hold a residence permit for another year. In this case they can apply for a residence permit for family reunification. Therefore, family members can work without a permit. For example, if one of them wants to stay in Spain and work using their residence permit, the employer must apply on their behalf.


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