Immigration to Spain

Introducing the Kingdom of Spain, it can be described as one of the warmest European countries, which is made for those, who enjoy a warm climate and a laid back lifestyle. Statistics show the population of Spain to be currently estimated at around 46,7 million. The most numerous ethnic group is Spanish.

The official currency is the Euro (EUR). Spain is a member state of the European Union and Schengen area, which provides many benefits for its residents. For a long-term stay, a residence permit will be required. If visiting Spain for a short term of up to 90 days – a simple visa is required.

Immigration services

Responsible for immigration services in Spain is the Ministry of Interior ( If you are a non EU citizen, in order to stay in Spain for more than 3 months, you need a residence card, residence visa or work permit. Business immigration is quite well developed in Spain and Spanish government offers international investors and entrepreneurs several options for comfortable relocation: wealth visa, golden visa, investor visa, skilled worker visa, student visa. Most of the law offices dealing with immigration law can provide you with a service package solution as well as preliminary case assessment for the possible immigration case outcome.

Immigration service providers

Here are three email address of companies which offer immigration services in Spain:

  • E-mail:
  • E-mail:
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Lawful immigration

In order to visit Spain legally, an immigrant needs to follow all the requirements set out by Spanish Immigration Law. The main law, which regulates the immigration of non-EU citizens in Spain, is the Immigration Act 2009. According to the legal provisions of the Kingdom of Spain, there are several distinct options for legal immigration to this country, each of which has its own advantages and requirements. If you are looking for a legal immigration solution for relocation and residing in Spain for a longer period of time, you may consider the following options: wealth visa, golden visa, investor visa, skilled worker visa, student visa.

Immigration law

The Immigration Act 2009 is the main law that applies to immigrants from non-EU states in Spain.

Immigration statistics

According to immigration statistics, Spain currently hosts around 4,5 million immigrants, which is about 9,8% of the total population. The largest groups of immigrants come from Romania and Morocco. The largest period of immigration was experienced in Spain has during the period 1998 to 2008. During this time the percentage of immigrants amongst the local population increased from 1% to 13 % - This then slowed down significantly as the crisis in southern Europe started to affect Spain.

Below you can find information regarding biggest ethnic groups of immigrants in Spain as per the year 2019.

# Group Population
1 Romania 730 340
2 Morocco 714 221
3 United Kingdom 311 774
4 Ecuador 212 970
5 Colombia 172 368
6 China 164 555
7 Germany 149 522

Services for Immigrants - Embassies in Spain

Below is a list of foreign embassies in Spain:

Most popular cities by population

The most popular cities for immigrants are Madrid and Barcelona. Madrid is the largest city in Spain by population (3 223 334 residents). Madrid is an administrative center of the Autonomous Community of Madrid.

Barcelona is a little bit smaller (1 620 809 people), but, usually, more popular amongst tourists. Barcelona includes such famous places as the Park of Antonio Gaudi and the Cathedral of Sagrada Familia.

The top 5 biggest cities of Spain by population according to 2018 estimate are:

# City Population
1 Madrid 3 223 334
2 Barcelona 1 620 809
3 Valencia 780 834
4 Seville 703 021
5 Zaragoza 664 938

Migration in and out of Schengen area

The Kingdom of Spain is a member state of the Schengen area. Countries of the Schengen Agreement have abolished passport and immigration control at their common borders and for travel between their member states. Member countries also recognize Schengen visas issued by other Schengen states. On the external border, or upon first entry to the Schengen area, normal immigration control procedures apply, however admission to any Schengen country is considered admission to the whole Schengen area (all member countries), with no further immigration checks needed.

Citizens of non-EU countries wishing to stay in Spain for more than three months must apply for a Residency Permit/Card (Tarjeta de Residencia) within 30 days of arriving in the country. The application must be made at the Foreigner's Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or local national police station in the province of intended residence.

Types of visas in Spain

If staying in Spain for a short time period under 90 days, a third-country national must apply for one of several types of visas in order to make his/her visit legal. According to the immigration policy legislation of Spain, there are several different types of visas, which must be acquired depending on case and circumstances:

Airport transit visa An airport transit visa (visado de transito aeroportuario) allows you into the international transit zone in a Spanish airport. Airplane ticket required
Short stay Schengen visa A short-stay Schengen visa (visado de corta duracion) allows you to stay in Spain – but not work – for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. If you have a Schengen visa issued by another Schengen state you can also come and stay in Spain for 90 days. Travel health insurance, documents on sufficient funds and proof of accommodation required.
Long stay visas Unless you’re a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland you’ll need a longer-term national visa (visado nacionale) if you intend to live, work, study or carry out research in Spain for longer than three months.  Travel health insurance, documents on sufficient funds, police clearance certificate, documents proving the purpose of stay and proof of accommodation required.

Residence permit

Currently Spain runs an investment program, which allows you to apply for a residence card in Spain, if you have purchased real estate for a price in excess of 500 000 EUR – however, this permit does not allow the right to work or conduct business in Spain. Latvia provides residence permit for a real estate with price from 250 000 EUR, which is 50% cheaper and additionally allows the option to work and conduct business. Currently if you seek a legal relocation for a longer period of time solution, you have the following options: wealth visa, golden visa, skilled worker visa, investor visa, student visa.

Wealth visa Is a residence permit for applicants, who can show enough subsistence funds to reside in Spain without working. If the applicant succeeds to show required fixed balance - he is eligible for wealth visa.
Golden visa Also known as Property visa, grants applicant residence permit rights upon purchase of real estate property in Spain with the cost of at least 500 000 EUR. Any type of property can be bought to qualify: apartment, house, commercial premises, land or a combination of few.
Investor visa Also known as Investment visa, is a residence permit which may be granted to a foreign national, who can present available funds in a certain amount as well as business plan. An investor may start a business in Spain and, if it meets legal criteria, acquire an investor visa on these legal grounds. Owners of already existing businesses may also apply under certain conditions.
Highly skilled worker’s visa In order to apply, the applicant must have a local Spanish employer company, who is willing to employ him in Spain. Keep in mind, that the the professional skills of an applicant are evaluated as well as his potential salary is taken into consideration.
Student visa A type of residence permit meant for people who want to study in Spain longer than 90 days in order to graduate a course of studies.
  • Applicant personally submits visa application with all supporting documents at the Spanish Embassy in his country of residence.
  • The Embassy forwards the application package to the central immigration institution in Spain.
  • After the application is approved, the Embassy shall contact the applicant.
  • After acquiring a visa, the applicant must travel to Spain. It is important for the applicant to enter Spain within the time period defined by your issued visa (usually 90 days period).
  • Within 30 days from the day of your arrival to Spain, the applicant must submit documents for the residence permit to the corresponding immigration authority.
  • Spanish residence permit requires an annual extension. As long as the grounds for residence acquisition are maintained – residence permit can be extended an unlimited number of times.

Immigration documents

To read more about the various immigration, residency and citizenship documents in Spain, please refer to the immigration documents section.


History shows, that since 2000, Spain has experienced fast population growth which is a result of immigration. However, the birth rate is only half the normal replacement level. This sudden and mass immigration has caused noticeable social tension between immigrants and the local population. In the European Union, Spain has the highest immigration rate in percentage terms after Cyprus and Germany.

In case you have questions or you need a free consultation regarding immigration opportunities to Spain, feel free to contact us: