Spain: Entry of Foreigners and Immigration Policy

Entry into Spain for stays not exceeding 90 days within a 180-day period is subject to the conditions provided for in Regulation (EU) Nº 2016/399, of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 9 March 2016 on a Union Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code)

Holder of a valid passport or travel document

The document must be valid for al least three months following the projected exit from the territory of the Members States, and must have been issued within the last ten years. Citizens from any State of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein only need a valid national identity document or passport. Citizens from the United Kingdom and Ireland will require a passport since their countries are not members of the Schengen Area. In the event of a minor travelling with a national identity document, the latter must be accompanied by parental authorization.

Visa possession of nationals from third countries
This is required of nationals of third countries included on the list of countries whose nationals must be in possession of a visa when crossing the external borders, unless in possession of a valid residence permit or a valid long-term visa issued by another Member State.
Foreigners holding a valid residence permit or a long-term visa issued by another Schengen State may travel through the territory of the other Schengen States for a maximum of 90 days within any 180-day period, provided that they are in possession of a valid passport or travel document, that they justify the purpose and conditions of their intended stay, substantiate having sufficient means to support themselves for the duration of their intended stay in Spain, and that they can prove they are not threat to public health, public order, national security, or international relations of Spain or of other States with which Spain has an agreement to this end. Furthermore, they must not to appear on the national list of alerts [for refusal of entry] of the Member State in question.

At any event, entry may be refused (even with a valid passport and/or visa) at police checks in the following cases:
–  Journeys undertaken for the purposes of tourism or for private reasons
In these cases, the presentation of any of the following documents may be required:
1.  A supporting document from the establishment providing accommodation or a letter of invitation from a private individual if the foreigner concerned is staying in their home, issued by the Police Station corresponding to their place of residence.
IMPORTANT: Under no circumstances shall the letter of invitation replace the foreigner’s accreditation of all other entry requirements.
2.   Confirmation of the booking of an organised trip, indicating the itinerary.
3.   A return or round-trip ticket.
In order to substantiate economic means, the provisions of Order PRE/1282/2007, of 10 May, on economic means, shall be taken into account, which provides that foreigners must demonstrate that they have sufficient means of support available in order to enter Spain. The minimum amount that must be substantiated is € 90 per person per day, with a minimum of € 810 or its legal equivalent in foreign currency.
– Journeys of a professional, political, scientific, sporting or religious nature or undertaken for other reasons

The presentation of any of the following documents may be required:
1.  Invitation from a company or an institution to take part in meetings, conferences, etc., of a commercial, industrial or similar nature.
2. Document proving the existence of commercial, industrial relations, etc.
3. Entry tickets to trade fairs, congresses, conventions, etc.
4. Invitations, tickets, bookings or programmes indicating, as far as possible, the name of the host organisation and the duration of the stay, or any other document indicating the purpose of the visit.

– Journeys undertaken for the purposes of study or other types of training
The presentation of any of the following documents may be required:
1.  Certificate of enrolment at a teaching centre for the purposes of attending theoretical or practical training courses.
2. Certificates related to the courses to be attended.

Exceptionally, the presentation of medical certificates may be required by the Ministry of Home Affairs, in accordance with guidelines from the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality or the Ministry of Employment and Social Security, or pursuant to European Union legislation. The need to present these certificates shall be made known sufficiently in advance, as far as possible.

Not being subject to a ban on entry (recorded in the S.I.S. [Schengen Information System] or in the National Register).

The following are causes for refusing entry:
1.  Having previously been expelled or returned by Spain or another Schengen State.
2. Having been expressly denied entry for activities contrary to the interests of Spain, activities against human rights, or for close links with criminal organisations.
3. Being subject to an international arrest for criminal activities.

4. Being considered a threat to the public health, public order, national security, or international relations of Spain or of other States with which Spain has agreements in this end.

5. Having already stayed for 90 days during a 180-day period.

Immigration System

From the 1990’s Spain has become a country of emigrants to a country of immigrant. The social, economic, political, legal, and cultural consequences have gone to a larger extent. A good number of these immigrants come from Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, and a lone Asian country The Philippines.  Many of these migrants are low-skilled and come to Spain on a temporary or seasonal work visa. Since 2010 the flow of immigrants into Spain has decreased considerably owing to the economic crisis, high unemployment, and the financial troubles that the country is still trying to overcome.

To adapt the immigration laws to the new immigration reality and labour market, a new comprehensive immigration law was enacted in 2000  entitled Ley Organice 4/2000 on the Derechos y Libertades de los Extranjeros en España y  su Integracion Social (LODLE) [Organic Law on the Rights and Liberties of Foreigners and their Social Integration 4/2000]  but has been subjected several amendments and was further more implemented through Real Decreto 557/2011 [Royal Decree 557/2011] on the Rules on Regulations of the Organic Law 4/2000,  on the Rights and Liberties of the Foreigners  in Spain and their Social Integration,  after its reform by Organic Law 2/2009  (Organic Law on the Rights and Liberties of Foreigners in Spain and Their Social Integration 4/2000 (RLODLE).

Management policy of Spain’s immigration is by visa system, except for those immigrants coming from countries in which Spain has a bilateral agreements or from the European Union Member States. The LODLE requires a visa to enter and stay for an intended purpose in the country, which is classified according to the following types of visas: transit; short-stay; residence; residence and work; seasonal residence and work; and study and research.  The visa policy requirement is aimed at resticting illegal migrants and to provide for the needs of the Spanish labour market.  The types of visa specifies the migrants pertinent rights and obligations.

Alien policy regulations provide that foreigners entering Spain must do so through an authorized port of entry and must provide a valid passport or travel document that proves their identity under the terms of international agreements in which Spain is a signatory. The foreigner must likewise provide evidence of the reason for and conditions under which they are entering Spain, as well as evidence of financial support for their time of stay in the country or the ability to procure such funds legally. All visitors need to secure a valid visa to enter Spain, except in those cases where international agreements allow otherwise, or when the foreigner has valid foreign identity card or a return permit. Foreigners who do not qualify to enter the country under the conditions outlined above may still be allowed to enter on the basis of humanitarian needs, the public interest, or commitments undertaken by Spain.  In these cases, the foreigner will be given the pertinent documents provided for in the applicable regulations. Entries of non-EU citizens into Spain may be registered by Spanish authorities in order to control the period of legal stay in the country.

Residence Permits

An initial temporary residence permit entitles the holder to reside and work in Spain for a maximum period of three months, which may be extended for two years.  Requirements for this permit include having no criminal record in Spain, the country of origin, or another country in which the individual has resided during the last five years; being free of any disease that might affect the public health; and possessing a signed employment contract.  Within one month after notification that the permit has been granted, the applicant must apply for the visa in person at the consulate of Spain in his place of residence.

Long-term residence allows for indefinite residence and work in Spain.  It is available for those who have legally resided in the country for five years.

The LODLE provides for a residence authorization for social, family, or labor ties.  Residence on the basis of labor ties is granted to those who can demonstrate they have stayed permanently in the country for a period of at least two years; have no criminal record in Spain, their country of origin, or the countries they have resided in during the last five years; and have proof of employment for not less than six months.

Residence based on social roots is mainly applicable to those who can prove that they not only have ties to Spanish residents but also have engaged in cultural and social integration programs for foreigners.  For this residence permit the same requirements have to be met as for the labor ties permit, except that the continuous stay in Spain must be for at least three years and the employment contract for not less than one year.  Additionally, applicants must provide proof of family ties to other legal residents or a report issued by local authorities attesting to the applicant’s established roots and social integration in the country.

The residence based on family roots may be issued to parents of Spanish children or children of parents who are Spanish by origin.

Other residence permits may be issued on the grounds of exceptional situations for international or humanitarian protection; cooperation with authorities; national security; public interest; female victims of gender-based violence; and collaboration with authorities against organized crime and human trafficking networks.  In these cases, the residence authorization is issued for a one-year period, which may be extended for another two years.  After five years of continuous legal residence, a long-term residence authorization may be issued.

Spain began implementing measures to achieve massive regularization of irregular immigrants in 1985, with the latest enactment in 2005, Real Decreto 2393/2004, aimed at providing legal status to the vast majority of irregular immigrant workers who were able to prove residence in Spain for at least six months before Real Decreto 2393/2004 took effect, who have no criminal records, and who have an employment contract for a minimum of six months.  The initial temporary residence and work permit may be renewed as long as the initial conditions are still being met.

Path to Citizenship

An alien may gain Spanish citizenship through:

A. naturalization granted at the discretion of the pertinent authorities through a Royal decree under extraordinary circumstances;

B. residence of ten years, five years for refugees, and two years for nationals of Latin America, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, or Portugal;and

C. residence of one year for those born in Spain; for those who have been married to a Spanish national for one year and are not separated; for widows or widowers of a Spanish national if at the time of death they were not separated; and for those born abroad of a Spanish mother or father who were originally Spaniards.

Once those holding residence or work permits have fulfilled the period-of-residence requirement, they may apply for citizenship in accordance with the rules established in the Civil Code.  Their residence must have been legal and permanent, and it must have lasted until immediately before the nationality petition was filed.  The petitioner must also prove good civic character and an acceptable degree of integration into Spanish society.

While the residence requirement is easily verifiable, the interpretation of the “integration into Spanish society” clause has posed major difficulties for the courts. Knowledge of the Spanish language has been interpreted by the courts as a key element to prove social integration.  The Audiencia Nacional (Spain’s highest court) in a 2012 decision stated that a deficient knowledge of Spanish language and culture is evidence of a lack of integration into Spanish society and therefore grounds for denial of Spanish nationality.

This judicial reasoning has been later applied in a number of court decisions that mainly conclude that a person who has been residing in Spain for a long period of time with a spouse and children who are Spanish nationals but who does not have an acceptable knowledge of the Spanish language cannot be considered to have integrated into Spanish society since, in the court’s opinion, “language proficiency constitutes the main path of communication and social integration, and [its lack] significantly limits [a person’s] inclusion in other societal and economic sectors.

In addition to knowledge of the language, the integration test for purposes of nationality also includes a set of cultural and social values, such as participation in educational, social, and charitable activities that are prevalent in the Spanish way of life.

The 2011–2014 “Strategic Plan of Citizenship and Integration” (SPCI) adopted by the government provides a policy framework aimed at creating a fair and cohesive society in order to build up a general “feeling of common belonging among all the citizens.” The SPCI was the result of the government’s consultation with the main stakeholders in the social process of inclusion, such as immigrant associations, regional authorities, and humanitarian entities like the Red Cross and Caritas.  The SPCI provides policy guidelines based on the idea that integration is a two-way process that includes not only the immigrant but the national population as well. Integration is aimed at securing the economic, social, educational, and cultural development of immigrants.  The SPCI emphasizes the need to reinforce the government-promoted strategy to fight racism and xenophobia, and is based on the principles of nondiscrimination, recognition of full civic participation, and interculturalism. (Confiled from Creditable Sources: Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores de España, and other legal publications on the matter of Immigration to Spain)