Many foreigners are living legally in Spain as they obtained the family member of an EU citizen, thanks to getting married or registering their civil union. And many of them have a crucial doubt, since their right to continue living legally in Spain is conditioned to their relationship.
What happens if this relationship ends? Do I risk losing my residency if I get divorced?
The answer, as always, is that it depends, and in this article you will find all the requirements to keep your residency even if you break up with your partner.
Fortunately, the Spanish Immigration Law in its Royal Decree 240/2007 favorably contemplates both the cancellation of the civil partnership and marriage equally in terms of keeping the community card.
That is to say, it is common that a foreigner from outside the European Union who obtained her legal status through the residency as a family member of an EU citizen now terminates his relationship, but still wants to live in Spain.
Can she do so? The answer is yes.
If you terminate your domestic partnership or get divorced, you are still entitled to keep your family card as long as:
- You have lived for at least three years with your partner or spouse jointly (a period that ends counting from the day you initiate the divorce or partner cancellation process; not when the divorce or cancellation is complete)
- At least one of these years of residence has been in Spain
Thus, our recommendation is that you try to maintain the joint “empadronamiento” as long as possible (until the divorce decree).
If you meet these two requirements, once your current card expires you will be granted a permanent EU card for 10 years, without any legal reference to the family member who allowed you to get it in the first place.
To do so, you will have to follow the process mentioned in the following section.
Do you have any questions so far? Read on for more information or ask our lawyers here:
And what happens if you haven't lived together for 3 years?
However, many foreigners who finish their relationship haven’t reached the minimum period of 3 years.
Either because the legal relationship has lasted over that period but they were registered in different cities, or directly because the marriage finished before.
In those cases, does the foreigner have the option of not losing her residency without those 3 years? Again, the regulations contemplate different cases in which it is not necessary to prove the whole period of cohabitation:
- If you have been a victim of abuse you will also have the right to keep the community card
- If you have minor children with your partner and you have been awarded custody by a judge
- If you do not have the custody of the children but by mutual agreement or judicial decision you acquire the right to visit the children from your ex-EU partner and that child lives in Spain
- If you are a widow or widower since your partner or spouse passed away
On the other hand, if you are not in any of these cases, you will not be able to keep your EU card, and you will have to apply for a modification to an initial residence and work permit (under the general immigration regime).
But be careful. If the cancellation of the partnership or divorce has occurred within a very short period of time after its constitution (less than 1 year), it is likely that you will be denied this modification.
Why? Because it may be understood that the couple or marriage was constituted for convenience.
Proceso para evitar perder la residencia tras terminar la relación
Although it is a requirement that may not be necessary for certain regions of Spain, our advice is that if your marriage or civil union ends (regardless of the city you are in), you follow this process.
Once both parties receive the certificate of cancellation of the civil or stable partnership, you must notify the corresponding authorities within one month through the form of marital status change.
This one-month deadline is very important, and although the regulation does not specify an exact deadline, if you wait for more than 3 months you will lose the right to renew your EU card and won’t be able to continue living in the country legally.
The regulation does not specify exactly where and how you should do it, but our recommendation is that, at the very least, you notify:
- The immigration office
- The national police
- The Interior Ministry
Once you have completed this process, you will be able to remarry or register a new civil partnership with another person, and regroup him/her with the new community card.
Remember that if you have any doubts, you can contact our lawyers so that we can guide you step by step and help you find the best way for you not to lose your residence when you cancel your pareja de hecho or marriage: