Approval of the New Reform of the Law on Foreigners in Spain for 2022

new changes spanish immigration law

We have good news for you! An important reform in the Spanish Immigration regulations has been implemented and that means you now have advantageous changes in order to obtain your residence permit (and especially work) in the country.

Next you will find, in detail, all the measures that the government has implemented with this reform, which will bring many advantages: mainly to facilitate the hiring process of foreigners from the country of origin, for students, and for foreigners who fins themselves in an irregular situation (with the creation of a new arraigo and big improvements to the existing ones).

After months and months waiting, the government finally improved the Royal Decree 557/2011 (RLOEX), which regulates the immigration law on foreigners in the Spanish territory.

After being approved on the 24th of July by the Council of Ministers and published in the BOE on July 27th, 2022; this new reform and all its measures finally came into force on the 16th of August, 2022.

You can already benefit from all its advantages!

After several years, the current immigration regulations  have started to be outdated in many aspects, especially in the labour and employment fields. 

Thus, with this reform, the government has adapted the different procedures and residence permits to the current context, which is quite different and for which the previous immigration framework was not prepared.

To sum up, the purpose of this law’s renewal and update is to facilitate the incorporation of foreign workers (very necessary for the country’s economy) into the work field.

As we will now discover in the following section on measures,  the process of obtaining a residence and  work permit is much simpler due to the various changes that will take place, as creates a new form of residence and will implement other features that will no doubt benefit the foreign community. 

All new measures of the new reform of immigration law

Below we will dive into the details of the main measures that this reform of the immigration law has implemented:

Recruiting foreign workers will be much easier

Currently, obtaining a regular work permit from the country of origin is a very complicated task. There is a short catalogue of hard-to-fill occupations that greatly limits the jobs that foreigners can access.

In other words, if the job is not included in the hard-to-fill occupations list, the chances of getting that job are very slim (unless you are Peruvian or Chilean).

Thus, one of the major changes to the regulation on foreigners will be to facilitate the hiring of foreign workers in their country of origin in certain strategic sectors.

How has this been done?

Firstly, notable changes have been made in the catalogue of occupations that are difficult to fill by opening up the range of these job offers geographically and will be updated every 3 months.

To this end, the Public Employment Service, based on the data available on the national employment situation, will determine which occupations are considered difficult to fill in each region.

This allows the possibility of adding a wider variety of jobs to the catalogue of hard-to-fill occupations, making it less restrictive and opening the door for many more foreigners to get their work permit.

But that’s not all.

If companies need to hire personnel for occupations that are not considered difficult to fill, this is facilitated by shortening the deadlines for obtaining certification and thus making it easier to start the procedure with the foreigners’ office faster.

In other words, the job offer must be published for only 8 days on the Empléate portal, and if after this period no profiles are found, workers may be hired from the hard-to-fill list.

immigration law reform

Promotion of Self-Employment (as a Freelancer)

On the other hand, if you are a foreigner and  you want to set up your own business or develop your professional activity independently (as a freelancer), you can also benefit from this measure.

As you may know, obtaining a self-employment permit is currently a complex and tedious process, especially for foreigners who want to start a non-innovative business in the country.

Whether you apply for this permit initially from your country of origin, or whether you change from being employee to being a self-employed worker, or apply for the social arraigo as a self-employed person, the requirements and procedure to becoming self-employed are difficult.

Thus, with the new reform, some of the elements that make it difficult to obtain this permit will be eliminated, which will encourage a greater number of foreigners to start working as “autónomos” in Spain.

The reform aims to encourage self-employment, which means that when assessing residence and self-employment permits there will be more flexibility according to the circumstances of each case.

The reform seeks to encourage new self-employment paths and recognize digital business models that are so important nowadays. We are talking, for example, about online consulting or e-commerce owners. 

Even if experience and qualification requirements for the applicant remain the same, the figures compatible with the self-employed permit are also increased. In other words, the range of permits that, in addition to residency, would also allow the development of self-employed activities will increased.

We are talking about the cases of renewal of family reunification, for example.

Foreigners with a student visa will find much easier to work

As we have mentioned, this reform revolves around the labor market and work for foreigners, and in this regard, students will also be able to benefit greatly.

Thus, those foreigners who are in Spain for study purposes with will have many advantages in obtaining their work permit.

While it is true that this is something that has been sought since 2018 with the incorporation of the figure of residence for job search, this measure aims to take things even further, increasing the possibilities for these students.

The requirement of the 3 years necessary for the modification of a student visa to a work permit is eliminated, as long as the studies that gave rise to the authorisation to stay for study purposes have been completed. 

In addition, the total number of hours that a foreigner with a student visa can work per week would be increased from 20 to 30.

Directly work with your student visa

From now on, we are going to find an important difference between foreign students in Spain and their student visas.

For if their studies consist of professional training oriented to the achievement of a qualification that allows them to work, their authorization of stay for studies will have an embedded work permit.

In other words, many students will now be able to work automatically without having to go through any extra formalities (as they had to do until now).

And they will be able to work both as employees and self-employed, for a maximum of 30 hours per week.

Renewal of initial residency cards, now valid for 4 years

Renewing your initial residence card will now be much simpler, easier, and more advantageous.

First of all, since the requirements are much softer. 3 months of work during the year (instead of 6) and being able to prove that you have been actively looking for a job will be enough to be able to renew successfully.

But the most important thing is that the renewal will be for 4 years in total, instead of 2 as before.

Apply for your visa online at the Spanish consulate

Until today, you could find a big barrier at the moment of applying for your visa at the consulate located in the country of origin.

This part of the process often meant long travel times, as well as waiting to get an appointment.

However, this has changed, and from now on it will be possible to make the visa application online.

updates immigration law in Spain

The labor arraigo, renewed

If there is a residency permit that has undergone major changes, that is the labor arraigo, especially in terms of its requirements:

Thus, what corresponds to the former “arraigo laboral” now becomes a new procedure known as “autorización por residencia por colaboración con la autoridad laboral“, processed in Madrid (and not in the foreigners’ offices of each community).

Simpler requirements for the social arraigo

The tedious requirements that used to make obtaining social arraigo a complicated task have now disappeared, especially with regard to the necessary work contract.


  • From now on any job offer will be valid, no matter its length (and without the need for it to last at least a year, as was the case before).
  • You will simply have to make sure that the salary offered is, at least, equivalent to the minimum wage in the country
  • On the other hand, it will also be possible to submit your application with several part-time job offers, as long as the sum of all the working days is at least 30 hours.
  • In addition, it is possible to apply for social arraigo with 20-hour contracts if you have a minor child in Spain

The family arraigo as a new key figure

Many of the residences for family members that until now were obtained through the card as a family member of an EU citizen will now be applied for through the family arraigo procedure.

We are talking about the case of spouses, partners, children, and parents.

Thus, in these cases, the family roots (granting a card for 5 years with the right to reside and work), will be the new figure to go for.

In addition, this means great advantages for ascendants, who will have it much easier now:

  • If they are over 65 years old, they will be able to get their residence without the need to live with their son/daughter in Spain
  • If they are under 65 years of age, they will also be able to obtain it, but they will have to prove that they live with the main card holder/Spanish citizen
major changes immigration Spain

Creation of a new arraigo

Finally, this new update, the development of a new type of “arraigo” has also been implemented: the “arraigo para la formación”. 

In this case, we are talking about a 1-year residence permit for exceptional circumstances , which would be granted to all foreigners who are in an irregular situation to undergo official training that will allow them to obtain a qualification on completion of their studies.

As long as these studies are maintained, the foreigner could extend this residence for another 12 months.

We are talking about the regularization of foreigners who are trained in sectors with high demand for labour and who can occupy positions that currently do not have enough national workers.

The requirements to solicit this new arraigo are to hace  resided in Spain  in an irregular situation as well as to have a clean criminal record.

Creation of a new arraigo

The Immigration Processing Unit (“Unidad de Tramitación de Expedientes de Extranjería”) is the solution that many have been waiting for.

The main objective of this Unit will be to help and give support to all those immigration offices that are now saturated and that take much longer than usual to resolve residency applications.

Thus, from now on, obtaining a fast resolution will be much more attainable, and many foreigners will avoid the current (and important) delays.

Bringing your children to Spain will be easier

Family reunification will undergo an important change in terms of its economic requirements, which will be significantly reduced.

If you want to regroup your children, the economic amount to demonstrate can be reduced by taking into account the best interest of the minor.

Thus,  just earning a salary equal (or higher) to the minimum wage, which is currently 1,134, will be enough to bring all your children, regardless of the number of children to be regrouped.

And, if your salary does not reach that threshold since you work for example part-time, you will have to prove 110% of the Minimum Vital Income (currently 639€) for each child, which would be 702 to reunite each family member.

And an additional 64 for each extra child you also want to bring with you to Spain.

Finally, as an important extra change, these economic means must be valid at the very moment of the application, and not with proof from previous months.

Longer renewal durations for family reunification cards

From now on with this new reform, renewing your residence card obtained by family reunification will entail greater advantages.

In the first place, and even if the couple or marriage relationship with the applicant has been dissolved, the duration of the renewed card of the regrouped will be equivalent to that of the regrouper.

In addition, he or she may also work, both as an employee and as a self-employed, for the duration of the renewal.

This would allow her to obtain a long-term card in case her partner holds one.

Possibility to work as an employee or as self-employed person when renewing your work permit

Until now, a foreigner with a work permit as an employee could not work as a self-employed person (unless she had compatibility and vice versa).

The new modification in the immigration law changes this.

Whether you have a permit as an employee or as a self-employed person, once you have renewed it , you can work indistinctly for a company or as an independent professional, without having to demonstrate compatibility.

And this without having to go through any legal procedure, because until now, in order to change from self-employed to employed (or the other way around) it was necessary to go through an immigration application, which in many cases was tedious. With the new immigration changes and updates this will no longer be necessary.


Do you have any doubts about the new measures? Reach out and receive personalized legal advice.

Get in touch with our lawyers and let us guide you step by step:

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