What will happen to your foreigner status in the Spanish territory during quarantine? Is there any foreigner office available to attend all those expats living in Spain? Can you leave the country? How will all the expats in Spain be affected by Coronavirus?
With the current uncommon situation, you may have tons of doubts. The covid-19 is completely affecting your life as an expat. But this article tries to bring updated information to make your stay easier.
We are going to extensively explain all the effects that coronavirus is producing on foreigners living in Spain. Furthermore, we will outline all the info you need in order to stay legally protected and act now in case you have to.
Spain is now one of the first countries in the world suffering from the virus. Over 1,5M cases have been registered, and the number doesn’t seem so stop growing. Hence, a great part of the country has been shut down.
Restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters, schools, gyms and many other places have been closed during the past months many times. And this, for sure, has generated negative consequences for the economy.
And this has important implications for all those expats who are living in Spain.
Not only you are not going going to be able to enjoy traditional festivities like Valencian Fallas or Andalucia’s Semana Santa, which have been cancelled.
Your relationship with the Immigration office may also be affected while the impact of coronavirus is still present.
Spain's Alarm state: What the Lockdown is all about
The first thing we must do is understand what the alarm state is bout, so you can grasp the main implications that it will generate for you as a foreigner.
The government, with the main aim to stop and prevent the extension of the virus, has declared this special situation.
It basically implies that the Spanish army has the right to act, and some of your main rights are suspended.
Basically, you cannot leave your house unless you are going to the supermarket, pharmacy, going where you work, or to take care of one of your relatives.
You are required to stay home during the whole length of the alarm state.
How long will it last? Spain's Lockdown Extension
After the uncertainty we all suffered, and fortunately for many, it ended on the 21st of June. Nevertheless, its consequences are still visible and can affect your life as a foreigner. In this article we will explore which are those specifically.
How is the coronavirus going to affect me as a foreigner in Spain?
That is what we are going to answer throughout this article.
There are two different areas in which the coronavirus will affect your life as an expat in Spain:
First of all, the virus will affect your options to deal or contact with the foreigner’s immigration office, any police station, or the civil registry.
All the administrations that link the foreigner with the country are completely closed. There is nobody who can attend you as a foreigner right now face-to-face.
This means that any immigration procedure you had programmed or you needed to undertake is now on hold.
Furthermore, the current situation with the covid-19 will impact your possibility to enter or leave the country.
Many borders are locked down, and you may no be able to enter Spain if you are abroad, or leave the country to go back to your main residency.
We will now explore those two areas into greater detail.
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Impact of Coronavirus on Spanish immigration procedures for foreigners
If you had an appointment with the immigration office to renew your TIE or residency card, or any other kind of scheduled activity, those are now canceled.
No return authorizations are being issued, no fingerprints are being recorded. The same with any kind of interview appointment, like those required for arraigo. Those are all suspended.
For the duration of the alert state, all immigration procedures will be paralyzed. You can’t process any file or have an appointment in person.
Furthermore, all deadlines suspended, both in procedural and administrative matters. And that is also true for the time deadlines regarding immigration appeals against visa decisions that were active.
Possibility to use your residency resolution with the same validity as the TIE
The immigration offices have collapsed. Trying to get an appointment for the TIE seems to be mission impossible.
However, the Ministry of Justice has implemented a new measure whereby from now on, favorable resolutions issued by the immigration office will have the same effects and validity as the foreigner’s identification card.
In this way, once you receive such resolution, you will be able to use it as a substitute for the TIE, not having to wait until you get the appointment without being able to make any important legal arrangements.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Flexible entry for foreign couples not married to EU citizens
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with the Ministry of the Interior have recently approved a measure to make entry into Spain more flexible.
If you are a non-EU citizen in a relationship with an EU citizen, if but you are not yet officially married, you can now enter Spain without any problem.
You will simply have to follow a specific procedure to obtain a certificate from the Spanish consulate, after sending the necessary documentation.
Are the immigration or police offices open?
Some of them.
You can still formalize some of the procedures and attend to the administration office provided that you have an appointment.
But not all procedures.
For example, if you want to pick up your residency card, that is something possible. But you will need to check which police office you must attend to do it, as it is highly probable that in your city some are closed and there is just one open.
On the other hand, in some cases you can still get fingerprinted: if you have a real need to do so. For example, if you need your card for working reasons.
Furthermore, the civil registry will be also opened for marriages and childbirths that were scheduled.
All expired residence permits have been extended 6 months
According to the Government’s Public Announcement on the BOE published on May 20, 2020, any authorization or residence permit that has expired (or will do so) during the state of alarm is extended.
That is, if you are residing in Spain and your card is going to expire in the next few days, or has expired during the state of alarm, it is now valid for an extra 6 months.
It has not expired. And those extra 6 months start counting once the alarm state is over (even if it expired yesterday or 2 weeks ago, the extra time starts counting from then).
This is also true if your card has expired during the 3 months before the alarm state started (from December 14th onwards).
As an important note, you do not have to carry out any specific procedure with the immigration office. This extension is automatically applied.
However, those tourist visas that expired during this period is extended for just 3 more months, limited to Spanish territory (not to the whole Schengen Area). The same applies to study visas.
Once the state of alert ends (we still do not know when), this measure will be extinguished.
But what happens if I had an appointment already scheduled?
If you had an appointment with any public administration institution, it is now suspended.
Therefore, any appointment for fingerprinting, return authorization, European Union certificates, or pledge of allegiance for nationality procedures are temporarily canceled.
This does not mean it is canceled forever. Once the situation is normalized again, you will recover your appointment and proceed with your immigration file.
Even though we do not know exactly how it will finally work out, people who had an appointment and that has been now cancelled due to the coronavirus will have preferential treatment and will be able to get their appointment earlier.
Make sure to check your mail in order to find a notification stating the cancelation of your appointment.
Appointments that have been canceled
Under the current situation, the appointments for all the residence permits that were presented at the foreigner’s office have been canceled:
- Family reunification
- Family member of an EU citizen visa
- Residency for those under 18 years old born in Spain and not born in Spain
This means that this initial applications must be done online entirely. You will have to present a number of specific documents and some personal ones.
A special online platform has been created for any lawyer to submit this types of applications.
Procedures you can't undertake right now
To make things even clearer, here is a list of the procedures that you CANNOT do right now:
- Fingerprint registration
- Return authorization
- EU certificate
In other words, all the paperwork and procedures that were carried out at the police.
Can I get an appointment with the immigration or police office?
You can still get an appointment for any immigration procedure that must be carried out face-to-face.
But bear in mind that the soonest you can get that appointment is September. And all those who had a canceled appointment have now preferential treatment, so the delay to formalize your file will be notorious.
What should I do if my residency card is about to expire and I need to renew it?
This can seem dramatic at first. Your TIE or residency card can be about to expire, and you cannot renew it, as any immigration procedure is paralyzed. Hence, you would become illegal in Spain.
But things are not that bad.
A Royal Decree has been approved, talking about the interruption of time limits for processing public sector procedures (including any public administration, without exception).
What does this mean? That you can still submit your renewal application, and you can do that online.
And for the renewal to be valid, you must start it before the expiration of your card (60 days before) or 90 days later. The renewal process can be carried out without any problem. The only thing you won’t be able to do now is the registration of your fingerprints.
So our recommendation is that you contact our lawyers and let us be in charge of everything. You just need to send us your documents scanned, and we will present them online so you are legally covered.
My tourist visa is about to expire and I can't leave the country. What should I do?
Chances are that as a foreigner visiting Spain, your tourist visa is about to expire.
As the borders are closed, you will not be able to leave the country, which will mean that you will become an illegal person in Spain. What to do in this situation?
Good news. Your tourist visa has been extended for 3 extra months, starting to count once the alarm state is over.
And this will be valid as long as your visa expired from the 31st of December until the end of the state of alarm.
How to apply for your residency card renewal or citizenship NOW (without waiting)
However, even though all procedures have been suspended, the administration does work remotely. Therefore, you can still submit your application or renewal telematically.
So ho to proceed?
You just need to contact our team via email (email@example.com), and we will manage the application for you.
You just need to send us by email a copy of your passport, residency card, census or padron if you have it, and we will pay for the fee online and submit the application.
Hence, everything will be done as usual.
Once you submit your application, you’ll get a receipt. With that, you are legal in Spain. Then, no matter how long the immigration office takes to proceed that application, you would have already done your homework and would be legally covered.
I appealed to a specific procedure and haven't gotten any response yet. Is it normal?
Yes, that is completely normal.
As we have already mentioned, all the immigration and legal procedures are now paralyzed, so government clerks will start working on your appeal once the coronavirus crises vanishes.
And what happens now with the nationality exams?
As we have seen throughout this post, the exams to obtain Spanish citizenship are also cancelled.
The CCSE tests organized for March and April have been postponed to May and June.
On the other hand, the DELE exams for April and May have been canceled. They will be relocated as soon as possible.
What happens with my application that is in process?
All procedures or requests what are being processed will be resolved. The idea is that they get resolved quickly during the upcoming days.
Thus, if you submitted your application before the start of the alarm state, you will receive a favorable (or negative) response in the next days.
We cannot guarantee how long will that take, but you will still get a response.
Coronavirus and the current cross-border situation
You may now have a clear understanding of the current situation with all the legal procedures any foreigner has to undertake while in Spain during coronavirus times.
Yet there is another crucial aspect we must also tackle: your ability to leave and enter the country.
Can I travel and enter Spain if I am abroad?
Only those who are Spanish nationals (or residents) will be able to come back to their origin country, where they will be attended.
Furthermore, we find the situation of those residents who went back to their home country with a return authorization, and it expired.
Can they travel back to Spain?
Yes, if your authorization to come back has expired during the state of alarm, it is still possible to enter the country.
And if my residence permit expired while abroad, can I re-enter the country?
Let’s assume that you have a residence card or entrepreneur visa that has expired while you were abroad.
Can you re-enter Spain?
Yes, simply with your passport (it must valid), and your residence card (even if expired).
If it has expired during the state of alert or during the 3 months prior to its beginning, you will not have any problem.
Can I leave Spain during Coronavirus If I am a foreigner?
If you are under your tourist status, yes, you can leave the country. In any other case, you are not allowed to.
But you must also understand your origin country situation and laws. Because they may have forbidden your entry.
Nevertheless, you will always be able to enter the country you have the nationality from.
For any doubt you may have... Seek online assistance from our lawyers
At Immigration Lawyers Spain, our doors will be always open. But with the main difference that those doors are now online.
As we already mentioned, the Immigration Office is still working, even though not physically. That enables you to get your appointment or present your application online.
And our team is ready to help you with doing that. You just need to scan your documents (with a scanner or with any phone app), send them to us, and we will manage the rest.
That will make sure you still comply with the corresponding law and you avoid any future problem with the Spanish authorities.
And, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. We will make sure to answer in just a couple of hours.