Modification to Residency and Work Permit

modify to work permit

Are you in Spain with a type of residence that does not allow you to work? Your current permit cannot be renewed but you would like to stay in the country while working for a company? Then the solution is to modify from your non-working residency to a work permit, and in this post you are about to learn all the details regarding this immigration process so that you can complete it successfully.

A work permit modification is the process by which a foreigner who is in Spain with a specific residency card, changes it to a different one, in this case a work permit (in order to be able to start working for a Spanish company).

Nowadyas, this has become a very common process that can be carried out directly from Spain.

Where does its usefulness come from?

There is no need to mention how difficult it is to get a work permit to start working on the Spanish territory. The shortage occupation list, a long list of requirements…

And that is why many foreigners enter the country with a residency that is different from the regular work permit (because of its simpler and more affordable requirements), and as they have the intention to start working for a company, they decide to make this move later on.

Thanks to the fact that if you are already a legal resident in Spain obtaining the work permit through the modification is a much simpler process, this procedure is something totally recommended in many cases.

We are talking about a wide variety of situations, such as cases in which the foreigner has a non-lucrative or student visa and wishes to start generating income in the country, people with social arraigo, etc.

In the following sections, we will analyze the main cases you could find yourself in and could require requesting this modification.

*Please note that although in this post we are focusing on the modification of residence to a work permit to work as an employee, in all these cases it is also possible to modify to a self-employment work permit (as long as the requirements are met).

General requirements

Here you can find the complete list of requirements that you will have to meet in order to successfully complete the work permit modification:

  • First of all, it is necessary to prove 1 year minimum of legal residence in Spain (although as we will now see, in the case of students this period is will be longer)
  • As in any residency application, it is necessary to demonstrate the lack of criminal record, nor to have the entry prohibited to the Spanish territory
  • It will be also key to find a company in the country willing to hire you, and it will be this company the one who will initiate the procedure before the office of foreigners.
  • This company must offer you a job offer with a minimum duration of 1 year, and with a salary equal to or higher than the minimum wage in the country
  • In addition, the employer must demonstrate that it is up to date with its fiscal and tax obligations with Social Security and the Treasury.
  • The employer must also have sufficient financial means to be able to manage the hiring process
  • Finally, the application form to be used is the EX-03, in addition to paying the corresponding fees (790-012)


Do you have doubts up to this point? Read on for more information or ask us anything here:

Main residency modifications

As we mentioned before, this modification to work permit can be made from different residences.

Below you can find a list of the main permits valid for this modification (i.e., those that most of the foreigners who formalize it, have):

From student visa

Year after year, Spain attracts a large number of foreign students who move to Spain to complete their bachelor’s, doctorate, or master’s degrees.

Once they have finished their studies, many of them want to stay and work. In order to do so, they must successfully complete the modification.

While we have mentioned that in the general case one year of residence in the country is required to complete the process, the case of the visa for studies is a little more demanding.

The foreigner must prove that he has been in Spain as a student for at least 3 years. If this period is not reached, the student visa must be renewed until the full period is completed.

In addition, there are two extra requirements that must be met in order to be successful in your application: having passed all subjects in the last academic year, and not having received any type of scholarships (neither in Spain nor in your country of origin).

From residency to look for a job ("búsqueda de empleo")

As you may already know, students who have been in Spain for at least one year on their student visa can move to a special type of non-profit residency that allows them, for one year, to find a job or set up their own business.

This residency, known as the job search visa, is another route that subsequently requires a modification to an employment visa.

In this case, however, the student (now with the job search TIE) will not be able to modify until 10 months with this card have passed, and never before.

From non-lucrative visa

One of the most typical cases is the foreigner who is in Spain with a non-profit residency because he had enough savings, spends the first year traveling and discovering the country, but when that finishes she needs to go back to work to generate some income (something that the non-lucrative visa does not allow her to do).

Thus, the modification to a working residency becomes the appropriate path for these foreigners who have taken advantage of the simple benefits of the non-profit residency to legally settle in Spain.

In this case, in addition to the general requirements seen above, it is also required that the foreigner has renewed at least once her non-profit residency.

From arraigo

Social arraigo (as well as arraigo laboral) are one of the most useful paths for many foreigners in Spanish territory.

However, the residence for exceptional circumstances is obtained for one year (and cannot be renewed).

Once these 365 days come to an end, the holder of the arraigo, if she wants to stay in Spain, must modify to a work permit.

Keeping this in mind is of utmost importance, as many foreigners believe that they can easily renew the arraigo and never start looking for a job offer until the very end of the year, finding themselves with the need to return to their country of origin since they have been left without residency.

From family member of an EU citizen

Finally, another of the most common cases that require the modification of the visa is that of the holders of a family member of an EU citizen visa (“tarjeta comunitaria”).

That is to say, those non-EU citizens who obtained this residency thanks to being the spouse or common-law partner of a Spanish or European citizen.

On many occasions, this same affective bond that gave rise to the residence is broken, creating the need for the modification to a work permit.

However, this should not always be the case, since divorce or breaking up with a civil union does not always entail the loss of the EU card.

When will the foreigner then need to change to a work permit? There are two different situations:

  • If you have lived together for a minimum of 3 years in marriage and at least 1 year of these three has been in Spain, then you do not have to proceed with the modification (but just notify this change, within one month, to the immigration office, and that would allow you to keep your community card and get the long term one after 5 years).
  • But, if you do not meet this 3-year requirement, then you will have to make the modification to a work permit as an employee.

When should I start my modification?

Finally, it is essential to address this question in order to understand what the application deadlines should be.

You must initiate the procedures to apply for the modification to obtain a work permit during the 60 days prior to the expiration of your current card (arraigo, community card, non-profit card, etc.) and 90 days after its expiration (arraigo, community card, non-profit card, etc.).

However, our recommendation is that you start the process as soon as possible and do not wait until the expiration date.

If you have any doubts, remember that our immigration lawyers are at your complete disposal!

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

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modify to work permit

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