How to obtain your papers in Spain

how to obtain your papers in Spain

Spain is undoubtedly the ideal destination for many foreigners and their families who want to start a new life and come in search of new opportunities. Although the profiles of these foreigners are quite different, they all have something in common: their desire to obtain their papers in the country.

In this article you will discover the most important keys to getting your papers in Spain (updated with the latest news), including the main paths available, requirements in each case, and other tips that will allow you to do it in the shortest possible time and avoid legal hassle.

So whether you are already in Spain or you are planning to travel to the country soon… This post is for you!

Getting your papers is nothing more than the process by which the foreigner regularizes her situation and obtains a residence and work permit in Spain.

Obtaining a regular residence permit can be complicated on many occasions, especially if we consider all those ways that require an application process from the country of origin (at the Spanish consulate) in order to enter Spain legally afterwards.

That is why a large part of the foreign community decides to resort to the residence permit for exceptional circumstances. That is to say, the arraigo, granted to those who are already in Spain in an irregular situation.

Thus, this has become one of the most common and used paths to obtain papers in Spain.

In that sense, what exactly do you have to do to achieve it?

Later in this post we will see the different options available in detail including all their requirements, but here are the 6 keys that you must follow to get your papers successfully:

  1. Register in your city (and get “empadronamiento”). We recommend you complete this step as soon as possible, as it will be proof of how long you have been living in Spain, as well as end up being really useful for many other legal procedures in the country.
  2. To spend in the country the minimum time required, continuously. This means that during the time you must live in the country to be able to obtain the papers, you can’t leave the country.
  3. Keep tickets, receipts, invoices and any other means of proof of your stay in Spanish territory.
  4. Avoid criminal records. This will be a key point in your application that will be carefully reviewed, therefore avoid any police and/or criminal event.
  5. Renew your cityhall registration. The census certificate expires every 2 years. In the case of arraigo social, for example, you will have to renew it once (as the main requirement is to stay at least 3 years in the country).
  6. Integrate with the region where you live. This ranges from speaking the local language (e.g. Catalan in Catalonia), to using public services or participating in a local association.

The main paths to obtain papers as a foreigner

There are several ways to get papers in Spanish territory. Most of them require that you are in a regular situation (during your 90 days as a tourist), or that you have applied for a residence permit at the Spanish consulate before traveling to Spain.

But what about the rest of the cases? How to get your papers while you are in an irregular situation?

Below we explore the 5 main ways that any foreigner has to regularize their situation and get her desired papers.

Social arraigo

The first (and most common) way to obtain your papers is the residence permit through social arraigo.

This permit is granted to all those foreigners who have been in Spain for at least 3 years in an illegal status.

As we have commented in the previous section, these 3 years must have been continuous (i.e., without leaving the country).

And you will be able to demonstrate that you have effectively remained this time in Spanish territory through the empadronamiento and/or any other valid means of proof.

That is why it is so important to register at your city hall as soon as you arrive in Spain in order to be able to complete the arraigo procedure successfully.

In addition, it is required for the foreigner to find a job offer to complete the process. This offer must be for at least 30 hours per week, and pay at least the minimum wage in Spain.

Unlike years ago, nowadays it is not necessary that it is an offer for an indefinite period of time.

On the other hand, if you have sufficient funds, you can also apply for social roots without a job offer. Find out more in this article.

Finally, it will also be necessary to request and obtain the so-called integration report, which will be granted by the city council of the city where you live after passing an interview.

Labor arraigo

Another of the available paths to obtain papers in Spain is through the labor arraigo.

This residency requires having been in Spain for at least 2 years in an irregular status (1 year less than in the case of social arraigo), and also having been working for at least 6 months (but legally).

So, as you can see, this way to get papers applies especially to all those who had a residence permit that expired in the past and failed to renew it (and from then on the 2 years required started counting).

Family arraigo

The relatives of a Spanish citizen and all those foreigners with some type of similar bond, have it much easier to obtain their papers, and that is thanks to the family arraigo.

This regularization figure allows obtaining a residence and work permit for 5 years.

One of its great advantages is that it does not require a minimum time of permanence in Spain. Thus, as opposed to the 3 years for social roots or 2 years for labor, you can apply for family roots directly after arriving in Spain (as long as you are in an irregular situation).

Who exactly can apply for it?

The list of family members was expanded after the reform of the immigration regulations and now includes ascendants, descendants, spouse, and even legal guardians of a Spanish citizen, as well as the caregiver of a Spanish citizen with a disability.

You can find here the complete list of family members who can benefit from the labor arraigo.

Arraigo for studies

There is another type of arraigo known as “arraigo para la formación” or arraigo for studies, which allows a foreigner in an illegal situation to obtain a permit for 12 months (and a maximum of 18 months) to study in Spain and take a regulated training course that will allow her to obtain a qualification to exercise a specific job position.

This permit requires 2 years in the country in an illegal situation, and for the application, the mere commitment to start the course is enough (you do not have to have started it before).

If you would like to know which courses are valid for this procedure, here you can find an article with all the details.

Family member of an EU citizen card

Finally, we find another very advantageous option used by many non-EU citizens.

In the case of being a family member of a European Union citizen (whether your relative is Spanish but also German, French, Italian, or from any other EU country) you can get a residence card for 5 years that also authorizes you to work.

The most common in these cases is that the non-EU foreigner applies for this card after marriage or partnership with the EU citizen.

In addition, children under 21 years of age (both of the EU citizen and his/her spouse) and ascendants over 65 years of age may also apply for this card.

It is a way to regularize your situation and get the papers since you can carry out this process in an irregular way without having to return to your country of origin (including the registration of the marriage or civil union).

And you will not be required to demonstrate any minimum period of time spent in Spain prior to your application.

You can access here all the requirements to register your civil union and get your papers.

How long should you be in Spain to obtain papers?

As we have seen, the years required to obtain your papers will vary depending on your particular situation and the residency you are applying for, but in general, this time required will range between 2 and 3 years under an illegal (and continuous) situation.

However, as we have mentioned, being a family member of a Spanish or EU citizen has great advantages in this regard.

The time needed to obtain the papers is greatly reduced, to the point that both the family arraigo and the EU family member card do NOT require any period of previous stay in Spanish territory in order to be processed.

Remember that if you have any doubts or you would like our expert immigration lawyers to assist you personally, do not hesitate to contact us in order to schedule a personalized consultation:

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

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how to obtain your papers in Spain

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