Residencies that allow you to work in Spain

residencies that allow you to work in Spain

Many foreigners wish to start their new life in Spain. And in order to do that, finding a job and working (no matter if as an employee or as a self-employed) is a crucial part of the process.

But the truth is that obtaining a work permit in the country many times becomes an impossible mission. Long lists of requirements that you can hardly meet, very few jobs available, lengthy waiting times…

Nevertheless, there is a solution. In fact, there are seven. 7 alternatives that also allow you to legally work in the country, but without the tedious process a regular work permit requires.

In this article you will discover all the residence permits that allow you to work in Spain as a foreigner (which you may not be considering).

Yes, all non-EU citizens moving to Spain for more than 90 days must obtain residency in order to legally work in the country.

So if you wish to work either for a company as an employee or for yourself as a freelancer or self-employed worker, obtaining a residence permit is essential.

When the foreigner starts this process, nevertheless, usually just thinks about the regular work permit, its requirements, and how it can be obtained.

But the truth is that not only a regular work permit allows you to work in the Spanish territory

There are many residencies that will also grant you the legal capacity to develop economical activities, and in this article, you will discover the complete list.

Then, the only thing you’d have to do is analyze which of these options suits you best and then start your application (as the process and requirements may be much more agile).

We have mentioned the case of non-European citizens, but what happens with those who are?

EU citizens do have to get residency to work too, but have it much easier with the EU registration certificate, which also allows them to work.


Do you have any doubts so far? Keep reading for more information, or directly ask anything to our immigration lawyers here:

The 7 residence permits that allow you to work in Spain

Then, let’s now explore the complete list of the different residencies that apart from granting you the right to live and stay in Spain, also enable you to legally work in the country.

Student visa

After the HUGE immigration law update on the 22nd of August 2022, foreigners who are holders of a student visa in Spain can work up to 30 hours per week.

This, of course, as long as those 30 hours do not interfere with their lecture hours.

Hence, as you can see, being on a student visa is nearly the same as having a full-time job (which is just an extra 10 hours per week).

The main upside of this option is that, opposite to how it worked before, now you can automatically work with your student visa, without the need to start an extra application process at the immigration office after finding a job offer.

Currently, your student Visa card (TIE) already specifies that you are allowed to work.

*Bear in mind that this is only true for students who have enrolled in a course and center who appear on the RUCT registry.

On the other hand, once the student has completed her studies, she can easily move to a work permit.

Hence the student visa is one of the best gateways to stay and work in Spain for the long run  (as you can more easily enter the country with one, and then transition to a regular residence permit).


Arraigo is the residency granted to those foreigners who, being under an illegal status in Spain, can demonstrate any type of link with the country. That link can be having Spanish relatives (family arraigo), having worked in the country (labor arraigo), or having stayed a long period of continuous time in the Spanish territory (social arraigo).

This residency, granted for 1 year, allows the applicant to work (as an employee or as a self-employed, depending on how you prepared your arraigo application).

And once that year comes to an end, you can modify to a 2-year residency and work permit.

What we must clarify is that the newly created arraigo figure, the “arraigo para la formación”, does NOT allow the applicant to work. As its name suggests, it is an arraigo that just allows you to legally study in Spain.

Investor permit (golden visa)

The golden visa has become popular among non-EU investors who wish to move to Spain through an agile and straightforward process.

After investing a minimum of € 500.000 in Spanish real estate, this investor is granted a 3-year residency card, which can be renewed by visiting the country just once per year.

What many of those investors do not know is that they can also work.

This is a great option, as many of them would also like to set up their company in the country and even work as managing directors there.

That is something you can directly do as the holder of a Spanish golden visa.

Family member of an EU citizen card

If you are the relative of a Spanish or European Union Citizen who is living in Spain, great news.

You will have it quite easy to obtain a 5-year residency card that not only allows you to live in the country but also to work.

This applies to the spouse, children under 21 years old, and ascendants over 65 of the EU citizen, and the 2 main requirements of this procedure are demonstrating the kinship relationship plus showing how the EU relative has sufficient economic funds.

You can learn more about the process here.

Digital nomad visa

Many foreigners who before relied (even though incorrectly) on the non-lucrative visa to work remotely from Spain now have a valid option to do it legally.

One of the greatest news of 2023 was the introduction of the new digital nomad visa, the 3-year residence permit that allows those who work remotely for a company based abroad, as well as those digital nomads who have clients or income sources, spread over the world legally be based in Spain.

For this application to deem successful (which can be completed directly from Spain), you must demonstrate that the company for which you are working has been operating for a minimum of 1 year, that you have at least 3-months of labor relationship together, and that they accept your remote work.

Another advantage of being the holder of this new visa is the special tax regime remote workers enjoy and that helps them save money.

Highly-qualified visa

If you have a technical profile, have completed a master’s degree, and receive a job offer for over 45.000€ per year (gross), then forget about the regular work permit.

The highly qualified visa is its counterpart alternative under the entrepreneur’s law, which offers a smoother application process and opens job position possibilities.

It is designed to attract managers and those developing technical tasks, mainly in tech companies.

But if you achieve the feat and meet these requirements, its advantages do really pay off.

Entrepreneur visa

If you wish to set up a company in Spain and develop your own project, you have two options.

You can either go for the regular work permit as a self-employed worker, which is quite complex to obtain.

Or you can move to an entrepreneur visa, also under the Entrepreneur’s law, with greater advantages.

This 3-year residence permit is granted to those who set up something completely innovative in Spain and that involves a high level of technology (for example the usage of algorithms or IA).

If you want to launch something that already exists on the market, then this is not your option.

You will have to develop a business plan, which will be a crucial component for your application, including a financial projection, marketing plan, and specifying how you will impact and help boost the Spanish economy.


Up till here the 7 main options or residencies that will allow you to work in Spain. If you are not sure about which is the right one for you or need help with your application, 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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residencies that allow you to work in Spain

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