Everything you need to know about social arraigo in Spain in this article! Find out how to get residency for exceptional circumstances after 3 years illegally in the country, now with much more flexible requirements after the immigration law update.
Detailed requirements, step-by-step legal application process and other key tips below.
What is arraigo social or social roots?
Social arraigo is the regularisation procedure by which a foreigner who has lived in Spain continuously for 3 years can obtain the residency in the Spanish territory.
This residency will allow him/her to reside and work in the country for 1 year, with the possibility of renewing (what is called “prórroga”) or modifying it to another type of residence later on.
Usually this renewal means a work permit modification, hence the social arraigo is one of the best ways for all those foreigners in an irregular situation to stay in the country in he long run and start work.
It is also called a residence permit for exceptional circumstances, and is regulated by the Organic Law 4/2000, of 11 January.
Together with arraigo for studies, labor arraigo and family arraigo, they constitute the four types of temporary residence that any foreigner may obtain after having resided illegally in the country without a residence permit or visa for a period longer than 1 year.
8 tips that will help you obtain social roots in Spain
Below you will find what we consider to be the 8 indispensable keys that will make your application for arraigo successful.
Many of these recommendations are applicable during the 3 years prior to your application.
That is why it will be crucial that you take them into account before that period begins. If you do not comply with any of them and try to remedy it just before you apply for your residency, it will most likely be too late.
Hence, to avoid legal problems, start applying them from the very moment you enter Spain for the first time.
Register on the city hall once you arrive to Spain
The census or “empadronamiento”. This is undoubtedly one of the documents you will most need during the application procedure.
The census is the document that registers you at your local town hall, specifying where your address is, and who lives in your same home.
We recommend that you formalize this registration once you arrive in Spain. As we will see in the next section, it will help you to prove the temporary requirement.
Furthermore, this is what the administration requires to process your file: depending on where you are registered, you will be assigned to one of the different immigration offices.
Do you have any doubts? Get in touch with our immigration lawyers and receive personalized legal advice and all your doubts solved:
Be careful with your criminal records
If you have read other articles in our blog, you will already know that this is one of the requirements that we constantly repeat when talking about any residence permit or visa application.
Well, also in the case of social roots it will be crucial that you do not have criminal records in Spain.
But be careful. Not only in Spain. You can neither have them in any other country where you lived during the 5 years before arriving in the Spanish territory.
But fulfilling this requirement will not be enough. You will have to prove it actively.
By asking for the certificate of criminal records from your country of residence before entering Spain, translating it into Spanish, and duly legalizing it.
This criminal record may be valid for a maximum of 6 months.
If you have lived in more than one country during this period of 5 years, you must request this certificate from all the countries in which you have resided.
If you have committed any type of crime, we suggest you read this article in which we explain how to cancel your criminal and police records (so they don’t have any effect).
However, the immigration regulation accepts that in the following 2 cases it will not be necessary to provide this criminal record:
- If you have been in Spain for at least 5 years on a permanent basis and you can prove it
- If you have recently submitted another application to the immigration office in which you included your criminal records
Demonstrate your integration with Spain through the arraigo interview
If you have Spanish relatives (nationals) or relatives with a residence permit in the country, this requirement is not for you.
However, if as in most cases it is not your situation, it is very important that you demonstrate that you have integrated yourself with the Spanish culture and society during your 3 years in the national territory.
This is, without a doubt, something that you can cultivate from the very first minute.
We strongly recommend that you start to speak Spanish and get to know and inform yourself about the customs of the local population.
You will be able to demonstrate all this knowledge through an interview with a worker from the local council (a social integrator) where you are registered.
This interview finally generates what is known as the social integration report; which you must include in your application file for social roots.
Prove that you have lived in Spain for 3 years
As you know, one of the main requirements when applying for this type of arraigo is proving that you have lived in Spanish territory for the 3 years prior to your application.
The question is, how do I do this effectively so that my application is not rejected?
It is not that complicated. You can use any type of document that demonstrates that.
From water and electricity bills, to a ticket/receipt from any store (such as a ticket for the purchase of an electrical appliance), to a library card or gym membership.
As long as the document proves that you have stayed in Spain, it will be valid.
We recommend that you submit as many documents as possible; and that, if possible, you attach public documents if you have them (such as powers of attorney or any communication from the administration or government).
As we have said in the previous section, the census can be very useful in this regard. However, the law does not require you to have been registered in the city hall for the whole three years in order to be granted social roots.
Starting with your entry stamp at the airport (and that is why your passport is one of the best means of proof), you can collect documents, invoices, tickets, or any other paper that verifies that you have been in the country chronologically during all that time.
If you need to leave the country during those 3 years, take this into consideration
The Spanish immigration law states that the required 3-year stay in the country must be uninterrupted and continuous.
That is to say, it will be essential that you prove that the residence (although illegal) in Spain has been non-interrupted with trips or travels abroad.
However, if you have to leave the country for any reason, you may not do so for more than 120 days.
We are talking about 120 days in total during the 3 years, and they do not necessarily need to be consecutive.
Our advice is to think twice before traveling if you intend to apply for the arraigo.
The immigration office will check your passport, and by means of the entry and exit stamps, they can easily check if it meets this requirement.
Take a careful look at your job offer
Another requirement that you must meet in order to be granted social roots is to get a job offer. Unlike the labor arraigo, with this specific procedure you don’t need to have worked in the country: you must demonstrate that you are planning to do so instead.
But not all contracts are valid.
For the offer to be effective, it must meet the following requirements (now much more flexible):
- It can be any contract of any duration, with no minimum (the 1-year minimum that was required before is now gone)
- Temporary and permanent-discontinuous contracts are also valid
- This contract must be at least 30 hours per week (or 20 if you have a dependent child)
- You must be paid, as a minimum, the Interprofessional Minimum Wage or the minimum specified in the collective bargaining agreement
In addition, it is no longer necessary for the company to demonstrate economic solvency and capacity in order to hire you. However, and although it is not a requirement beforehand, it must have such capacity, and the immigration office may request the provision of such demonstration in case of doubts.
Finally, note that it is possible to formalize the application with two different job offers (the sum of the hours of the two must reach a minimum of 30 per week then). The important thing is that both offers come from the same sector of activity.
If you can't get a job offer, don't give up
We receive tons of messages, both on social media and through our articles, pointing out that the job offer requirement is undoubtedly very complicated to meet.
Either the foreigner does not find any offer, or the ones he finds do not meet the requirements.
However, if you are at this point you should not give up.
Because the Spanish law provides two alternatives to this fact. You can get arraigo social without having a job offer.
How can you do this?
Firstly, if you have sufficient economic means or if you live with a relative who has them, you can use them in your application. That is to say, you would prove that you do not need an employment contract since you have enough money to support yourself in the country without any help from the State.
We are talking about a 150% of the Minimum Vital Income in Spain, which is around 590€ per month.
On the other hand, and if the previous case is not your situation, you could present the application for social rooting through your own business project. Here you would do it by setting up your own company and materializing the financial and economic projection through a business plan.
These are two uncommon alternative paths. But if you meet their requirements, point by point, the application will be approved anyway.
Get help from an specialized immigration lawyer
Although we have included it in the end, it is maybe the most useful of them all.
An immigration lawyer has already presented hundreds of application like yours, and knows exactly how to prepare the documentation so that you can get social roots easily and successfully.
So once you decide to apply for this special type of residency, talk to a lawyer first so he can review your file.
On the other hand, there is one point we haven’t discussed yet.
Where and how do you apply for arraigo?
Until now, applications for social roots were presented through an appointment at your nearest immigration office. However, we are seeing how after the Covid-19 health crisis, many procedures can be done online.
So ask your lawyer first to see if you can submit all the documents online instead of attending to the immigration office yourself – it will save you a lot of time!
Our team of experts is at your disposal.
Get in touch with our lawyers and let us guide you step by step: