Returning to Spain after a Voluntary Return

voluntary return to Spain

This is a common situation. Many foreigners living in Spain become unemployed. After seeing that they have little chance of finding a new job, they decide to return to their country of origin. To do so, they take advantage of the voluntary return procedure, which allows them to receive their unemployment benefits in a single payment.

The question that many of these foreigners ask themselves is, can I come back to Spain after a voluntary return? The answer is yes, and in this article you will learn how.

A voluntary return is a procedure created by the government with the aim of reducing the number of residents from third countries in Spain.

To achieve this purpose, a kind of treatment is offered to that foreigner.

If you have been working in Spain, voluntary return allows you to collect unemployment benefits earlier and all together, provided that you commit to leaving and not to come back to the country for a period of 3 years.

This accumulated payment process is called APRE and is managed by the SEPE (the Ministry of Labor affairs).

This advance payment that the foreigner receives refers to the same unemployment benefit that she has earned after working and contributing to Social Security in Spain during her working years.

That is to say, instead of receiving the corresponding unemployment benefits on a monthly basis (as is usually done), the voluntary return allows you to collect them jointly, receiving a single payment for the total amount.

Once you take advantage of this program, your current residence card will be extinguished, as detailed in Royal Decree 557/2011.

That is why many people wonder how to get it back and how to start living in Spain again.

Do you have any doubts? Our lawyers will answer all your questions:

How can I come back to Spain after benefiting from a voluntary return?

Many foreigners who have taken advantage of a voluntary return have the same doubt.

Once the 3 years to which I have committed not to return to Spain come to an end, how can I return to the country?

The first thing we must take into account is that it will not be possible to return before that period of time (except in the third case that we will see below).

In order to understand the step-by-step process you should follow, we must first take into account that the situation differs depending on whether you had a temporary or long-term residency, or if you under the community regime.

Based on that we find the following cases:

You had a temporary residency card

If you had a temporary residency card in Spain (i.e., a card for one or two years), after the beforementioned 3 years you will be able to return to the country but for this, you will have to start your application from 0.

That is to say, you will need to request your initial residence authorization from the beginning (you cannot renew the one you previously held or go through any similar procedure that is based on your prior residency).

The most common case is to apply for an initial residence and work authorization as an employee.

That is because this voluntary return has one main benefit: you acquire preferential processing for your immigration application.

In addition, the national situation of unemployment in Spain won’t be taken into account. That is to say, even if there are Spanish nationals who are unemployed and also want to apply for the same job position as you, this will not influence your capacity to apply for that particular position.

This whole process will be carried out from your country of origin, starting with finding a job offer (a company that wants to hire you), and then it will be your employer who will start with all the paperwrok first.

The rest of the general requirements to apply for your residence permit must be fulfilled as usual. That is to say, if you are going to apply for a non-lucrative visa, for example, the requirements are the same for this residence as if you were entering Spain for the first time.

You had a long-term residency card

In the case you held a long-term residence (which expired when you joined the program), the process is much easier.

You will simply have to visit the Spanish consulate in your country of origin (or the country where you are residing at the moment) and request the recovery of your long-term residence.

They will give grant you a visa with which you will be able to enter Spain, register your fingerprints, get your physical card, and with that, you will be able to live and work legally in the country again.

Your residency was under the community regime

If you benefited from the community regime in Spain, you have an extra added advantage.

You will be able to restart the procedures (again under the community regime) and return to Spain even before the end of those 3 years, since the right of any Spanish national has to regroup a non-EU relative is above the prohibition to return to Spain imposed by the voluntary return.

However, depending on your nationality, you will have to check whether or not you must apply for a visa to enter Spain and carry out the subsequent steps of the procedure to get your community card.

Will the time lived in Spain before leaving count?

Yes, one of the main advantages of this procedure is that the time spent in Spain prior to leaving the country is still counted and will have legal validity for future procedures.

That is why if you have been in the Spanish territory for 5 years, you will be able to directly apply for long-term residency upon your return (something that is much more beneficial for its advantages).

Since when do the 3 years start?

Here we have two different options:

  • First of all, if the resolution granting voluntary return specifies a concrete date until which you will not be able to enter Spain back again, that is the deadline you must respect and take into account.
  • On the other hand, if you do not have this information specified, you will be able to return after the end of the 3 years since you left Spain (considering the departure date).

If you need specialized legal advice or to have our immigration lawyers managing your application, contact us!

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

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