How to Convert a Student Visa to a Work & Residence Visa in Spain

  • Rosa
    Rosa
    Rosa is an experienced English-speaking lawyer in Mallorca and provides expert legal advice and assistance in the following legal areas: Property conveyances, Inheritance, Family, Criminal, Business, Employment and Tax law.

What options do non-EU students, studying in Spain under a Student Visa, have to stay and work in Spain?

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We are receiving an ever increasing number of enquiries relating to Immigration Law and how, and when those who are not citizens of the European Union may live and work in Spain. It should be stated at the outset that the current political and economic backdrop against which the immigration laws are interpreted and implemented means that many obstacles are placed in the path of non-EU citizens who wish to emigrate to Spain.

In this article we consider those non-EU citizens who have travelled to Spain to study here, having obtained a student visa via the Spanish consulate in their country of origin and who have then finalised their studies satisfactorily and wish to exchange their student visa for a visa to reside and work in Spain.

In order to be able to obtain the visa to reside and work in Spain it is necessary to comply with 5 mandatory requirements established by the relevant immigration legislation (incorporating  both Acts of the Spanish Parliament as well as Royal Decree):

  1. The student visa must not have expired at the time that the visa modification is requested.
  2. The student visa must have been granted for a period of at least 3 years and the course studied has been completed, with evidence to demonstrate this, such as degree or course certificate etc.
  3. It is essential to have received an offer of employment from a company that is solvent and the post must be remunerated with a minimum salary of 648.60€ per month (fixed as of 2015).  However, it is not necessary that the job offered be related to the course that the student attended in Spain.
  4. In addition, the student must be able to certify that they did not receive any government assistance nor scholarship to assist with attending the course studied in Spain and which would have been offered on the understanding that the student would return to their country of origin once the studies were completed.
  5. Finally, the applicant must demonstrate that they have no criminal record in their country of origin, nor in any other countries in which they have resided in the last 5 years. Nor must they have a criminal record in Spain, although in this last case it is not necessary to provide any documentation as the authorities will check this themselves.

For those non-EU students that find themselves in the situation that their visa has expired and therefore cannot request that it be renewed by the Spanish authorities or, due to not fulfilling each of the 5 mandatory requirements above, are unable to make an application for a modification of the visa to a visa entitling the student to work and reside in Spain then the options become very limited.

One possibility would be to make an application on the basis that they are married to a European Union citizen or are in a long term stable relationship, duly registered as a ‘pareja de hecho’ or, failing this, to make a request based on the ‘exceptional circumstances of social ties to the local community’ or, what is more or less the same ground, having lived for at least 3 years in Spain, demonstrate that they have  ‘integrated suitably into Spanish society’.

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