Practical issues about residence visa for highly qualified professionals

11 de May de 20170

Law 14/2013 on Support to Entrepreneurs was drawn up with the aim of internationalizing the Spanish economy, boosting the presence of foreign companies and attracting talent and foreign investment to Spain. To this end, measures have been taken to eliminate barriers to talent, entrepreneurship and investment in business projects that have an impact on job creation and have a positive impact on the Spanish economy.

These measures include facilitating entry and residence in Spain to investors, entrepreneurs, managers and highly qualified professionals and researchers who are nationals of countries outside the EU, Switzerland or the EEA.

In particular, in relation to highly qualified professionals, the existing rule simplifies the requirements of the previous applicable law, does not take into account the national employment situation and does not interpret restrictively wage threshold as limitations for granting residence authorizations.

Companies interested in requesting such authorizations must be in one of the following situations: (a) being a large company, (b) being a small-medium size company in a strategic sector or (c) developing a project of general interest.

Big enterprises:

Large companies are considered those that meet some of the following requirements:

  • Have a workforce of more than 250 employees
  • Annual net turnover higher than 50 million euros or more than 43 million euros equity.
  • Annual investment average from outside, not less than 1 million
  • Stock value over 3 million euros

These types of companies can apply for residence permits for managers or highly qualified professionals, without being subject to any limitations, provided that the worker meets the legally established requirements.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) belonging to a strategic sector:

Taking into account the constant evolution of the economy and production models, the assessment of the strategic nature of the sector to which the company belongs is done on a case-by-case basis.

According to the latest annual report on the application of the International Mobility Section of Law 14/2013, of 27 September, on Supporting Entrepreneurs and their internationalization, the companies for which favourable reports were issued belonged to the following sectors: agriculture, industry, construction and services, being that of ICT and the new business models, which can most easily be considered strategic.

Companies developing a project of general interest:

Any company, without having the qualification of large company or SME, can request this type of permits, if it is going to develop a project of general interest.

A business project will be considered of general interest, if it meets any of the following requirements:

  • Creation of direct jobs.
  • Important role in maintaining employment.
  • Realization of an investment with socio-economic relevant impact.
  • Contribution  to the scientific and / or technological innovation.
  • Reasons of general interest for trade and investment Spanish policy.


Who and how is it valued if the company belongs to a strategic sector or if the project that it develops is of general interest?

The General Directorate of International Trade and Investment is the competent body to issue a report on compliance with these conditions. The report shall be issued, at the request of the company concerned, prior to the application for the residence permit.

In order to determine whether the conditions are met, the DG for International Trade and Investments will value the information offered by the report describing the activity of the company, which should refer to the projects carried out and those to be developed in the future.

The wording of the standard is very general and indefinite, which makes it difficult in many cases to determine “a priori” whether the company can be considered as belonging to a strategic sector or if the project has the status of “general interest”.  It is therefore of utmost importance that the report be as detailed, specific and illustrative as possible in order to “convince” the government agency responsible for issuing the report.

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