SPAIN: New Start-Ups and Digital Nomad Visas Law Adopted

January 6, 2023

The so-called “startups law” has been published in the Spanish Official Diary and went into force as of 28 December 2022. The purpose of this new law (“Ley 28/2022 of 21st December de fomento del ecosistema de las empresas emergentes”) is to facilitate the entry and residence of foreign talent, investors, entrepreneurs, and digital nomads through a whole legislative package of a type that has not yet seen in Europe.

The current Entrepreneurs Law which currently outlines the immigration options for investors, entrepreneurs, highly qualified employees, intra-corporate transferees, and researchers is being amended to include a new work and residence visa for digital nomads (teletrabajadores de caracter internacional). The existing categories are amended as follows.

For all six categories of employees listed above:

  • Criminal record checks would be required from Spain and countries of residence during the previous two years (currently criminal records are required from countries where residing in the last five years), plus an additional declaration stating the applicant does not have a criminal record in the previous five years
  • Passport numbers will be enough to register under the social security system in the first six months of residence or stay and when the employee has not yet obtained a NIE number, until this is obtained.

For all the categories listed above, except for Intra corporate transfers, the initial residence permit is to be approved for three years, renewable for an additional two years. Permanent residence can be applied for after five years. (Currently, initial residence permits for these categories are approved for two years, renewable)

For National ICTs, a residence permit will be approved for up to three years or the duration of the assignment.

Entrepreneurs/Start-ups residence authorizations will be approved after 10 days of application by UGE (large business unit) as long as their project has been approved by ENISA along with some information about the applicants, their business profile, business plan, the added value, innovation and opportunities for the country.

High qualified employees would be considered those with degrees or postgraduate degrees from recognized universities or prestigious educational establishments, also vocational training or prestige business schools qualification or experience of three years (at the moment only companies fulfilling certain corporate criteria in terms of number of employees and financial stability can hire high qualified foreign nationals in management positions without university qualifications).

Maximum validity of Internship contracts increased from one to two years.

Digital Nomads: A new “authorization de residencia para teletrabajo Internacional” would allow “digital nomad employees”, or self-employed individuals abroad, to obtain a 1-year residence visa and/or a 3-year residence authorization renewable in increments of two years and leading to permanent residence after five years. Foreign nationals already in Spain would also be able to switch from another legal immigration status to a digital nomad residence authorization. Either abroad or within Spain, family reunion would be possible at the same time as the main applicant.

Self-employed digital nomads would be considered those highly qualified employees with degrees or postgraduate degrees from recognized universities or prestige educational establishments, also vocational training or prestige business schools, or three years of relevant experience.

Self-employed digital nomads would be allowed to work for Spanish companies if the percentage of their activities does not exceed 20% of their total professional activity.

The main qualifying criteria are:

  • The existence of continuous and real activity for at least one year of the foreign company employing or contracting the digital nomad
  • Proof of the above employment or contractual relationship either as:
    • Employment for at least three months and permission from the company to allow the applicant’s remote work from Spain;
    • A contractual relationship for at least three months and documentation with the terms under which he is allowed to work remotely from Spain.

The Immigration authorities should still issue official instructions with more specific requirements and documentation to apply for start-up and digital nomad visas before 31 March 2023.

Newland Chase Insights

Spain is the last EU country to implement the digital nomad visa and will now be able to compete with other southern European countries (Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Portugal) that are using this new immigration route to boost local tourism. The new entrepreneur start-up option is a new attempt to attract investment with a focus on innovation. This is a full global mobility package that aligns immigration with taxes, and commercial and civil rules with the aim to attract and facilitate entry and residence of foreign talent.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Newland Chase dedicated contact or submit an inquiry here should you have any specific questions regarding this announcement.

This immigration update is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal or scenario-specific advice. Furthermore, it is important to note that immigration announcements are subject to sudden and unexpected changes. Readers are encouraged to reach out to Newland Chase for any case- or company-specific assessments.