Immigration Categories

A brief description of corporate immigration categories by assignment type follows. The appropriate immigration category or status for your employees will depend on their specific details and on your company. The most common categories for corporate transfers in our experience are the Intra Company Work Permit and the Local Hire Work Permit for highly qualified employees. For details on non-typical categories not listed below (investors, entrepreneur, special programs), please contact your representative.

  • Intra Company Work Permit: For intra company transfers or companies that have signed a bilateral Service Agreement. Employee must have been employed at the company for at least three (3) months and must stay on home payroll in a similar position. The maximum period of assignment is up to five (5) years, depending on the Social Security international agreement between the home and the host countries.
  • Work Permit on Local Payroll: Employee is hired locally by a Spanish entity. Spanish Social Security enrolment on categories one (1) or two (2) is mandatory.

Typical Process Overview

In order to be able to apply via the Unidad de Grandes Empresas (UGE) the Spanish company or the assignee must comply with one of the following criteria:

  1. For Local Work Permit Process for high skilled employees when submitted via the Unidad de Grandes Empresas (UGE) by Spanish Companies with:

Option A: over 250 employees in local payroll.

Option B: over 43 million € assets or over 50 million business activity (net on annual basis).

Option C: over 1 million € foreign investment during the last three (3) years (net on annual basis).

Option D: business development in strategic areas: information and communication technologies, renewable energies, environmental, water treatment, health sciences, biopharmaceutical and biotechnology, aeronautics and aerospace among other categories.

Option E: high importance business projects with positive impact based on increase in number of employments, scientific/technologic innovation and volume of investments.

Option F: For companies that do not meet the above mentioned criteria, but they are trying to hire a non EU national that is a graduate or postgraduate from a prestigious University.

  1. For Intra Company Work Permit :
  • The assignee must hold a high University degree or a proof of three (3) year experience in a similar position to the one that he/she will have in Spain
  • The host and the home companies must be part of the same group of companies OR have signed a bilateral Service Agreement.


The following process overview is applicable to Intra-Company/ Local Hire Work Permit Process for high skilled employees when submitted via the Unidad de Grandes Empresas (UGE): Approximate overall processing time from the time the first step is submitted to the time the employee is legal to work in Spain is approximately two (2) months. However, note that lead time for document gathering at the start of the process should be factored in, as should processing time for completion of post arrival formalities. In Spain, the document gathering stage of the process is particularly labor intensive, as many documents must be legalized and translated. Emigra Worldwide can assist with this if required. See the “Application Materials” section below for further details. Average processing time for each individual step is noted below.

Step One: Intra Company/Local Hire Permit Application

Processing Time: Twenty (20) business days

Once the Work and Residence Permit application has been prepared, our local partner in Spain can submit the application to the Spanish Foreign Office.

Step Two: Visa Application & Collection (Work/Residence Visa)
Processing Time: 10 to 15 days approximately

Once the Work Permit has been granted, the assignee (& family – depending on the age of children) must apply for visa(s) at the Spanish Consulate in home country/country of legal residence. The consulate will refer the application to Spain for approval. Note that at certain Spanish consulates, an appointment must be obtained.

However note that it is possible to obtain residence authorization from within Spain, as long as the applicant holds a legal immigration status (visitor/resident) within Spain at the moment of lodging the Work Permit application. In this case, the Step Two is avoidable.

Step Three: Town Hall Registration
Processing Time: Approximately one (1) hour

The Town Hall Registration is only compulsory in some cities in Spain and can be completed in one (1) day. The assignee (and any accompanying dependents) must be presented in person. IC can arrange for assignee to be accompanied. An appointment may be necessary.

Step Four: Biometrics Appointment/Residence Permit Application
Processing Time: One (1) to two (2) hours. Application made the same day.

IC can arrange for assignee (and any accompanying dependents) to be accompanied to the Police Station to submit their biometrics. This will trigger the processing time of the NIE Card (residence permit). An appointment may be necessary.

Step Five: NIE Card (residence permit) Collection
Processing Time: Thirty (30) business days

When the NIE card is ready, the IC can arrange an appointment with the assignee (and any accompanying dependents) to attend the Police Station and collect the NIE card (residence permit). The assignee can be accompanied to this appointment.

Typical Documents Obtained

Following the Intra-Company or local work permit category described above will result in obtaining the following immigration documents. Typical validity is noted next to each document name. For details on the renewal process, please see the next section, “Renewal.”

  • Intra Company Work Permit (Autorización de Residencia Temporal por Traslado Intraempresarial): Two (2) years or less depending on the Social Security Certificate of Coverage (for some Intra Company Transfers under specific circumstances it is possible to obtain a three (3) year permit)
  • Local Work Permit (Autorización de Residencia Personal Altamente Cualificado): Two (2) year validity or less depending on the work contract submitted.


Renewal is possible. Intra-Company permits can be renewed up to a maximum duration in Spain of two (2) to five (5) years depending on the bilateral agreement between Spain and the home country. Local work permits can be renewed for two (2) years, and then, once this card expires, a new card can be obtained for an additional two (2) years. Renewal processes take thirty (30) days.

A long term card without employment conditions is available to some applicants after five (5) years.


To ensure that assignees leave Spain after the expiration of their permission to stay and to monitor the number of foreign workers in the country, the government of Spain requires all applicants and dependents to return their original Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE) cards or European Union Certificates to the police station before departure. Dependents may go in person or authorize someone to return their documents.


Dependent immigration status approval depends on the immigration status of the principal applicant. Where the principal applicant is in Spain with a intra-company or local work permit, the following rules apply for dependents:

  • Minimum age (spouses): Eighteen (18)
  • Maximum age (children): Seventeen (17) o older due to their health situation
  • Unmarried partners: Yes, if the partners are registered in the home country Registration office
  • Same sex partners: Yes, if married or registered in the home country Registration office
  • Non-traditional dependents (e.g. parents): No
  • Work authorization granted? Yes

Application Materials

Application materials vary depending on the immigration category being applied for and on the specifics of the case. We will advise you in detail regarding your specific case; however, general application materials for the work permit process are noted below.

  • A variety of personal and corporate documents will be needed to support the application.
  • Such documents may include copy of passports, legalized/apostilled diplomas, current resume (C.V.), references, legalized / apostilled birth and marriage certificates, police clearance certificates, corporate Power of Attorney, and corporate registration certificates.
  • All documentation must be submitted in Spanish and public documents must be legalized / apostilled.
  • Some civil documentation only has the life span of three (3) months

Business Visitors

  • Name of visa granted: Schengen type C
  • Duration of stay: Ninety (90) out of one-hundred-eighty (180) days
  • General activities permitted: “business only”, generally defined as attending meetings, class room training, negotiations, attending conferences, trade fairs or forums. If you are unsure whether your assignment may be considered business or not, please contact your representative.

Change of Status

It is possible to change status from business/tourist visitor to work permit holder without leaving Spain.

Salary and Payroll

Salary and payroll requirements vary depending on the immigration category and on the specifics of the case. In Spain, the authorities will expect employees to be paid in line with what a local resident would receive for the same job. Additionally, payroll location will affect the immigration process. Please contact your representative for more details for your specific situation.


Qualification requirements will vary from case to case and will depend on the immigration category under which the application is made. However, in general, the immigration authorities do expect to see a graduate-level university degree. In some situations, a strong case may be made for applicants without a degree provided their level of experience and industry specific qualification is high. Please contact your representative for more details.

Red Flags

In our experience, the following points are important to note at the start of the process. If any of the below situations apply to you, contact your representative immediately for further detailed advice.

  • Absence of university degree.
  • Absence of at least three (3) years’ experience in a similar position.
  • Absence of at least three (3) months of previous employment with the sending company.
  • Insufficient compensation: annual gross salary under 30,000€.
  • Police Clearance Certificates of all applicants age eighteen (18) and above must be submitted from all countries in which they have lived in the last five years.
  • All foreign documents must be legalized/ apostilled and translated into Spanish
  • Appointment for visa applications must be booked in advance at some Spanish Consulates and can add one (1) to two (2) weeks to processing time.
  • During August, Easter and in December, processing time is increased as the Spanish authorities tend to be short staffed.
  • For Intra-Company applications where there is Social Security Agreement between the home country and Spain a Certificate of Coverage issued by the home country Social Security office is required. To obtain this document can take several weeks.
  • For Intra-Company applications where there is no Social Security Agreement between the home country and Spain an additional legalized and translated Power of Attorney for social security and tax payments will be required – this can take several weeks.
  • For Intra-Company transfers, legalized and translated corporate documents proving the link between the home and the host company will be requested – this can take several weeks.
  • For Intra-Company transfers a full medical insurance valid in Spain will be required
  • The Spanish company must be up to date with social security and tax payments.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

The government of Spain takes immigration non-compliance very seriously. Penalties for non-compliance may include fines, deportation, and imprisonment. For more details, please contact your representative.

Bilateral Agreements

  • European Union: Spain is a member of the European Union (EU). Many EU member countries, European Economic Area (EEA) member countries, and European Free Trade Area (EFTA) countries maintain agreements that allow individuals from member states to travel and work freely within the region without prior authorization. For detailed information on process and requirements for nationals of EU/EEA/EFTA countries traveling to Spain, please contact Emigra Worldwide.
  • Schengen: Spain is a member of the Schengen agreement. Short term (type C) visas and residence permits for Spain will allow travel in the rest of the Schengen zone.
  • Chile and Peru: Spain has signed bi-lateral international agreements with Chile and Peru which would negate the need for the Procurement of the Negative Certificate (should this be required because of the job category or because the assignee is below managerial level). The application to the local employment office would not be required when applying for a work permit for nationals of Peru and Chile.