As a Spanish SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprise), can I hire highly qualified or executive staff workers who do not belong to any country in the European Union?

The Entrepreneurs Law enables the hiring by SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) of highly-qualified, graduate and postgraduate workers in universities and acclaimed business schools.

The SME must belong to an area considered strategic, or lead a business project that is of general interest.  They consider a project to be “of general interest” based on how many direct jobs it will create within the enterprise, in the activity sector or in the geographical area where the activity will be developed. Also, if the project could be considered of interest to Spanish commercial and investment policy, and if it has the potential for extraordinary investment with a relevant socio-economic impact or an important contribution to scientific and/or technological innovation.

The evidence of this criteria is presented through a report compiled by the General Direction of International Trade and Investments.

What does “highly qualified staff” mean?

This term refers to people who have the specific competencies required for the job or the entrusted professional tasks.

The regime that the Entrepreneurs Law establishes tries to make the requirements imposed by the European Directive 2009/50/UE and the Spanish regulation of foreigners’ law for this type of hiring more flexible.  Both the European Directive and Spanish law demand a degree obtained in a higher education academy or five years´ professional experience at a level comparable to the aforementioned higher learning qualifications, as well as high wage limits or a regulative relation of sectors that are considered strategic.  

What are the advantages of this residence authorisation?

Processing of the application is usually speedy, and the criteria of the National Employment Situation is not applied for the hiring of these non-resident foreign citizens.


The authorisation allows one to work and reside in all national territory, enables the obtainment of the residence visa both if the worker is inside or out of Spain and it is possible to jointly apply for family members’ residence authorisation.