Once the state of alarm due to the health crisis was declared in Spain by COVID-19, the Spanish Government approved and has implemented a series of measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus among the population.

Specifically, with regard to immigration procedures, one of the first measures was the cancellation of public attention services in Immigration Offices. Since then, we have been involved in a cascade of cancellations of all appointments, and not only at the Immigration Offices, but also at the Police Stations or at the Civil Registry.

To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease throughout Spain, all the measures put in place, in one way or another, have affected many people, who had previous appointments granted to carry out certain procedures, take their fingerprints, apply for a residence card, among others.

Many are the doubts that arise at this time so uncertain. However, the most common one is: how are immigration offices going to face the end of the state of alarm?

Facts and Figures

It must be said that since Spain declared the state of alarm, the Immigration Offices have not stopped working and managing the applications that were submitted before the start of the confinement on 14 March 2020. And in fact, applications are still being accepted via telematics during the state of alarm.

The Immigration Offices have suspended and/or cancelled all appointments made since the Spanish Government declared the state of alarm, and in this way, by avoiding carrying out personal procedures on their premises, they prevent the movement of people and thereby eliminate any means of spreading the coronavirus.

However, all this serious problem, which has generated thousands of infected and dead people, has not implied the suspension of the activity and as we say, they have continued trying to solve, with diligence, the procedures and applications of foreigners, similar to what they were doing before the arrival of COVID-19.

For all the above reasons, if you had an appointment and, obviously, you were not able to come because of the coronavirus and the state of alarm, you can submit your applications for procedures telematically, without any problem in many of the immigration offices.

Here you can locate your nearest immigration office and call to confirm the availability of public attention.

The future

But when will the immigration offices return to work normally after the end of the state of emergency?

To facilitate the reincorporation and adaptation of public employees to the process of deconfinement, the Spanish government and the trade unions have just sealed an important agreement.

This past Monday, May 4, by electronic means, the Minister of Territorial Policy and Public Function, Carolina Darias, and the trade unions CSIF, UGT, CCOO and CIG, have signed an important agreement that will facilitate the opening of the Administration Offices to the public on May 25.

The agreement includes a set of organisational measures that must be applied to begin the gradual reincorporation of all civil servants in the General State Administration as part of the de-escalation process announced by the Government.

Just because the alarm condition ends, it doesn't mean the coronavirus is completely gone. Therefore, while everyone will go back out on the streets and begin to resume their daily routines, the public services will do so as well but gradually, including any paperwork in person, due to the social distancing measures, which will surely be implemented.

The application of social distancing will mean that fewer people will be served in the Aliens Offices in order to avoid overcrowding in waiting rooms and other common areas.

We are convinced that the immigration offices in this new scenario will focus on:

  • To allow even more applications to be submitted via telematics, and also to monitor residence permits and initial authorisations telematically, as well as their renewal. To this end, an agreement has also been signed so that we Lawyers can present ALL applications in this way when we have been appointed, by the clients, as representatives (previously only some authorisations, such as renewals, etc., could be presented telematically), and this will soon come into operation.
  • It may be that at the end of the state of alarm you will have to request a new appointment, or it may be that from the Immigration Office you will be assigned a new appointment, perhaps assuming some priority criteria for the suspended or cancelled appointments during the state of alarm.
  • We do not believe that there will be a total elimination of personal presentations of permits or renewal of authorizations for residence and work in Spain.

The Ministry of Territorial Policy and the Civil Service has made it a priority to ensure the health of public employees. To this end, it has agreed with the trade unions on a series of organizational measures to ensure the safe provision of services in accordance with the recommendations of the health authorities.

According to a news item from Europa Press, "the Administration's offices will be open to the public from 25 May, coinciding with the 'Phase II' of de-climbing, with prior appointment and limited capacity, and the offices may be open until 9pm".

However, CSIF sources, quoted by Europa Press, say "they will remain vigilant to ensure compliance with security measures for public employees and citizens".

According to Europa Press, Carlos Álvarez, the federal secretary of the UGT's AGE, said that "it is a matter of establishing a framework of "co-responsibility, homogeneous and negotiated in all areas, based on a gradual reincorporation". Furthermore, he called the agreement "very guaranteeing", because it "prioritizes the health and safety of public employees while ensuring the adequate provision of services by the Administration to citizens".

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