Our years of experience with immigration procedures in Spain have allowed us to see it all. Family reunions, stories of coming and going, bureaucratic processes that seemed endless and that we were able to put an end to. Many positive events, full of joy, but we have also encountered the other side. With a country that sometimes closes its doors.

Non-Lucrative Residences are those that allow the recipient to live in Spain, although without earning income in the country. To get them, you have to prove that you have sufficient savings in a bank account. That you have a guaranteed income, such as, for example, the disbursement of a trust fund or a pension. Or attest to other forms of investment income: dividends, rental income from a property, interest, etc.

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To minimise the chances of our clients encountering those "no's" that break so many plans, we have put together here a list of the most common reasons behind certain rejections we have seen, especially when clients try their luck in applying for a visa without the help of professionals. Here you go:

6 risks to avoid when applying for non-lucrative residency in Spain

1 Insufficient regular income

The main step is for applicants to have a relevant economic level, either in terms of savings (in bank accounts) or regular income (investments, pensions, etc).

This must be sufficient for them and their families to stay in Spain for a minimum of six months per year. Thus, an application for non-gainful residence will be rejected if the applicant cannot prove a minimum monthly income of 2259.60 euros (plus 564.90 euros for each economically dependent person).

2— Health insurance

To obtain a Non-Lucrative Residence permit you must take out a health insurance policy with a company that operates in Spain and that, importantly, offers the same coverage as the Spanish national health system. Travel medical insurance is not accepted, nor is insurance contracted from the country of origin to provide medical cover during a stay abroad.

3— Lack of proof of accommodation

From our own experience, we must make special emphasis on this point.

We know that it can always lead to rejection. Spanish embassies in some countries value and take more into account those applications submitted by homeowners in Spain. Although it is also possible to provide rented housing as proof of residence, a home that is owned carries more weight in the application. It is also true that not all Consulates ask for proof of housing availability.

It should be clarified that the current Ley de Extranjería in Spain does not indicate proof of domicile as a requirement for a non-profit residence permit, but, as far as we have verified, some consular offices do mention it in this way in their information for applicants. For example, the Spanish embassy in Quito, Ecuador and the one in Bogotá, Colombia.

4— Lack of schooling plan

Applicants who have children of school age - which in Spain ranges from 6 to 16 years old - must prepare a schooling plan for them before submitting their applications.

The usual procedure is to enrol children in a private, often international, school, the first step being to pay a deposit to reserve the place. Like renting or buying a house, this must be done without prior confirmation or guarantee that the application for a residence permit will be approved. It is a sunk investment. Not all Consulates ask for it. 

5— Failure to construct a convincing argument to support the applicant's real motivation.

Consistency and common sense are important factors when the authorities review the file of an applicant for non-profit residence.

An official who is not convinced by an argument may conclude that the applicant is not really willing to spend at least 6 months in Spain. He or she will think that they only want to acquire Spanish residence in order to have freedom of movement within the Schengen area.

In this sense, the three most common mistakes are the following:

Inconsistency in family status: non-single applicants who apply for a single residence permit for themselves, planning to leave their family at home, are likely to raise a red flag for the Spanish immigration official. He or she is likely to think that such a person will not meet the minimum stay requirement if his or her family resides abroad.

Inconsistency in business status: When applying for a non-profit permit, it is assumed that applicants receive sufficient income from their business activity in the country of origin, and that this business activity does not require their physical presence. This is easy to comply with for business owners with employees, or for retirees living on high level public or private pensions. However, it will raise more suspicion in cases of young couples who are employed and want to move to Spain, but wish to maintain their managerial functions in their current companies. The Spanish immigration officer will consider it unlikely that the minimum stay requirements will be met, as a managerial position cannot be left unattended for long periods.

Inconsistency in employment status: In the age of telecommuting, it is common to find workers who hardly ever set foot in their company's offices. However, immigration officers do not necessarily have to be so adept at current employment trends. It is therefore recommended that applicants provide a document signed by their current employer specifying their permission to work remotely from a foreign country for at least 6 months of the year.

6— Failing the interview at the embassy

Once the application has been submitted, the Spanish embassy staff will interview the applicants (not in all cases) to confirm that everything in the file is true, as well as to gather any other subjective information not present in the file.

They will want to know whether there are family or business ties that support the application and justify the decision to choose residence in Spain over other countries. Also, whether applicants have visited the country at least once at a recent date. Or if they have a family member or business partner already residing in Spain.

The interview is usually a straightforward step. However, a small percentage of applicants do not answer the questions correctly.

Some will even confess to the embassy staff that they do not really intend to live in Spain as residents, but want to use the residence card as a travel visa. This will lead to immediate rejection.

This, believe it or not, is one of the many mistakes that can be made in a non-lucrative residency application. A mistake in which, no matter how much professional advice you get, no one is free from making a mistake. 

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