This conception, which was useful in the past, is becoming insufficient in the face of the new global economic reality.

The need to internationalize the Spanish economy, to promote the presence of foreign companies, to attract talent and foreign investment, to deseasonalise and diversify the Spanish tourism sector as well as the need to eliminate barriers to foreign entrepreneurship and investment in business projects that affect job creation, it was determined to carry out an assessment of the weaknesses and strengths of Spanish immigration regulations in 2012.


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If you are a citizen of the European Union, or if you are a US, Icelandic, Norwegian or Swiss citizen, you will not need to apply for a visa if you wish to move to Spain, regardless of the length of your stay. But if you do not belong to this group, you need to get the appropriate authorization or visas.

Since 2013, Spain has made a very important liberalization effort with the International Mobility section of Law 14/2013.

The new Entrepreneurs' Law facilitates the entry and residence in Spain of non-EU citizens who wish to develop an entrepreneurial activity in Spain. This procedure can be carried out either by issuing a visa to enter and remain in Spain for a period of one year in order to carry out the previous procedures to be able to develop the activity, or by granting a residence permit for two years, which can be extended, if the visa or other type of stay or residence permit is already in possession.

It is important that the activity to be carried out has an innovative character. As this is perhaps the most important aspect that the business project must contain, it is controversial that there is no definition of what is considered to be "innovative". The classic definition could be: An innovative project is a strategic plan that involves the creation of new ideas, products or services, which involve the development of an area such as education, technology, business models, ecology, among others.

The OBS Business School of Barcelona, gives us the guidelines to distinguish between an innovative project and one that is not, taking into account the following parameters

  1. They generate a before and after in a specific market: Innovative ideas endure and become a reference point in their sector. After they have been introduced, nothing is ever the same again. But be careful, we are not only talking about the economic element. The mark it leaves can be of any kind, even social or cultural.
  2. They make a previously unnoticed niche visible: at other times their effect is not felt in a specific area, but the product, service or content has such a disruptive quality that it makes visible a spectrum that no one had previously noticed. In such cases, the idea often opens up a new path for production and the market.
  3. They have the capacity to evolve over time: Innovation is not a day flower. If this were the case, we would not be talking about a project of this nature but simply an initiative of specific value. The innovative is sustainable, viable over time and, moreover, it must be flexible enough to evolve in response to the demands of the context itself.
  4. They have a high degree of acceptance: Of course, an innovative project is also defined by its capacity to be accepted by a given public. How many apparently innovative ideas have not been accepted by consumers and have simply disappeared? Many. When that happens, it is a clear indication that something has gone wrong with the design or the conception, because if an idea does not generate significant convening power, no matter how innovative it seems, it cannot be considered as such.
  5. They generate benefits for the brand that executes it: Companies that invest in innovation and development do not do it just for the sake of it. Logically, they seek a benefit for the brand, which can be economic (most of the time) or of any other kind. If a project does not have any positive impact on the trajectory of a company, how can it be catalogued as innovative?

The trends in innovation detected by the Bankinter Foundation of Innovation go through: The Future of Work, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Health and Education.

This innovative activity must also have a special economic interest for Spain, and this must be reflected in a project, which must be presented to the Economic and Commercial Office of the geographical demarcation area or by the General Directorate of International Trade and Investment, in order to issue a report that must be favorable.

In order to assess the project, the capacity to create jobs in Spain is taken into account, as well as the innovative nature of the project, the amount to be invested and the professional profile of the applicant.

Benefits of the residence permit for entrepreneurs

The residence permit for entrepreneurs implies important advantages over the temporary residence permit for self-employed persons, which non-EU citizens were obliged to apply for in Spain. The first is articulated as a single residence and work permit, and does not imply territorial or sectorial limitations for the activity. To this end, the business plan is analysed from a broad perspective and not only from the economic viability or the inherent risk of the activity.

The residence permit and visa for entrepreneurs can be applied for from Spain and implies reduced processing times.

Residence permits for entrepreneurs allow for residence and work throughout the national territory and make it possible to process the residence permit for spouse and children jointly.

Fortunately, the procedure is quick, with visas resolved and notified within 10 working days, and residence permits resolved within 20 days, after processing through the Large Companies and Strategic Groups Unit. However, in recent times resolutions are suffering a considerable delay, compared to 2016.

Spanish migration policies

Before its integration into the European Union, Spain was a country with economic crises and high unemployment rates, consequences of civil wars and a dictatorial regime. This context, which caused the emigration of Spaniards to Europe and America, began to change strongly after 1993, when Spain became part of the European Union (EU).

With the EU, Spain has benefited culturally and economically, becoming a country with a highly developed economy and high life indicators for its citizens. For all this, adding to the enviable temperate and Mediterranean climate, Spain is one of the most attractive countries for migrants, not only from Latin America, Africa and Asia, but also for migrants from the USA, Canada, the UK, Russia and Northern Europe.

In general, foreign citizens who wish to reside in Spain must be previously authorized to do so. Once this authorization has been obtained, they must apply for the corresponding visa that will allow them to enter Spain.

Note: The content of this page is merely indicative. Only the provisions of the regulations in force at the time of submission of the application are applicable.

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