The visa for Highly Qualified Workers (HQW) is a residence permit that allows citizens from outside the European Union to live and work legally in Spain, assuming that they will do so in a management or highly qualified position. 

But what exactly are the job profiles required to successfully apply for this residence permit?

  • Managers and individuals who manage a relatively large team within a company;
  • Workers who work in truly technical and specialized positions; 
  • Citizens from outside the European Union who have completed their higher education at a prestigious university or business school; 

This may be an employment or professional relationship. This means that the company may offer an employment contract (in which the person joins the company as another worker) or there may be a contractual relationship between the company and the professional, the worker being a self-employed worker whose income from the company applying for the residency represents 75% of its income.

This residence permit, regulated by article number 71 of the Law on Entrepreneurs in Spain, provides the aforementioned persons with a 2-year residence permit, renewable successively for 2-year periods.

In addition, there are more benefits than just being able to live and work legally with this visa. You will also be able to move freely within the Schengen area, and bring your family to Spain with you from the beginning. However, the European Union Blue Card will be the work permit that with the same requirements will allow you to work in any country of the European Union.

However, people often ask themselves the following question: when I am given the authorization to live and work as a highly qualified worker, is it an authorization that allows me to work in any company in Spain? If not, what happens if I leave the job for the company with which I obtained the authorization, or I am fired from my job? Do I lose my residence and work authorization?

While it is true that authorisation as a highly qualified worker is granted for a job and with a specific company, if the worker decides to leave the job or the company to dismiss him/her, the worker is obliged to notify this circumstance to the Large Companies Unit (UGE) and if he/she wishes to continue to hold an authorisation as a HQW, a new application must be submitted, from Spanish territory, which will be granted provided that it is proven that he/she is still highly qualified. This must be done within 30 days of the end of the employment relationship.

There is also the possibility of changing the authorization as HQW to a residence and work authorization once you have completed 1 year of residence, but in this case you would no longer be considered as HQW. Therefore, if these requirements are met, the person does not lose his or her residence due to the loss of work. But there is a risk that if a job is not obtained within 30 days, which allows the company to request a new authorization for the worker, or 1 year has not passed since the residence authorization was obtained, the worker may lose his residence authorization as a HQW.

At the time of the application, foreigners may be abroad or already in Spain in a regular situation. If they are abroad, they must apply for the corresponding visa at the Spanish Consulate once the company has obtained the residence permit.

Therefore we could say that its characteristics are:

  • A unique authorization of residence, including family members, and work, which authorizes you to work in a job in a specific company, and not in any place in Spain,
  • No labour market test is applied;
  • Free movement within the Schengen member countries;
  • Simplified procedure: 20 days for residence authorisations and 10 days for visas, formalities can be carried out through a representative;
  • Combined processing for family members;
  • The application for a residence permit will extend the validity of the permit holder's residence or stay in Spain until the end of the procedure.

Things you need to know before applying for a Highly Qualified Worker visa in Spain

  • The most important thing to take into account in this type of authorization is not only the worker's higher education, but his or her experience related to that higher education;
  • The amount of salary that must appear in your job offer must be greater than 40,077 euros/year; but if you are a Director or Manager, this amount must be at least 54,142 euros/year;
  • Some studies that are regulated professions, e.g. lawyers, clinical psychologists, architects, engineers who sign projects, among others, must be previously validated in Spain. This process takes some time (more than a year), so it is important that you do this before applying for any work as a highly qualified worker. Some medical specialties take more than 3 years to be recognized as valid in Spain;
  • When you apply for a residence permit for a highly qualified worker, you may also apply for a residence permit for your family members;
  • You can apply for a Highly Qualified Worker visa within 3 months of your arrival in Spain, or at the Spanish Consulate in your country of origin or residence.

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