Highly Qualified Workers in Spain: Residence and Work for Foreign Professionals

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Highly Qualified Workers in Spain: Residence and Work for Foreign Professionals

Spain, a country with a rich history, vibrant culture, and enviable Mediterranean climate, has become an attractive destination for highly skilled professionals from around the world. The search for foreign talent has become a priority for Spanish companies looking to compete in a globalized and dynamic market. In this context, the Spanish government has implemented a series of programs and visas that facilitate temporary residence and work for highly skilled professionals. In this article, we will explore in detail the requirements, benefits, and challenges for those professionals who wish to settle in Spain in search of job opportunities and professional development..

What you need to know if you're being hired as a highly skilled professional in Spain

If you have the opportunity to be hired as a highly skilled professional to work in Spain, it’s important that you understand the key aspects about the authorization and visa required to live and work in the country. In this article, we’ll provide you with essential information so you can understand the requirements and procedures you need to fulfill to obtain the corresponding authorization and visa for the highly skilled personnel process in Spain.

Authorization for Highly Skilled Professionals

If a company or entity in Spain wishes to hire you as a highly skilled professional, they will need to apply for an authorization to do so. It’s important to note that the law does not establish a clear definition of what constitutes a «highly skilled worker,» so this determination will be made at the discretion of the administration that analyzes the application. Therefore, our recommendation is that if you are not clear about this point, you should seek proper advice to comply with the regulations. In such case, you can contact our professionals who are experts in hiring from abroad.

Who should apply for the authorization for Highly Qualified Professionals?

The authorization request must be made by the company or entity, or its duly accredited representative, electronically. It is not the responsibility of the interested person to make this request. However, the main interested party is the worker themselves, so our recommendation is for you to be fully informed about the procedure to ensure at all times that the regulations and requirements are met.

Who is the Highly Qualified Professional Authorization for?

This authorization is aimed at non-EU individuals who have a job offer from a company established in Spain and who require specific skills or qualifications that can be demonstrated through:

  • A recognized university degree or business school qualification.
  • A higher vocational training degree.
  • In exceptional cases, previous experience of at least three years in a position similar to the one offered.

Requirements to Apply for the Highly Qualified Professional Visa

To apply for the highly qualified professional visa, you must meet general and specific requirements, depending on the purpose of your stay.

General Requirements to Apply for the Highly Qualified Professional Visa:

  • Not being a citizen of a European Union (EU) state, European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland, nor being a family member of individuals from these countries subject to the Union citizen regime.
  • No criminal record in Spain or in the countries where you have resided in the last five years.
  • Not being prohibited from entering Spain or being considered rejectable in countries with which Spain has signed an agreement to that effect.
  • Payment of the corresponding fee for processing the national visa.

Specific Requirements to Apply for the Highly Qualified Professional Visa

It is essential to have the authorization for highly qualified professionals, for which the following requirements must be met:

Employee Requirements:

  • Not being irregularly present in Spanish territory.
  • Being over 18 years old.
  • Having no criminal record in Spain or in the countries where you have resided in the last five years.
  • Not being prohibited from entering Spain or being considered rejectable in countries with which Spain has signed an agreement.
  • Holding a higher education degree or equivalent, or alternatively, having a minimum of three years of professional experience that can be considered equivalent.

Company Requirements:

  • Having a certificate of coverage or agreement with Social Security, or health insurance for the employee, contracted with an authorized insurance entity operating in Spain.
  • Payment of the corresponding fee for processing the authorization.
  • Presenting a job offer and job description, justifying the need for someone with your profile and qualifications, and informing that you will be paid a salary commensurate with your professional level.

What is the validity of the Visa and Authorization of highly qualified personnel in Spain?

The visa is valid for up to one year, while the residence and work authorization coincide with the duration of your employment contract, with a maximum of three years.

Is it possible to apply for Family Reunification with this permit?

An excellent news is that you can bring your family with you. Your spouses or common-law partners, dependent minor or adult children, and first-degree ascendants financially dependent on you or your spouse or partner can accompany you in your move. They can apply for authorization or visa jointly with you or after your arrival in Spain

Procedures for obtaining a Highly Qualified Personnel Visa in Spain

The steps to obtain the visa are as follows:

Obtain the Authorization:

First, the company that hires you must process the residence and work authorization for highly qualified professionals. Once this authorization is granted, you can begin the visa process, demonstrating that you meet the required criteria.

Fill out the Application Form and Gather Documentation:

Download, fill out, and sign the national visa application form, specifying the reason for your trip. It is important to note that documents must be translated into Spanish by a sworn translator and correctly legalized, depending on whether the country issuing the document is a signatory to the Hague Convention or not.

Request an Appointment to obtain a highly qualified professional visa

Schedule an appointment to process the visa in person or through a duly accredited representative at the diplomatic mission or consular office. It is important for the applicant to be correctly informed about the exact procedure for applying for the visa and the need for an appointment.

Submit the Required Documentation to Obtain the Visa for Highly Qualified Professionals:

Present the required documentation at the Spanish diplomatic mission or consular office in your country to process the visa.

Pick Up the Visa for Highly Qualified Professionals:

Once the documentation and requirements have been validated, if your visa application is approved, you will receive a notification by email or at your address along with your passport, with the visa stamped on it. Please note that you have one month to pick up the visa once you receive the notification.

How to enter Spain once this visa has been granted?

Once you have been granted this visa, you must enter Spain within the following three months using any of the following methods.

Procedures to Obtain Residency Authorization for Highly Qualified Personnel in Spain

We must be very clear about the difference between a visa and residency. The steps outlined below refer specifically to how the company or an authorized representative should apply for the residency of highly qualified personnel:

The Company Applies for the Residency Authorization for Highly QualifiedProfessionals

The company wishing to hire you must submit the application for residency authorization for highly qualified professionals to the corresponding authority in Spain.

Receive the Notification of Resolution for the Residency Authorization for Highly Qualified Professionals

Within a maximum period of twenty working days, the residency authorization for highly qualified professionals will be resolved. The requesting company will receive notification via email.

Apply for the Visa if You are Outside of Spain

If at the time of application you are outside of Spain, once the authorization is approved, you must apply for the visa to enter Spanish territory.

Documentation required to obtain a highly qualified professional

The required documentation may vary depending on your country of residence, and each consulate may request additional documentation as they deem necessary for the visa decision. However, the general documentation you will need to provide includes:

Employee Documentation:

  1. National visa application form (when required).
  2. Complete copy of the passport.
  3. Certificate of criminal record.
  4. Resolution of the residency authorization for highly qualified professionals.
  5. Updated curriculum vitae.
  6. Documentation proving your higher education degree or equivalent.

Company Documentation:

  1. Documentation identifying the company requesting the authorization.
  2. Signed employment contract with the minimum conditions established for hiring highly qualified professionals.
  3. Proof of necessary solvency.
  4. Certificate of affiliation with Social Security or private health insurance.


Highly qualified professional renewal law 14/2013

The residence permit for highly qualified professionals under the Law 14/2013 has a validity period of 3 years. It’s important that during these 3 years, no changes have been made, and you have worked in the same company performing the same functions that led to the granting of the residence authorization.

Once your card has expired, the renewal of the residence permit for highly qualified professionals must be requested 60 days before the expiration date of the authorization. This renewal can also be submitted within 90 calendar days after the expiration date.

Residence Visa for Highly Qualified Workers

Residence visa for highly qualified workers is a key instrument for attracting foreign talent to Spain. This type of visa is designed for professionals who have outstanding academic qualifications, relevant work experience, and specialized skills that are highly demanded in the Spanish labor market.

What is the visa as a highly qualified professional?

It is a temporary residence and work authorization that a foreign worker residing outside of Spain can obtain to carry out a work activity that requires a higher education qualification or, exceptionally, a minimum of five years of professional experience that can be considered equivalent.

Differences between highly qualified personnel and the blue card

Many people tend to confuse these two types of permits, but they are actually very different cards.

Both residencies differ in terms of application requirements (although others are common), mainly regarding the salary requirement.

For the EU Blue Card, a salary of 1 to 1.5 times the average annual gross salary of the EU country where you wish to work is required; whereas the highly qualified permit requires a salary exceeding €50,000 annually.

Having university or higher qualifications is a common requirement for both authorizations.

What is the visa as a highly qualified professional

Conclusion on the residence permit and visa for highly qualified personnel in Spain

Being a highly qualified professional and having the opportunity to work in Spain is an exciting experience, but it also involves complying with certain procedures and legal requirements. It is important to be informed and prepared to ensure that the entire process runs smoothly.

Remember that the authorization for highly qualified professionals must be requested by the company or entity that hires you, while you will personally apply for the national entry visa. Make sure to gather all the necessary documentation, legalize it, and translate it appropriately.

If you follow all the steps correctly, you will be able to live and work in Spain, enjoying all the opportunities that this country has to offer to highly qualified professionals. We wish you much success in your new work stage in Spain!

Questions and Answers about the Highly Qualified Personnel Process

Is there a list of highly qualified professionals?

There is no specific list of highly qualified professionals in Spain, as the definition of this term is not clearly established in the law. As mentioned earlier, the status of «highly qualified professional» will be determined according to the criteria of the administration reviewing the authorization application.

However, highly qualified professionals are generally considered to be those who possess specialized skills, knowledge, and experience that are highly sought after in the labor market. Typically, these professionals hold university degrees, higher-level vocational training qualifications, or extensive work experience in a specific field.

Some examples of highly qualified professionals may include:

  • Engineers specialized in fields such as computer engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, among others.
  • Information and communication technology (ICT) professionals with advanced knowledge in programming, software development, data analysis, cybersecurity, etc.
  • Researchers and scientists with experience in advanced scientific and technical areas.
  • Executives and managers with extensive experience in business and administrative management.
  • Healthcare professionals with specializations in medicine, nursing, dentistry, among others.

What is the salary of a highly qualified professional?

The salary of a highly qualified individual can vary depending on the job, but at least it must meet the minimum annual gross salary requirements. For technicians and specialists, the minimum annual gross salary is €40,077, and for directors and managers, it is €54,142. For employees aged 30 or younger, a reduction coefficient of 0.75 applies to the salary requirements. These conditions may vary annually, so you should consult the current legislation and regulations.

Who can apply for highly qualified professional status?

To apply for the national entry visa, the foreign individual themselves must submit the application. However, in exceptional cases and for justified reasons, the competent consulate may allow the application to be submitted by a duly accredited representative.

On the other hand, the application for authorization for highly qualified professionals must be made by the company or entity wishing to hire you, or by their duly accredited representative.

What are the benefits of the Residence Visa for Highly Qualified Workers?

The residence visa for highly qualified workers offers several benefits both for the professional and for Spain as the recipient country of foreign talent:

  1. Job Opportunities: Highly qualified professionals have access to a dynamic and competitive job market, allowing them to develop their careers in a stimulating professional environment.
  2. Stability and Legal Security: The residence visa provides greater stability and legal security to the professional by allowing them to legally reside and work in Spain for a specific period.
  3. Professional Development: Spain offers opportunities for professional development and growth for those looking to expand their knowledge and skills in their field of specialization.
  4. Quality of Life: Spain offers an excellent quality of life, with an enviable climate, rich culture and traditions, and a wide range of recreational and cultural activities.
  5. Possibility of Family Reunification: Highly qualified professionals can apply for family reunification, allowing them to bring their spouses and minor children to legally reside in Spain.

Requirements for the Residence Visa for Highly Qualified Workers

To obtain the residence visa for highly qualified professionals, applicants must meet a series of specific requirements. These requirements may vary depending on the legislation in force at the time of the application, but generally include the following:

  1. Academic Degree: Applicants must have a university degree or higher education qualification recognized in Spain. This degree should be related to the professional’s field of specialization.

  2. Work Experience: A minimum of relevant work experience in the professional’s field of specialization is usually required. The number of years of experience will vary depending on the applicant’s profile and the needs of the job market.

  3. Employment Contract: A formal written job offer from a Spanish company or employer is necessary. The employment contract must be specific and detailed, indicating the duration of the contract and the employment conditions.

  4. Professional Certification: In some cases, a professional certification may be required to demonstrate the applicant’s specific skills and competencies in their area of specialization.

  5. Medical Insurance: Applicants must have valid private medical insurance coverage during their stay in Spain.

  6. Sufficient Financial Resources: It is necessary to demonstrate that there are sufficient financial resources to support oneself and one’s family during their stay in Spain.

  7. No Criminal Record: Applicants must not have a criminal record in Spain or in other countries where they have previously resided.

  8. Language Proficiency: In some cases, proof of proficiency in the Spanish language or the language of work in which the professional will be working may be required.

It is important to note that requirements may change or be updated, so it is recommended to verify the specific criteria in force at the time of the application.

What should I consider if I am a highly qualified professional?

Despite the benefits, migrating to a new country also involves challenges and important considerations:

Language: Although many companies in Spain value English proficiency, mastering the Spanish language is essential for full integration into the labor market and society.

Cultural Adaptation: Adapting to a new culture and way of life may require time and effort. It’s important to be open to new experiences and proactive in integration.

Job Competition: The Spanish labor market can be highly competitive, especially in certain sectors. Professionals should be prepared to demonstrate their worth and skills amidst local competition.

Tax System: It’s crucial to understand the Spanish tax system and the tax implications for income earned in Spain and other countries.

Administrative Procedures: The visa and residency application process may involve complex administrative procedures. It’s advisable to seek legal and professional advice to facilitate the process.