The number of South African citizens who immigrate to Spain has increased, especially as a result of the policies that offer residency status to individuals who engage in real estate investments of a certain value. Some of the top reasons to immigrate to Spain from South Africa can include easy access to other EU countries (beneficial both for business and for personal purposes), the Mediterranean lifestyle and healthcare as well as for retirement purposes.
Our team of Spain immigration agents highlights the main steps for moving to Spain in this article and can provide direct assistance and advice to South African citizens who are planning on coming to Spain, regardless of their reasons: work, study, business, or others.
How to move to Spain as a South African citizen
A South African citizen is required to enter Spain based on an appropriate visa type. This can be a Schengen visa (for short-stays of less than 90 days), however, for those individuals who are interested in long-term stays in the country, the process will require a different type of visa, suited particularly to this lengthier stay. The types of long-stay visas for Spain are the following:
- Study visa: for South African citizens who have been admitted in a Spanish university or who conduct research activities.
- Capital investor visa: this residence visa is granted to foreign investors who make a significant capital investment; the golden visa program for real estate is also available.
- Non-lucrative temporary residence visa: this is commonly used by those individuals interested in emigrating to Spain after retirement who can prove that they can sustain themselves financially.
- Work visa for employees: for South African citizens who take up employment in Spain; must be applied for in-person and in advance.
- Work visa for self-employed individuals: available for those entrepreneurs who wish to start their own business in Spain or engage in self-employment activities.
These are all methods of staying in Spain for longer periods and South African citizens can apply for the visa that suits their status. The documents required for these visa submissions differ according to the purpose of the visa (for example proof of admittance for study purposes or the employment contract for a work visa as well as proof of investment for the real estate or capital investments). Applicants are required to have a valid passport when submitting the visa application. We can also offer tailored support in family relocation and details on the Spain family reunion visa processing time.
All South Africans who have been legally residing in Spain for ten years can apply for nationality. Shorter application periods can be awarded for individuals’ refugee status or those who, at the time of the application, have been married to a Spanish national for one year.
One of our immigration lawyers in Spain can help answer any questions you might have about these procedures and the requirements for applicants. Below, we briefly describe the requirements for most of the visa types mentioned herein. For any further questions, as well as an initial evaluation according to the visa type you are applying for, please do not hesitate to reach out to our lawyers if you want to relocate to Spain.
Once you have gained residency in Spain, you are permitted to live and work here. Additionally, you can visit nations that are part of the Schengen region freely and without a visa. Your spouse and children can also obtain permits so they can attend a Spanish public school. As a result, you and your family have the option to begin a brand-new life outside of Spain.
The subject of what is your best option will undoubtedly arise if you have lived in Spain for a while and want to stay there permanently. Which is best for you—applying for permanent residency or gaining citizenship in Spain? The truth is that you will be able to live in Spain indefinitely with either option. However, there are a few differences between these two potential routes, and being able to recognize them will be crucial. Our lawyers can advise in this sense.
What are the conditions for obtaining an employment visa in Spain?
South African nationals who wish to come and work in Spain can qualify either for regular employment or for a visa issued for highly skilled professionals or those who are subject to intra-company transfers. A visa for those who research activities is also awarded. The visa for highly skilled professionals needs to be granted by the General Directorate of Immigration, in advance of the arrival of the professional.
The residency visa for those employees who perform in the research or the training field can be granted for public or private institutions. The categories are:
- Personal researcher
- Personal scientist and technician
Individuals may move and obtain residence permits in Spain based on a relationship with a company established in the country. That business entity will need to handle the application for the residence permit for intra-company transfers. One of our Spain immigration agents can give you more details on the steps that need to be handled by the company with which the individual will work while in Spain.
If you currently live outside of the European Union and want to apply for a resident permit in Spain, you can rely on our local immigration specialists. Based on your country of residence you benefit from personalized consultancy services through which you can acquire the desired type of document. Feel free to get in touch with us for support.
We can also assist you with passport application. The most straightforward way to become a citizen of Spain is to stay there. You can simply apply for citizenship in Spain by residence after residing here for various numbers of years with your resident permit. Our immigration lawyer in Spain can clarify the significant differences in the requirements based on the years during which you can obtain a passport.
How to immigrate to Spain from South Africa as a skilled worker
Apart from the employment visa which can be obtained by South African citizens who want to work in Spain, there is also the visa for skilled workers which targets highly qualified professionals. Even if the procedure is similar for both types of visas, the second one will have more advantages from a financial point of view thanks to the higher salaries.
In order to immigrate to Spain from South Africa as a skilled worker, the procedure must be completed by the employer. Also, in order to hire a non-EU citizen, the Spanish company must file evidence with the Ministry of Labor, Migrations and Social Security that it could not find a Spanish national or resident, nor a person from another EU country to fill the vacant position.
The company hiring the South African citizen must also meet certain requirements, among which the fact that it must be a large-sized business or even a corporate group, however, small enterprises can also hire such foreign employees as long as they submit proof that the respective person has graduated a prestigious university. Also, in terms of documents to prepare, the employed will have to submit the following:
- its details,
- information about the position the highly skilled migrant will occupy,
- the employment contract,
- the employee’s details alongside proof of his/her qualifications.
Once the Spanish employer starts the immigration procedures, the South African citizen must also file specific documents with the Spanish Embassy, among which:
- his/her identification papers which are usually represented by the valid passport (minimum validity of 6 months is advised),
- a clean criminal record for the past 5 years,
- a health certificate,
- a copy of the employment contract is also required.
Our immigration lawyers in Spain can offer more information on the steps that need to be completed when seeking to move here from South Africa as a highly qualified professional.
When is the investor visa awarded in Spain?
The visa for entrepreneurs can be a convenient manner in which a foreign national from South Africa can reside in Spain. Moreover, the applicant should know that the residency visa is extended to the spouse of the applicant and the children who are under 18 years as well as elderly family members who are under care. One of our Spain immigration agents can give you more information about how the entrepreneur visa can be beneficial for other family members. Below, we list the general requirements as well as the types of investment that qualify.
The applicant for the entrepreneur visa must:
- be older than 18 years of age.
- have no criminal record in Spain or in another country for the last five years.
- have public or private insurance.
- have sufficient financial resources for himself and for the family members who will be included on the visa (a fixed amount for oneself as well as a fixed amount for each family member).
The following types of investments are taken into consideration:
Capital investment: this needs to be a significant investment with the equivalent of 2 million euros or more made in Spanish government bonds or the value of at least 1 million euros in shares in Spanish companies or deposits in Spanish financial institutions.
Real estate investment: the investment in real estate needs to have a minimum value of 500.000 euros and the applicant must prove that he has purchased the property through the relevant documentation issued by the Land Registry. One of our immigration lawyers can advise on how to relocate to Spain this way.
Entrepreneurial and business activities: a business that is of interest for Spain and the applicant is to come and stay in the country for one year, with the only goal to prepare the business or entrepreneurial activity. It must have an innovative nature and special approval from the Commercial Office is required.
Immigration to Spain from South Africa under non-lucrative visas
South African citizens have several means they can employ in order to relocate to Spain. Among these, there is also the non-lucrative visa which is available for those who want to retire and live here or want to spend more than 90 days (which usually require a temporary stay visa) without engaging in any professional activities.
The non-lucrative visa can be seen as a Spanish residence permit and can be obtained by non-EU citizens, such as the case of South African ones.
Individuals who want to move to Spain from South Africa based on this visa must apply in person for it with the Spanish Embassy in their home country. They must also collect the passport with the stamp on it personally. This type of visa is subject to various fees and documents that need to be submitted by the applicant.
In order to use this visa to relocate to Spain from South Africa, the following documents need to be filed:
- identification papers and a valid passport with at least 1 year validity period is mandatory;
- a clean criminal record that cannot be issued later than 3 months before arrival is also required;
- a health certificate that indicates the good health of the applicant is also required;
- international medical insurance must also be contracted prior to arrival;
- proof of self-financial support is mandatory when moving to Spain under this visa.
Applying for a non-lucrative visa is not complicated, however, South African citizens must respect the conditions imposed by the local legislation in order to obtain it, especially when considering this is an easy way to move here. Our immigration lawyers in Spain can provide detailed information on how to apply for this type of visa.
The StartUp Visa Scheme in Spain
One of the newest Spanish immigration pathways is the entrepreneur or StartUp visa which was created with the intention of attracting persons interested in actively engaging in business endeavors here.
South African citizens can apply for entrepreneur visas and move to Spain provided that they meet the following requirements:
- not have been banned from entering the country before;
- be at least or more than 18 years old;
- have no criminal record for the past 5 years in any country of residence;
- not to be on a list of undesired persons in Spain or any other country;
- to have private or public health insurance;
- have sufficient funds to support him/herself and close family members during the stay in Spain.
The minimum amount required to be allowed to live in Spain under this type of visa is around 2,000 euros for the applicant, plus approximately 500 euros per dependent.
The particularities for obtaining an entrepreneur visa imply having a solid business plan which leads to the creation of a Spanish company. This must comprise information about the activity of the business, the number of jobs that it will create, and the contribution it will make to the economy.
Among the industries suitable for this visa are IT, renewable energy and water, healthcare and biotechnology, aeronautics.
As mentioned earlier, the business plan is one of the key aspects that need to be drafted when seeking to immigrate to Spain from South Africa under an entrepreneur visa. For good preparation, a detailed CV of the applicant and information about the project.
A thorough market research study indicating the size of the project, growth projections, and competition is also advisable.
Compared to other investment schemes, the StartUp Visa scheme does not require a minimum amount of money to be injected into the venture, which is why this can be a good choice for many entrepreneurs.
If you want to immigrate to Spain from South Africa under this visa which is relatively new, you can request more information from our local law firm.
How can one study in Spain?
Spain can be attractive for many South African nationals who are planning on continuing their studies at a university level. Likewise, this visa is also granted for those who will engage in student exchanges, volunteer services, or those who will participate in training activities or unpaid internships.
Having the approval of the business school, university or educational institution is key when applying for this type of visa. Like in other cases, the applicant will be required to prove that he or she will be able to sustain himself; in some cases, proof of tuition payment may be required, as per the institution’s payment scheme. Students will need to apply for a foreign student identity card in those cases in which the program exceeds six months. This is done with the Foreigner’s Office or the Police Station.
How is the family reunification visa obtainable?
The spouses and the minor children of a residency visa applicant can accompany that individual, under certain conditions. Also, according to law, elderly family members who cannot provide or care for themselves could also accompany the applicant. The family members may apply jointly, at the same time at which the main applicant submits his/her visa application. The main applicant, who will serve as a provider for the dependents, will need to prove sufficient financial means to sustain himself and the family.
Steps in obtaining permanent residence in Spain as a South African
Spain is one of the friendliest countries in Europe when it comes to granting permanent residency to foreign nationals who want to relocate here indefinitely. The easiest way remains the investor visa or the Golden Visa Scheme, however, employment is also a secure path to becoming a Spanish resident.
The minimum period of time a South African must be living in Spain in order to become a permanent resident is 5 years. This is a general requirement, no matter the type of visa the foreign citizen solicited.
If you want to immigrate to Spain from South Africa and need information on the fastest way to obtain permanent residence status or citizenship, our lawyers are at your service.
Immigration to Spain and EU residency for South Africans
Spain is one of the most prolific economies in the European Union and immigrating here as a non-EU citizen has the advantage of leading to EU residency apart from the Spanish one.
There are several requirements for those who immigrate to Spain from South Africa and who are interested in obtaining an EU Blue Card, among which:
- they must be skilled professionals with tertiary education degrees,
- their experience in the field they work must be of at least 5 years,
- they must earn 50% above the average salary in Spain.
It should be noted that an EU Bule Card has a one-year validity period and can be renewed. Also, based on it, South African professionals can work in other EU states.
Issues to handle post-arrival
South African immigrants to Spain will need to handle a set of formalities once they enter the country. One of the first steps and an important one is to apply for a foreigner identity card within one month from the date of arrival. This is done with the Provincial Brigade of Immigration and Borders, as per the Ministry of Interior. The foreigner’s identity number is also obtained after arrival from the Directorate-General of the Police in the region when the applicant resides. One of our Spain immigration specialists can give you more information about the application process and the required documents. The foreigner’s identity number is mandatory for any individual for economic, professional, or social purposes and it will serve as an identification form comprised of a unique sequential number. Foreigners are required to translate ale legalize their documents in order for these to be valid in Spain.
Our team of immigration lawyers in Spain can assist you throughout the entire process, with proper guidance and information on how to fill in the visa application before you arrive in the country and with detailed information about the steps to follow once you are in a Spanish city.
Moving to a new country will require a set of preparations that can be handled in advance by our lawyers (when possible and when requested) or which our team of specialists can provide useful advice for, especially when the immigrant is not yet fluent in Spanish.
The best cities to relocate to Spain from South Africa
Spain is a beautiful country and choosing a city or town to move to can be difficult, however, there are plenty of places to choose from. The capital Madrid is very suitable for those interested in living in the heart of the country, but there are also other small towns in which South African citizens can retire under the non-lucrative visa.
Choosing a Spanish city to live in can also be conditioned by the activities one can undertake when seeking to start a business here. While tourism is one of the most prolific sectors, those who want to apply for the StartUp Visa must choose in accordance with the requirements of the program.
If you have already decided or need an opinion, our immigration lawyer in Spain can offer useful information on the suitable places to live in.
Migration statistics in Spain
According to the latest data presented Spanish Institute of Statistics, at the level of 2020:
- Spain had a population of 47,351,567 individuals in the first half of the year,
- a total of 245,031 foreigners migrated to Spain last year,
- however, there were also 40,898 Spanish citizens who left the country in 2020.
If you want to move to Spain and need guidance, you can rely on our immigration lawyers. You can also watch our video below:
How can our immigration lawyers in Spain help you?
No matter if you want to immigrate to Spain from USA or from South Africa, our lawyers are at your service for personalized assistance. We will review your case and propose the most suitable solution.
We can handle the preparation and verification of all documents that need to be filed with the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in your country and advise on the timeframe for obtaining the visa. Also, if you live in Spain, we can help you apply for permanent residence or citizenship, depending on your current status.
If you have any questions about a specific type of visa, you can also obtain tailored information on the requirements to meet in order to obtain it.
Emigrating to Spain is a process that can be handled easier with the help of our team of experts. Contact us for more information about our expat services and complete assistance for South African immigrants.