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How to get a highly qualified professional work permit

How to get a regular work permit in Spain

Do you wish to work in Spain in a highly qualified position? Then this work permit option might be for you. The highly qualified visa, also known as the highly qualified work permit in Spain is a work permit that allows persons from countries outside of the European Union to lawfully work and live in Spain. The main requirement is that they have a work offer from a Spanish company for a qualified technical profession or a management position.

In the following article, we will explain the requirements of this work, the various steps you must take, and the most frequently asked questions. Here’s a quick overview of what to expect.


The highly qualified professional visa in Spain is a three-year resident authorization that can be successfully renewed, with the possibility of attaining permanent or long-term residency. It is vital to note that this work visa does not apply to freelancers, entrepreneurs, or self-employed individuals. If that sounds like a better fit for you, you can look here for a summary of the various work permit possibilities.

Who can apply

To receive this work permit in Spain, you must meet certain conditions and it is only eligible for specific job positions. To assist you in understanding this, the following list includes the general persons who may be eligible to apply for this work visa.

  • Managers and chief officers who manage a relatively large group of people inside a company
  • Individuals who work in really technical and specialized job positions (which require prior knowledge and training)
  • Non-EU citizens who finished their superior studies in a prestigious business school or university, or have a proven professional experience related to the job offer

How do you apply

You can apply for a highly qualified visa in Spain when you are legally present in Spain (e.g. within three months after your arrival in the Schengen area if you are from one of the visa-free countries, or during the validity of your current short-term visa), or at the Spanish Consulate in your place of origin or residency. 

If you are not in Spain, the company or entity that wishes to engage you must apply for the appropriate authorization online before obtaining a national visa to enter Spain.

If you are legally in Spain, the company or entity you seek to engage with must apply for the necessary permit online.

Because the work permit for highly qualified professionals is regulated under Ley 14/2013 it goes to the special Immigration Office – UGE-CE: Large Businesses and Strategic Groups Unit.

Who can hire you

To acquire a highly qualified work permit in Spain, the common scenario is to be hired by a large corporation or business. Aside from getting employed by a company or a major business, you may be hired by a public entity or a university. You do not need to be a manager to be considered for this position, but there are certain additional criteria. Your employment must involve completing research for them and acting as a teacher or technician. 

What are the requirements to get a highly qualified professional visa in Spain?

a) General requirements

  • You must be at least 18 years old. Furthermore, this work visa is only for non-European people, as EU nationals are not required to apply for regular residence permits. 
  • You can't be an EEA or Swiss citizen, or a family member of someone from one of those nations, to whom the laws for EU citizens apply (exceptions are possible but you need to study your case individually).
  • You cannot have criminal records since you must provide a background check (either in Spain or in any other country where you lived in the last five years).
  • You cannot reside in Spain in an irregular situation.
  • You cannot be prohibited from entering Spain or identified as liable to be denied entrance in the territorial region of countries with whom Spain has signed an agreement. 
  • You must be able to pay the application fee for the work permit (currently about 80€ per applicant). 

b) Specific requirements

  • You must have received a job offer from a Spanish company, corporation, university, or public entity. 
  • You must have a degree from a prestigious university or business school or prove to have a minimum of three years of experience in the required field.
  • It is recommended to have a master’s degree at any university accepted by the UGE or at a popular business school.
  • The task you will conduct at the organization must be related to your academics.

What is the process of your application

As previously stated, you must apply either through your home country’s consulate or within three months of legally arriving in Spain or during the validity of your tourist visa. The application must be submitted by the company for which you want to work.

What documents do you need

It is very important to ensure that all necessary paperwork is completed and available before applying for this specific EU work permit. You will need various documents from your employer to submit this work permit application. Remember that the criteria for documents may be updated from time to time, so always check with the immigration office or a local attorney to find out what documents are required from you.

In general, you will normally need to provide the following documents from your employer: 

  • Copy of the job contract.
  • Job description.
  • Your CV.
  • A complete copy of your passport (every page).
  • Your criminal background check.
  • Your university degree or proof of relevant professional experience (at least 3 years).

What are the salary requirements

  • If you get hired as a manager/director, a minimum of 54.000 Euros per year is required.
  • If you get hired as an expert, a minimum of 40.100 euros per year.
  • If you are under 30 years of age, your annual salary can be lower than the standard requirement.

Remember you must check what is the minimum applicable amount on the day you are filing your application, as they may change from time to time.

What is the difference between the EU blue card

It happens frequently that these two are mistaken for one another. While the highly skilled visa exclusively permits employment in Spain, the EU Blue card permits to get employed in any country in Europe in a much easier manner. As such, the national highly qualified visa in Spain isn’t a work visa for the EU and it is only valid in Spain.

If you have plans to transfer your employment to another EU country in the future, you can apply for a EU-blue card work visa instead of the national Spanish visa.

To apply for an EU-blue card work visa you must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a university degree of a minimum duration of three years and equivalent to at least Level 2 of the Spanish Framework of Qualifications for Higher Education, corresponding to level 6 of the Spanish Framework of Qualifications for Lifelong Learning and the same level of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), OR
  • Have at least five years of proven knowledge, skills and competences attested by professional experience that can be considered equivalent to the above degree and be relevant to your job offer.

What happens when you are already a student in Spain

With this type of work visa in Spain there is no difference between applying as someone who hasn’t been to Spain and to applying as someone who has already studied in Spain on a study visa. For some of the other work permits that would be the case, but this one has the same application process for everyone though. The only difference is that you don’t have to show your criminal records again, for the years you already have lived in Spain.

What are the advantages of a highly qualified visa in Spain

  • You will be able to work in any region of Spain.
  • You can bring your family to Spain with you through a joint application.
  • The years that you are in Spain under the work permit residency count towards the permanent (long-term) residency and the Spanish citizenship.
  • You can move freely within the Schengen area (if you wish to work in another EU state consult with a local immigration lawyer).
  • You can get this visa directly from Spain after entering the country as a tourist.
  • The application process for this work visa is extremely quick; you will hear back from the UGE-CE within 20 working days. The application process can only be delayed if they require additional documentation, although even in that case, it often takes no longer than a month.

What are the challenges of a highly qualified work permit in Spain

Your application and the issuance of your residency and work permit in Spain are dependent upon the terms of your employment contract with the employer. This implies that your ability to work in Spain is dependent on the company you work for; if your circumstances change, you may need to reapply and notify the relevant authorities. More details on what this means for you are provided below.

What if you already work for the company but want to relocate to Spain

You should apply for an intra-corporate transfer visa if you are already employed by a company as a highly qualified worker and the company wishes to move you to Spain. This visa has entirely different requirements and an altogether different process. In addition, it offers preferential processing, meaning that if you qualify, you can get your residence authorization very quickly. 

This holds for both employees of international corporations who are transferred from one nation to another (Spain) and for employees who are transferred from another business within the same organization. 

It is best to consult with a lawyer first, to study what option would be best for your particular circumstances, the Intra-company transfer, or a regular highly-qualified work permit.

What happens if I want to change the company that I originally got my residency visa with

Although this is not frequently the case, if it occurs, your company is required to notify the Immigration Office of your contract termination, and your work permit will be extinguished.

Apart from that, if you wish to continue to be living in Spain, you must submit a new residence application:

  • If you have a new job offer for a similar position, your new employer will file the new application for the same work permit, which will restart again with a new 3-years term.
  • If you don’t have a new job offer, you need to consult with a lawyer to see what other options are available at your particular circumstances.


There will always be a need for highly qualified workers as the world economy develops. Non-EU nationals can enter through a highly qualified professional visa in Spain and contribute their skills to the workforce while also experiencing the country’s rich culture. The future environment for these work permits is shaped by several trends and factors. The country aspires to be known as a center of innovation and entrepreneurship, and it anticipates an increase in the need for experts in important fields including technology, healthcare, and research. This offers greater options for individuals who want to start a career in Spain.

In conclusion, the highly qualified work permit in Spain provides non-EU nationals with a great chance to seek employment in specialized positions within the nation. Every stage is critical to getting the required visa, from getting a job offer from a respected employer to achieving the pay requirements and supplying the necessary paperwork. Furthermore, elucidating the distinctions between the highly qualified permission and another comparable permit guarantees that the correct application is submitted.

All things considered, this work permit in Spain provides a means for qualified individuals to contribute to Spain’s workforce while taking advantage of the country’s dynamic culture and chances for both professional and personal development.

This article is written in collaboration with Mara Pelzer, a member of the Legal Support Team at Klev&Vera.


Anna Klevtsova

Anna holds an LLM in International Human Rights Law, and is a Certified Lawyer with the Bar Association of Barcelona. With more than 20 years of legal practice in International Law, Anna specialises in business set-up, investment transactions, and immigration strategies.

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