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How to get a regular work permit in Spain

Have you ever wanted a job in Spain? If you are not a citizen of the European Union, acquiring a work permit in Spain can be challenging.

When it comes to securing an initial work permit in Spain, you have several possibilities:

  1. Apply for a regular work permit under the general Immigration Act.
  2. Apply for a highly-qualified person’s work permit under the International Mobility Act (Ley 14/2013).
  3. Apply for a work permit as a regular self-employed person.
  4. Apply for a start-up work permit under the International Mobility Act (Ley 14/2013).
  5. Modify your student visa into a work permit in Spain.
  6. Modify your non-lucrative visa into a work permit in Spain.

The following article will answer all your questions about how to get a regular work permit in Spain. Following is a brief synopsis of the topics covered in this article.

  1. Overview:
  2. Process of the application
  3. Difference to the student visa switch
  4. Common questions answered
  5. Alternatives


One of the options to get a work permit in Spain is to apply for a regular initial authorization for living and working as an employee, the “Autorización inicial de residencia y trabajo por cuenta ajena” in Spanish.

This process starts if you receive a job offer from a Spanish company or person. However, due to various restrictions, not every job meets the requirements of this work visa.

There must be a specific reason why a Spanish national or resident cannot do the required work, which proves to be a relatively rare occurrence. In such cases your employer must obtain a certificate from the Spanish Employment Service confirming it was not possible to fill in the position by a Spanish national or resident.

Another possibility is if your profession is included in the catalog of difficult-to-fill positions quarterly, known as the “Catálogo de ocupaciones de difícil cobertura“, which the State Public Employment Service publishes every quarter for each region of Spain.

By the way, visa is not the most correct term here, so even if you search in Google with “how to get a work visa in Spain”, in fact the process includes getting a work “permit”, or “authorization” first. And only after it is granted, you may need to get your entry work “visa” in the corresponding Spanish Consulate of your country of usual residence.

What are the general requirements?

You qualify for a regular work permit in Spain if:

  • You are a non-EU national.
  • You have an employment contract signed by the employer and employee that guarantees a continued professional activity period for the length of the visa.
  • You are qualified to carry out the job.
  • A recent criminal record certificate (issued less than 3 months before the application) from the countries you have lived in during the past 5 years, translated into Spanish by a sworn translator and legalized or apostille.
  • You have no medical condition that could pose a threat to public health.
  • You have a degree and a certain certificate to prove you can carry out the job.

What are the specific requirements?

In addition to the above, you must fit into one of the below conditions:

  • The job offer is on the catalog published by the State Public Employment Service quarterly, OR
  • The company that wants to hire you published the job offer in Spain and was not able to find any person to cover the vacancy on the current Spanish labor market, OR
  • You are from Peru or Chile. (Citizens of Peru and Chile are eligible for any job offer because of a bilateral agreement between those countries and Spain), OR
  • You fall into one of the categories established in Article 40 of Organic Act 4/2000 on Immigration. See below for more details on the implications of this article on your application for a work visa.

Article 40 of Organic Law 4/2000 outlines a few situations and exemptions in which employers may hire foreign workers without taking the state of the Spanish labor market into account.

If your situation does not fall into the scope of this article, you will need to prove that your case fits into one of the other cases indicated above.

Article 40. Specific cases of exemption from the national employment situation

The national employment situation shall not be considered (and therefore it’s possible to apply for the work permit) when the employment contract is aimed at one of the following persons:

  • Those who hold a residence permit through “family reunification” and reached employment age, or the spouse or child of a foreigner living in Spain with a renewed permit, as well as children of a nationalized Spaniard or citizen of other Member States of the European Union and other States party to the European Economic Area if they have been legally living in Spain for at least one year and the child does not qualify for a EU family member permit.
  • Those who had a previous work authorization and want to renew it.
  • Employees needed to put together a production facility or equipment as a result of a renovation.
  • Those granted refugee status during the year following the end of the application of the Geneva Convention of July 28, 1951, relating to the Status of Refugees, on the grounds outlined in Article 1, Section C, paragraph 5 of that Convention.
  • Those who have been recognized as stateless and those who have lost their stateless status within the year following its termination.
  • Foreigners who have dependent ascendants or descendants with Spanish citizenship.
  • Foreigners born and residing in Spain.
  • Children or grandchildren of Spanish nationals.
  • If it helps them fit in socially, foreign children living in Spain who are old enough to work, have authorization to stay, and are looked after by the appropriate organization for children’s protection, may perform specific jobs. If they are unable to return to their family or nation of origin, this is acceptable.
  • Foreigners who receive a special residency permit due to certain circumstances outlined by regulations, such as being victims of gender violence or human trafficking.
  • Foreigners who worked under seasonal working licenses for two years and afterward returned to their native country.
  • Foreigners who chose to leave and gave up their right to live and work in the country under a voluntary return program.

The national employment situation shall also not be considered(therefore it is also possible to apply for the work permit), under the conditions to be determined by regulation, for:

  • The filling of positions of trust and management positions in companies.
  • Skilled individuals, such as technicians and scientists, can be engaged by public organizations, universities, or research centers linked with corporations without affecting the unique authorization procedure outlined in the law.
  • People who work for a company abroad and wish to work for the same company or group in Spain.
  • Artists of renowned standing.

Process of the application

If your job offer fits all the criteria then you and your employer can begin the application for your work permit in Spain. It is always important to make sure you have every document that is required of you and your employer. Every application is different, depending on the job offer.

It is always the employing company that has to file the application to the Immigration office, (not the employee). Below is the list of documents that you will normally need.

General Documents

Two copies of the application on the official model (EX-03), properly filled out and signed by the hiring company.

Documentation related to the worker

  • Complete copy of the passport or valid travel document.
  • A copy of the relevant degree and professional experience, and, if relevant, the legally required professional license

Documentation identifying the company applying for authorization

If the business owner is an individual, provide a copy of their NIF or NIE.
If it is a company:

  • A copy of the NIF for the business and a copy of the incorporation document that has been properly registered in the appropriate Companies Registry.
  • Legal documents verifying that the person signing the authorization request is the company’s legal representative.
  • A copy of the NIF or NIE of the company legal representative.

Documentation of the employer if the activity is domestic service

  • 2 copies of the business’s NIF and the incorporation document that has been duly registered in the relevant Register.
  • Legal documents verifying that the person signing the authorization request is the company’s legal representative.
  • A copy of the NIF or NIE of the company legal representative.

Documentation relating to the employment relationship

  • Signed employment contract. You need to file the original and a copy. The copy will be stamped by the Immigration Office and returned for subsequent presentation by the foreigner together with the application for an entry work visa in the Consulate.
  • Documentation accrediting that the national employment situation is not taken into account (as indicated in the sections above).

Further information on the necessary documentation for the application of your regular work permit can be found here.

All documents that are issued by foreign governments must be apostilled or legalized to have effects in Spain.

On the other hand, all documents that are not issued in Spanish, must have an official translation into Spanish done by one of the translators authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Spain.

Difference between applying normally and applying as a student in Spain

If you are already a student on a student visa in Spain and you’re wondering how to convert your student visa to a work permit in Spain in 2024, you don’t need to prove that your employer was not able to find anyone on the Spanish labor market to fill the vacancy. This makes the process a lot easier.

You need to wait to finish your studies and then you can apply to modify your student visa into a regular work permit.

You can get all the details on this topic here.

Common questions answered

It is crucial to make sure you have all the documents in advance because the administrative process involving visa applications is slow and complex. Throughout the procedure, some inquiries may come up. Therefore, to provide you with a complete understanding of the application process, here are the answers to some of the frequently-asked questions.

How long is your visa valid?

The initial work permit is issued for one year, after that you will need to apply for the renewal, which will be granted for four years.

Can you switch your job?

If your contract ends or you lose your job due to circumstances that were not in your power (e.g. if you were fired) you can renew it with another company in the same field.

If you were fired and were not able to find a new job, there are options to renew your visa under certain exceptional circumstances, but you need to contact a lawyer to analyze your case.

What is the minimum salary you need to achieve?

When applying for a regular work visa in Spain, the job offer you receive needs to fall within the Spanish minimum salary range. In Spain there are also collective employment agreements in most sectors of work, which is essentially a list that classifies all labor types and then specifies the minimum wage for each type of work and job categories. Your salary must always be the same or higher as the minimum established by the applicable collective agreement.


If the option of getting a regular work visa does not seem like the best fit for you, when for instance you don’t have a job offer or that job offer is not on the shortage list and or matches the requirements of article 40, then there may be other ways to obtain your work or residence permit. Here you can find an overview of all your possible options and further details.


Understanding the process of obtaining a regular work visa in Spain might be difficult. The requirement that the job offer you accept be included in the State Public Employment Service’s catalog of hard-to-fill positions or meet one of Article 40’s exemptions is the most essential. This approach might not be suitable for everyone due to its difficulty; therefore, looking into other ways to obtain a work visa in Spain would be wise. In addition, a substantial amount of documentation from both you and your prospective employer is needed; you must have everything you need for your application to proceed without any difficulties.

With the above explanation we hope to have helped you understand what you need to get in your case and how to apply.

If you need any help with the procedure and need professional advice, get in contact through the form below or phone us so we can assist you with your work permit application.

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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