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What residence permit can Ukrainians fleeing the conflict get in Spain?

March 3, 2022

Ukrainian nationals can travel freely in the Schengen area without a need for a visa, and can remain in the Schengen states for 90 days every 6 months. Therefore it is possible to enter EU easily.

At the moment there are no internal border controls among Schengen states, however, it is possible that these will be reintroduced at some point as a temporary measure to maintain security and better cope with any large influx of displaced citizens.

What options do you have if you are currently in Spain?

Depending on how long you would like to stay in Spain, and what is the objective (e.g. find a temporary safe haven and later return home, or consider settlement here) you may have various options at your disposal:

  1. Applying for temporary permit under the Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 on temporary protection on a mass influx of displaced persons.
  2. Applying for International Protection under 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees (asylum or subsidiary protection).
  3. Applying for other permits under the general Immigration Law (e.g. a student visa)

If you have been residing in Spain without a residence permit, and even if previous applications for protection have been rejected, you can now re-apply due to recent and ongoing developments in Ukraine.

Temporary Protection for displaced persons

The European Union has recently activated the Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 on temporary protection on a mass influx of displaced persons, which has never applied before yet.

The Directive provides displaced persons with:

  • A residence and work permit for both the employed and self-employed for a period of one year, which will be extendable for a further two years if the conflict situation persists.
  • Access to education and vocational training.
  • Social assistance and adequate accommodation.
  • Medical care.

The Council, which will be held on the 3rd of March 2022, will establish the procedures for accessing such protection and how to apply them in practice. We expect the Spanish authorities to set up local mechanisms to implement it soon after.

Asylum or Subsidiary Protection

If you are unable to return to Ukraine due to fear of persecution because of your political beliefs, ethnicity, sexuality, etc., then you can apply for international protection (asylum).

Another possibility is to request a subsidiary protection due to the current crisis in Ukraine.

If your intention is to apply for international protection, several factors can affect submitting your application in Spain, i.e. having entered the EU through another State, or having a visa from another Member State, or having family members in another Member State.

It is important that you evaluate all available options beforehand to decide which is best suited to your needs, bearing in mind that the asylum application is a more complex and lengthy process.

If you chose to apply for international protection in Spain, it is best to do it at the Spanish territory, at a police station or immigration office that is authorised for this purpose.

It is also possible to lodge your application at the border at your arrival, for this you must inform the National Police, or Civil Guard, that you wish to apply for international protection.

What rights do you have as an applicant for international protection?

  • You will receive a document as an applicant for international protection.
  • You may remain in Spain throughout the procedure.
  • You have freedom of movement throughout Spain but must inform the Asylum and Refugee Office of your address.
  • After 6 months, if you are yet to receive a response to your application, you will be authorised to work, either as self-employed, or an employee.
  • You have the right to a lawyer and interpreter free of charge.
  • You will have access to public health care free of charge.
  • You can apply for monetary assistance if you are struggling.

We will continue to provide updates on the situation as and when they develop, however if you have any questions or concerns, please contact our firm and we would be pleased to assist you in this matter.


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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