Residence Permit for Highly Skilled Workers

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The information below has been collected by the Citylife team via intense research in collaboration with Proyecto Océano, one of Madrid’s most known legal associations. Please keep in mind that we are not directly related to any legal or government departments and the information may be subject to change.

[Pincha aquí para la versión española]

What is a Residence Permit for Highly Skilled Workers?

The residence permit for highly skilled workers is an authorization for highly qualified, non European workers, who will hold management positions at a Spanish company. 

What are the Advantages?

The main advantages of the highly skilled worker residence permit over a regular work permit include:

1. The national employment rate is not taken into account. The company can request the work permit without having to prove that the worker is more qualified than other applicants of Spanish and European nationality.

2. The time to process the visa is 20 business days from the day the permit is submitted.The permit is approved if there is a positive silence. This means that if the Ministry of Employment does not request any other documents during the 20 days, the visa is considered approved.

3. The permit request is submitted via electronic registry on the UMI website, with a certified digital signature of an authorized authority figure signing on behalf of the company. As a result, only scanned, and not original copies of all documents are required.

4. It is possible to simultaneously apply for a residency permit for family members: this includes spouse, civil union companion, children, and legal guardians. The authorization for family members gives them the right to live and work in Spain as a freelancer or employee.

5. The work permit has a duration of 2 years, (depending on the length of the contract), with the possibility of renewal. If the contract is less than two years the permit is valid only for the duration of the contract.

What are the Disadvantages?

The disadvantage of this work permit is that it does not alloy for a change in employer. Therefore, any future employer would need to apply for a new work permit.

Who Qualifies for the Highly Skilled Worker Permit?

  • Graduates or postgraduates in his/her home country, (proof of diploma is not necessary unless required by the profession). For example: in order for a lawyer to present in court it is necessary to show proof of a law degree. In addition to a university degree, it is also required to have prior managerial experience.
  • An applicant without a university degree, but one that has prior director experience, or a previous position with high responsibilities. He/she can still apply for the work permit, so long as it is with a large company*.

*What is Considered a Large Company?

In order for a company to be considered large it must meet several of the below criteria:

1- Average number of employees must exceed a minimum of 250 workers.

2-Annual net turnover in Spain, of 50 million euros; or having funds or a higher net worth, in Spain, of 43 million euros.

3- Average annual growth investment abroad of at least 1 million euros during the three years prior to the application of the permit.

4- Company with a stock value exceeding 3 million euros.

How Can I Apply?

There are two ways to apply for the residence permit:

1. Presenting the documentation while in Spain as a tourist or on business for a maximum of 90 days. Similarly, a student, with a student visa in Spain, can apply for the highly skilled worker permit, as long as, he/she can prove previous work experience in his/her home country.

2. Presenting the documentation in one’s country of residence. In this case, once the permit is approved, you must apply for a residency visa at the local Spanish Consulate. The processing time for the visa is 10 business days

What are the Next Steps?

Once in Spain with the approved work permit, it is necessary to make an appointment to obtain a foreign residency card (TIE) and a social security number. If the work permit is under 6 months, the employee does not have the right to obtain a residency card, but is able to renew if all legal requirements are met.

Are you looking for an expert to support you?

We are here to help! We created a brand called MTS Relocation Spain, a specialized provider in relocation and legal topics offering high quality service at discount to the Citylife community.

To today, together with MTS, we successfully helped many young internationals moving to Madrid to sort out their legal situation. Avoid the hassle and get in touch with MTS now for a free quote!

Please fill out the form below and your query will be sent to us as well as to our friends at Proyecto Océano, one of Madrid’s most known legal associations, who are also here to help you out! Please note: By sending the form below, you automatically agree that we can forward your data to Proyecto Océano as well as MTS Relocation Spain.

Leah has been living in and exploring Madrid since 2013 when she moved to the city for a simple summer abroad. She started the Citylife Blog in 2014 with the goal to share everything there is to know about her favourite place on earth!

6 Comments. Leave new

  • Sanja Popov
    01/11/2023 11:08

    Hi,does as Non Eu and international student in UEM,doing my Master degree,I be able to extend my visa after graduation,while searching for job/intership?

  • Sanja Popov
    30/10/2023 15:04

    How Non EU students can exceed their staying im Spain after graduation?

  • Gavin Thomas
    11/02/2023 13:47

    I am currently in Mallorca on a highly skilled worker visa as a head of PE in an international private collage. My partner of 16 years (not married just engaged) and my two children are currently in Wales and are doing the 90 days in Spain then 90 days away. This is not ok really as I have a 2 and 5 year old. Can my partner and kids join me in Spain full time on my work permit/visa?

  • Hello,

    I got an offer from Spain in last July. My company applied for HQP in the name of me. After 10 weeks passed, they made a request due to positive silence. I have 2 questions:

    Firstly, when can you do approval request due to positive silence, should you wait 10 weeks after application or is it enough to wait 20 work days and after that you can make request?

    Second question, how long waiting time is normal to get a response from approval request due to positive silence? 2 weeks? 1 month? Anytime they want? Because my company constantly tells me there is nothing that we can do except from waiting, they say it seems that my case is always under process. No other specific information.

    In total it has passed 14 weeks and it is super frustrating, is there anything that i can do to get involved?


    • Hi, I have the same problem and I don’t know how much time it takes to issue my Visa.I don’t is it because of covid-19 situation or something else.

    • Hi,
      when did you get your letter? Thanks.


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