The discretional nature of the Spanish residency application approval process adds a great deal of uncertainty to potential applicants that wish to relocate to Spain on the basis of a self-employed residency application.
The following tips should help increase the chances of a successful business residency application:
- Where possible, try to visit the area in which you wish to start the business and establish contacts with legal professionals and accountants, real estate agents, schools, existing friends or fellow countrymen that are already established there, keeping a detailed agenda. The reason for this is that once you are granted the self-employed application by the immigration authorities in Spain, who don’t know you, the consul may still want to arrange a conference call, or a meeting, to find out that you are a genuine applicant and a genuine investor.So make sure that you are acquainted with the area and with your own business plan. At all times show your commitment to the venture.
- Do have a good business plan that makes sense: As the courts have put it, it will have to be…a business project that, in principle, can be said to be economically reasonable, within a social and economic environment, capable of guaranteeing the applicant enough income to ensure a dignified financial position.Out of curiosity, a recent ruling by the Supreme Court established that street trading… is an activity that, in spite of the modesty of means and resources, provided, it ensures a minimal financial stability for the trader…and given the seriousness of the business proposal and the confidence in a certain financial viability proposal… is good enough to secure a self-employed work and residency permit. The High Court threw out the State Lawyer’s allegations that this activity would force the foreigner into marginalization, begging and even a social danger.
- Where possible, try to show a professional background and/or experience connected to the business proposition. This is a plus but not an obligatory requirement.
- Do have suitable qualification for a specific business: if you are willing to start a doctor’s practice where you are the sole practitioner, and your background is engineering, you will fail. Equally, if you are a doctor, in say India or South Africa, and have not homologated your degree, you will also fail.On the contrary, businesses that you can run without having a specific qualification or degree, such as a restaurant, a music shop, a rural tourism resort etc. can be started by anyone, and therefore not subject to this restriction.
- Do have enough funds to back your business plan: Any serious applicant will have to show that he/she has a financial backing for the business proposal in question, the quantum being consistent with the projected investment. For example, an applicant that wishes to manufacture aircraft will need substantially more than €30,000. If you fall short, you will fail. Conversely, if you exceed the average cash requirement for any business, you are more likely to succeed.
- Where possible, try to get your business report “validated” by one of the 4 self-employed workers associations (UPTA, ASNEPA, CIAE and OPA), which have the authority to do so, pursuant to an agreement signed (PDF) by them with the General Directorate for Immigration, as envisaged in a 2007 Ministry of Labour circular (PDF).In fact, if you comply with this requirement, Government discretion in respect of points 2, 3, 4 and 5 are almost eliminated.
- Do have the funds in a bank account in the name of the applicant(s), and not just for a day or two: this is one of the requirements of current laws and cannot be substituted by a company account, a friend’s account or an account based in a bank that is not in Spain. Also, the authorities may request that you produce a bank certificate proving the “average” balance once the application has been granted and so it is highly advisable to leave the funds until the authorities resolve the application.
- Bear in mind that spending at least 184 days of a calendar year, once you receive your residency permit, is a requirement applicable to any resident of Spain if he/she wishes to retain his/her status. That is not to say that when you apply for the residency to be renewed, the authorities will be counting the days spent in Spain, or at least within any of the Schengen countries, but it is worth keeping it in mind.
The only time that we were questioned about this was when an Egyptian resident, who had already applied for his residency renewal and had to go back to his country, had to request a “permit of return” from the Police Station (which allows entry to Spain when the residency is expired), and was told that should he apply for one, they would be forced to advise the immigration authorities that the passport did not show any entry into Spain within the whole of the first years of residency (thus recommending residency to be revoked with immediate effect). Faced with this, the applicant opted to stay in Spain until the renewal was approved.
- Don’t have a criminal record: obvious and yet, some people don’t realize that having criminal records will automatically mean a rejection. The law states that you need to have clean criminal records in the country(ies) where you have lived in the last 4 years.
- Do retain competent legal advisors to represent you in the application.