It is a well-documented fact in Spain that, in the layman’s mind, we have a sluggish judicial system is incapable of dealing with a backlog of undecided cases. And this is bad because it brings to the entire court system a loss of public confidence, respect and pride.
But there are notable exceptions: the Spanish Supreme Court has recently ruled on two immigration cases (7/4/2014 and 5/5/2014) in a record breaking time of just under 2 years from when the Spanish Consulate in Teheran turned down two permanent residency applications, rejections subsequently confirmed by the Madrid Appeal Court.
These cases relate to Iranian nationals who had filed for Spanish non-lucrative residency in September 2012, after purchasing real estate in the province of Malaga. In their applications, they had proven that they possessed sufficient “means of subsistence” for the first twelve months, which is the duration of the initial residency period. Both the Consulate and the Appeal Court, strangely enough, understood that the required means of subsistence had to be enough to cover the full span of the temporary residency period, five years, when the law states one year.
The relevance of these cases stems from the unexpected judicial speediness and efficiency in resolving cases that would otherwise drag on for six or more years, an average time to reach the Supreme Court.
But the case also sends a crucial confidence message to investors who rely on the word of the law but have to endure the pains, when applying for their visas, of discourteous and unprofessional members of the Spanish consular service, often seen as a deterrent to foreign investment.
And I can sympathize with Iranians in particular as I have had to deal, many times that is, with bizarre decisions by the Spanish Consulate in Tehran, a place that I have incidentally visited personally on one occasion.
As said, a small victory for two Iranian families willing to invest in Spain but, most significantly, a far-reaching message to investors and Consular service staff members: the law is to be applied, and nothing more.