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Q&A: Can EU nationals bring non-EU family members over to Spain?

If you're an EU national living in or wanting to move to Spain, find out if can you can bring a non-EU family member to live with you. Here, we answer some of the most common questions surrounding the process.

Q&A: Can EU nationals bring non-EU family members over to Spain?
Can EU nationals bring non-EU nationals with them to live in Spain? Photo: Brad Dorsey / Pixabay

Yes, there is an option for EU nationals to bring non-EU family members to Spain. The main way is by applying for a residence card of a family member of a European Union citizen or tarjeta de residencia de familiar comunitario. Here are some of the most common questions about the card and their answers. 

What is the residence card of a family member of a European Union citizen?

The residence card of a family member of an EU citizen allows the relative of an EU citizen to come and live with them in the EU. 

Who is eligible?

  • The spouse of an EU national (you must be able to provide a valid marriage certificate)
  • Unmarried partners, providing you can provide proof that you are in a long-term stable relationship and have been living together for some time (usually one or two years, but depends on circumstances). This could be a pareja de hecho in Spain, instead of a marriage.
  • Dependent children of an EU national under 21 years old (you must be able to provide a valid birth certificate)
  • Dependent parents of an EU national (proof must be provided of your relationship and that they are dependent on you)
  • Any other dependent relatives (proof must be provided that they cannot look after themselves and are financially dependent on you).
  • Be aware, you will also need to prove you have the financial means to support your relatives.

READ ALSO: Civil union or marriage in Spain: which one is better?

What benefits does the residence card offer?

  • The ability for your family member to live in Spain with you
  • The right for your family member to work in Spain under the same conditions as other EU citizens
  • The ability to enter and leave Spain and travel to other countries within the EU
  • However, the card does not give you the right to live in any EU country, only in the country you applied for it in – in this case, Spain.

When must it be applied for?

The card must be applied for during the first three months of your relative arriving in Spain to able to continue living here.  

How long is the process to get an EU residency card?

The Spanish authorities should make their decision to issue your family member with a residency card within six months. It may be quicker than this, but you should expect around a six-month waiting period. While your family member is in Spain however they cannot be expelled from the country while the application is in progress.

What if my application is rejected?

If your residency application is rejected, then the Spanish authorities will let you know in writing, giving a reason why. They will also let you know what you must do to appeal the decision and when it must be done by.

How long is the card valid for?  

The initial residency card will be valid for five years. You can then renew this for a permanent 10-year residency card. After this, your card will need to be renewed every 10 years.

Will I lose my Spanish residency if I get divorced?

If you obtained your Spanish nationality on the basis that you were married to an EU national, then you may wonder what will happen to your residency rights if you get divorced or decide to break up.

The good news is that you will not lose your residency card as long as you have lived with your partner for at least three years and at least one of those has been in Spain.

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VISAS

What will Spain’s income requirement for the digital nomad visa be?

Spain's new digital nomad visa will have to compete with other countries' alluring residency offers for remote workers. What is Spain's minimum income requirement likely to be and how will it stack up against other nations' visas?

What will Spain's income requirement for the digital nomad visa be?

Spain recently approved its Startups Law, which includes a one-year digital nomad visa (extendable up to five years) to allow remote workers to come and live and work in the country. It is expected to be available from early 2023.

In a nutshell, it will grant non-EU freelancers and remote workers entry and residency rights in Spain, with less bureaucratic obstacles than there currently are and enticing tax benefits.

READ MORE:

Many nomads have been waiting with bated breath to learn all about Spain’s digital nomad visa, which has been in the works for over a year and countless remote workers are ready to make the move.

But as of yet, all the details of the visa haven’t been released and we don’t know what the final requirements will be, including how much you’ll have to earn to be eligible.

Most digital nomad visas around the world require you to prove that you earn a minimum monthly and these amounts can range dramatically, so what will Spain’s requirement be?

What do other European countries require digital nomads to earn?

Croatia has been offering its digital nomad visa since January 2021 and requires its applicants to prove they have a monthly income of €2,361 per month.

Malta’s Nomad Residency Permit states its applicants must have a slightly higher amount of €2,700 gross per month, while Hungary’s White Card (its version of the digital nomad visa) requires a slightly lower amount at €2,000 per month.

Most seem to hover around the €2,000 mark However, there are several countries in Europe that require nomads to prove they have a monthly income of above €3,000.

Those wanting to move to Romania must prove an income of €3,300 per month, to Greece of €3,500 per month and Estonia of €3,504 per month.

These relatively high amounts for the last three countries may indeed prevent many digital nomads from moving to these nations, so if Spain wants to attract as many remote workers as possible as is its aim, it should keep in mind to set a reasonable amount.

Portugal, which is currently one of the top destinations for digital nomads in the world, recently announced their new digital nomad visa and requirements. The average monthly income for the last three months must be equivalent to at least four times the national minimum wage in Portugal, which is currently €705 per month. This means they will need to prove a monthly income of at least €2,820.  

How much money will you need to earn to obtain Spain’s digital nomad visa?

Spanish media have been speculating how high Spain will set the bar and all of them estimate that it is likely to be around €2,000 a month gross, around twice the country’s minimum wage.

It’s worth stressing that nobody within Spain’s government has yet suggested an amount, nor was a figure included in the draft law published following its approval by the Spanish Parliament.

It will be up to Spain’s Economic Affairs Ministry and crucially the Senate to decide what the minimum amount required is before the law comes into force in early 2023. 

The closest type of residency permit Spain has to the digital nomad visa is the non-lucrative visa, which allows you to live in Spain for a year. The main stipulation though is that you’re not allowed to work, so it has so far precluded digital nomads.

Up until now, many digital nomads have in fact come to Spain either on tourist visas or have been using the non-lucrative visa and hiding the fact that they’ve been working, as technically you’re not allowed to, even if it’s for companies outside of Spain.

READ MORE: What are the current rules on remote working and taxes in Spain?

One of the main requirements of the non-lucrative visa is that applicants must prove they have a passive income of €2,316 per month from investments, rental income, pensions or other passive income abroad.

This equals 400 percent of the IPREM and the Spanish government could certainly choose a similar amount for its nomad visa.

Another fact to keep in mind is that the financial requirements for Spain’s non-lucrative visa and the golden visa (residency through property or investment) are both considerably higher than Portugal’s requisites, so will Spanish authorities really be willing to lower the bar below Portugal’s mark when it comes to the digital nomad visa?

Digital nomad profile

According to the website Digital Nomad World, in 2022 the average digital nomad is 40 years old. However, those in their 30s make up 47 percent. A surprising 61 percent of all digital nomads started their journey in their 20s.

Male digital nomads are most likely to work in marketing, IT/development and digital design, while female nomads mostly have jobs in the creative or marketing industries such as digital design, writing and animation.

The majority of both male and female remote workers are self-employed, so their income is likely to fluctuate month to month, another factor the Spanish government should keep in mind when deciding on the financial requirements. 

The majority of them are married or travel with a partner, but do not have children.

Studies from the Digital Marketing Institute suggest that one in five digital nomads who come from the US make between $50,000 (€48,200 or €4,000 a month) and $99,000 a year (€95,450 or €7,950 a month). This is typically more than their European counterparts would earn and especially more than those working in creative industries such as writing.

It also means that four out of five US digital nomads earn less, and many may struggle to show monthly earnings that are above €3,000 if Spain sets the bar that high.

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