Spanish employers in all job sectors can now hire non-EU workers in their countries of origin

Spain's Minister of Social Security and Migration Jose Luis Escriva
Spain's Minister of Social Security and Migration Jose Luis Escriva believes that these regulations are valuable tools to promote regular, safe and orderly migration.. Photo: Chema Moya/ AFP
Employers in all industries in Spain can now recruit third-country nationals in their countries of origin rather than having to find candidates in Spain when they’re struggling to fill job positions, the Spanish Ministry of Inclusion has announced.

This means that Spanish employers in all industries can now hire workers who do not reside in Spain or the EU to carry out temporary activities in positions that are difficult to fill by the domestic labour market or that of the EU.

For the first time, the rules also allow contracts signed abroad – contratos en origen – to be extended up to twelve months.

Up until now, they were only able to be extended for a period of nine months. 

The changes were published in Spain’s Official State Gazette (BOE) on December 30th. 

To be eligible to be hired under the contracts of foreign origin category, workers must have a temporary contract of up to one year and must reside outside of the EU or EEA.

The regulations of the collective management of hiring from source countries are updated each year and are based on the national employment situation, the annual forecast and the expected figures of jobs that could come under this category.  

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The regulations allow the development of circular migration projects with third countries and in sectors where there is a demand for labour.

Spain’s Minister of Inclusion José Luis Escrivá indicated that these regulations are valuable tools to promote regular, safe and orderly migration.

The newly approved rules for 2022 mean that for the first time there is a possibility of promoting circular migration projects in all sectors in which there is a demand for workers and difficulties filling positions.

Up until now, Spain has had a Occupations of Difficult Coverage list available to non-EU job seekers, which included positions mainly in the maritime industry in the third quarter of 2021.

The BOE bulletin does not mention which industries are currently experiencing job shortages, but it does mention on several occasions the agricultural sector, leading one to question whether this latest labour reform will be at all applicable to non-EU ‘office’ workers with jobs in teaching, tech, IT, engineering or similar fields. 

Recruitment of non-EU workers usually depends on an employer not being able to find a suitable EU candidate for the role. 

According to a recent survey by the Bank of Spain, 27 percent of Spanish employers are struggling to fill job vacancies, and the biggest shortages are found in the agricultural, hospitality and construction industries.

The BOE bulletin also incorporates new rules to regulate the conditions that employers must offer workers with regards to accommodation, health and safety conditions and adequate hygiene recommendations. This applies particularly to the hiring of seasonal workers.

In 2021, a circular migration pilot project with Honduras was put into operation and in 2022, 250 Honduran workers will participate in agricultural campaigns under this project.

In addition, programmes with Morocco, Colombia and Ecuador will also be kept open.

Once the period of residence and work authorisation has ended, workers must return to their country immediately. 

The offers will be directed preferably to the countries with which Spain has signed agreements on regulation and management of migratory flows. These include Colombia, Ecuador, Morocco, Mauritania, Ukraine and the Dominican Republic. 

They may also be hired from other countries with which Spain has connections in this matter, including the Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Mexico, El Salvador, the Philippines, Honduras, Paraguay and Argentina. 

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