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Deportation For Members

Overstaying or working illegally? What can get foreigners deported from Spain

Esme Fox
Esme Fox - [email protected]
Overstaying or working illegally? What can get foreigners deported from Spain
What can get you deported from Spain? Photo: Josep LAGO / AFP

What types of offences can foreigners be deported for? Can the Spanish government expel you from the country for overstaying beyond the 90 days for example? Here's everything you need to know.

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Is it really possible to get deported from Spain? Can foreigners living in Spain be deported for any type of crime or is it only specific ones?

What if you're in Spain illegally or you've committed tax fraud - can you be thrown out of the country?

According to Article 53.1 a) 4/2000 of Spain's Legal Code, expulsion for foreigners may be considered for offences that they class as serious (grave) or very serious (Muy grave).

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Some of the offences mentioned under the serious category include:

Overstaying your visa

The first offence mentioned under the serious infractions list is in fact being in Spain illegally. This could be not having obtained an extension for your stay, living in Spain without having a residence permit or continuing to live in Spain after your residency has expired and not having renewed it.

Working illegally

If you are working in Spain without a valid work permit or you are working without having obtained residency.

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Hiding or falsifying information

Concealing or intentionally forging or providing false information given to the authorities with regards to matters such as marital status, nationality or domicile, as well as not declaring mandatory details on registration documents for the padrón certificate.

Failure to obtain a foreign ID card

Failure to apply for a foreign identity card such the TIE for those who have been authorised to stay in Spain for a period of more than six months. This must be requested within a period of one month of entering Spain or from the time that the authorisation is granted.

Not signing up for social security

If you employ someone and don’t sign them up to social security or don’t register their employment contract under the legal conditions.

Spain’s list of very serious offences or ‘infracciones muy graves’  include crimes such as participating in activities which could pose a threat to national security, being part of an organised crime ring and human trafficking. However, it also includes crimes such as hiring illegal foreign workers. 

Will I really be deported for these offences?

If you are a foreigner and you commit one of these infractions, there is a very real possibility that you could be deported.

However, this is not always the case.

A 2021 report in Legal Today, which is part of Reuters and is written by and for legal professionals, states that in recent years Spanish courts have tended to favour fining foreigners or even giving them a jail sentence, rather than expelling them.

The Spanish government states that the offender either be deported or fined, but not both. 

In the majority of cases foreigners in Spain who are convicted of a crime will do jail time - if sentenced to it - in a Spanish prison. (Photo by GEORGES GOBET / AFP)

The decisions are largely taken on a case-by-case basis and take a number of factors into consideration.

It may depend on how long you’ve been in Spain, your social and familial connections to the country or your connections to your home country, among many other things.

The Spanish government states that the following people cannot be deported if a serious offence is committed and it may only be considered in the case of a ‘very serious infraction’:

  • Foreigners who were born in Spain and have legally resided in the country for the past five years
  • Long term residents in Spain
  • Those who originally had Spanish citizenship, but lost it for some reason
  • Those who receive an incapacity benefit because of an accident that occurred at work in Spain
  • Those who receive unemployment benefits or are beneficiaries of public financial benefit for specific social or labour reasons

What consequences does deportation have?

If the Spanish courts decide that your crime is serious enough to deport you, you will have to leave the country or be forced to leave. 

This means that any type of visa or residency card you have will no longer be valid and you will lose your right to reside and work in Spain. 

You will also be banned from re-entering the country for a specific time period, depending on the crime you committed. 

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What are the consequences for those who are not deported?

This will really depend on what type of offence you committed and will ultimately be down to the courts and the judge to decide. It could be jail time, just like Spanish nationals would serve, or it could be a hefty fine.

Offenders of 'serious infractions' such as some of the ones mentioned above can be fined anywhere from €500 up to €10,000, while those who commit 'very serious' crimes can be fined anywhere from €10,001 up to €100,000.

However, for the 'very serious infractions', you will be fined separately for each crime you commit, so will be fined for each one of the illegal workers you hire or each person you illegally trafficked into the country. This could mean that some offenders could be fined up to €750,000.

READ ALSO: Can non-resident Brits in Spain get an extension on the 90-day rule and what happens if they overstay?

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