Spanish right proposes a points-based immigration system

Conor Faulkner
Conor Faulkner - [email protected]
Spanish right proposes a points-based immigration system
Spanish right-wing opposition party Partido Popular (PP) leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo talks during a press briefing in Madrid, on June 19, 2023. Photo: Thomas COEX/AFP.

Spain's centre-right Popular Party, which polls predict will win the general election on July 23rd, have proposed a meritocratic 'points-based system' for immigrants such as those in the UK and Australia.


Spain's centre-right party and likely next government, the Partido Popular (PP), recently rolled out its electoral programme and pledges for government, if it wins the July 23rd general election.

The document is an "electoral programme" that proposes "365 measures for economic, social and institutional reconstruction to open a new era in Spain" and make it "a great country".

While presenting the wide-ranging policy platform, the party's leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, pledged to create a new "qualified legal immigration" programme based on a "points system".

The aim of the reformed system is to reward migrants with "academic training, language skills and innovative capacity".

Before this intervention, the PP had only spoken vaguely of promoting 'legal migration' without much specificity. 

Feijóo described the proposed system as a way to "promote immigration based on equal opportunities and merit."

Countries with a points-based system include the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.

READ ALSO: How do you pronounce the name of Spain's likely new PM Núñez Feijóo?

Much was made of the relative positives and negatives of a meritocratic system during the Brexit referendum debates in the United Kingdom. Of course, like in the UK, many jobs and sectors with workforce shortages in Spain do not require academic training, language skills or innovative capacity.

The recent focus of the incumbent left-wing government has been to find ways to make it easier for blue collar non-EU nationals to move to Spain and cover huge shortages in industries such as hospitality and construction.


It is unclear how exactly the PP's proposed points-based system would interact with or effect the EU's freedom of movement policy, something that Spain, as a member state, is obliged to follow.

Some points-based systems, like in Canada and Australia, for example, also have age restrictions for certain visas, though it is unclear if the PP's plans will include anything like this.

According to the party document, the new system is "aimed at facilitating the admission of foreign talent who have a high potential for integration and can bring the greatest benefit to Spain, both in terms of contributing to economic growth and to the sustainability of public services."

It is worth noting that there are currently around 40,000 highly qualified foreigners in Spain who have been waiting for between two and six years to work in their specialised fields due to chronic bureaucratic delays involving the qualification recognition process known as homologación, holdups which victims have labelled as "institutional racism". 

READ MORE: How Spain is ruining the careers of thousands of qualified foreigners

Feijóo has also proposed to speed up deportation processes for illegal migrants and those who commit crimes "through improved agreements with the countries of origin or transit". This would be complemented by measures designed to entice Spaniards abroad who left the country after the 2008 financial crisis to return home.

In terms of addressing the issue of unaccompanied migrant minors, something Spain has increasingly faced in its North African territories of Ceuta and Melilla in recent years, the PP is committed to promoting "a national strategy" to help integrate them, as well as reforming the age determination procedure.


Spain is a little over two weeks away from its general election, which will be held on Sunday July 23rd. Polls predict that Feijóo's PP looks set to return to government, although a strong campaign performance so far from underdog Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has narrowed the gap somewhat.

READ ALSO: Is Spain's right wing definitely going to win the general election?

The main question in Spanish politics at the moment is whether the PP will win an overall majority (something polling suggests is unlikely) or form a coalition with far-right party Vox in order to govern. Vox, an openly anti-immigration, anti-Islam party, would likely demand greater immigration restrictions as a condition of any deal is strikes with the PP.

The issue of unaccompanied minors and age verification in particular would likely be a point of contention between the parties. 


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