Residency permits For Members

Arraigo: How Spain’s residency under special circumstances works

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Arraigo: How Spain’s residency under special circumstances works
How Spain's arraigo works. Photo: Romaine Dancre / Unsplash

Arraigo is the process that allows any non-European citizen who has been living in Spain illegally for a certain amount of time, to obtain residency and legalise their status here.


An arraigo will be granted under special circumstances only, typically when you can prove you have a genuine connection to Spain.

There are four different types of arriago permits in Spain. There are arriago familiar (family), arraigo laboral (labour), arraigo para la formación (for students) and arriago social (social).

Your individual circumstances in Spain will depend on which one you can apply for.

Family arraigo

The arraigo familiar as it’s known is different from the other arraigos because you are not required to have lived illegally in Spain for a certain amount of time before you apply for it. This is designed to unify family members so that they can stay together. The people who can apply for it are: 

  • A Mother or father or guardian of a Spanish child
  • A spouse or unmarried partner of a Spanish citizen
  • A child of a Spanish father or mother or who had originally been so
  • A parent over the age of 65 years old who is dependent on their children

If you meet all the criteria you will typically be granted an initial five-year residency card, unless you are the child of someone who had originally been Spanish. Then it will be a one-year residency card that will also give you permission to work.


READ ALSO: The vocab you'll need when applying for Spanish residency 

Labour arraigo

In order to apply for the labour arraigo, you need to have been living in Spain continuously for a period of two years. You also need to prove that you have been working in Spain, albeit illegally, for a period of at least six months or 183 days. You can prove this either through court papers, if the company was found to be hiring illegally or through their books.

If granted you will be issued with a one-yea residency card.

Student arraigo

The student or arraigo for studies is available to those who have been living in Spain illegally and continuously for two years and want to continue to stay in Spain specifically to study to or undergo professional training. You may do vocational training, a master’s degree, training authorised by the public employment services or get a technical aptitude certificate.

You must not have started your course at the time of your application, but once you have been granted legal residency, you must start your studies within 3 months.

You will be issued with an initial one-year residency card, which can be extended for an extra year.


Social arraigo

This is one of the hardest arraigos to get, specifically because you must have been living in Spain illegally for a period of three years and you must have an employment contract too. In order to qualify you must not have been outside of Spain for more than 120 days during the three years.

As you will not have been legal, you will have to prove you have been in Spain for three years through means like passport entry stamps or bank statements.

Another difficulty is that you must have an employment contract with a company or employer that has been in operation for at least one year. You must have been working at least 30 hours per week and been paid at least minimum wage.

Part-time contracts are allowed and you can prove you’ve worked for more than one employer to reach the 30 hours necessary.

If you don’t have an employment contract, you can show that you want to become self-employed to create your own business or that you have the financial means to support yourself.

Although you don’t need to have familial ties to Spain, it will be helpful for your case. You also need to prove your connection to Spain, such as knowledge of the language and culture.

Different regions have different rules on the language front, but if you’re applying in Catalonia for example, you will have to take a 45-hour course in Catalan to demonstrate you have a basic understanding of the local language.

If successful you will be issued with a one-year residency card and be able to legally work in Spain.


Extending your Spanish residency

Most arraigos do not give the option of extending them for another year, however, once that year is up, you do have the option to modify your residency status.

READ ALSO: Should I change my non-lucrative visa for another residency permit in Spain?

This means you can change for a work visa or become self-employed or even change it to a non-lucrative visa – which means however that you won’t be able to continue working in Spain


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