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What happens with my Spanish work visa if I get fired?

The Local Spain
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What happens with my Spanish work visa if I get fired?
If you are fired, you must immediately communicate your change in circumstance to Spain's Large Companies Unit. Photo: Glenn Carstens-Peters/Unsplash.

Understanding what happens with your work visa if you get fired in Spain is key to improving your prospects of staying in the country.


It's something of a nightmare scenario for many people: you've studied long and hard, gained technical or specialist experience, and then found a dream job in Spain. You accept the position, are given a specialist work visa, then arrive in Spain and begin a new life, only to be fired -- what happens then?

Do you automatically lose your visa if you lose the job? Can you stay in Spain or must you leave the country?

Highly Qualified Visa

The Highly Qualified Visa (HQV), sometimes referred to as the Highly Skilled Professional Visa (Autorización inicial de residencia y trabajo de profesionales altamente cualificados) is a work permit that allows non-EU citizens to legally live and work in Spain, so long as they have a specialist position in a Spanish company lined up, are filling a gap in the labour market, or they are brought in under a managerial or supervisory role.

According to immigration experts Balcells Group, there are several employment profiles that could be eligible for the HQV:

  • Managers (also positions like CEO, CFO, and so on) who oversee a large group of people inside a company.
  • Individuals who work in "really technical and specialised job positions" and have the relevant training.
  • People who have recently finished their studies "in a prestigious business school or university."

Put simply, this HQV is a short-term, job-based visa. No job = no visa.


The HQV is usually a two-year work permit that effectively gives you temporary residency authorisation, can be renewed, and counts towards long-term residency or citizenship. Note that this visa is for specialist people with job offers, not self-employed people or digital nomads (known as “autónomos'' in Spain). For more information on Spain's digital nomad visa, you can read all The Local's coverage of it below:


If you're interested in the EU Blue Card, you can read our coverage of it here.

For many non-EU citizens with specialist training, however, particularly those who work in tech or industries where Spanish companies face a shortage of workers, the HQV can be one of the best ways to gain entry into Spain.

However, in order to get it, you must have a job offer from a Spanish company. As such, your HQV (and by extension, your temporary residency rights) are tied to that job contract, and the company must apply for you.

That raises some questions, namely: what happens with my Spanish work visa if I get fired?


What happens with my Spanish work visa if I get fired?

In Spain, getting fired as a foreign worker can (in some circumstances) lead to a loss of residency and work permit if it was granted with that employment contract, which is the case with HQVs. This isn't always necessarily the case, however, and there are some steps you can take to avoid it.

If you are fired, the main thing is that you must immediately communicate your change in circumstance to Spain's Large Companies Unit (UGE), within 30 days of being fired, and if you want to hold on to your visa you must begin the process of trying to find a new job in your specialist sector.

From there you essentially have two options to try and regularise your immigration status: (quickly) find a new job or, if you are eligible, claim unemployment benefits (known as el paro in Spanish) while you explore your options. Though for many HQV holders who could earn good salaries elsewhere, this might not be an overly appealing option.

How can you regularise your status in Spain after being fired?

According to Sergio Perez Parras, a lawyer at Pérez Parras Economists & Lawyers, the easiest way to regularise your residence status in Spain if you are fired is to be hired by another Spanish company. Note, as with the initial application, it would be your new company that must apply for a new HQV, not you. Like with this original visa, this would need to be a specialist position and satisfy all the relevant application criteria.

Or, if you are entitled to unemployment benefits in Spain, then you can give yourself a little breathing room to find a new company and restart the HQV application, or, if eligible, apply for another type of visa.

According to Law 14/2013: "In the event that the highly qualified professional informs the Large Companies Unit of his or her dismissal and is entitled to unemployment benefits, the authorisation shall be renewed in accordance with the provisions of article 71 of the Foreigners Regulations, approved by Royal Decree 557/2011, of 20th April".


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