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SPAIN – New Law to Encourage Investment and Business

A new law (Ley 14/2013 of 27 September) took effect yesterday with the goal of improving Spain’s economic situation. The new law aims to encourage investment and make it easier for foreign investors, entrepreneurs, highly qualified employees, researchers and intra-company transferees to enter and reside in Spain.

The law introduces new categories for investor and entrepreneur permits processed by the “Unidad de Grandes Empresas” (“UGE” or Special Unit of Large Companies), relaxes qualifying criteria and reduces processing times for existing categories of work and residence permits.

The Unidad de Grandes Empresas provides expedited immigration processing for large businesses in Spain, reducing processing times, removing the requirement for a labour market search and allowing simultaneous submission of dependent visa applications.

Investors

Foreign nationals will be able to obtain a residence visa for one year and, when applicable, two-year residence permits, renewable for another two years, will be granted to foreign investors making a “significant investment” in Spain by:

  • purchasing at least two million EUR in Spanish government bonds, or;
  • investing at least one million EUR in Spanish companies, or:
  • buying property in Spain of a value greater than 500,000 EUR, or:
  • starting a business “of general interest” in Spain.

To be considered “of general interest”, a business must

  • create jobs in Spain;
  • have a socioeconomic impact in a certain region;
  • make a significant contribution to the technology and Innovation sector.

Any investment made by a foreign company located abroad - except in a tax haven - where the foreign investor has the control of the company will also be considered a significant investment.

Entrepreneurs

Foreign nationals will be able to obtain a residence visa for one year with the purpose of starting a business in Spain.

They will be able to obtain a residence permit if they prove that they have actually started the planned business.

The business needs to be considered innovative and of special interest for Spain, and must have pre-approval/a positive report from the relevant government agency. The government agency will take into account the profile of the applicant and their business plan.

Highly Qualified Professionals

The qualifying criteria allowing companies to hire managerial and highly qualified personnel from abroad through the UGE have been eased considerably.

The employing entity must:

  • employ at least 250 workers paying into the Spanish social security system (down from 500), or;
  • have an annual turnover in Spain of at least 50 million EUR (down from 200 million EUR , or;
  • hold at least 43 million EUR equity (down from 100 million EUR), or;
  • have received an average of at least one million EUR annual foreign investment in the three years prior to the application (no change), or;
  • hold stock abroad valued at a minimum of three million EUR.

Additionally, undergraduates and postgraduates from recognised universities and Business Schools will be considered.

Intra Company Transfers

The definition of an intra-company transferee has been broadened to include not only an employee with an employment contract but also an employee with a professional relationship or service contract with the Spanish entity.

Only three months (down from nine months) of previous experience with the sending entity will be required.

More changes

In addition:

  • All new and existing permit holders will be entitled to bring dependent family members to Spain.
  • Permit renewals will be issued for two years in all cases.
  • The work and residence permit must be processed within 20 days. If only residence visas are required, consulates must now process them within ten business days.

Action Points

  • Check whether companies, assignees and dependents can take advantage of the newly eased qualifying criteria or the new investor and entrepreneur categories.
  • Adjust planning to take into account the reduced processing times for applications.
  • Expect some delays as the new law is implemented through internal instructions from the General Immigration Department. Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd will keep you updated.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by NPS Asociados and Sagardoy Abogados.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.