It's been a long time coming, but Spain is now accepting applications for its long-awaited digital nomad visa. Since there's been a lot of talk about this visa, here's everything you need to know, from the eligibility requirements to the application process, so check it out.
The number of telecommuting and digital nomad jobs continues to increase, especially since many people started working from home during the COVID-19 epidemic, more and more countries have started to grant visas for digital nomads.
The so-called Startups Law, which the Spanish government finally approved in December 2022 after a lengthy 16-month process, is an attempt by Spain to attract digital nomads, remote employees and startups.
One of the provisions of the new law that has generated the most interest and speculation, without a doubt, is the visa for digital nomads. But why?
For many years, Spain has been a popular location for digital nomads due to its pleasant climate, amazing cities, reasonable cost and reliable internet speeds. However, until recently, many digital nomads could only stay in Spain for a maximum of 3 months, on a tourist visa.
This restriction has been lifted.
A tourist visa not only means that you cannot stay in Spain for a long period of time, but it also means that, from a legal point of view, you are not allowed to work. But now, with the new visa, non-EU freelancers and teleworkers will be offered the opportunity to enter, stay and work in Spain, as well as providing them with certain tax advantages.
Let's get down to the nitty-gritty.
What is a digital nomad visa?
A digital nomad visa is a type of visa that allows you to work remotely for a company located in a country other than the one in which you currently reside (the company must be outside Europe). To work in another country, you must often obtain a work visa and be registered as a taxpayer. This requires uprooting your entire life from your home country.
Digital nomad visas, on the other hand, allow you to be a temporary resident in another country while continuing to work (and pay taxes) in your home country. In most cases, digital nomads are exempt from paying taxes in their host country.
Many countries around the world, including the EU, offer visas to digital nomads. Each country has its own rules and procedures for the application process.
Although the term "digital nomad" can be used to refer to anyone who earns money using a laptop while away from home, Spain will only grant a one-year visa to a certain type of teleworker.
Who can apply?
You can apply if you are a teleworker or self-employed from a non-EU country.
You can be self-employed and work for several clients, or be employed by a specific organization that has granted you permission to telework from abroad. Both options are available to you.
You are required to have maintained professional contact with your clients or to have worked for the organization for a period of at least three months prior to submitting your application. In addition:
- At a minimum, the company you work for must have been in existence for one year.
- You are required to have at least three years of experience working in your industry, or demonstrate that you have the necessary qualifications, such as a professional degree or certificate obtained from a recognized institution of higher education in the industry.
- At the time of your application, you cannot be residing in Spain in violation of the law, but if you are here as a tourist or with another authorization to stay in Spain, you can apply for residency without the need to return to your country.
- You must be able to prove that you do not have a criminal record and that you have sufficient financial means.
Although Spanish language skills are not officially required to obtain a digital nomad visa, the best advice is to start studying the language before you move. Many Spaniards learn some English in school, but if you want to connect with people, without a doubt, knowing some Spanish will always be useful.
If the candidate is authorized, his or her spouse or dependents can accompany him or her.
What do I have to do to submit an application?
To begin with, you will have to prove that you can support yourself financially after moving to Spain.
This is equivalent to 200% of the Minimum Interprofessional Wage (SMI). The current minimum wage in Spain is €1,000 per month, paid in 14 equal payments, or €1,166.67 per month, paid in 12 equal payments.
Note, however, that the minimum wage in Spain is currently being re-evaluated and is very likely to increase to €1,082 (spread over 14 payments) per month in the not too distant future.
This indicates that, as of now, you are required to be able to prove that you will have an income of at least €2,333.34 per month or €28,000 per year, although this is likely to increase significantly in the near future. You can prove that this amount is correct by submitting your employment contracts or invoices, as well as your bank statements.
You should also make sure that you have private medical insurance or health coverage based on social security agreements between countries. It is not enough to take out travel insurance.
The Spanish government also mentions the option of taking out public health insurance, but it is not yet clear whether this means you will have to pay social security contributions or whether it means you will be covered by the special agreement, which is the public pay-as-you-go scheme. However, the public health insurance option is mentioned.
Read on to discover the cities in Spain where digital nomads can consider settling down.
How exactly is it requested?
Workers who are not physically present in Spain can submit their visa application at the Spanish consulate in their country of origin.
My recommendation is that you apply from Spain.
You would enter the country with a tourist visa valid for 90 days (unless you don't even need a visa to enter Spain as a tourist), and then submit your application and relevant documentation, as it may extend your legal status while the application is being processed. If the application is granted, applicants can remain in Spain. We can submit the application as your representatives.
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How long will it take for them to accept it?
In the case of a visa, consulates have 10 days to issue them. As for the residence authorization, the office that resolves the applications has 20 working days to issue a resolution.
You will have a better chance of success if you submit the application from Spain and not through a Consulate, which can cause delays that cannot be remedied.
After submitting the application, if you have not received a response within 20 working days and the Ministry of Labor has not requested additional information, the country is obliged to accept your application. This is true whether or not the Ministry of Labor has requested additional information. If there is no response after 20 days, consider the application answered with a positive response.
How will you be taxed during your stay in Spain?
The digital nomad visa offers economic advantages because it is subject to Non-Resident Income Tax (IRNR) instead of the standard progressive income tax (IRPF) paid by permanent workers in Spain. IRNR is usually 24% in Spain (for residents it ranges between 25% and 50%). However, only those with income above 55,000 euros will be taxed under the Beckham Law (if the income is below this amount, it is not suitable), but if you are within the Digital Nomad Law you will not pay for income from real estate assets, dividends from companies, etc., generated in your country. Y
ou will only pay Wealth Tax on assets located in Spain. Please note that this regime can only be used during the first 6 years.
How to choose where to settle in Spain?
There are several cities in Spain that are naturally attractive to people from other countries, such as Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia, which is the third largest city in Spain.
Spain also has the association Red Nacional de Pueblos Acogedores, which is dedicated to recruiting digital nomads and remote workers for participating cities and towns to help with the population decline that is occurring in those areas. There are 30 rural communities that are part of it.
These communities are spread throughout Spain, from the southernmost point of Andalusia to the Basque Country in the north, and all are eagerly awaiting the arrival of remote workers from other countries.
For me, one of the biggest advantages of the digital nomad visa is that, because they can work from anywhere, they can choose the countryside, where the cost of living is much lower. And as a result, these communities could have a resurgence thanks to your contribution.
If you are interested in this type of visa, I recommend that you take a trip to Spain to get to know the different cities and towns, or join expat-oriented social networking groups on the Internet so that you can exchange comments or experiences.
If you do not qualify for this visa, do I have other options?
If you are unable to participate in the new visa program, you should be aware that it is illegal for non-Spaniards to work in Spain (physically or virtually) without the corresponding work visa. However, in addition to the initial 90 days of visa-free stay in Spain that you are granted, there are other legal options to extend your stay there.
For example, residence permits for students, scholarship holders, highly qualified workers, investors, researchers, among others. Find out how you can carry out training, research, development and innovation activities in Spain.
Especially, the non-profit residence permit is one of the most popular among U.S. citizens, but to be eligible for it, you have to be able to support yourself financially, even if you do not work.
For the past 16 months, the new Spanish startup law and visa for digital nomads has been debated. On November 3, the Spanish Parliament finally approved the legislation, which will come into force in January 2023.
Spain is the latest EU member to adopt the digital nomad visa, and will now be able to compete with other southern European countries (Greece, Malta, Cyprus and Portugal) that are exploiting this new immigration channel to increase local tourism. The new business start-up option is a new effort to attract investment with an emphasis on innovation. It is a comprehensive mobility package that integrates immigration, tax, commercial and civil rules to attract and facilitate the admission and residency of foreign talent.
In short, the legislation aims to attract foreign investors, digital nomads and start-ups to Spain by offering them visa benefits, tax breaks and less red tape. They will be able to enjoy a world-class climate, gastronomy and culture while operating in Spain for one year and extend it thereafter for up to five years.
More than 47 million people live in Spain and, from now on, you, as a teleworker, have the opportunity to join them.
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