This concept, which was useful in the past, has become insufficient in the face of the new global economic reality.

The need to internationalize the Spanish economy, to promote the presence of foreign companies, to attract foreign talent and investment, to deseasonalize and diversify the Spanish tourism sector, as well as the need to eliminate barriers to foreign entrepreneurship and investment in business projects that have an impact on job creation, led to the decision in 2012 to carry out an evaluation of the weaknesses and strengths of Spanish regulations on foreigners.


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If you are a citizen of the European Union, or a U.S., Icelandic, Norwegian or Swiss citizen, you will not need to apply for a visa if you wish to move to Spain, regardless of the length of your stay. But if you do not belong to this group, you need to obtain the corresponding authorization or visas.

Since 2013, Spain has made, with the International Mobility section of Law 14/2013, a very important liberalizing effort.

The new Entrepreneurs Law facilitates the entry and residence in Spain of non-EU citizens who wish to develop an entrepreneurial activity in Spain. This procedure can be carried out either through the issuance of a visa for entry and stay in Spain for a period of one year to carry out the previous procedures to be able to develop the activity, or through the granting of a residence authorization for three years, extendable, if already in possession of the visa or other type of stay or residence authorization.

It is important that the activity to be developed has an innovative character. This being perhaps the most important aspect that the business project must contain, it is controversial that there is no definition of what is considered "innovative". The classic definition could be An innovative project is a strategic plan that involves the creation of new ideas, products or services, involving the development of an area such as education, technology, business models, ecology, among others.

The OBS Business School of Barcelona, gives us the guidelines to distinguish between an innovative project and one that is not, taking into account the following parameters:

  1. They generate a before and after in a specific market: Innovative ideas last and become a reference in their sector. After their breakthrough, nothing is ever the same again. But be careful, we are not only referring to the economic element. The impact they leave can be of any kind, even social or cultural.
  2. They make visible a niche that previously went unnoticed: Sometimes their effect is not felt in a specific area, but the product, service or content has such a disruptive quality that it makes visible a spectrum that no one had noticed before. In these cases, the idea often opens up a new path for production and the market.
  3. They have the ability to evolve over time: Innovation is not a one-day flower. If it were, we would not be talking about such a project, but simply about a one-off value initiative. What is innovative is sustainable, viable over time and, in addition, it must be flexible enough to evolve in response to the demands of the context itself.
  4. They have a high degree of acceptance: Of course, an innovative project is also defined by its ability to be accepted by a given public. How many apparently innovative ideas have not been accepted by consumers and have simply disappeared? Many. When that happens, it is a clear indication that something went wrong in the design or conception, because if an idea does not generate significant convening power, no matter how innovative it may seem, it cannot be considered as such.
  5. Generate benefits for the brand that executes it: Companies that invest in innovation and development do not do it just for the sake of it. Logically, they are looking for a benefit for the brand, which can be economic (most of the time) or of any other type. If a project has no positive impact on a company's trajectory, how can it be considered innovative?

The innovation trends detected by the Bankinter Foundation of Innovation are: The future of work, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Health and Education.

In short, a basic requirement that we will have to prove is that the company has an innovative character and/or special economic interest for Spain. This implies that the business activity must:

  • Have a relevant socioeconomic impact in the geographical area where the business activity will be developed.
  • Contribute significant elements related to scientific and/or technological innovation (artificial intelligence, development or use of patents, use of proprietary technology, innovation awards or any similar type of recognition, possibility of scalability in the business, differentiation in business processes and in the product or service).
  • Create jobs in Spain.

Advantages of the residence permit for entrepreneurs

The residence authorization for entrepreneurs implies important advantages with respect to the temporary residence authorization for self-employed workers, which non-EU citizens were obliged to apply for in Spain. The former is articulated as a single residence and work authorization, and does not imply territorial or sectorial limitations for the activity. For this purpose, the business plan is analyzed from a broad perspective and not only from the economic viability or the risk inherent to the activity.

The residence permit for entrepreneurs can be applied for from Spain and has reduced processing times.

The residence permit for entrepreneurs allows to reside and work in the whole national territory and makes possible the joint processing of the residence permit for spouse and children.

Fortunately, the procedure is agile, with visas being resolved and notified in 10 working days, and residence permits in 25-30 days, after processing through the Large Companies and Strategic Groups Unit. However, in recent times the resolutions are suffering some delay, compared to previous years.

Spanish migration policy

Before its integration into the European Union, Spain was a country with an economic crisis and high unemployment rates, a consequence of the civil wars and Franco's dictatorial regime. This context, which provoked the emigration of Spaniards to Europe and America, began to change significantly after 1986, when Spain joined the European Union (EU).

With the EU, Spain has benefited culturally and economically, becoming a country with a highly developed economy and a high standard of living for its citizens. All this, added to the enviable temperate and Mediterranean climate, makes Spain one of the most attractive countries for emigrants, not only from Latin America, Africa and Asia, but also for emigrants from the USA, Canada, the UK, Russia and Northern Europe.

In general, non-EU foreigners wishing to reside in Spain must be previously authorized to do so. Once this authorization has been obtained, they must apply for the corresponding visa that will allow them to enter Spain.

Note: The content of this page is merely indicative. Only the provisions of the regulations in force at the time of application are applicable.