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Business Immigration In Spain Through Entrepreneurship

business immigration in Spain

There has been a significant increase in business immigration in Spain, especially from foreign entrepreneurs who see in the country an opportunity to create their business driven by the success of digital companies born of small innovate projects (known as startups). This new knowledge-based economy is an important lever for growth and prosperity, as it is based on high valued – added activities at the time promotes research, development, and innovation.

Written for Expat Network by Marc Fernández de la Peña, Head of Immigration Department. AGM Abogados

In 2022, investment in Startups in Spain has been maintained despite the difficulties within the international economic environment. The volume of venture capital injected into startups is the second highest in history and the number of transactions has set a record with a total of 424 investment transactions.

In Spain there are approximately 11,000 active startups which positioned the country, lead by Barcelona and Madrid, within the top 6 cities with the best startup ecosystem within Europe only followed London, Paris, Berlin, and Dublin.

In order to strengthen this developing ecosystem and to promote this type of company the Spanish Government has recently legislated with a new Startup Law, placing Spain at the forefront of EU to attract investment, innovative entrepreneurship and talent.

The law introduces several administrative, fiscal, civil, and commercial measures for startups with the aim of supporting them throughout their life cycle and specially in the early stages. From the administrative agility the law contains important measures related to immigration process.

What ‘s considered an entrepreneurial profile and activity under Spanish Immigration law?

An entrepreneurial activity is one which is innovative and/or of special economic interest for Spain.

An innovative activity is a business that creates or modifies a product and introduces it to the market.

Sectors that are of special interest to Spain are: renewable energies, ICT, life sciences, agri-food, automotive and mobility, aerospace, transportation and logistics, audiovisual industry and chemical industry.

The profile of the applicant, his/her experience and involvement in the project will also be evaluated to determine the entrepreneurship.

It’s also important to consider the place where the business and investment is made as this will be relevant if this impacts the creation of jobs (it’s not the same to create a business in a big city such as Barcelona, Valencia or Madrid rather than in a small town where it will have more impact to the local economy).

How is the process to obtain the Entrepreneur Residence in Spain?

The process can either be started from Spain (legal tourist status) or from the country of origin of the entrepreneur (through the Spanish Consulate). The Application will be addressed to UGE (the immigration office in charge of this process) electronically including the documentation that will support the foreigner’s claim as an entrepreneur (business plan, profile & experience of the entrepreneur and list of reasons to consider the plan as innovative or of special interest for the Spanish economy) together with documentation required for application for residence (criminal records, sufficient economic means, health insurance, etc.).

The process will take approximately 1-2 months (the law indicates a processing time of 10 working days for the evaluation of the entrepreneurship and 20 working days for the rest of documentation).

With the approval of the Entrepreneurship (through a favorable report issued by ENISA -name of the administration in charge of this evaluations-) the UGE (immigration office) will process the residence permit of the foreigner. If both are favorable the foreigner will be allowed to start the business in Spain.

Characteristic of the Entrepreneur Residence Permit

The permit will initially be valid for 3 years and then renewable for periods of 2 years until 5 years when the applicant qualifies for long-term residence. Relatives (wife/spouse, domestic partnership, children minor age, major age dependents and ascendents dependents) can also apply for a residence permit and qualify for a work authorization if of working age.

Nationals of those countries with a nationality agreement with Spain will be allowed apply for Spanish nationality after two years of continuous residence in Spain (Argentina, Andorra, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Venezuela).

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