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Spain – New legislation to facilitate internationalisation of companies

10 October 2013

Spain’s new Act for Entrepreneurs, which came into force on 30th September 2013, includes important measures to streamline the immigration process for various categories of foreign nationals, reports global human resources lawyers, Ius Laboris.

The reform is significant, as it is the first time Spanish legislation has regarded the international mobility of employees as a potential stimulus for the economy, rather than a risk to the labour market.  It is designed to attract economic investment and talent to the country and facilitate the “internationalisation” of Spanish companies.

The Act facilitates the entry and stay in Spain of certain categories of foreign nationals for economic reasons, including the following:

  • Investors
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Highly qualified professionals
  • Foreigners subject to intra-company transfers.

To achieve this, a new fast track within the General Directorate of Immigration has been created – the Unit for Large Companies and Strategic Economic Sectors (UGE-CE).  Qualifying companies can apply to the UGE-CE to obtain the necessary authorisations to hire or host foreigners within the above-mentioned categories. 

The processing time for resolving authorisations will be 20 days and 10 days for the corresponding visas.  Importantly, authorisations will have national scope, they will not be cancelled on account of stays outside of Spain longer than six months per year and the labour-market test will not apply.

In addition, it is worth noting the possibility of Spanish entities using the new fast track to obtain authorisation to hire graduates and postgraduates from leading universities and business schools for Spanish entities, regardless of the size of the company, the sector in which it operates, and the turnover/investment or project handled.

With regard to intra-company transfers, the authorisation requirements are far more flexible than under the pre-existing immigration provisions for intra-company work and residence permits.  The main points to highlight are: 

Reduction of the employment seniority requirement from nine months to three months, with recognition that such seniority may be within the group rather than just the sending company.

The possibility of applying for authorisation on behalf of freelancers as well as employees.

Scope for substituting the requirement for the foreign individual to have a diploma with evidence of his or her employment experience.

Ius Laboris advises that it is important for companies to bear in mind that, when applying to extend authorisations and visas under the new procedure, they will be required to prove the continuation of the circumstances under which the initial approval was granted.

According to Ius Laboris, it will in future normally be advisable for Spanish companies to follow the new fast-track process to obtain authorisations to hire highly qualified foreigners, provided the company fulfils specified requirements.  These concern company size, economic performance, activity in strategic sectors, or participation in a project of general economic interest.  


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