I am a national from a non-EU or EEA country or Switzerland

World map. Non-EU or EEA countries

If you are from a country that does not belong to the EU, the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland and you want to live in Spain, you must complete immigration formalities.

The good news is that Spain has specific legislation to promote the arrival of international talent in Spain (Law 14/2013, of 27 September, known as the Entrepreneurs’ Act).

This legislation is aimed at specific groups: investors, entrepreneurs, researchers, highly qualified professionals and intra-company transfers. These groups have some advantages when applying for immigration permits.

In this section we will focus on what options this law offers for attracting talent, including university students.

However, you must take into account that there are actually many more channels for entering and residing in Spain following the general immigration procedure (Organic law 4/2000, of 11 January, on rights and freedoms of foreigners in Spain and their social integration).

See the different options below to find out what you must do. And remember, if none apply to you, you might be able to explore other possibilities with the help of expert advice.

I am an investor

I want to invest, but not reside, in Spain. In this case you need not complete any immigration formalities but you will need an identification number to carry out financial transactions, so must get an NIE. When you are notified, you will receive a white document, which is why it is commonly known as the white NIE:

Identity number for foreign nationals (NIE)

I want to invest and reside in Spain: In this case, you must get a visa if you are outside Spain or a residence permit if you are already legally in the country. Remember, not all amounts nor types of investment are enough. We will tell you how to do it below.

Residence for capital investors: visa and permit

I am an entrepreneur

If you are going to set up a business activity of general interest or that is innovative in Spain, you can request a visa if you are outside Spain or a residence permit if you are already legally in the country. 

To enter under Law 14/2013, the business project must be considered of special interest to Spain. Details are given in the following formality: 

Residence for entrepreneurs: visa and permit

If the activity you want to pursue does not meet the requirements to be considered of special interest to Spain, you must follow the general immigration law (Organic Law 4/2000). You must apply for residence with self-employment. 

Residence with self-employment: visa and permit

I am a researcher

Do you have a job offer in Spain as a researcher at a university, business or research body established in Spain? If so, the body hiring you must request a residence permit.

If the organisation has been granted the permit and you are legally in Spain, you will have complied with this formality and you can stay to live and carry out a training or research activity. 
If you are outside Spain, the permit granted is a requirement for you to obtain a visa to come here to live and work.

Residence for training and research: visa and permit

I am a highly qualified professional 

If you have been offered a job as a highly qualified professional, the company or organisation that is hiring you must apply for a residence permit. 

If you are already legally in Spain and have been granted a permit, you will have complied with this formality and you can stay to live and work.
If you are outside Spain, the permit granted is a requirement for you to obtain a visa to come here to live and work.

Residence for highly qualified professionals: visa and permit

I am a professional on an intra-company transfer

This applies if the foreign company you work for moves you to a Spanish company from the same business group or a Spanish company with which it has a close business relationship. The company or organisation must apply for a residence permit to carry out the intra-company transfer.  

If you are already legally in Spain and have been granted the permit requested by the company, you will have complied with this formality and you can stay to live and work.
If you are outside Spain, the permit granted is a requirement for you to obtain a visa to come here to live and work.

Residence for intra-company transfer: visa and permit 

I am a student

If you are planning to start or continue your studies at an authorised centre in Spain for a period of over 90 days and you are outside the country, you must get a study visa. If you are already legally in Spain, you must get a permit to stay here to study. 

Stay for studies: visa and permit

I am a relative of an EU, EEA or Swiss national

If you are a relative of a national of the European Union, European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland and you are accompanying or joining him or her and will live in Spain for a period of more than three months, you must apply for a supporting document: 

Residence card for family members of European Union nationals

I am none of the above

If none of the above profiles apply to you, you must follow the general immigration formalities. You can find information on the Spanish Government Immigration Portal.

Consult another formality in this section:

Once you have obtained your visa or permit and are in Spain, you can then apply for your identity card for foreign nationals.

Identity card for foreign nationals (TIE)