After one month of implementation of the Spanish Government’s “Real Decreto 557/2011” (Royal Decree 557/2011), the new regulation has allowed the Ministry of Labor to implement several new requirements and is aimed at adjusting skilled migration in Spain to the demands of the domestic labor market.  As Spain grapples with high unemployment and pending government austerity programs, there are stricter requirements for work permit applicants. Clients are also advised that summer holidays in August and early September may create delays in processing work and residence permit applications filed with regional labor and immigration offices and Madrid’s Large Business Unit.

Labor Recruitment Requirements and Exemptions for Intra-Company Transfers


Overall, the new regulations will apply to all non-European Union/European Economic Area (non-EU/EEA) nationals applying for Spanish work authorization. The new regulation will now require Spanish host companies to submit labor recruitment efforts for all intra-company transferees unless the assignment meets the basic, current definition of an intra-company transfer as follows: (1) the assignee has at least nine months of directly relevant professional experience outside Spain within the same company group; (2) has the equivalent of at least a university bachelor’s degree authenticated by either Apostille or Spanish legalization; (3) is being transferred within the same company group (4) the proposed position in Spain is at an executive or senior-managerial level and (5) the assignee will remain on his or her home company’s payroll. 

Applicants who are considered as “new hires” (i.e., having less than nine months of intra-company experience) or “localized hires” (i.e., non EU/EEA nationals assigned to Spanish payroll, regardless if the assignment meets intra-company transfer qualifications) must possess an authenticated university certificate equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in the country issuing the degree.  Most “new hire” and “localized hire” applications will be required to undergo labor recruitment efforts to show an EU/EEA national, Spanish national or a Spanish permanent resident cannot fill the proposed position.

Registration with “Large Business Unit” (“LBU”)

The most notable exception to the general labor recruitment requirement is for those Spanish host companies registered with the LBU in Madrid.  Corporate registration with the LBU requires the Spanish company to have at least 500 employees contributing to Spain’s social insurance fund amongst other requirements, such as foreign capitalization requirements, type of industry and business volume generated in Spain.  

The biggest advantage for registered companies submitting work permit applications to the LBU typically enjoy a fast track processing (one month versus two to three months if filed with regional labor offices) and the ability for intra-company work permit applications being filed with a simultaneous residence permit application for accompanying dependents.  (Intra-company and general work permit applications filed with regional Labor Offices generally are not permitted to file simultaneous residence permit applications on behalf of accompanying dependents.)

In addition, Spanish companies will be limited to sponsoring work permit applications for “third-party contractors” (i.e, subcontractors). Specifically, for those companies not registered with the LBU, sponsorship of subcontractors will more than likely not be accepted by regional Labor Offices.  Companies registered with the LBU should inquire with the LBU as to their specific circumstances for sponsoring a subcontracted employee.

EU Blue Card Implementation Moving Slowly


Introduced in May 2009, the EU Commission passed “EU Blue Card” legislation is to promote intra-EU immigration of highly-skilled workers.  The EU Commission introduced harmonized application requirements and requested all EU member countries (with the exception of the Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom) to implement their own national application requirements by June 2011.  Due to rising unemployment in some EU-member countries, there may be delay by certain countries in devising requirements, accepting applications and possibly delaying recognition “fast-track” advantages for processing work permit applications for applicants who possess a Blue Card issued by another EU-member country.

As part of the new Decree, Spain announced it will begin accepting  applications, but there remains unique issues for the Large Business Unit to sort Blue Card requirements against processing “local hire” work permit applications. Clients wishing to understand more about EU Blue Card application requirements in Spain are advised to contact their Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration specialist.

Clients are advised that after the first month of implementation, many regional labor offices and the Large Business Unit are still reviewing guidelines and establishing policy for adjudicating work and residence permit applications.  In addition, as Spain’s unemployment is a political issue, the Secretary of Immigration may change requirements with little to no advance public notice.  Due to government austerity measures and the coming summer holidays, government agencies may be on reduced staff or have possibility of strike, which may significantly delay processing work and residence permit applications.  For those clients considering assignments to Spain during the last half of 2011, Pro-Link GLOBAL strongly urges clients to allow ample lead time for assignment start dates and to strategize immigration expectations.