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Immigration Law

As a foreign investor, you will be likely to have to face immigration regulations for you or your trusted employees or prospect candidates. You'll find below general information about the Spanish immigration system. 
Organic Law 8/2000 (of December 22, 2000) on the Rights and Freedoms of Foreigners in Spain and their Social Integration, together with the recent Organic Law 14/2003, on the same matter, clarify and even amend certain of the provisions introduced by the previous Organic Law 4/2000 (of January 11, 2000), in an attempt to provide greater guarantees for a policy to ensure the integration of nationals from third countries who reside legally on Spanish soil, and encouraging nondiscrimination of this group in Spanish economic, social and cultural life. This Organic Law is currently implemented by Royal Decree 2393/2004. 
Organic Laws 8/2000 and 14/2003, introduce the following main new features: (i) they clarify the definition of “foreigner” (non-Spanish national or non-Community national); (ii) they extend to foreign nationals the constitutional safeguards in Article 13 of the Spanish Constitution on civil liberties; (iii) they introduce enforcement measures to combat illegal immigration, as well as measures to combat human trafficking, and enable certain activities linked to this traffic to be monitored.
Foreigners included in the Community system may reside and work (as self-employed or employed workers) in Spain with no need to obtain work authorization.
Foreigners to whom the Community system does not apply require administrative approval to be able to work and reside in Spain. Employers who intend to hire a foreigner who is not authorized to work in Spain (to whom the Community system  does not apply) should previously obtain an authorization from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Nevertheless, lack of a work permit will not render the employment contract void with regard to the rights of the foreign worker and will not prevent him from obtaining the benefits to which he may be entitled.
Nationals from non-EU countries
Under Spanish labor legislation, non-EU nationals intending to work in Spain must obtain a special work visa and a work and residence authorization. The Spanish labor authorities grant different types of work authorization depending on the type of work and its duration. The duration of initial authorizations for employment and residence will be of one year and can be restricted to a certain geographical area and type of work. After the one-year period, initial authorizations can be renewed for a two-year period. Once renewed, an authorization will allow its holder to engage in any type of work anywhere in Spain.Work authorizations are granted taking into account the employment situation in Spain (that is, the need for labor and the level of unemployment for the jobs offered).
Every quarter the Spanish National Employment Institute publishes a catalog of jobs that are difficult to fill which provides a breakdown by province of the occupations for which foreigners can be hired. However, there are certain preferential situations, such as foreigners who have ties with Spain, workers who assemble or repair imported machinery, or senior executives. In these cases, the national employment situation does not have to be certified. 
Authorizations for self-employed work and residence are granted for an initial one-year period and can be renewed on expiry for further two-year periods. Where a worker has resided legally and continuously in Spain for five years and has renewed his or her work and residence permits (whether for self-employed or employed work), he or she may obtain a permanent residence permit. After obtaining such a permit, the worker must apply for a permanent resident alien identity card, which will be renewed every five years.
Other types of work authorization are as follows:
Frontier workers:  Employed or self-employed work authorization for workers residing in the frontier area of a neighboring State to which they return each day. Its validity is restricted to this territorial area. Five years at most, renewable on expiry.
Temporary work Permitted types of work:
Seasonal work for 9 months at most within a period of 12 consecutive months.
Project work or services (assembly of industrial plants, infrastructure, etc.).
Senior management, professional sportsmen, artists in public performances, and such other groups as may be determined by legislation.
Training and trainee work. The term of the contract, subject to a one-year limit (except in the case of seasonal authorizations), and not renewable, except for the renewals provided for in labor legislation.
Crossborder work: Granted to foreigners who work for a company established in a country that does not belong to the EU or the European Economic Area, and who are assigned temporarily to Spain in the following cases:
Execution of an agreement between the foreign company and the company established in Spain that will receive the services. 
Temporary assignment of workers between companies of a Group (including training).
Temporary assignment of highly qualified workers to supervise or advise on construction work or services that Spanish companies perform abroad.
One year at the most, renewable for another year at the most.

Additionally, the Decision of December 26, 2007 by the Office of the Secretary of State for Immigration and Emigration approved the annual quota of foreign workers for 2008 (that is, the projected number of non-EU workers or workers not legally resident in Spain required by the Spanish job market,differentiated by industry and province). Lastly, it is important to bear in mind the creation of the Unit of Large Enterprises (Unidad de Grandes Empresas) under the Ruling of the Secretary of State for Immigration and Emigration dated February 28, 2007, ordering publication of the Spanish Cabinet Decision of February 16, 2007, approving the rules determining the procedure for authorizing foreigners to enter, reside, and work in Spain where their work is for employmentrelated, economic or social reasons, or reasons related to research and development, or teaching, projects which require a high level of qualification, or for artistic performances of special cultural interest.
In this regard, specific, more flexible mechanisms have been established for the processing of work and residence permits (for both ordinary and cross-border employees) for qualified workers and for any family members who simultaneously process their permits. In order to access this new Unit, enterprises must meet certain requirements regarding number of employees and volume of investment in Spain. 
 Nationals from EU Member States
Nationals from other Member States of the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland do not need to obtain a work authorization as an employee or as a self-employed worker, because EU legislation on the free movement of workers applies fully. They are therefore entitled to perform any activity both as employees and as self-employed workers, in the same terms as Spanish citizens. 
Since Royal Decree 240/2007, of February 16, 2007 came into force, citizens of the European Union that intend to remain in Spain for more than three months must apply in person for registration on the Central Register of Foreigners within three months of their arrival in Spain. Accordingly, EU citizens must not apply for a resident alien identification card. However, family members of EU citizens that are not themselves EU citizens must apply for the resident alien identification card. There is currently a transitional legal regime in place for citizens from Bulgaria and Romania and it is therefore necessary to apply for a work and residence permit.