Earlier this year, the Spanish Supreme Court declared null, the article of law that allowed temporary residence permits to be terminated when there had been absences from Spain for more than 6 months in the year. The Supreme Court ruling on termination of temporary residence due to absence from Spain, dismisses article 162 – 2.e) of Real Decreto 557/2011 stating that this should be regulated in the higher ranking immigration law, the ‘Ley Orgánica 4/2000’ and not in a regulation written in law of lower rank. It therefore considers that the article limits the fundamental right of free movement of foreign citizens who have temporary residence in Spain as established in the Spanish Constitution.
Portugal has ended its Golden Visa residency program for property investors. This announcement came just a week after Ireland terminated of its ‘Golden Visa’ Immigrant Investor Program.
Both countries introduced Golden Visas in 2012, as did Spain, as they struggled to recover from the global financial crisis. The aim was to prevent banking collapse by bringing foreign money into their real estate markets.
According to Forbes, the scheme has brought in €6.8 billion direct investment into Portugal since its launch in 2012, with the most of the money going into real estate. The knock on effect of this has been rents and house prices have soared in a country which is among the poorest in Western Europe, where according to Reuters, more than half of workers earn less than €1,000 per month.
Because Portugal’s ‘Golden Visa’ program didn’t require any minimum time to be spent in Portugal, properties were bought and left empty, or just used for 2 or 3 weeks and rented as holiday lets for the rest of the year. This resulted in distortions in both the rental and sale sectors of the property market.
The increase in properties let short term for holidays, reduced the availability of long-term rents, pushing up prices which became unaffordable to locals. In Lisbon, short-term rentals now account for more than 60% of listed properties. Lisbon is the third costliest rental market in Europe after Milan and Paris. Rents increased by 37% in that city in the fourth quarter of 2022 alone.
The ‘golden visa’ investment entry point became the floor price for properties in many parts of Portugal. Sellers priced their properties for wealthy foreign buyers pushing asking prices way beyond what locals could afford.
Aside from upsetting the ordinary Portuguese, ‘Golden Visa’ schemes like those offered by Portugal, Ireland and Spain are seen as a back door entry for nationals of non-EU countries into the EU and also vehicles for money laundering.
The European Parliament announced in March last year (2022) that citizenship by investment programmes (i.e. Golden Visa Schemes) should be gradually removed. This proposal passed with 595 votes to 12. EU pressure has already forced Malta, Cyprus, Latvia, and Bulgaria to scrap their ‘Golden Visa’ residency initiatives, so it is not surprising that Ireland and Portugal followed suit, and maybe is only a matter of time before Spain follows.
The Spanish left-wing party political party, MásPaís this month put forward a bill proposing and end to the property option in the country’s Golden Visa residency program.
So Portugal’s shop is closed, but as things stand Spain’s ‘Golden Visa’ Property Investor Residency remains an option (for now) for those who have €500k to invest in a property.
If you’re interested in obtain a Spanish Golden Visa through property investment, the clock is ticking … the time to act is now.
The Digital Nomad Visa is now available in Spain following the passing of the new Startups Law, ‘Ley de Startups‘. This visa which allows the holder to live in Spain and work remotely or online, can be applied directly in Spain, or via the Spanish Consulate in the country in which you currently reside.
To get a Digital Nomad Visa, applicants must have sufficient funds to support themselves, proof they can work remotely from Spain, and must already have been working in their current ‘remote worker’ employment or self-employment prior to applying.
Holders of the Digital Nomad Visa are eligible for a special income tax rate fixed at 24% for the first 5 years, offering higher earners reduced income tax compared to normal residents.
The Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa offers residency to British nationals who have the financial means to support themselves without working. The Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa scheme is therefore ideal if you are retired or have passive income, for example from a portfolio of properties or other investments. The Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa allows full-time residency in Spain with an expectation of a minimum of 6 months residence maintained.
What does the Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa Offer UK British Nationals?
The Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa gives permission to reside in Spain for up to 5 years, providing ongoing eligibility requirements continue to be met. The TIE, tarjeta de identidad de extranjero is the residency card that is issued. The TIE is initially valid for 1 year, and can be renewed twice for 2 years at a time. When 5 years of full-time residency has been completed, permanent residency can be applied for.
A Visa for Full-Time Living in Spain
The Non-Lucrative Visa is intended for people who want to live in Spain full-time. Time spent in Spain does not count towards the Schengen limit, so travel in the rest of the Schengen area up to 3 months out of 6 months, is also still possible.
Spouse or legal partner, children under 18 years and dependent ascendants can also obtain residency in Spain under the Non-Lucrative Visa scheme. This of course providing there are sufficient financial means to support all applicants.
Unlike the ‘Golden Visa‘, there is a minimum amount of time that must be spent in Spain to be able to renew residency, so it may be not ideal for holiday home owners who want to spend more than 3 months in one go in Spain, but typically spend less than 6 months altogether, e.g. 5 months over the winter.
How does a British UK National Apply for a Non-Lucrative Visa & Residency?
British nationals who wish to get a Non-Lucrative Visa, must apply for it at the Spanish Consulate in the UK, or if they reside in another country, through the consulate of that country. Once the visa has been approved, it’s valid for 90 days from the date of issue. During this time the holder must travel to Spain and apply for their residency card or TIE tarjeta de identidad de extranjero. The application for the TIE, must be made within 30 days of arrival in Spain.
Applications for the Non-Lucrative Visa cannot be presented by a legal representative and must be applied for in person. There is an application fee of £516.
Summary of Non-Lucrative Visa General Requirements
The Non-Lucrative visa applicant must:
● Have a valid passport with at least 1 year before expiry
● Not have entered or stayed illegally in Spanish territory
● Not have been refused entry in any of the 26 Schengen countries
● Have sufficient financial means to cover personal and family living costs (€27,000 for the applicant plus €7,000 for each dependent family member)
● Be 18 years or over, with no criminal record in Spain nor in the countries where they have resided in the previous 5 years
● Have access to public healthcare, or private health insurance with an insurer authorised to operate in Spain
You can read more about the costs and requirements in our article Understanding the Requirements and Costs for British Nationals to Get Spanish Residency
FAQS About the Non-Lucrative Visa for Spanish Residency for British Nationals
CAN INCOME FROM MY BUSINESS OR SELF-EMPLOYED REMOTE WORK BE USED
No, the non-lucrative residency visa does not allow the holder to carry on any business activity whilst in Spain
CAN SAVINGS BE USED INSTEAD OF INCOME?
Savings may be taken into account in lieu of income, or to ‘top up’ a shortfall in the minimum required amount. Savings must be sufficient to cover the minimum income requirement for the duration of the residency. E.g. for 5 years residency with savings only requires savings of 5 times €27,000.
WHAT ABOUT TAX RESIDENCE?
Non-lucrative residency is intended for people that want to live in Spain for 6 months or more. If the minimum amount of time has not been spent in Spain, the residency renewal may be turned down. The 183 day rule is the starting measure for determining tax residency. You are deemed to be a Spanish tax resident if you spend 183 days or more in Spain during any one calendar year. You would also be deemed to have change your country of habitual residence, and therefore fiscal residence if for example you spent 180 days in Spain, 120 in the UK and the other 65 in another, or other countries.
DOES THE NON-LUCRATIVE VISA OFFER PERMANENT RESIDENCY?
Non-lucrative residency can lead to permanent residency in Spain. To obtain permanent residency the holder of the visa must prove effective residence (more than 183 days per year) throughout a qualifying period of 5 years.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A NON-LUCRATIVE VISA AND TIE?
The Spanish Consulates in the UK give a timescale of 3 months. Having assisted with multiple non-lucrative visa applications through all the Consulates, we have found they typically take 2 to 3 weeks from date of submission to be approved. If applications have queries raised or additional information requested, then they will of course take longer.
If you need more information or advice about getting a Non-Lucrative Visa for residency in Spain, or would like to employ the services of a professional company that specialises in Spanish residency visas, we’ll be glad to assist. Please get in touch.
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