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BREXIT

How feasible is it really for young Brits to move to Spain after Brexit?

Despite what a new UK TV reality show might suggest, it's not easy for young Britons to move to Spain in a post-Brexit world.

British in Spain
How easy is it for Brits to move to Spain? Photo: marcinjozwiak / Pixabay

A new UK reality TV show puts young Brits and Spaniards in a villa together with the objective of them falling in love and moving to Spain. But is the show just another example of how many in the UK are unaware of the complications of starting a new life in Spain on the fly after Brexit? 

In Channel Four’s Language of Love, presented by Davina McCall and Ricky Merino, British singles are brought to Spain to live in a villa and date Spaniards in the hope of finding love, the only thing is that none of them speak the same language.

After a few weeks of dating and trying to communicate with one another, the British are asked to make a choice – will you move to Spain for love?

This is may have all been very well before Brexit, but what is the reality today – can young Brits still really make that choice and what are their options?

Brits are now only able to stay up to 90 days in 180 days in Spain, meaning that if you want to be able to live in Spain any longer than three months, it’s now a lot more difficult to do so.

Getting a work permit to live in Spain is now quite tricky, especially for young Brits, who will need to prove that they’re highly skilled and will need to find a job that is on Spain’s ‘Shortage Occupation’ list. Any potential employer will also have to prove that there are no other suitable candidates in the whole of the EU with that skillset.

And if you want to get an entrepreneur visa to set up your own business, you will have to prove that your business is innovative and has a special economic interest for Spain. You will also have several hoops to jump through, including submitting your business plan to the authorities for approval.

Only young Brits with a spare €500,000 to invest in property will be able to apply for the golden visa.

As the majority of young British people won’t be eligible for any of the above visas, what are the most realistic options to be able to move to Spain?  

Marriage

If young Brits really have fallen in love with a Spanish partner and are ready to make a permanent move to Spain, then one of the simplest ways to move here is of course to marry your Spanish partner. Even if you’re in Spain on a tourist visa, then you are able to register to get married here to a Spaniard.

You should be aware that you will need to submit quite a bit of paperwork beforehand, (which could take around three months or more) and you will also have to go through an interview process to check that your relationship with your Spanish partner is genuine.

Once you are married and have your marriage certificate, you can apply for a residence card as a family member of an EU citizen. This will allow you to stay in Spain for a period of five years before you need to renew it. You are also able to apply for Spanish citizenship after one year of marriage.

READ ALSO: Civil union or marriage in Spain: which one is better?

Pareja de Hecho or Civil Union

Of course, after only two weeks living in a villa with someone, it’s unlikely the young Brits will be ready for marriage, so what are the other options? A pareja de hecho or a civil union is still a big step in registering your relationship but could be another way to be able to stay in Spain with your Spanish partner. This will allow you to stay in Spain without the need of having a job (as long as your partner can prove sufficient means of income for both of you). 

However, here comes the tricky part, in order to be eligible for the civil union, in some regions in Spain, you will have to show proof that you have been living with your Spanish partner for at least a year. This is the case in Madrid for example, whereas in Catalonia, there is no minimum requirement, but you must have been registered as living in the same province as them. Depending on where your partner is from in Spain, this could prove virtually impossible if you’re only allowed to be in Spain for up to 90 days at a time.

If you are able to register your pareja de hecho status, you can apply for a residence card as a family member of an EU citizen for a period of five years.

Non-Lucrative Visa

If you’re a young Brit and are lucky or savvy enough to have saved up (or have income from investments or similar) quite a bit of money, then you can move to Spain for one year on a non-lucrative visa (NVL). As the name suggests, you will not be allowed to work in Spain on the (NVL) and must prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself while you’re here. Currently, for 2022 you need to prove that you have €27,792 for the year, as well as private health insurance.

After the one year is up, you will be able to renew it for a further two years (provided you have a lot more money to do so) or can exchange it for a work permit or register to become self-employed.

READ ALSO: What are the pros and cons of Spain’s non-lucrative visa?

Student Visa

If you’re not yet ready for marriage or to be registered as being in a serious relationship and you don’t have a lot of money saved up to be eligible for the non-lucrative visa, then your easiest option is to apply for a student visa. In order to apply for a student visa, you have to have been accepted on a course first. Besides the forms, ID documents and acceptance letter from the school or university, you will also have to get private health insurance and have proof of sufficient funds to cover your time in Spain.

Be aware that your student visa will typically only last as long as your course lasts, this means that you can apply for the short-term visa, between three to six months or the long-term visa for a course longer than six months. The good news is that you are allowed to work for up to 20 hours a week on your student visa. 

Digital Nomad Visa

The last option is Spain’s digital nomad visa, which was announced at the end of last year. Technically on this visa, you should be able to live in Spain for up to one year, whilst continuing to work remotely for your company back in the UK (if your job allows it). However, as the Spanish government hasn’t yet confirmed the requirements for this visa or when it will be launched, this is not currently an option. Be sure to keep an eye out on our website though, as we will be sharing the details as soon as we know more.  

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For members

VISAS

What are the pros and cons of Spain’s non-lucrative visa?

Spain's non-lucrative visa is one of the most popular residency options for non-EU citizens to be able to live in Spain, but there are plenty of factors to consider before deciding if it's right for you, from taxes, to perks, the money you need and how the NLV's requirements compare to other visas.

What are the pros and cons of Spain's non-lucrative visa?

The non-lucrative visa or NVL as it is often referred to, is an authorisation that allows non-EU foreigners to live in Spain without working or carrying out professional activities, by demonstrating that they have sufficient financial means for themselves and, if applicable, their family.

In Spanish it’s called a ‘visado de residencia no lucrativa‘ and is often referred to as a retirement visa, as this is the best option for retirees from non-EU countries who want to spend their golden years in Spain.

So what are the pros and cons of this visa compared to other visas you can obtain to be able to live in Spain?

Pros

  • You can apply for a family or joint NLV

One of the main pros of this visa is that you can include your spouse and other family members on your visa application, meaning that they can live in Spain with you and won’t have to apply for a separate visa. Be aware though, that for every family member included in the application, you need to prove that you have an extra €6,948 per year.

  • You can invest

Although the NVL doesn’t allow you to work, it does allow you to invest while you’re living in Spain. You can invest in stocks and funds to get extra income or you can invest in a property to use for rental purposes. But unlike the golden visa, you don’t need to spend a minimum of €500,000 on a house in Spain, or even more if it’s an investment in bonds or shares.  

  • You get to enjoy free movement within the Schengen Zone

Even though your NLV visa will be granted for residency in Spain, holders can travel freely within the Schengen Area, without applying for other visas from other countries within the block. This means that if you want to travel within the continent while you’re living in Spain, it’s easy for you to do so.

  • It’s the only valid option for some non-EU people to gain residency in Spain

Sometimes the NLV will be the only visa available to you if you want to live in Spain as someone from a non-EU country. Work visas are quite complicated to get (unless you want to work as an Au Pair or seasonal worker), as you will need to be highly skilled and will need to find a job that is on Spain’s ‘Shortage Occupation’ list. Any potential employer will also have to prove that there are no other suitable candidates in the whole of the EU with that skillset.

Golden visas require you to have a spare €500,000 in order to purchase real estate in Spain, while entrepreneur visas require you to have to submit your business plan to the relevant authorities and go through several complicated steps to get it approved.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Spain’s visa for entrepreneurs

  • You can exchange it for another visa

The good news is that after one year of living in Spain on an NLV, it will be easier for you to apply for a different visa – one that will enable you to work. It will be possible for you to get a work permit or to become self-employed (autónomo) through a process called residence modification.

READ ALSO: Should I change my non-lucrative visa for another residency permit in Spain?

  • It can pave the way to Spanish citizenship

There are a couple of ways you can gain Spanish citizenship to be able to stay in Spain indefinitely when starting out with the NLV.

You can do so by renewing your NLV for a further two years, providing you have an extra €55,584 to do so. Once these two years are up, you can apply to renew the two-year NVL again (once again proving you have sufficient funds).

After the end of this period, you will already have been in Spain for a total of five years, meaning that you can then apply for long-term or permanent residency, which is valid for ten years.

Spain’s permanent residency can also be renewed or instead you can apply for Spanish nationality after ten years in the country. You can also get long-term residency or citizenship by going through the residence modification process as described above – renewing your visas every two years until you are able to get the long-term permanent residency after five years.

Cons 

  • You need to have quite a bit of money

One of the main requirements for the NVL is that you need to be able to support yourself financially. Currently, for 2022 this means that you need to prove that you have €27,792 for the year. For every family member included in the application, you need an extra €6,948 per year. This is the equivalent to €2,895 per month coming from things such as investments, pensions, savings or other assets.

On top of this, you will also need to pay for private health care – typically a plan which doesn’t require any co-payments. 

READ ALSO:

  • You have to renew it often, and show that you have even more money

The NVL is only valid for one year, but if you decide that you want to stay in Spain beyond that time and want to renew it, you’ll need to show that you have more money than the first time. You can renew the visa for a further two years, but this means that you will have to prove that you have €55,584 available to live on for the next two years, and €13,896 for every family member with you in Spain. 

  • It doesn’t allow you to get a job or be self-employed in Spain

As the name suggests – the NLV is for those who are not working in Spain, this means that it does not allow you to get a job in Spain or become self-employed and work for yourself. Because of this, it may be difficult for you to renew it and show you have even more money – particularly because you haven’t been working. However, as mentioned above, it is possible to modify your visa after one year in order to be able to exchange it for a working or self-employed residency permit. 

  • You have to pay taxes

Spain’s non-lucrative visa is a residency visa, so you have to spend more than 183 days in the country for it to remain valid. This means that you will officially be considered a tax resident here. 

Therefore, you have to pay income tax on your worldwide income and you should check if there are double taxation agreements between your country and Spain. 

Even though you won’t be working, you may still be receiving money from investments, from property rentals, from pensions or dividends from companies, which may be taxed. 

READ ALSO – Reader question: Can I be a non-resident for tax purposes with Spain’s non-lucrative visa?

  • You can’t spend as much time outside of Spain without NLV expiring

One of the good things, as mentioned above, is that the NLV allows you to have free movement within the Schengen Zone. However, if your plan is to use the visa to explore the EU as much as you possibly can and maybe spend a few months travelling while you’re here, then you need to be aware that you have to spend more than 183 days in Spain for your visa to remain valid, especially if you want to renew it after the first year.

It’s true that you could technically use this visa to spend more than 90 consecutive days, but fewer than 183 and therefore not be considered a tax resident, but this isn’t a scheme that will necessarily work out for you in the long run. If you want to spend more than 90 consecutive days in Spain without becoming a tax resident, Spain’s Golden Visa may be a better option for you.

  • Little time to sort things things out

If your visa application is successful, then you will only be given three months to enter Spain once it’s granted, during which time you’ll have to apply for a non-EU foreigner’s ID card, the TIE. This could prove complicated, especially if you have a lot of things to organise before you go, such as renting out or selling your property, organising somewhere to stay when you arrive and filling out any extra paperwork you might need. There are also often delays, especially when dealing with official processes in Spain, so the three months may not give you a lot of time. 

GREY AREA: Can I work remotely on an NVL? 

This is a question that many people ask and it’s a big grey area. As the name of the visa implies, you cannot work while you’re in Spain on the NLV, either for a Spanish employer or a Spanish company, but the law doesn’t mention anything specifically about working for clients and companies abroad.

Lawyers have differing opinions on the matter – some say you can, while others that you can’t, and as so often happens, sometimes it’s up to interpretation.

Be aware though, that some consulates won’t grant you your visa if they believe that you will be working remotely. The good news is that the Spanish government has announced plans for a new digital nomad visa, which will allow you to work remotely in Spain for up to a year.

READ ALSO: Pros and cons – What foreigners should be aware of before applying for Spain’s golden visa

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