Archive | May, 2015

Getting Legal – The Non-Lucrative Residency Visa

Posted on 01 May 2015 by American expat!


A few posts ago, we explored getting a long term student visa via a language school. If you don’t need to learn Spanish, there is another straightforward  residency visa you can apply for in Spain: The Non-Lucrative Residency Visa.

This is an option you may not have considered yet, especially if you aren’t familiar with business and work life in general over here. If you are quite entrepreneurial and not a worrier, then you’ll probably be just fine coming on over and figuring things out as you go (as I did). However, if you are uncomfortable with moving overseas with no work lined up, no visa and aren’t OK with just winging it, you might consider finding a position (or creating one) in the North America that will allow you to work remotely, so that your income is in dollars and paid into an American bank account.

In this scenario, you are eligible for a Non-Lucrative Residency visa that will allow you to stay long term as long as you are earning your money outside of Spain, can prove this income, can show that it is sufficient  to support yourself during your stay, and can fulfill all the other visa requirements. You can also apply for this visa if you have enough accessible in a savings account (I did this to obtain a long term visa in Australia years ago).

If you go for the remote job route, here are the advantages:

  • US and Canadian salaries are about 3x higher than what any Spanish company will pay you, so you’ll be making a lot more than you would working here, even in a part time situation
  • Spanish companies are extremely slow to hire and you cannot obtain a work visa while you are here anyway
  • The cost of living is lower here even though taxes are much higher, mainly due to lifestyle and standards
  • You will have a DNI immediately, which is a totally necessary item to do just about anything here
  • You won’t be illegal
  • You won’t have to leave every three months if you are worried about being illegal

The possible disadvantages are:

  • You might have to match office hours in the part of North America the office is located, so you won’t have the same schedule as other workers here, which can be an issue for some (though for me it is perfect – My mornings are free and I work in the evenings and at night, which is my preference).
  • You may have to be onsite occasionally for project kickoffs or meetings, which means expensive travel back to the US
  • You won’t have the same holiday schedule as Spain, so when 4 and 5 day weekends come and everyone wants to leave, you might have to stay home and work (this will happen a lot because there are like 25 holidays a year here or something)
  • You’ll need a decent home office with a good internet connection for meetings (trust me, this seems like it is an easy step but it isn’t) or you will have to rent a desk from a coworking space.

Along with you application form, photos, passport, application fee (which is $140 dollars at the time of writing), a medical certificate (which is only valid for 3 months), and:

Proof of Accommodation: You are required to submit the address of where you will live in Spain and the rental agreement or contract agreement if you are subletting a room. Obviously, this is tough to do when you are not yet in Spain, especially since any decent housing here goes quick and if you want to rent a room, you’d like as much information as possible. So other than renting through Air BnB, which is getting rather expensive though there are still deals to be found, you’ll want to find a place through sites that have verified rooms, apartments, and walk through videos if at all possible so you know what you are getting into! You can search for places via the map page of long term rentals in Barcelona.

Health Insurance: You’ll need to show proof of health/travel insurance for the duration of your stay. International or travel insurance should cover this just fine. You can get a quote from Travel Ex or find other international insurance companies and purchase for the correct length of time. I purchased World Nomads global insurance for one year, and it was accepted by the Los Angeles consulate when applying for a student visa. Some other long term international insurance options you can check out are: and

Proof of Sufficient Funds: If you are working for a US company, you just need to show that you earn enough to support yourself. This can be subjective but several consulate pages cite €2,130 a month as the required amount. You have to show three months of statements for this. If you are applying with savings, clearly you have to have enough to cover that amount for the number of months of visa you are applying for (e.g. €25,560 for a year visa).

FBI check: Yep, you need an FBI criminal record check, or a state criminal record check depending on your state. I had to do the FBI check coming from California. This is a huge pain in the ass as you have request your criminal record history from the FBI and then get fingerprinted and send everything along to the FBI for processing, which can take 30-60 days. You then need to get an Apostille stamp from a US Federal office.

While many of these steps are also needed for a student visa, you can see this option is a lot more expensive. But if you have the funds in the bank, a full time job at the time of application where you can work remotely, are a freelancer or own your own business and can work from anywhere, this is the easiest visa for you. Of course if you want to learn Spanish while you are here, a student visa is the way to go as it is cheaper and the schools will usually assist in the visa arrangements.


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