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Spain Bound: A Guide to Spanish Visas for Americans to Live in Spain

Guest Contributor Amalia Maloney del Riego shares the most common residency VISAs for Spain

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If you’re an American dreaming of living in Spain, understanding the different Spanish visas for Americans is the first place to start. As an American expat living in Spain for over nine years now, I have learned from my own experience, and the experiences of others, about what it’s like to make the move to Spain. In this article, I’ll guide you through the various types of Spanish visas for Americans to live in Spain, including a special bonus.

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Non-Lucrative Visa

The most common and well-known, the Non-Lucrative Visa, is ideal for those who don't plan to work in Spain and have sufficient financial means to support themselves. To be eligible, you'll need to show proof of sufficient income or savings, as well as have private health insurance that covers you in Spain.

The visa is initially valid for one year, and can be renewed for two-year periods. To qualify for renewal, you must spend more than 183 days in Spain during your first year.

A spouse, civil partner, or dependent children and dependent relatives can also apply for the non-lucrative visa along with the primary applicant. You will need to show proof of financial means to support them as well.

The biggest question is usually, “‘how much constitutes sufficient income or savings?”. According to the Spanish government, it is 400% of Spain’s Public Multiple Effects Income Indicator (IPREM). For each family member in your care, you have to add 100% of the IPREM.

Something not mentioned on the government site, is that you need to write a letter of motivation regarding why you want to live in Spain.

Student Visa:

If you're planning to study in Spain, the Student Visa is the way to go. To be eligible, you'll need to be enrolled in an accredited academic program, and provide proof of enrollment and financial means to support yourself. The visa is valid for the duration of your studies, and can be extended if necessary.

At the time this is written, the Spanish government is having a hard time handling all the applications for student visas in Spain, particularly the renewals. It is causing some students applying to renew to even have to return in the midst of their studies. My youngest brother is finishing his masters in Asturias and his roommate unfortunately has to return to Mexico for a time because she is having such a hard time renewing her student visa.

Work Visa

If you have a job offer from a Spanish employer, the Work Visa is the way to go. Your employer will need to provide a job contract, and you'll need to meet certain requirements, such as having sufficient qualifications and experience for the position. The visa is initially valid for one year, and then can be renewed twice in two-year intervals.

After five years of living in Spain with a Spanish work visa, you can apply for a long-term residence permit.

Golden Visa

The Golden Visa is a residency-by-investment program that allows non-EU citizens to obtain a Spanish residence permit by investing in real estate in Spain. To be eligible, you'll need to invest at least €500,000 in Spanish property, and maintain the investment for at least five years. The visa is initially valid for one year, and can be renewed for two years at a time, indefinitely.

However, Spain’s Golden Visa may not exist much longer, except in another form for international businesses to start companies in Spain. A bill is trying to be passed in the Spanish government to eliminate the Golden Visa in Spain. Not only do certain parties believe it to be raising housing prices for citizens, but they are concerned about the lack of transparency regarding where the investment money is coming from.

Much of this has been sparked by the sanctions against Russian Oligarchs due to the war in Ukraine. In addition, the European Union in March of 2022 announced that Golden Visa schemes will have to be phased out by countries. Already in the start of 2023, we have seen Ireland and Portugal end their Golden Visa programs.

Digital Nomad Visa

Spain’s Digital Nomad Visa, also referred to as the Startup Law, is a new type of visa that allows remote workers to live and work in Spain for up to one year. To be eligible, you'll need to show proof of income, private health insurance, and have a contract with a foreign employer or be self-employed. If you are self-employed and have a Spanish client, the income from a Spanish company cannot exceed 20% of your total income, and you have to maintain contracts with a foreign company.

Part of the requirements is that you will need to provide a bank certificate, or salary or job contract, proving that you have at least 25,000€ for the main applicant and 9441€ for each additional family member.

The Digital Nomad Visa visa will also provide tax benefits. The applicant will have to pay a lower tax amount. The corporation tax will be a flat rate of 24% instead of progressive, and up to 48%. However, the exact numbers on this can vary so make sure to seek professional financial legal advice about this.

If you first apply in your country of origin, you’ll get a 1-year visa that can later be modified to three years. These years do count towards nationality. Or you can apply in Spain and directly get your 3-year residency card. It can then be extended for up to 5 years.

The Spanish government has created a fast-track resolution for processing the Digital Nomad Visa and if you do not hear anything from the administration within 20 days, the silence is considered approval that your application is approved.

Some immigration lawyers are suggesting to do the process from Spain while you’re here on a tourist visa. During the time the application is being processed, the authorities can extend your legal stay and in some cases the process time may be shorter by applying for the Digital Nomad Visa in Spain.

With the Digital Nomad Visa, you can be outside Spain for a maximum of six months per year.

You will also be able to move freely throughout the EU with this residency card.

Ley de los Nietos (Option for Nationality):

The Ley de los Nietos (Grandchildrens Law) is a new law that allows the grandchildren of Spanish nationals to obtain Spanish nationality. While it is going beyond residency, I thought it good to mention here because of the rare opportunity it provides that can apply to many in the US.

To be eligible, you'll need to provide certain documents, such as birth certificates and marriage certificates, and prove that your grandparents were Spanish nationals. Once you've obtained Spanish nationality, you'll have the right to live and work in Spain without the need for a visa.

The Ley de los Nietos is part of the Democratic Memory Law, a new bill passed in late 2022. It seeks to recognize the victims of facism and particularly the Spanish Civil War. It was due to this that many Spaniards were exiled from Spain, losing their Spanish citizenship when they married in other countries and took up new citizenships. With this new law, it is an opportunity for the grandchildren or even children of those exiles to obtain Spanish Nationality.

Right now the window of time to apply for the Ley de Los Nietos is two years, but if you are considering it and may qualify, do it as soon as possible. There are two extreme right-wing parties in the Spanish government who, if in the November/December 2023 Spanish national elections come into more power, have already promised to repeal this law.

Which Spanish Visa is right for you?

As you can see, there are several options available for Spanish visas for Americans, and even a new opportunity for Spanish nationality. Whether you're planning to study, work, invest, or retire in Spain, there's a visa that's right for you.

Be sure to do your research and consult with a qualified Spanish law firm to determine which visa is the best fit for your needs. With the right visa, you can enjoy all that Spain has to offer and make the most of your time living in this beautiful country.

For trusted resources for immigration legal services and other tips for living in Spain, visit me and be in touch at

Want to Learn More? Join us!

In this one-hour session on Zoom, you’ll get the inside scoop from Amalia Maloney Del Riego, Certified Travel Consultant, Living in Spain Specialist, & Content Creator at Move to Traveling. As an American who relocated to Spain, she understands the ins and outs of moving to, and living in, Spain as a foreigner. Join Amalia as she speaks with us about various residency options for those considering a full-time move to Spain. There will be time at the end for Q & A.

March 23, 2022 10:00 am PST / 1pm EST

About Our Guest Contributor

Amalia loves living in Denia, Spain and traveling worldwide. Her idea of a great time is ‘eating and drinking’ her way around a new place and meeting the people. As a certified Travel Consultant, she specializes in custom travel planning for trips throughout Europe, as well as scouting trips for moving to the Costa Blanca area of Spain. Visit to enjoy her Europe travel resources for experiencing Europe and living in Spain.

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