Access to the labour market


Country Report: Access to the labour market Last updated: 30/05/24


Access to the labour market for refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection is not limited by law or by any other measure in such as a labour market test or restricted access to certain sectors. It is fully accessible under equal conditions to nationals.

As mentioned in the chapter on Reception Conditions, during the first phase of reception, asylum applicants are provided with financial support for requesting the recognition of their studies or professional qualifications when this is feasible.  This financial support is welcomed as recognition process usually undertakes important expenses for the legalisation and the translation of the documentation. Unfortunately, financial support is often not sufficient for guaranteeing full coverage to recognition related expenses. In the following two phases, beneficiaries of international protection are required to be more financially self-sufficient, providing financial help for punctual support, as self-sufficiency is hardly achievable.

Reception centres in Spain provide educational aid to facilitate parents’ attendance at training courses, such as providing their children with nurseries, school canteens, or teaching materials.[1]

Nonetheless, as mentioned in the section on Reception Conditions: Access to the Labour Market, all persons within the 18-month long process are provided with individualised schemes to support their training, qualification recognition etc. After they complete the 3-phase process, beneficiaries can still access labour integration and orientation services provided by NGOs addressed to the migrant population in general. These generalised services are funded by the Ministry of Inclusion and co-financed by EU funds, and include personalised schemes, employment orientation, vocational trainings, support in drafting CV, etc. In general, the same NGOs who provide for reception conditions and have an employment service continue to support beneficiaries who require or need it. For example, Accem runs an employability program with IKEA since 2017, which foresees the provision of vocational trainings as well as internship opportunities at its shops. The organisation also manages a program with the Fundación Tent, which consists in a mentorship program with women and carried out by professionals from companies, with the aim of supporting and empowering them in defining their skills for the job search in a concrete sector and in developing such professional competencies. Similarly, Accem collaborates with   the Grupo Northius, a platform for digital education, which has granted 20 scholarships for the participation of beneficiaries in different vocational trainings aiming at improving the employability of participants.[2]

Even when they are granted with refugee or subsidiary protection status, in the practice many beneficiaries face obstacles entering the labour market due to language, qualifications, and discrimination-based obstacles. This situation is made worse by the fact that the Spanish economy went through a long economic crisis, which led the country to high levels of unemployment, affecting both migrants and Spanish citizens. In addition, many companies lack information on labour laws and permits on their applicability in the cases of asylum seekers and refugees, which in turn hinders their access to the job market.[3]

In April 2021 a group of Syrian refugee journalists created the bilingual digital media Baynana (in Spanish and in Arabic) with the support of the Foundation por Causa.[4] The NGO CEAR and the Casa Árabe (a centre promoting Arabic culture, art and language) launched in Madrid the initiative ‘Acoge un Plato Catering’ during the summer of 2021. It aims at promoting Arabic gastronomy, as well as social and labour inclusion for refugees in Spain.[5] The project, which employees 14 between refugees and migrants, continued to be implemented in 2022.[6] In addition, within such an initiative, CEAR published a cookery book in September 2022, which gathers the recipes and histories of the refugees who participated in Acoge un Plato.[7] In July 2023 the initiative was present with a food truck at the Río Babel Music Festival in Madrid.[8]

The recognition of diplomas and degrees in Spain has always been a challenge for migrants and refugees due to bureaucratic burdens, with waiting times ranging from 9 months to 2 years. In March 2021, the Ministry of Universities announced the intention to adopt a new procedure for the recognition of diplomas, that aims at reducing the length of the procedure.[9] A proposal for a Royal Decree modifying the previous legislation has been launched on October 2021.[10]  The new law has been approved in October 2022, establishing the deadline of 6 months for the administration to decide on diploma recognition.[11]

In July 2022, a reform of the Regulation of the Immigration Law was adopted, aiming at widening the possibilities of employment of third country nationals in Spain.[12] Among others, the reform introduces the residence permits for ‘training roots’ reasons (arraigo por formación), that means that any undocumented person living in Spain for 2 years can access a vocational training and thus employment. The reform also modifies the already existing figure of residence permit for ‘social roots’ reasons (arraigo social), by easing the requirements requested for obtaining it. While acknowledging the improvements that the reform introduces, different organisations (i.e. Andalucía Acoge, Cáritas, CEAR, Convive Fundación CEPAIM and Red Acoge) regret its limited scope and underline the necessity to continue in its improvement in order to tackle other relevant issues (i.e. family reunification, the issuing of visa for job search, a better synergy between the immigration and asylum laws, etc.).[13] As underlined by Accem, in one year since the adoption of the reform, there has been an increase of 98.5% of persons who received a residence permit for any of the ‘roots’ reasons, being 15,019 those who received it for ‘training roots’ until June 2023.[14]

In March 2023, the municipal public transport entity ‘ETM’ of Valencia launched, together with the NGO ‘CEAR’ the initiative ‘ETM Refugio’, consisting in the provision of free passes for public transports to asylum seekers and refugees, with the aim of improving their social and labour inclusion.[15]

The NGO ‘CEAR’ continued to denounce the challenges that migrants, asylum seekers and refugees face in accessing employment, mainly due to prejudices and stereotypes, slow administrative asylum procedures, precarious and insecure jobs they usually access.[16]

Accem launched the campaign ‘Tents of Hope’ to raise awareness on the value that refugees bring to the labour market and to the society.[17]

On the occasion of the World Refugee Day, UNHCR and the Ministry of External Affairs organised the ‘Forum Spain with Refugees’, with the aim of mobilising and making visible projects and good practices in the inclusion of asylum seekers and refugees in Spain.[18] The Forum, preparatory to the Global Refugee Forum, to mobilize concrete pledges from Spanish civil society including the private sector, primarily focusing on enhancing integration opportunities across various domains including economic inclusion, access to higher education, community-based reception, community engagement and support for refugee-led organisations and sports initiatives. Over 40 pledges related to refugee inclusion were garnered, laying the ground for more durable solutions in Spain, and stronger support by Spain at the global level.[19]

In addition, the ticket of the Spanish national lottery of 17 June was dedicated to the World Refugee Day.[20]

In June, Spain took part to the 2nd Unity Euro Cup, a football competition organised by the UNHCR and UEFA, with 11 refugees (9 men and 2 women).[21]

In December the Government of Cataluña launched a call to look for mentors, with the aim of supporting asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection in their integration process.[22]




[1] European Migration Network, ‘Integration of applicants for international protection in the labour market’, October 2023, available at:

[2] Information provided by Accem’s employment service in March 2023.

[3] Newtral, ‘La falta de información dificulta el acceso al mercado de trabajo a los solicitantes de asilo y protección internacional’, 13 January 2022, available in Spanish at:

[4] Baynana, available at:

[5] CEAR, ‘Acoge un Plato inaugura restaurante en la terraza de la Casa Árabe de Madrid’, 24 June 2021, available in Spanish at:

[6] Cadena Ser, ‘”La cocina es la manera más fácil de integrar”: así funciona el proyecto más sobroso de la Comisión de Ayuda al Refugiado’, 18 August 2022, available in Spanish at:; CEAR, ?Acoge un Plato’, available in Spanish at:

[7] CEAR, ‘Recetario de celebraciones Acoge un Plato’, September 2022, available in Spanish at:

[8] CEAR, ‘‘Acoge un Plato’ acercará a Río Babel las recetas de personas refugiadas’, 27 June 2023, available in Spanish at:

[9] El País, ‘Miles de inmigrantes podrán homologar su título universitario en seis meses para ejercer en España’, 24 March 2021, available in Spanish at:

[10] El Economista, ‘Universidades abre en audiencia pública el Real Decreto de homologaciones de títulos’, 13 October 2021, available in Spanish at:

[11] Cope, ‘Gobierno limita a seis meses el plazo para homologar los títulos extranjeros’, 18 October 2022, available in Spanish at:

[12] El Periódico, ‘El Gobierno aprueba la reforma de extranjería para sumar a miles de migrantes al mercado laboral’, 25 July 2022, available in Spanish at:; República, ‘Entra en vigor la reforma que facilita la incorporación de extranjeros al mercado de trabajo’, 15 August 2022, available in Spanish at:; Boletín Oficial del Estado, ‘Real Decreto 629/2022, de 26 de julio, por el que se modifica el Reglamento de la Ley Orgánica 4/2000, sobre derechos y libertades de los extranjeros en España y su integración social, tras su reforma por Ley Orgánica 2/2009, aprobado por el Real Decreto 557/2011, de 20 de abril’, 27 July 2022, available in Spanish at:

[13] Andalucía Acoge, ‘Reglamento de extranjería: una reforma necesaria, aunque limitada’, 27 July 2022, available in Spanish at:; Andalucía Acoge, ‘Resumen reforma ley extranjería’, August 2022, available in Spanish at:

[14] Accem, ‘Se duplican las autorizaciones de residencia por la vía del arraigo y te explicamos por qué’, 6 October 2023, available at:

[15] El Periodic, ‘La EMT lanza “EMT Refugio”, un nuevo bono gratuito para refugiados o solicitantes de asilo’, 13 March 2023, available in Spanish at:

[16] CEAR, ‘Por el derecho a un empleo digno de las personas refugiadas’, 28 April 2023, available in Spanish at:

[17], ‘´Tents of hope´: una campaña para descubrir el valor que aportan las personas refugiadas al mercado laboral y a la sociedad’, 18 May 2023, available in Spanish at:

[18] Servimedia, ‘Acnur y Asuntos Exteriores organizan un foro para animar a la sociedad civil a plantear propuestas de inclusión de refugiados’, 18 May 2023, available at:; ACNUR, ‘Día Mundial del Refugiado 2023: Foro España con los Refugiados’, June 2023, available in Spanish at:

[19] Information provided by UNHCR in April 2024.

[20] Europa Press, ‘El Día Mundial de las Personas Refugiadas protagoniza el décimo de Lotería Nacional de este sábado’, 13 June 2023, available in Spanish at:

[21] Europa Press, ‘España jugará la segunda Unity Euro Cup, competición para refugiados de ACNUR y UEFA’, 27 June 2023, available in Spanish at:

[22] Diari Mes, ‘La Generalitat busca mentores para acompañar a solicitantes de asilo’, 7 December 2023, available in Spanish at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation