Access to the labour market


Country Report: Access to the labour market Last updated: 22/05/23


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.

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.[1]

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 of 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.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4] The project, which employees 14 between refugees and migrants, continued to be implemented in 2022.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7] A proposal for a Royal Decree modifying the previous legislation has been launched on October 2021.[8]  The new law has been approved in October 2022, establishing the deadline of 6 months for the administration to decide on diploma recognition.[9]

In July 2022, a reform of the Regulation of the Immigration Law was adopted, aiming at widening the possibilities of employment for foreign persons in Spain.[10] 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.).[11]




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

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

[3]Baynana, available at:

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

[5] 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 at:; CEAR, ?Acoge un Plato’, available at:

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

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

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

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

[10] El Periódico, ‘El Gobierno aprueba la reforma de extranjería para sumar a miles de migrantes al mercado laboral’, 25 July 2022, available at:; República, ‘Entra en vigor la reforma que facilita la incorporación de extranjeros al mercado de trabajo’, 15 August 2022, available 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 at:

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