Residence permit


Country Report: Residence permit Last updated: 21/04/22


Both refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection benefit from a residence permit of 5 years once they are granted status.[1] The responsible authority for issuing the residence permit is the Police of Aliens’ Law and Documentation.

There are no difficulties systematically encountered in the issuance and renewal of those residence permits in practice.

The issuance of residence permits for humanitarian reasons is foreseen under the Aliens Act. This residence permit has a one-year duration.

The law foresees the possibility to request this kind of permit under the following conditions:[2]

  • Being a victim of any of the offences collected under Articles 311 to 315, 511.1 and 512 of the Criminal Code, concerning offences against the rights of workers;
  • Being the victim of crimes based on racist, anti-Semitic or other kind of discrimination relating to ideology, religion or beliefs of the victim, the ethnic group, race or nation to which they belong, their sex or sexual orientation, or disease or disability;
  • Being a victim of crime by domestic violence, provided that a judicial decision has established the status of victim; or
  • Having a severe disease requiring health care specialist, not accessible in the country of origin, where the interruption of treatment would pose a serious risk to the health or life.

Some problems in the issuance of such permits to Venezuelan nationals have been registered in 2019 in some provinces, as they were denied in cases where passports were not presented. In March 2019 the Director-General for Migration and the Police Commissioner for Aliens and Borders adopted a joint instruction establishing that Venezuelan nationals can submit an expired passport when applying for any authorisation and permit foreseen by the Alien Act.[3] The instruction has been adopted following UNHCR’s guidance of March 2018 on the flows of Venezuelans,[4] and following the decision issued by the National Court (Audiencia Nacional) on 26 June 2018 in order to resolve the issues faced by Venezuelans in practice.[5]  In 2020, some issues were reported regarding the issuance of permits to children born in Spain from Venezuelan parents who have been granted a permit for humanitarian reasons but do not have a Venezuelan passport. No similar cases have been brought to attention for what concerns 2021.

As regards the applicable status to resettled beneficiaries of international protection, an important decision was issued in December 2020. The High Court (Tribunal Supremo) established that refugees resettled in Spain must keep their status as refugees. It therefore reverts the decision adopted by the previous Tribunal, denying recognition of the refugee status to four Syrian refugees resettled to Spain in 2015, while granting them subsidiary protection.[6]

Regularisation of migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, many NGOs called upon the Government to regularise all undocumented migrants in Spain, in order to guarantee their access to rights and services.[7] Similar calls were made by the Municipal Immigration Council of the Municipality of Barcelona, as well as the political parties Compromís and Izquierda Unida.[8] The campaign Regularisation Now (#RegularizacionYa), which was endorsed by around 1,000 migrants and antiracist groups, was launched in April 2020 through social networks and a letter sent to the President.[9] The general call for regularisation of all migrants continued to expand and resulted in gatherings of migrant groups in different cities.[10]  In September 2020, the campaign consolidated itself in a national movement with a concrete proposal containing a set of measures that reached the Spanish Congress with the support of eight political parties.[11] Unfortunately, the proposition to regularise more than 600,000 migrants in Spain was rejected by the Congress.[12] It was reported that a regularisation process of all migrants in Spain would allow the Government to save € 1.500 million per year.[13]

Calls of civil society for regularisation of migrants continued. In February 2021, the NGO CEAR called on the government to regularise migrants in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, after having collected signatures from several organisations and human rights groups.[14]

A report published in March 2021 remarked that the regularisation of the 500,000 undocumented migrants living in Spain would positively affect public finances, and would increase incomes up to 1,750 million Euros per year.[15] Another report highlighted that the regularisation of 600,000 undocumented migrants fostered since 2004 by the Former Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero has produced annual incomes of around 2,300 million Euros for Social Security.[16]

Following different decisions of the Supreme Court, in June 2021 the Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration adopted an instruction on the procedure for issuing of temporary residence permits for “labour roots” reasons (arraigo laboral).[17] The instruction is aimed at regularising migrants, and especially former asylum seekers whose application for international protection was rejected, who lived and worked in Spain for two years.[18]

A report published in December 2021 by the Federation Red Acoge highlights that Spanish Immigration Law makes citizenship conditional to a set of criteria very difficult to meet for migrants, thus leaving many of them in a situation of social exclusion.[19] With the aim of promoting a people’s legislative initiative to regularise 500,000 persons by collecting 500,000 signatures, a group of organisations (including a political party) joined to form the platform “ESencialES”.[20] In the framework of the campaign, a report highlighting the five good reasons to adopt an extraordinary regularisation of undocumented migrants in Spain was published in March 2022.[21]




[1] Article 34(3) Aliens Regulation.

[2] Article 126 Aliens Regulation.

[3] ‘Instrucción Conjunta del Director General de Migraciones y del Comisario General de Extranjería y Fronteras por la que se determina el criterio a tener en cuenta respecto a los procedimientos de extranjería impulsados o tramitados a favor de nacionales venezolanos en España’, adopted on 15 March 2019, available in Spanish at:

[4] UNHCR, ‘Nota de orientación sobre el flujo de venezolanos’, March 2018, available in Spanish at:

[5] Audiencia Nacional, Decision SAN 2522/2018, 26 June 2018, available in Spanish at:

[6] Tribunal Supremo, Decision nº 1773/2020, 17 December 2020, available in Spanish at:; Poder Judicial, El Tribunal Supremo fija que las personas acogidas en España a través de un programa de reasentamiento del Gobierno tienen la condición de refugiados, 25 January 2021, available in Spanish at:

[7] Europapress, ‘CEAR reclama al Gobierno que regularice “con carácter urgente” a las personas migrantes’, 2 April 2020, available in Spanish at:

[8] El Diario, Barcelona pide al Gobierno que regularice la situación de los inmigrantes para hacer frente a la crisis del coronavirus, 4 April 2020, available in Spanish at:; Diario Siglo XXI, Compromís urge al Gobierno a regularizar a todos los migrantes: “El virus no entiende de fronteras”, 14 April 2020, available in Spanish at:; Europapress, IU reclama la regularización de inmigrantes como medida excepcional por la crisis del Covid19, 27 April 2020, available in Spanish at:

[9] El Salto Diario, El movimiento antirracista exige que se regularice a la población migrante, 13 April 2020, available in Spanish at:

[10] Cuarto Poder, Los migrantes se manifestarán para que el Congreso debata su regularización, 16 July 2020, available in Spanish at:

[11] Info Libre, La campaña #RegularizaciónYa llega al Congreso con el apoyo de 8 partidos para que todos los migrantes tengan papeles, 22 September 2020, available in Spanish at:

[12] RegularizaciónYa, Comunicado de respuesta ante el rechazo de la PNL, 24 September 2020, available in Spanish at:

[13] Público, Gonzalo Fanjul: “Una regularización de migrantes metería en las arcas públicas más de 1.500 millones al año”, 27 August 2020, available in Spanish at:

[14] CEAR, ‘Petición urgente al Gobierno para que regularice a las personas migrantes ante la epidemia de Coronavirus’, February 2021, available at:

[15] Jesús Fernández-Huertas Moraga (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid), Inmigración y políticas migratorias en España, published by FEDEA (Fundación de Estudios de Economía Aplicada), March 2021, available at:

[16] La Vanguardia, La regularización de inmigrantes aportó 2.300 millones al Estado, 15 March 2021, available at:

[17] Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, ‘Instrucción SEM 1/2021 sobre el procedimiento relativo a las autorizaciones de residencia temporal por razones de arraigo laboral’, June 2021, available at:

[18] Público, ‘Varias sentencias del Supremo facilitarán la regularización por arraigo laboral de miles de personas migrantes’, 9 June 2021, available at:

[19] Red Acoge, ‘Retos de la inmigración en España. Los derechos como base para la inclusión’, December 2021, available at:

[20] ESencialES, ‘¡500.000 firmas EsencialES para la Regularización Extraordinaria de 500.000 personas EsencialES en España!’, available at:

[21] Por Causa, Esenciales, ‘Cinco buenas razones para aprobar una regularización extraordinaria de migrantes sin papeles’, MarCh 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