Residence permit


Country Report: Residence permit Last updated: 30/05/24


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.

Regarding 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.[3]

Regularisation of undocumented migrants

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, many NGOs called upon the Government to regularise all undocumented migrants in Spain, to guarantee their access to rights and services.[4]

Calls of civil society for regularisation of migrants continued throughout the following year. 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.[5]

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 EUR 1,750 million per year.[6] 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 EUR 2,300 million for Social Security.[7]

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).[8] 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 at least two years.[9]

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”.[10] 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.[11]  By September 2022, the campaign had obtained 400,000 signatures.[12] In the same month, the Episcopal Conference expressed support to the regularisation of migrants.[13] On December 2022, the campaign reached 700,000 signatures, that were submitted to the Office for the Electoral Roll, in order to start the Parliamentary procedure. A gathering in front of the Congress was also organised by the Platform ESencialES, with the aim of celebrating the great support received for this Popular Legislative Initiative.[14]  The parliamentary procedure foresees a maximum of 6 months to analyse the popular initiative and to submit it, if the case, to the Congress for its consideration.[15] In May 2023 the Platform ESencialES presented the popular initiative to the Congress.[16] In December 2023, Caritas urged the Government to reactivate the process to regularise 500,000 migrants in an administrative irregular situation.[17] In March 2024, the legislative initiative the Congress retook the discussion of the proposal, which is expected to be adopted before summer 2024.[18]

According to an estimation made by NGOs working with undocumented migrants, around 500,000 migrants live in an irregular situation in Spain.[19]




[1] Article 34(3) Aliens Regulation.

[2] Article 126 Aliens Regulation.

[3] 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:

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

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

[6] 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 in Spanish at:

[7] La Vanguardia, ‘La regularización de inmigrantes aportó 2.300 millones al Estado’, 15 March 2021, available in Spanish at:

[8] 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 in Spanish at:

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

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

[11] Por Causa, Esenciales, ‘Cinco buenas razones para aprobar una regularización extraordinaria de migrantes sin papeles’, MarCh 2022, available in Spanish at:

[12] Alfa y Omega, ‘La iniciativa legislativa popular para la regularización de migrantes supera las 400.000 firmas’, 29 September 2022, available in Spanish at:

[13] El Español, ‘La Conferencia Episcopal apoya la regularización de los migrantes sin papeles: “No son invasores”’, 20 September 2022, available in Spanish at:

[14] El Salto Diario, ‘Más de 700.000 firmas llegan al Congreso para apoyar la ILP Regularización’, 21 December 2022, available in Spanish at:

[15] Público, ‘Más de 700.000 firmas por la regularización de migrantes: ¿y ahora qué?’, 21 December 2022, available in Spanish at:

[16] El Diario, ‘El movimiento por una regularización extraordinaria de migrantes presenta su propuesta de ley tras lograr llegar al Congreso’, 10 May 2023, available at:; El Diario, ‘La ILP por la Regularización avanza dentro de un Parlamento agitado por el año electoral’, 8 May 2023, available in Spanish at:

[17] Europa Press, ‘Cáritas urge a reactivar la propuesta de regularización extraordinaria de 500.000 migrantes en situación irregular’, 14 December 2023, available in Spanish at:

[18] El País, ‘Regularizar para transformar un modelo migratorio roto en España’, 12 March 2024, available at:

[19] The Objective, ‘El Gobierno quiere regularizar a los inmigrantes irregulares que se formen en sectores en los que no hay trabajadores’, 3 June 2022, 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