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Spain: New national instruction facilitates granting of residence permits to migrant workers

The Secretary of State for Migration in Spain issued a national instruction that will facilitate the verification a migrant's employment 'roots' in the country, which in turn will facilitate the application process for residence permits.

The instruction is preceded by a Supreme Court ruling which recognises that employment can be demonstrated by any means of proof, stating that 'the criterion of roots has been configured as the existence of links that unite the foreigner with the place where he resides, whether they are economic, social, family, employment, academic or others that are relevant to assess the interest of the foreigner in residing in our country and determine the prevalence of such particular interest for the granting of the temporary residence permit requested'.

As a result of the ruling and the instruction, the procedures for securing a residence permit have been streamlined and the requirements have been clarified. Migrants are now required to prove that they have worked, even if irregularly, for at least 30 hours a week over the course of at least six months, earning no less than the minimum inter-professional wage. The instruction also insists upon the need to have no criminal record and to demonstrate continuous residence in Spain for at least two years, with a maximum of 90 days of absence during that period.

In particular, asylum seekers who have been in Spain for two years with a work permit will benefit from this new process: now, if their asylum application is rejected, they will be able to apply for residency based on their employment status. The new changes are also beneficial for those who moved to Spain for family reasons and have since been working in the country for years, but no longer have the family link. Such individuals will now be able to apply for residency on the basis of their employment 'roots' and will not be required to demonstrate that they have retained their family ties.

Because of the ruling of the Supreme Court, Spain has had to adopt a broader perspective when it comes to this regularisation route, which is expected to regularisation of a very large number of migrants who have been working irregularly in Spain for years.