When international candidates accept opportunities in Spain to initiate research and development programs (R+D+i) instead of specific job positions, they are required to apply for a Researcher's Visa, granting them a three-year stay in the country.
Article 72 of the Entrepreneurial Support Act, dated September 27, 2013, which replaced the previous research residence requirement outlined in the Immigration Act, governs the Researcher Visa. This visa is exclusively available to research professionals referenced in Article 13 and the first supplementary provision of Act 14/2011, passed on June 1, 2011, focusing on Science, Technology, and Innovation. It allows them to reside and work in Spain as professional researchers affiliated with universities, businesses, or research institutions.
One notable feature of this visa is its expeditious processing, typically taking just 20 business days for approval. Similar to a student visa, a physical residence card (Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjeros or TIE) is only required if the research project exceeds six months. Moreover, immediate family members of the applicant can also be considered for work or residence visas.
Who Qualifies for This Visa?
The Researcher Visa is open to applications from five categories of non-EU citizens:
1. Educators working in Spanish universities, business schools, and higher education institutions from foreign countries.
2. Non-native individuals engaged in scientific research or technology innovation projects at research and innovation firms.
3. Academics who have entered into contracts with research institutions, whether public or private.
4. Research professionals specialising in Science, Technology, and Innovation, as defined by Article 13 of Law No. 14/2011, passed on June 1, 2011.
5. PhD students participating in university-sponsored research projects, exempting them from the need for a separate student visa to study in Spain.
Visa Length and Validity
The Researcher Visa is valid for three years or for the duration specified in the employment agreement or contract, if shorter. Individuals whose stay in Spain is less than six months are not required to apply for a TIE (physical residence card). The TIE can be automatically renewed every two years if the same conditions persist.
To be eligible for this visa, applicants must meet several criteria:
1. Be at least 18 years old.
2. Not be a resident of the European Union.
3. Not be in an irregular immigration status.
4. Maintain a clean criminal record in Spain or any other European Union country within the past five years.
5. Have adequate financial resources to cover living expenses for themselves and their family members if included in the application.
6. Possess private health insurance.
7. Pay the requisite application fee.
8. Maintain an up-to-date and complete passport.
Steps to Obtain a Visa
1. Apply for the Research Permit: The research permit must be secured before applying for the national visa. Once approved, applicants can proceed with the visa application, demonstrating their eligibility.
2. Complete Application and Gather Documentation: Applicants need to download, fill out, and sign the national visa application form, which can be in Spanish or the language of the country where they intend to submit the application. Adequate preparation and collection of required documents are crucial.
3. Schedule an Appointment: Visa applications must be made in person or through an authorised representative, usually by scheduling an appointment through the diplomatic mission or foreign office in their country of residence.
4. Pay the Visa Application Fee: Payment of the visa application fee is mandatory.
5. Submit Documents in Person: Applicants must visit the embassy mission or foreign office in their country of residence to submit the visa application and supporting documents.
6. Collect the Visa: Upon receiving a favorable decision notification, the visa must be obtained in person within one month. Instructions for passport retrieval will be provided.
7. Entry into Spain: Depending on their profile, applicants may need to complete additional procedures in Spain, such as obtaining a Social Security number, registering for Social Security, or obtaining identification cards for international travellers (TIE).
Document Requirements for Research Visa
Applicants must submit the visa application in person at the diplomatic mission or embassy in their current country of residence within one month of the research organisation's notification of permit approval. Essential supporting documents include:
1. A valid passport or travel document with at least four months of validity remaining for entry into Spain.
2. A certificate from authorities in the applicant's country of origin or residence for the past five years, verifying a clean criminal record according to Spanish law.
3. A medical certificate attesting to the absence of infectious diseases as specified by the International Health Regulations of the World Health Organisation.
4. The original or a copy of the employment contract.
5. Payment of the visa application fee.
Failure to obtain the visa in person within the stipulated timeframe may result in the application being filed without consideration.
Family Members and Visa Application
Applicants are allowed to bring their families with them. Family members must apply for a family reunification visa, typically applied for by the beneficiary's spouse, minor children, or dependent parents.
The family reunification visa must be requested concurrently with the research residence application. Proof of financial ability to support the family in Spain is required, and all family members must complete the application process.
Procedures for Researcher's Family
Family members seeking a visa must also apply in person at the relevant Spanish consulate within two months of the researcher visa being granted. They must provide:
1. A passport or travel document with at least four months of validity upon entry into Spain.
2. For individuals above the age of criminal responsibility, a certificate attesting to a clean criminal record or its equivalent covering the past five years.
3. Original documents establishing familial and marital ties, de facto unions, and, if applicable, age and legal dependency.
4. A medical certificate affirming freedom from infectious diseases that may pose a threat to public health, as required by the World Health Organisation's International Health Regulations.
Costs Associated with the Researcher Visa
Applicants must consider various costs associated with applying for research residence and family reunification, including potential interview fees. The researcher visa application typically costs between €60.00 and €80.00, with additional fees varying based on the applicant's country of origin. Furthermore, visa application fees for the researcher and accompanying family members depend on their ages and nationalities.
Additional expenses may include housing, transportation, food, and miscellaneous living costs. If the research project extends beyond the initial duration, the researcher may need to renew their residence visa and cover associated fees. Health insurance should also be factored in as a crucial consideration.
Extension for Employment Seekers as Researchers
After completing their research under the Entrepreneurial Law, individuals may remain in Spain for up to one year if they seek employment related to their research or establish a business. All researchers are granted a one-year period to secure employment following authorisation, similar to the Job Search authorisation. This extension becomes effective immediately after the initial permission expires.
To renew residency in Spain, applicants must submit their request to the Unit for Large Corporations and Strategic Groups (UGE). Renewal can be requested up to 60 days before the permit expires or within 90 days after its expiration.
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