Residency and legal status

Last update : November 2023

Once you are in Spain, there are a few options that allow you to regularize your situation. The two main ones are the residence by arraigo (being settled in a place) and the residence by family ties. In this section we will explain in detail what they consist of.

It is recommended that when you want to start these procedures you seek legal advice (see ⇒ Contacts). You can do this yourself without a lawyer, if you prefer, but it can be difficult to gather all the necessary documentation. A lawyer can help you with this.

Remember: Many people get a residency by arraigo, a form of regularization that does not exist in other European countries.

Attention: Being a victim of human trafficking (⇒ Glossary) can also be a reason for the State to grant you a residence permit. For that, you would have to report it to the police and cooperate with them by giving information about the people who exploit you. The police will have to confirm that you are indeed a victim of human trafficking. If you do not want to contact the police, you can get support from social organizations, such as las Adoratrices or Apramp, which support women in these situations (⇒ Contacts).


Spanish Immigration Law considers that those individuals who can demonstrate their arraigo in the country have the right to regularize their situation in Spain. This means that you are attached to the place where you live. This may include having social and family ties, currently having or having had a job, or otherwise participating in society.

There are four types of arraigo that you can claim:

  • Arraigo social (Social roots)
  • Arraigo laboral (Work-related roots)
  • Arraigo para la formación (Educational roots [new in 2023])
  • Arraigo familiar (Family roots)

Of the four, the most commonly used procedure is arraigo social, or requesting status by claiming social roots, (formally known as “autorización de residencia temporal por arraigo social”), due to the fact that its requirements are usually easier to comply with. Below, however, we will explain the four types.

Arraigo Social (Social Roots)

Obtaining residency by “social roots” is a way to regularize your status after living in Spain for a period of time, through a work contract with particular characteristics.
In order to request a residency permit for “social roots”, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Being able to prove that you have lived three years and one day in Spain. For this, you will need to present all the needed documents with a date on them and with your full name to prove that you have effectively been here. Therefore, it is very important to have the “padrón”, a census certificate from the municipality where you live in or have lived in for the last three years (⇒ ch. 3.1 Empadronamiento). If you have left Spain, that absence cannot exceed 90 days.
  • Having a job offer that meets the following conditions:
  • 30 hours a week, or 20h a week, in case you have minors in your charge.
  • Earning the Minimum Interprofessional Wage. In 2023, this is 1,080 euros per month (in 14 payments), which is equivalent to a total of 15,120 euros per year.
  • A valid passport
  • Having an “informe de arraigo” (rootedness report), a document that proves your integration in Spain, in the eyes of the government. This includes learning the language, having social and family ties there, as well as, for example, having or having had a job or participating in society. This report is issued by the social services of the municipality where you are registered (⇒ ch. 13. Glossary).
  • Being in an irregular administrative situation at the time of application.
  • Having a clean criminal record during the last 5 years.
  • Not to have been banned from entering Spain

Residence on the basis of “social roots” is valid for one year. At the end of this period, you can apply for a residence permit or a residence and work permit if you meet the requirements (this also applies to “work-related roots”).

Attention: It is very important that you obtain and keep all documents proving your social ties in Spain. From the date of entry, until the moment you start the process of obtaining residency, all documents from the last 3 years of residence in Spain can help you to prove how long you have been living and your “integration” in the country:
Certificates of Spanish or other official local language classes in Spain (very important).

  • Vocational training, courses, university degrees, etc.
  • Library card
  • Public transport pass and recharge receipt (you can get them from the Transport Consortium of your region), Train / bus tickets within Spanish territory.
  • Appointments for hospital visits, prescriptions, consultations at health centers.
  • Police reports (if you ever go to the police station, keep the document they give you).

“Arraigo laboral” or getting status by claiming work-related ties can be useful if you have been working formally in Spain with a contract or as a self-employed worker, but you are currently in an irregular administrative situation. For example, this may be the case if you have been working legally for at least 6 months during your asylum application but your application has been rejected.

In order to be able to claim “work-related ties” to get your status, you have to fulfil these requirements:

  • You must have been in Spain for at least 2 years.
  • You must have worked legally for 6 months and have been registered within the Social Security system. You can be self-employed (as a freelance worker) or employed (with an employment contract).
  • Be in an irregular administrative situation at the time of application.
  • Having a clean criminal record for the last 5 years.
  • Not be banned from entering Spain

Arraigo para la formación (Educational purposes)

Getting status by claiming education or training purposes is a novelty introduced in 2023. It does not allow you to work, but it does authorise you to reside in the country for 12 months, with the possibility of an extension for another 12 months.

Once you finish your studies or training, you can apply for a work permit for a duration of 2 years, provided that you get a work contract related to these studies and where you are paid the Minimum Interprofessional Wage (Salario Mínimo Interprofesional).


  • You must have been in Spain for at least 2 years.
  • Having a clean criminal record for the last 5 years.
  • Not be banned from entering Spain
  • Commitment to undertake training. This can be: a certificate of professionalism, studies at the university, training to obtain a specific technical skill or profession promoted by the SEPE (State Employment Service).

Arraigo familiar (Family roots)

“Arraigo familiar”, or requesting residency by claiming family roots, is a way to obtain residence if you have a family member living in the country with Spanish nationality. If you are granted this permit, you will have a work and residence permit for 5 years. Unlike other types of arraigo, you do not need to submit a work contract.

Who can apply for it?

  • Father, mother or legal guardian of a minor of Spanish nationality, if they live together.
  • Persons who are in charge of a person of Spanish nationality with a disability.
  • Spouse or “pareja de hecho” (civil partner) of a person with Spanish citizenship.
  • Ascendant over 65 years of age of a person with Spanish citizenship or under 65 years of age, as long as they are dependent on the person with Spanish nationality or their spouse.
  • Child under 21 years of age, or dependent of a person with Spanish citizenship or of their spouse.
  • Child of originally Spanish citizens.

Documents required:

  • Documents proving the family relationship for which the residence is requested (birth certificates, family books, document proving marriage or civil union).
  • DNI of the person with Spanish nationality
  • Complete copy of the applicant’s passport
  • Criminal record certificate

Remember: Parents of children born in Spain who have been legally residing in the country for a full year can apply for Spanish nationality for their children. This may also be useful to ensure the legal residence of the parents in the future.

Family ties

Dependent family members
The spouse, minor children, direct ascendants (father/mother) and adult children who are economically dependent on a foreigner with a residence permit can apply for residence status, as long as they fulfil the following requirements:

  • Being over 18 years of age (does not apply to minors).
  • Not having a criminal record in Spain or in the countries where they have resided for the last five years.
  • Having sufficient economic resources for themselves and their family members during their period of residence in Spain. You will have to provide proof through a bank statement.
  • Not being banned from entering Spain
  • Having health insurance

Children born in Spain
Children born in Spain to foreign parents have the same nationality and status as their parents. If the legislation of the parents’ country does not give the child any nationality, it is possible to apply for Spanish nationality at the municipality (⇒ Glossary), where the parents are registered.

Remember: Parents of children born in Spain who have been legally residing for a full year can apply for Spanish nationality for their children. This can also be useful to ensure the legal residence of the parents in the future.

Partnership / Marriage

Marrying someone who is a citizen of an EU country
If you marry someone who is a national of a European Union country, you can get the European Residence Card for Family Members (Tarjeta de Residencia de Familiar de Comunitario). This is a residence permit that allows you to live and work in Spain. This card is renewed every 5 years. The formalities to apply for the marriage must be done at the Civil Registry of a municipality where one of the spouses is registered.

Civil Partnership
In Spain there is a similar type of marriage, which has less bureaucratic steps.
You can read more about the necessary steps for marriage or civil partnership here:

Attention: Marrying a person with residence in Spain who does not have European nationality does not change your own status. If your partner obtains Spanish nationality, then you will be able to apply for these rights.

Long-term residency (EU)