New reform of the regulation on foreigners: we explain the main novelties

The Council of Ministers has approved a Royal Decree that reforms the regulations of the Immigration Law intending to improve the Spanish migration model. In this way, the aim is to favour the incorporation into the labour market of people who are in Spain, reinforce regular migration channels and improve the management system, addressing the inconsistencies of the current model compared to the rest of the European Union countries.
In summary, the aim is to facilitate the incorporation into the labour market of people who are already in Spain and fulfil certain conditions:
  • Facilitate the permanence of students and their possibility of working.
  • Rationalise and update the figures of "arraigo*" and family reunification.
  • A new concept of arraigo* for training.


The aim is also to strengthen regular labour migration channels:

  • Lighten the requirements for the self-employed, incorporating the possibility of self-employment.
  • Articulate flexible ways of hiring workers who are abroad.
  • Create a new model of multiannual circular migration that provides stability for companies and workers.

What important changes does this new regulation include?

The main changes include the following:
  • A streamlining of the requirements for self-employed workers from third countries.
  • An improvement in the procedures for hiring at origin through the Catalogue of Occupations that are Difficult to Cover for those occupations belonging to the economic sectors that are determined by agreement of the Delegate Commission for Economic Affairs.
  • The regulation also improves the circular migration model, providing greater stability for workers and companies and reducing administrative burdens.
  • In addition, improvements in administrative management are also incorporated through the reduction of burdens and the creation of the Unit for the Processing of Alien Affairs Files (UTEX), to speed up procedures.

Attracting young international talent by facilitating their incorporation into the labour market

  • With the reform, students are allowed to combine work and training, as long as they can be compatible with their studies and do not exceed 30 hours per week.
  • In the case of higher education and training for employment, work authorisation is automatic and does not require additional formalities.
  • Restrictions on students entering the labour market after completing their studies are eliminated.


The figures of arraigo*, which will become less relevant in favour of migration at origin, are adapted.

Laboral arraigo*:

  • The figure of pre-existing employment arraigo* is limited for people who are in an irregular situation, but who have carried out an employment activity in a regular situation in the last two years.
  • A new type of authorisation is created for collaboration with the labour authority that promotes the figure of the informer and fights against the underground economy: it does not require a previous period of residence, only proof of 6 months of irregular work, and favours the denunciation of third parties.
Social arraigo*:
  • The contract to be presented is no longer assessed by its duration (with the labour reform it is presumed to be indefinite) but by its adaptation to the SMI.
  • The contract may be less than a minimum of 20 hours in cases where minors are accredited as dependents, and the possibility of presenting several contracts is made more flexible.
Arraigo* and family regrouping:
  • A special regime is created for family members of Spanish citizens who wish to keep their family unit in Spain.
  • The requirements for family reunification are made more flexible when they affect foreign minors or people with disabilities or situations of vulnerability.
  • The specific circumstances of people with disabilities are taken into account.
This reform also reduces the supervening irregularity of persons who were working and in an irregular situation, by making renewals more flexible and increasing their duration.

A new concept of "arraigo*" by training is introduced.

A new concept of "arraigo*" is created, which grants a residence permit for 12 months to foreigners who have been in Spain continuously for a minimum period of two years.
  • They must undertake to complete formal employment training.
  • It can be extended only once for another 12 months.
  • The contract, as in the case of social roots, is adapted with the project to labour reform.

Reforms to facilitate the entry of the self-employed and the filling of vacancies

  • The requirements for self-employed workers are simplified and self-employment is encouraged.
  • The requirements to justify the economic elements of the migration project are simplified, instead of asking for complex investment plans.
  • Self-employment is included in the accreditation that employment is being created.
  • The possibility of working as an employee or self-employed person is combined in a single accreditation.
And also:
  • It facilitates the swift filling of vacancies that are difficult to fill in line with common practice in Europe.
  • Greater stability is given to workers in the multi-annual circular migration model adapted to the labour reform.
  • Change in the model of foreigner management and reduction of administrative burdens.
*Arraigo: residence authorisation for exceptional circumstances.
If you have any questions, please contact the Immigration Department of CINC.

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