On September 29, Law 14/2013, of September 27, on the support and internationalization of entrepreneurs, came into force. The Law aims at supporting the entrepreneur and business activity, to facilitate development, growth, and internationalization and to encourage an entrepreneurial culture and an environment favorable to economic activity.

This Law contains important developments in the scope of Immigration Law that are reflected in the regulation of certain situations in which, for reasons of economic interest, it aims at facilitating and speeding up the granting of visas and residency permits for nationals of countries that do not belong to the European Union or the European Economic Area, in order to attract investment and talent to Spain.

The following are the most important developments:

  1. Investors

One of the most important measures adopted in this new regulation is the granting of stay visas and residency visas to foreigners who:

  1. Create employment through the establishment and implementation of business projects in Spain;
  2. Invest in business projects that have a relevant impact from the perspective of general interest or scientific or technological innovation;
  3. Take on Spanish public debt amounting to at least €2,000,000, or invest in shares or quotas in Spanish companies or bank deposits in Spanish banks for a minimum of €1,000,000; or
  4. Invest over €500,000 in real estate located in Spain (total minimum investment, free of charges and encumbrances which may consist of the purchase of several properties of a residential, touristic, rural, commercial or industrial nature, rural land, developed land, buildings under construction, or decrepit buildings).

These investments can be carried out through a Spanish or foreign company, as long as it is not based in a tax haven and is controlled by the relevant foreign individual.

His or her spouse and children under 18 (or older disabled children) may also apply for permits at the same time or after the principal applicant.

There is no obligation to spend a minimum amount of time in Spain, so investors may remain tax residents outside of Spain, while benefiting from Spanish residency and the freedom of travel and stays in Schengen countries within the maximum periods authorized for visits by the Schengen regulations.

  1. Entrepreneurs

There also special provisions for obtaining a visa to enter and remain in Spain, specifically with the purpose of proceeding with the prior formalities to be able to start, develop or manage an entrepreneurial activity, insofar as such activity is innovative in nature and of prime economic interest to Spain, and for this purpose, is supported by a favorable report from the competent body of the General State Administration.

For the assessment, extra consideration and priority will be given to the creation of jobs in Spain.

  1. Highly qualified professionals

In relation to this group of workers (senior managers or highly qualified staff), for which specific provisions already existed in current immigration law, the thresholds for authorization before the Large Companies Unit have been reduced, so that these workers may enjoy the advantages of processing before said Unit.

In addition, there is the possibility of obtaining residency authorizations for graduates and postgraduates of universities and prestigious business schools, without taking into consideration the domestic employment situation.

  1. Intra-corporate transfers

corporate transfers of employees more flexible, reducing to 3 months the employment period required to access this type of authorization.

Likewise, in certain instances, it allows the collective processing of authorizations for intra-corporate transfers of senior managers or highly qualified staff, based on the planned management of a temporary quota of authorizations to be submitted by the company.

It should be noted that in all cases, the processing of the authorizations contained in the new Law on support and internationalization of entrepreneurs must be conducted via the Large Companies and Strategic Groups Unit. Said processing must be carried out in a single procedure, as provided for by Directive 2011/98/EU of December 13, 2011, which will be dealt with within the 20 days following the submission of the request.

Finally, it is worth stressing that for the granting of the authorizations regulated in this Law, the domestic employment situation will not be taken into consideration.

The Law is a step forward in increased flexibility and quicker transfer of employees, which, without doubt, offer major developments in the area of Immigration Law, in order to encourage foreign citizens from countries that do not belong to the European Union or the European Economic Area to invest and establish new business activities in Spain. In the coming months, a further analysis will need to be made on the legislative development and practical fulfillment when implemented by the Large Companies Unit, in order to make a precise assessment of the benefits that the Law can provide in each specific case.