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SPAIN – Extension of Restrictions on Romanian Nationals

The Spanish government has now formally announced that it is sending restrictions on work permission for locally hired Romanian nationals until the end of December 2013; i.e. for one more year.

Background to Restrictions

In 2007, when Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union (EU), other EU member states were given the right to restrict access to their labour markets for up to seven years, i.e. until 31 December 2013 at the latest.

Most of the newer EU member states (those who joined in 2004) granted full access to their labour markets, but the older EU members were more reluctant. More details are available here.

Spain, however, which was experiencing a boom in property development at the time, and needed more workers, granted full access to its labour market for both Bulgarians and Romanians from 1 January 2009.

Since that time, the global recession hit and Spain’s property bubble burst with dramatic consequences – unemployment in Spain hit 25% in the third quarter of 2012 (compared with 9% in the U.S. and around 10% for the EU as a whole), and the Spanish government is trying to preserve as many jobs as it can for its resident workers. There are already around 850,000 Romanian workers in Spain, of whom 30% are currently unemployed.

In August 2011, therefore, Spain re-instated restrictions for Romanian workers, saying at the time that it was a temporary measure to be re-assessed in December 2012.

The latest announcement from the Spanish government confirms expectations that the restriction would be extended – up until 31 December 2013.

Who Is Affected?

Any new Romanian nationals seeking to enter Spain as locally hired employees from 22 July 2011 must apply for work permission under the transitional measures that were in place between 1 January 2007, when Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU, and 1 January 2009.

The following are unaffected by the reinstatement of restrictions:

  • Romanian nationals already living and working in Spain with valid EU residence permits
  • Romanian nationals entering Spain as students, or as self-employed workers
  • Romanian nationals sent on assignment to Spain
  • Bulgarian nationals

What Are Transitional Measures?

The transitional measures mean that Romanian nationals require work permits, issued on the basis of an employment contract to Spain, to work as employees on Spanish territory. Work permits are administered in the same way as work permits for non-EU nationals.

However, Romanian nationals still have the right to enter Spain, and therefore the requirement to obtain long stay Schengen visas (Type D visas) will not apply to them.

Action Items

  • Note that transferring any Romanian national employees into Spain will now trigger the need for a work permit application.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by NPS Asociados and Sagardoy Abogados.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2021 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.