Coronavirus Effects on Foreigners Living in Spain

In light of the ongoing and unusual circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, expatriates in Spain find themselves grappling with uncertainties that significantly impact their daily lives. This article aims to provide the latest information to ease your stay during these challenging times.

Current State of Affairs with COVID-19 in Spain

The extensive lockdown measures that were in place throughout Spain were lifted in May 2021, marking a significant milestone. The progress in vaccination efforts and a decline in the number of infections have contributed to Spain’s gradual return to a state that fosters social activities and economic recovery.

Key developments include the resumption of dining out and participation in cultural and leisure activities across autonomous communities, accompanied by minimal restrictions. Furthermore, the efficiency and speed of legal procedures, previously hindered, are gradually being restored.

Traveling to Spain:

The European Union, along with its 27 member countries, has reopened its borders to the international community. Tourists can now enter Spain under two conditions:

  1. Vaccination or Negative PCR Test: Visitors must have been vaccinated with a WHO-recognized vaccine or present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before their trip.
  2. Residents from Recognized Safe Countries: Individuals from countries deemed safe without entry bans are also permitted.

Impact of COVID-19 on Expatriates in Spain:

The pandemic has affected expatriates in two main areas:

  1. Limited Access to Immigration Offices and Authorities: Face-to-face interactions with immigration offices, police stations, and civil registries have been halted. Administrative closures mean that ongoing immigration procedures are on hold, impacting expatriates’ ability to engage with the necessary authorities.
  2. Travel Restrictions: The closure of borders affects the movement of expatriates. Entry to Spain may be restricted, and departing to one’s home country can pose challenges.

Effect on Immigration Procedures:

  • Scheduled appointments with immigration offices, including TIE (residency card) renewals and other activities, are canceled during the alert state.
  • All immigration procedures are suspended for the duration of the alert state, including fingerprinting, return authorizations, and interviews.
  • Deadlines for procedural and administrative matters, as well as immigration appeals, are suspended. However, pending applications will be processed, and online procedures remain available.

Measures to Address Challenges:

  1. Use of Residency Resolution: Favorable resolutions from immigration offices now have the same validity as the TIE. Expatriates can use the resolution while facing delays in obtaining a TIE appointment.
  2. Flexible Entry for Non-Married Couples: Non-EU citizens in relationships with EU citizens, even if unmarried, can enter Spain through a specific procedure involving obtaining a certificate from the Spanish consulate.
  3. Limited Office Operations: While some immigration and police offices remain open for specific procedures by appointment, others may be closed. Renewals can be processed online.
  4. Extension of Residence Permits: Residence permits that expire during the state of alarm are automatically extended by six months. No specific procedure is required, but the extension is limited to Spanish territory.
  5. Suspended Appointments: Appointments for various residence permits (Arraigo, family reunification, etc.) have been canceled. Initial applications must be submitted online.
  6. Remote Application Submissions: Although many procedures are suspended, expatriates can submit applications or renewals online. The administration works remotely, ensuring legal coverage.
  7. Extension of Tourist Visas: Tourist visas and study visas that expired during the state of alarm are extended for three months, limited to Spanish territory.
  8. Addressing Residency Card Renewal: Expatriates facing TIE expiration can still submit renewal applications online. While fingerprinting is unavailable, initiating the renewal before expiration ensures legal coverage.
  9. Assistance from Legal Experts: Seeking legal assistance, especially in online formats, is encouraged to navigate the evolving situation, submit applications, and address specific concerns.

Ongoing Uncertainties and Conclusion:

The challenges posed by COVID-19 continue to evolve, impacting expatriates in Spain. Travel restrictions, administrative closures, and procedural delays necessitate proactive measures and reliance on online solutions. Legal experts remain available to provide guidance and support during these unprecedented times. Stay informed, stay connected, and seek assistance as needed to navigate the complexities of living as an expatriate in Spain amidst the ongoing pandemic

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