Spain nulls six-month residency rule for temporary residence holders

By Moustafa Daly

The Supreme Court of Spain ruled against a royal decree from 2011 that obligated foreign residents to spend six months or more in Spain every year to maintain their residency status, citing the constitutional concept of freedom of movement. 

From now on, foreigners with temporary residence in Spain will no longer be required to prove they have stayed in the country for more than six months a year.

However, as per the court's ruling, Spanish legislators may choose to reinstate the rule if needed.

The case was brought before Spain’s top court by an Iranian citizen whose temporary residence was terminated in 2019 due to being outside Spain for more than six months.

While the court didn’t find limiting access to temporary residency unconstitutional, it said that only parliamentary laws can instate such a rule, not royal decrees.

However, individuals with temporary residences in the country should consult with legal experts before staying outside of Spain for six months given legislators could change the ruling, as per media reports. 

Who can get a temporary residence in Spain?

Temporary residence in Spain is granted to non-EU foreigners, allowing them to stay there for more than 90 days and less than five years.

This residency is granted on many different bases, including students, foreign workers, and entrepreneurs. Before the court rulings, foreigners on this visa had to stay in the country for six months in any one-year period to qualify for permanent residence after five years.

Golden visa holders didn’t have to adhere to the rule to renew their temporary residence. However, if they hadn’t primarily resided in Spain for five years, they wouldn’t have qualified for permanent residency.

Non-EU foreign residents in Spain reached six million in 2022, according to estimates by the Spanish Ministry of Inclusion, Social Services, and Migration. Spain’s total population is currently 47 million.

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