Moving to Spain to join a relative or partner living in Spain

Spanish visa to join a relative or partner in Spain

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If you are moving to Spain to join a relative or spouse, find out about Spain's visas and permits for family reunification in Spain.

If you want to move to Spain to join a family member or partner, you can apply for a Spanish family reunification visa provided you fulfil certain conditions of the Spanish permit.

EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and their relatives

If you’re from the EU/EEA or Switzerland you can join your relative living in Spain without the need for a visa or permit but you must follow certain rules regarding registering as a foreigner and getting a Foreigner’s Identity Number (NIE). For more information, see Expatica's guide to EU/EEA/Swiss nationals moving to Spain.

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss family members

If your relative living in Spain is from the EU/EEA or Switzerland but you are not, you are entitled to join them and get a residence card as a family member of an EU citizen. You may need to get a visa to enter Spain (see Expatica's complete guide to Spanish visas and permits) and once there, you should apply for an EU family member residence card from the local Foreigner’s Office.

You’ll need to complete an application form and show your passport/ID, proof of your relationship, the EU family member’s registration certificate, and proof that you’re financially dependent on the EU citizen (if applicable). You are free to work in Spain.

If your relationship with the EU citizen ends (divorce or death) then you have to reapply for a new general residence permit within six months of the change in circumstances.

More information is detailed in Expaitca's guide to EU/EEA/Swiss nationals moving to Spain.

Moving to Spain to join a relative or spouse

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and their relatives

Everybody else – with the exception of people holding certain types of residence cards, researchers and students (see below) – has to have been living in Spain legally for one year with the authorisation to stay for another year before their relatives can come and live in Spain with them.

Your family members can join you immediately, however, If you hold:

  • an EU long-term residence permit from another EU member state,
  • an EU Blue Card, or
  • you are a student or researcher.

Which family members can join you in Spain?

Relatives that are eligible for family reunification are:

  • your spouse or civil partner (with whom you are still in a relationship);
  • unmarried dependent children, including adopted children, aged 18 years or under, of both you and your partner or spouse;
  • dependent children, grandchildren or person for whom you are a legal guardian, over 18 years old, who have disabilities;
  • dependent parents, of both you and your spouse, over the age of 65 (younger in exceptional cases).

How to apply for family reunification

If you are still in your home country, you can apply from the Spanish embassy there when you apply for your own residence permit.

If you are in Spain, you need to go in person to your local Foreigner’s Office, and may be asked to present the following documents:

  • original and copy of your own passport and copies of the passports of your family members;
  • copy of your own residence permit(s);
  • proof of the family relationships, for example, marriage and birth certificates;
  • a sworn statement that you aren’t living in Spain with another partner, if your spouse or partner is joining you;
  • evidence of your employment and/or proof that you have the means to support the family in Spain;
  • proof of health insurance;
  • evidence that there is adequate room for everyone to live with you, for example a rental contract.

Once the application has been granted, your relatives have just two months to go in person and apply for a visa at the Spanish embassy or consulate in the home country.

They may or may not be required to have an interview, but could be asked to show the following documents:

  • valid passport;
  • proof of the family relationship, such as a marriage or birth certificate, or adoption papers;
  • a ‘no criminal record’ certificate covering the past five years;
  • a medical certificate proving that they do not have any disease which could endanger public health.

Once the visa has been granted and collected, in person, your relatives have to come to Spain within the duration of the visa (not more than three months). 

Once your relatives are in Spain

When they arrive in Spain, they have a month to go to their local Foreigner’s Office and get their Foreigner’s Identification Card (TIE) with the Foreigner’s Identity Number (NIE), and register as a resident on the padrón at the local town hall.

The temporary residence permit is valid for the same length of time as the relative already living in Spain. Your spouse and dependent children older than 16 can work without applying for a work permit.

Your relatives’ residence permits can be renewed at the same time as yours. They can also apply for separate residence permits if they fulfil the conditions, for example, if they get an employment contract.

Once your relatives have lived in Spain for five consecutive years, they can apply for a long-term residence permit, see Expatica's guide to permanent visas in Spain.

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Note: The information given here is for guidance only and you should seek specific advice from the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country.

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1 Comment To This Article

  • Matt posted:

    on 22nd November 2016, 20:04:48 - Reply

    Hi, just curious what exactly you're referring to when you state "the EU family member%u2019s registration certificate". My wife is waiting in Canada to join me here in Malaga and I have my NIE appointment coming up on the 30th. Once I have the NIE, is that sufficient to then have her fly here with the our marriage certificate duly authenticated and then apply for her with Form EX-19? Or can I not yet do that with only my NIE number? Thanks in advance.

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]