A Complete Guide on how to move to Spain from the USA

Are you planning on moving to Spain from the USA but wondering where to start? Well, this guide is for you. Currently, more than 1.5 million Americans reside in Spain. This country is best known for its cheaper cost of living and accessible gateway to the EU countries. As a US citizen, you can immigrate to Spain through studies, experts work, retirees, or investors. The easiest route many people opt for is through investing in the Spanish economy. This action helps one to acquire a residence permit through the Spanish golden visa program. Continue reading this guide as we explore various visas you can use to move to Spain from the USA.


Why do Americans choose to live in Spain?

Americans are leaving their country for several reasons, these are the main ones:

  • Cost of living in Spain is cheaper than in the USA.
  • Cheaper cities in Spain vs USA.
  • Cheaper healthcare compared to USA.
  • Spanish people much friendlier.
  • Good public transportation and good roads for driving in Spain.

Do you have more reasons to move to Spain? Write it in the comments

Types of visas open for Americans planning to relocate to Spain

If you want to visit Spain as an American for less than three months for study, tourism, or business, you will not need a visa. Spain will grant you visa-free entry. However, from May 2023, the US citizen will be required to apply for a visa waiver called ETIAS to enable them to enter Spain. The ETIAS application should be done 72 hours before your flight. Upon a successful application, you will be offered a permit valid for three years or until your passport expires.
Additionally, if you are planning on moving to Spain from the US for more than 90 days, you must apply for a valid visa determined by the purpose of your stay. Here we will discuss some common types of visas US citizens use when entering Spain.

1. Student Visa

move to spain from usa
Relocate to Spain from USA

A student visa is issued to any American who plans to exceed 90 days while undertaking their studies, volunteer work, training, and internship. If your studies take less than ninety days, you don’t need a study visa. When applying for this visa, your children, who are minors, and spouse may obtain a visa to accompany you. But it is good to note that family members are not eligible for work permits. However, this type of visa is a gateway for job search or work visa.
Spain offers two types of students visa that are determined by the period you opt to stay.

  • Short term students visa: eligible for any student who wants to stay in Spain for a period of less than 180days
  • Long-term student visa: for any student planning to stay for more than six month

What activities can you engage in with a student visa?

  • Undertaking full-time studies at an accredited Spanish learning institution
  • Training activities
  • Exchange programs for students in secondary schools
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Volunteer services
  • Doctoral studies

The application process for applying for a student visa

You will need an offer letter from a Spanish institute to apply for this visa. Ensure you apply for the visa three months before the date you plan to depart. This action gives your Spanish consular in your home country enough visa process time. Here are some requirements you must meet when making such an application.

  • Your offer should be ready
  • Fill in the visa forms with the correct answers, proof of your finances, passport, and medical insurance.
  • Book an appointment with a Spanish consular in your home country and submit all the document
  • Be ready to pay €70 for a visa application
  • You then wait for a few to know about the outcome of your application. If you are successful, you can collect your visa, but if you get a negative response, you can always appeal.

2. Job search visa

move to spain from usa without work
move to spain from usa without work

This type of visa is for a student visa holder who wants to extend their stay in Spain after completing an undergraduate or postgraduate degree to find a job. The visa has a validity of twelve months. Any US citizen is eligible for this type of visa if;

  • They have recently completed their bachelor’s or master’s degrees on a Spanish student visa.
  • Have a means of supporting their stay
  • Can access the Spanish healthcare
  • The application should be done within 60 days before their student visa expires or ninety days after.

Whether successful or not, you will get a response within 20 working days.

3. Golden Visa

american moving to spain
Americans moving to spain

A Spanish Golden Visa is known as an investor visa. This visa type is for US citizens moving to Spain who wants to invest a significant amount in the Spanish economy. It is good to note that the eligibility depends on the minimum amount you want to invest in either of their options. This investments option includes the following;

  • An investment in real estate property worth €500,000 and above
  • Buying €1million worth of companies shares or bank deposit
  • Investing in €2 million value of treasury bond
  • Be ready to Invest in a business that will create jobs for locals and have a postive impact on science and technology, as well as the creation of a positive socio-economic impact on the community.
  • One of the merits of acquiring such a visa is;
  • Being offered a works visa
  • You migrate with your dependent family
  • If you continuously reside in Spain for ten years using this visa, you can apply for citizenship or a long-term resident permit.

If this is an ideal way to acquire a visa, you need to learn more about the Spanish taxation process. However, if you don’t have plans to reside in Spain, there is no cause for alarm. You benefit from a dual taxation program that exists between USA and Spain.

The application processes

Before you book an interview in a Spanish embassy start, it is vital to acquit yourself with the following requirements.

Fill in the Visa Form and Fees

  • Have two recent passport pictures not older than three months
  • Your passport should be valid for six months plus and should have at least two blank pages
  • Proof of funds
  • Have a police report that confirms your address and whether you have criminal dealing within three months
  • Proof of Spanish health insurance
  • Document showing the type of investment you would undertake

4. Non Lucrative Visa

If you are planning to retire in Spain, you need a Spanish non-lucrative visa, a special permit that allows you to move to Spain as a residence without working. This visa type targets Americans with sufficient financial means to support themselves while they stay in Spain without a job. Once you enter Spain with a non-lucrative visa, you can apply for renewable resident permits.

Who can apply for this type of visa?

A non-Lucrative visa is available to all persons with clear criminal records who have the financial means to support themselves and any of their dependents without getting a job in Spain. This visa is best applied for five weeks in advance before your departure to Spain. The processes are done in the Spanish embassy in your country of residence. But before you go ahead and schedule this appointment with the consulate, you should ensure that all the supporting documents are ready.

What document should you submit to the Spanish non-Lucrative visa?

You need to collect the required documents for a Spanish non-lucrative residence visa as soon as you want to make an appointment. Ensure you start organizing the following documents in compliance with the processes set by the Spanish authorities. Here is a complete list of all the supporting documents you present to the consulate during the visa application process.

  • Visa application form- You must answer all the visa form questions correctly. Your answers should comply with the information on other documents you plan to submit. It is good to note that the visa forms are almost similar, so avoid filling out the wrong visa.
  • Valid passport- Your passport should have at least one blank space for the visa sticker. Also, ensure it is not older than years.
  • Two passports – have with you two identical passport photos that adhere to the Spanish visa photo requirements.
  • NIE Number—this unique personal number is normally issued to foreigners who intend to stay in Spain for more than six months. It is applied to a Spanish consulate before the visa application is done. It takes approximately 30 days for the consulate to process your NIE number.
  • Police clearance certificate- this document confirms you have not committed any illegal activity for the last five years. However, it should not be older than three months.
  • Health insurance- before the interview date, purchase medical insurance from a private company that can work in Spain.
  • Have a medical certificate- enquire with the consular to know the authorized medical institution in your country of residency to offer such a document. This document should not be older than ninety days on the day of submission.
  • Proof of income- if you can’t prove you have sufficient funds to maintain your monthly expenditure sufficiently, your application risk being rejected. You need to prove you have at least €2400 per month and an extra €600 if you have a dependant. The following document will be required to prove your financial means;
  • Payment of visa fees- US citizens are supposed to pay a fee of $125.

What happens during the interview day for a non-lucrative visa?

You attend the visa interview at the Spanish consular in your country. On the day of the interview, expect the following;

  • Give your biometrics; this includes your facial image and fingerprints
  • Pay the visa fee money. Check earlier to get the rates for your country
  • Meet with the visa consular officer for an interview
  • Submit any supporting documents for the interview

What is the validity of this visa?

Spanish Non-Lucrative visa has a validity of thirty-six months and fifteen days. During this time, you can apply for residence permits in Spain. The permit is usually issued within the second year of your stay in Spain, after which you can apply for a five-year resident permit.
Kindly note that your visa application is denied when you try to withdraw it when it’s under process. Unfortunately, you will not get any refund as Spanish visa fees are non-refundable what so ever the case. Nonetheless, the Spanish authorities take approximately two to five weeks to process your non-lucrative residence visa, but if there are many applicants, visa processing could take about three months.

5. Permanent Residency Visa

This visa is designed for US citizens who have lived in Spain for at least five years uninterrupted and qualify for Spanish permanent residency in Spain. However, if you were living in Spain with a student visa, it is good to know that only 50% of this time is eligible to contribute towards your permanent residency application.
Besides, with a Spanish PR, you can live and work in Spain as a resident. This visa is a gateway to the process of getting a Spanish passport. The validity of this visa is five years, after which you can apply for citizenship. However, the application for a PR visa is done in person, and you will require the following document.

  • A filled-out visa application Modelo EX11
  • Valid passport with a 90 day’s validity
  • A current resident permit
  • Proof of residence in Spain
  • Spain health insurance
  • Police record certificates from either USA or Spain
  • Proof of funds, savings, or employment

6. Family Reunification visa

Move to spain with the family
Move to spain with the family

If you have direct family members in Spain and want to move and reunite with them, you can apply for a family reunification visa. Additionally, the following family members can are eligible to apply for this type of visa.

  • Children under 18 years of age
  • Parents above 65 years
  • Spouse or civil partner

7. Digital nomad visa Spain

If you are a digital nomad and you are make money online or working remotely, this is the visa for you.

Digital nomad visas grant a temporary right of residence to any foreigner wishing to reside in Spain, the visa can be granted at the Spanish consulate or electronically when you are in Spain legally.

  • Obtaining the visa at the Spanish consulate, gives you a residence for one year, between six months and two years.
  • Obtaining the residency in Spain electronically, gives you a residency for 3 years.

The applicant for this visa must prove that he/she works remotely for a company outside of Spain and that he/she can meet the respective minimum monthly income of €2100. Thus, any U.S. digital telecommuter whose employer and clients reside outside of Spain is eligible to apply for this visa.

The digital nomad visa will have several tax advantages which will allow you to pay less taxes as a digital nomad in Spain. The maximum rate will be 24% for the first 5 years.

Conclusion moving to Spain

Spain is the best country you can opt to live in if you are a US citizen. If you are planning on moving to Spain from the US , be ready for an enchanting vibe, delicious ham, wine, and hundreds of pristine beaches. Not forget a plethora of stunning buildings. Also, Spain has conducive weather with 300 days of sunshine in a year. Nonetheless, if you are a US citizen, moving to Spain is an easy task if you can meet any of the above visa requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions on how to move to Spain from the USA

Can I move to Spain without a job?

If you are trying to move to Spain without a job, you can complicate your relocation process. More so if your objective is to work in the country. The law will require you to look for a job while in the country of origin to kickstart the process of obtaining a work permit which requires you to have a valid job offer. Besides, there are other immigration alternatives where a job is not needed. For instance, if you travel with a student visa, a non-lucrative visa, or an investor visa. These visas don’t require you to obtain a job to relocate.

How much money do I need to move to Spain?

One of the advantages of living in Spain is the low cost of living. Also, it sits amongst the list of easy-to-live countries in western Europe, regardless of your income. In this country, be ready to find many families with an average income of less than 25 000 USD annually. For a foreigner, you must prove you can get 2800 euros monthly for your sustenance. However, living costs depend on how luxurious you want to live. In Spain, the cost of household goods, medical insurance, rent, or transport expect to pay at a lower rate.

Can I move to Spain easily?

Moving to Spain from the US is easy. As a US citizen, you must do all the paperwork laid out by the Spanish authorities whether you are relocating for education, work, investment, or retirement. Moving to Spain is much easier than you can think of. Also, the Spanish government has made the process of acquiring permanent residency much easier.

How difficult is it to move to Spain?

Spain is a great country to move significantly for American citizens. But like any other relocation, here are some challenges you will encounter.
Deciding where you want to live is arguably a challenge many foreigners moving to Spain face. Also, getting a Spanish residency permit is the next challenge. You must undergo the process step by step depending on your circumstance and goals to meet all residency set criteria.
Lastly, understanding the Spanish taxation requirement will take time. For instance, if you live and work in Spain for six months, you must file a Spanish tax return in Spain. Furthermore, you must pay taxes for all assets worldwide and incomes. However, for US citizens, there exist a taxation treaty that protects their citizen from double taxation. You become a tax resident in Spain if:
• You have lived in the country for six months
• All your economic activities are based in Spain
• Your spouse and children are Spanish tax resident

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