For British nationals living in Spain, the right to remain in the country in a post-Brexit world has been fraught with anxiety and confusion.
In order to alleviate some of these fears and confirm the official position, the British Embassy recently held a Facebook live session, answering questions from members of the public.
The session was held by Sarah-Jane Morris with the help of Consular Advisor Lorna Geddie along with representatives of the three support organisations for UK nationals in Spain, Babelia, IoM (International Organisation for Migration) and Age in Spain.
Whilst there were too many questions to publish all of them (many of them variations of the same theme) here are some of the most frequently asked questions as part of the event, and the official answers to them. You can also watch the one-hour video in full here.
Q: The residency application process seems to be moving very slowly right now. Why is this?
A: Whilst it is incredibly frustrating to be waiting for an appointment and not be issued with a date yet, the good news is that if you were resident in Spain up until the end of the year, your rights are protected under the Withdrawal Agreement. This remains the case regardless of whether your appointment date has been set yet or not. All you can do is be patient, ensure your paperwork is ready for when the time comes, and keep checking back to see if you can get an available appointment date. More staff are being put in place to deal with the backlog of applications, so this should begin to move more quickly.
Q. What is the current validity of the green EU residency certificates?
Lorna Geddie from the British Embassy acknowledged that there still seemed to be some confusion over the validity of both the green A4 size residency certificate and the credit card size document now the UK has left the EU. She clarifies clearly that both of these documents remain valid, and both show that you have legal residency in Spain.
The Spanish government recommends that if you still have a green card then you should replace it with the new more durable, TIE card. There is no time limit on doing so though.
Q. I was living in Spain before Brexit and visited the UK at the end of 2020. However, I still haven’t started or completed my residency application. What happens now?
If you have the A4 green residency certificate or older-style credit card document these will both demonstrate that you are resident in Spain and are permitted to enter the country, regardless of the current travel restrictions. However, you should check with the airline you are travelling with prior to booking your flights to ascertain whether the documentation you have is sufficient.
Further info from the Spanish government can be found on the Spanish gov website.
Q. I have an A4 green residency document. How can I swap this for for the new TIE residency card?
The Spanish authorities have already published an in-depth guide to obtaining your TIE card.
Q. Given the current coronavirus pandemic, and its travel restrictions, is it possible to start the residency process from the UK due to the current travel difficulties?
Kirsten Garry of Babelia said that the answer to that question would depend on which documentation you had in place before you left Spain. Kirsten advises you to contact Babelia to find out your options if you are in a similar situation and need help with this question.
Q: My residency application was submitted in December and still hasn’t been approved. What will happen if I exceed the 90-day rule on staying in Spain before I hear whether my application has been successful.
Marc from Age In Spain, clarified that while you are waiting for the resolution of your residency application you can stay in Spain beyond the 90 days without any concerns.
Q. I currently live in the Canary Islands and have an A4 green certificate. What documents will I need if I want to move to the mainland?
As you are a legitimate resident, your A4 document will be sufficient, although you may want to change the address you will need to do this at the police station, providing an updated padron certificate with the new address.
Q. How long did I need to be living in Spain before I could apply for residency? Was it three or six months?
The simple answer to this question is neither! Marc Garcia Palma from Age In Spain said there was no minimum period. Now you will have two possibilities, you will either come under the Withdrawal Agreement or you will not. If you were living in Spain before the end of 2020, your rights will be protected under the Withdrawal Agreement and you can apply for your residency right away. You will need to provide proof that you were resident in the form of school inscription documents, padron, business or employment-related documents etc.
Q. My first and second applications were rejected with no specific reasons given. How can I legally stay in Spain while my third appeal is being processed?
Alicia Garate from IoM said that you may live in Spain while your application or appeal are being processed, regardless of which application or appeal number this is.
Q. Do you need to prove your income again when switching between the green A4 residency certificate and the new TIE card?
No, you do not need to. Switching to the TIE card is incredibly easy: You can just update your residency document to the TIE by providing an up-to-date padron document.
Q. Is there a time limit on applying for residency if you were legally resident in Spain prior to December 31, 2020?
Lorna Geddie from the British Embassy said, no, there is no deadline in applying for residency if you are a first-time applicant and you can prove that you were resident in Spain before the end of the Withdrawal Agreement period. However, you should complete your application as soon as possible: if you were to wait too long, they cannot refuse to process your application but may impose a sanction or fine as a result.
Q. My TIE application was rejected as my employment contract did not demonstrate that I was working enough hours. Can you get a TIE if you are self-employed?
Yes, you can but will still need to prove that you have sufficient financial means. When you have an employment contract it will usually need to be for 40 hours per week, which will mean you will earn enough to support yourself. If you are self-employed, you will also need to prove your income, and show 3 months of bank statements.
Q. My TIE card has the incorrect wording on it, what can I do about this? Does it affect its validity?
Unfortunately, there was an error in batches of cards that were sent out around September 2020.Many of these state that the cards were issued to ‘a family member of an EU citizen.’ If this applies to you, you would need to go back to your police station and request that the card is updated. In the meantime, your TIE card will still be valid.
Q. I was registered on the padron. Does this mean I am a legal resident in Spain?
The short answer is no. You will need to be registered with the Spanish authorities and be on the central register of foreigners to be classed as a legal resident and therefore benefit from the rights provided by the Withdrawal Agreement.
Please remember that even though your application may not have been processed yet, or you may not have received an appointment with the immigration authorities, your rights of legal residency are protected under the Withdrawal Agreement. All you have to do is demonstrate that you were resident in Spain prior to the transition period ending on December 31, 2020, using the correct documentation.
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