Does it Take Long to Secure a Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa?

Non-lucrative visas (sometimes known as NLVs) are increasingly popular in Spain, particularly since the UK left the EU and Britons must secure visas to remain in Spain in the long term. In brief, a non-lucrative visa is a visa that allows non-EU nationals to live in Spain, but they are unable to work or carry out other economic activities whilst they are in the country. For this reason, to be eligible for a non-lucrative visa you must be able to demonstrate that you have sufficient financial means (the definition of sufficient is determined by the Spanish government) to support both yourself and any family members that are attached to your visa application.

The non-lucrative visa is often referred to as a retirement visa because it is so popular with retirees from non-EU countries, including the UK. But that doesn’t mean that only retirees can apply: applicants of any age are welcome provided they meet the financial requirements, hold a private health insurance policy, and don’t wish to work during their time in Spain.  Making the application is easy, but like with so many bureaucratic processes in Spain, processing your application and determining whether it has been successful will take time. But how much time? ‘How long will it take to secure a Spanish non-lucrative visa?’ is one of the most frequently asked questions about moving to Spain. Here are all your questions answered:

The Non-Lucrative Visa Application Process Takes One Month

According to article 48.4 of the Immigration Regulations,the Government Delegation or Subdelegation must decide within a maximum period of 1 month from receipt of the request”. That means that, officially at least, the answer to the question is that it should take one month to find out if your non-lucrative visa has been approved. But the reality is, it can take much longer for the process to be completed and for applicants to receive a response one way or the other.

This is particularly true at the moment due to a perfect storm of factors creating a backlog, including the closures during the Coronavirus pandemic, strike action by Spanish consulate and embassy staff, and the sheer number of applications being submitted. For these reasons, the amount of time you can expect to wait for your application result will be largely determined by where you submit your application.

  • If You Apply From the US. Anecdotal evidence suggests that applicants in many US states are waiting  considerable amount of time for their visas at the moment. One embassy that seems to have a particular backlog is San Fransisco, with two members of the Facebook Group Spanish NLV in the area claiming to have waited more than three months for their visa result. Applicants in Florida also seem to be experiencing delays, with one writing that “We are coming up on our 6-week mark since sending our NLV applications to the Miami consulate”. It’s not all bad news though: anecdotal reports from the same group suggests that both the Chicago and New York consulates are processing their applications within the prescribed one month, or even less.
  • If You Apply From the UK. The good news is that waiting times for applicants in the UK seems to be marginally quicker than for those in the US, but you’ll still find that you have to wait for more than a month. One member of the same Facebook group outlined above suggested that the Manchester consulate had informed them they could expect to wait for two months. Meanwhile, another that had recently visited the London consulate was told their application could take up to three months as the result of a backlog of applications in Madrid. And if you’re applying from Scotland? You may have the longest wait of all, with some applications still not having a response from the consulate after five weeks.

If you need to secure a non-lucrative visa and have a tight timescale to work with, we advise that you approach the consulate in your local area before you submit your application to see how long the wait time is. Then you can time everything else accordingly.

Are There Other Reasons Your Application Could Be Delayed?

In order to secure a non-lucrative visa you will need to secure an appointment with your local consulate, and this can be another source of delays, with many applicants struggling to secure the appointment they need even after their application has been submitted. This could add an extra week or two to the process of securing your non-lucrative visa, although you might be lucky and secure your face-to-face appointment within 24 hours of requesting it.

Another common reason for delays with the visa application process is the applicant themselves: If you haven’t provided all the necessary documentation or sorted out everything you need to such as bank statements and proof of private medical insurance, then the consulate many need to request this information from you, which would cause an additional delay. For this reason, it’s important to check and double check that your application is complete and has all the paperwork needed attached before you submit it.

Are you thinking of moving to Spain? Would you like to become a Spanish citizen, and dream of owning property in the country? Then why not get in touch with our property estate agents locally based on the Costa Del Sol, who have years of experience in helping Spanish house-hunters just like you to find the property of their dreams. Get in touch with Right Casa today.