International mobility: the key of internationalization in success

December 2016. – International mobility is an essential tool for the internationalization of Catalan companies abroad. Good deployment planning greatly facilitates the entrance of executives to new markets, and also increases the chances of success for implantation of projects within the region.

The regulatory framework for immigration in Spain is formed up of two laws, the application of which depends on the immigration purpose of the interested parties. There are further possibilities for foreign workers to provide services in Catalonia and obtain the permit quickly and easily. Those are classified in two frameworks: Entrepreneurs Act (L 14/2013) and Law on Foreigners (LO 4/2000). 

The Entrepreneurs Act (L 14/2013) contemplates a wide range of visa or permit possibilities, such as for highly qualified professionals, intra-company transfers, entrepreneurs and investors, and some others. Dependent on the UGECE (Unidad de Grandes Empresas y Colectivos Estratégicos), the Law 14/2013 also promotes entrepreneurial culture, attracting foreign talent without taking into account the National Employment Situation of the employee, and offers an accessible entrance of investment and talent considering it beneficial for the region. 

Furthermore, there is a second law of immigration that allows one to obtain other types of visa, such as employees with a labour contract, self-employed employees and transnational provision of services. This is the Law on Foreigners (LO 4/2000), aimed at the general public and regulating different kinds of temporary residence permits applicable in Spain. Unlike the Entrepreneurs Act, the Law on Foreigners takes into account the National Employment Situation (internal labour market) for the granting of certain permits and also works under the auspices of the Catalan Government. Another feature that differentiates them is in how they are applied: while the Entrepreneurs Act procedures can be performed in Catalonia, the Law on Foreigners demands that projects must be implemented in the country of residence.

Entrepreneurs Act (LO 4/2000)

The Entrepreneurs Act contemplates a wide range of possibilities of visas or permits. The most common are: 

  • Highly qualified professionals, a very easy permit for foreign workers to obtain both in terms of requirements, such as college education and a salary of more than 28.000€), as in its processing time. 
  • Intra-company transfers, foreign workers who are transferred to Spain in an employment relationship with a company or group of companies (the employment relationship and the wages are kept in their country of origin). In addition, it is required that workers must have a college education or at least 3-month work experience at the company. This permit is also processed in case of professional relationships between companies, but it is not required to be part of the same group of companies, for example in the case of consultancy tasks. 
  • Entrepreneurs. Foreign entrepreneurs who wish to settle in Spain may obtain a visa / permit in a simplest way, compared to the previously existing application procedure. This visa is addressed to foreign entrepreneurs who are developing an innovation business plan that represents economic value for Spain. To obtain this permit, entrepreneurs will have the following taken into account: their professional profile, the overall viability of the business plan and the added interest for the Spanish economy. 
  • For investors, the Spanish Government has a specific permit to attract foreign investment. This initiative enables foreign investors to visit and work in Spain for a period of one year and it is mainly granted for investments involving real estate purchase, for both commercial or residential premises. The investment also has to involve at least 500.000 euros. The same also applies to purchase of at least 1 million euros in shares of Spanish companies, an acquisition of 2 million euros in Spanish Government bonds or a bank deposit of 1 million euros.

Law on Foreigners (Law 4/2000)

The Law 4/2000, better called Law on Foreigners, is limited to a regional area and it is processed at the diplomatic mission in the Spanish consular office in the country of residence. The Law on Foreigners includes three much more common visas, for employees under a labour contract, self-employed employees and transnational provision of services. 

  • Employees under a labour contract is part of standard work permit that companies must process to hire a foreign employee in Catalonia. Generally in this cases, National Employment Situation is taken into account so, in this sense, obtain this permit there should not have Spanish unemployed workers occupying the same workplace. Despite this fact, Law 14/2013 contains some exceptions into the application of the National Situation for the following employees: positions of trust and company managers, highly qualified professionals and intra-company transfers.
  • In cases of Self-employed employees, they can count on a specific visa if they wish to set up an activity on their own. To do that, they must have a business plan in which issues such as opening licenses and compliance with law, planned investment and impact on job creation, and also sufficient financial means will be assessed.
  • Transnational provision of services is also part of a standard work permit for all those foreign companies outside of European Union that want to move foreign workers to Spain just for a temporary period of time. Issues such as employment relationships and the salary are established in the country of origin.

International Mobility Service of Catalonia Trade & Investment

If your company wants to move executives or specialized employees to Catalonia, consult theInternational Mobility Service of Catalonia Trade & Investment. We offer personalized support to companies with an investment project in Catalonia with vocation to serve as an institutional contact between the companies and all Spanish entities involved in immigration procedures. We work to provide you with detailed information on all types of visas and residence-work permits valid in Catalonia. We have at your disposal a list of law firms and lawyers specialized on foreigners' immigration that can give you an accurate legal advice.

Catalonia Trade & Investment works to provide you with detailed information on all types of visas and residence-work permits valid in Catalonia. Acces our international mobility service.

Further information

Please contact us for further information regarding work permits, setting up a business fiscal and labour legislation, environmental issues or any other subject related to foreign investment and not addressed here. 


Passeig de Gràcia, 129
Tel: (+34) 93 4767287

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