We have received many inquiries and helped couples from around the world with this and we are confident to say that this is the process that creates the most confusion and maybe the most frustration. The process itself for the Residence card of family member of EU Citizen has recently changed, but the bureaucratic nature of the process also means that there are frequently-updated requirements to be aware of.

Who does this process/application apply to?

It might include different circumstances, but we will go over the most common one which is where an EU spouse and non-EU spouse are married. The “EU spouse” of course includes a Spanish citizen.

Being married (common law couples as well – what is referred to as  “pareja de hecho”*** in Spain) to an EU citizen allows the non-EU spouse to apply for the residency card for family member of EU citizen. The initial period of residency is 5 years, which is renewable for another 10 years.

***If you are planning to register as pareja de hecho with your partner, contact us and we will put you in touch with a lawyer who works with this.

So we have a non-EU citizen, married to EU citizen, just moved to Barcelona – where to start?

The first step is to get the EU family member a NIE certificate (“green card” NIE). More information on this here.

The second step is to get empadronamiento for both of them. The empadronamiento is an address registration. It is done at the city hall and the main requirement is to have a rental contact for more than 6 months or the person who you are renting from to authorize you (owner or tenant).

An important NOTE on the empadronamiento: The empadronamiento is your address registration and even after 2 months or 1 year, it is still a valid information, in the sense that the city hall has the information that this is where you are living.(side note, in some cases, you might be asked to reconfirm the empadronamiento at the city hall by receiving a letter or after 5 years). However, if you need an empadronamiento to present at a third party office, let’s say the foreigner’s office – then the empadronamiento has to be reissued and to be no older than 3 months. So make sure your empadronamiento is always “fresh” when it is a requirement.

Proof of marriage: The circumstances here vary so much that we would not even try to go through them all. However, the important things to keep in mind is:

  • The documents have to be issued in the past 3 months when you submit them
  • Depending on the country where the marriage was held – a Hague Apostille or equivalent certification might be required
  • The documents have to be in Spanish
  • A foreign recognition marriage certificate from the EU country (the country the EU partner is from) might be required (depending again on where the marriage was held) and on the country. Not all countries have this requirement.

For this process, we cannot recommend enough that you hire someone to assist with this process and to let somebody who has experience guide you through and save you time. Contact us and we will put you in touch with a very professional and experienced immigration lawyer who can assist you with the entire process.

The last part of documents would be the ones relevant to the EU citizen and what he/she is doing in Spain – meaning if the EU citizen is working, studying, etc. In this instance, if Sven is employed by a company registered in Spain, he would need to show the relevant paperwork that confirms his employment details. If he is unemployed, both partners need to prove financial stability and that they have healthcare. 

How long does the process take?

It is very difficult to provide a specific timeline on the process, as there are various steps in the process that can take weeks or even months. Based on the process and the way it has worked over the past year, on average it took our clients around 6-7 months. It could potentially take more if there are any complications, such as additional paperwork required.

Residence card of family member EU citizen

Once you have been given the approval, then you need to go through the TIE application (the residency card application). See information on this here. This is the actual card that entitles the non-EU citizen, to residency in Spain and proves that he/she has presented the required documents to establish their marriage with an EU citizen). Similarly, non-EU children of EU citizens could obtain their residency through the EU parent. In both cases, this card will also be used to travel into Spain from other countries, and will allow them to visit other Schengen countries without a visa.

What happens if instead of approval letter, you get a letter saying a documents is missing? You simply provide the missing paperwork, but keep in mind the time limit to do this. If you don’t do it on time, or if you don’t request an extension, the application might be close and you might need to start all over.

The good news is that in the general case (when the paperwork is correct) – the card is issued for 5 years. So you will be set for 5 years, as previously mentioned.