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Fast track route in Spain for Filipino and LATAM Clients

Fast track route in Spain for Filipino and LATAM Clients

It is common knowledge that Spain is not a country with a competitive programme for the granting of Spanish nationality by investment to HNWI Clients. As a general rule, the granting of nationality in Spain requires the applicant to evidence a previous residence in Spain for a period of ten (10) years, continuously and immediately prior to the application.

Notwithstanding the above, the spanish law allows nationals of certain countries, such as Philippine nationals or citizens of central and southern American continent whose official language is Spanish or Portuguese (“LATAM Clients”), to have access to a “reduced” period of 2 years for the granting of nationality by residence in Spain.

This fact, together with the possibility of obtaining an initial residence permit for investors for a period of 2 years (“Golden Visa”), becomes a successful and competitive formula for obtaining residence by investment and nationality.

1.- Nationality by residence in Spain

When a non-EU national wishes to acquire Spanish nationality by residence, Spanish law requires a general period of 10 years of legal, continuous residence in Spain immediately prior to the application.

However, there are certain cases in which the required period of residence is reduced to a period of 2 years.

This “reduced” period of residence is aimed at both Filipino nationals and nationals of the so-called “Ibero-American countries”, being the case of countries such as Brazil (population 208 M pax), Mexico (population 129 M pax), Colombia (population 49 M pax), Argentina (population 44 M pax), Peru (population 32 M pax), Venezuela (population 28 M pax), Chile (population 18 M pax) or some smaller countries with healthy economies such as Costa Rica (population 5 M pax), Panama (population 4 M pax) or Uruguay (population 3 M pax).

It should be remembered that, conceptually, a person with dual nationality is at the same time a national of two countries, enjoying the full legal status of nationals of both States.

However, this does not mean that these persons can be subject simultaneously to the legislation of both countries; on the opposite, means are devised to “give preference to one of the nationalities” in order to have a point of reference with regard to the relations between the citizen and the State.

To this end, most dual nationality conventions take domicile as the point of reference, so that dual nationals will not be constantly subject to both laws, but only to the law of the country in which they are domiciled. This applies to issues such as the granting of passports, diplomatic protection, the exercise of civil and political rights, labour and social security rights and military obligations.

Thus, dual nationality is obtained upon accession to Spanish nationality, and there is no obligation to renounce the pre-existing nationality.

In our neighbouring country Portugal, investors of Brazilian nationality who have participated in its residence by investment programme (“ARI”) – not nationality – constitute a very relevant group, materialising their investment mainly in real estate assets located in Lisbon and Oporto.

Perhaps due to the lack of knowledge of the applicable legislation in Spain, Brazilian citizens currently account for a very small percentage of the investors present in Spain.

  1. “Golden Visa” or residence permit for investment as a prior step to applying for nationality by residence in Spain

Under current legislation (Law 14/2013 of September 27 on support for entrepreneurs and their internationalisation), a non-EU investor who makes a significant capital investment in Spain may obtain an initial temporary residence permit (“Golden Visa”) for a period of 2 years, which is renewable for periods of 5 years (“renewed temporary residence permit”) as long as the requirements are fully maintained.

Statistics since the Golden Visa approval in 2013 indicate that most of the investments have been materialised in the real estate sector, requiring a minimum investment of €500K, free of charges and encumbrances.

After 2 years of legal and continuous residence in Spain (more than 183 days a year in Spanish territory), the investor and, if applicable, dependent family will be in a position to consider the application of the Spanish nationality.

The application for the Spanish nationality by residence for nationals of Ibero-American countries generally does NOT require the waivement of the previous nationality and has the advantage of the aforementioned reduced residence term of 2 years as opposed to the general period of 10 years, being able to maintain both nationalities if a dual nationality agreement has been signed with Spain.

In order to obtain Spanish nationality by residence, a sufficient command of Spanish language, proof of good civic conduct and a sufficient intregration degree into Spanish society will be required.



Juan Antequera

Real Estate/RBI Lawyer