The 6 Most Common Causes for Application Rejection on Non-Lucrative Residence Permits

April 8th, 2019

During our many years of experience in dealing with Spanish immigration, we’ve come across some circumstances in which non-lucrative residence permit applications have been rejected by the Spanish immigration authorities.

In order to minimize the chances of non-approval for our clients, we’ve gathered below the list of the most common causes for rejection:

  1. Insufficient regular income

    Applicants must count on a relevant income as savings or receive periodic income from investments, pensions, etc., which should allow them and their family to support themselves while living in Spain for a minimum of six months per year.A non-lucrative residence application will be rejected when the applicant cannot prove a minimum monthly income of €2,151.36 (plus €537.84 for each economically dependent person).

  2. Limited medical insurance

    The compulsory medical insurance policy must be hired from a company operating in Spain and offer the same cover as the Spanish national health system. Travel medical insurance is not accepted and those insurance policies hired from their home countries offering medical coverage while in a foreign country are neither accepted, as they usually include many limitations.

  3. Lack of proof of accommodation

    We want to put some stress on a reason that has been and is actually a matter of deliberation, often ending in rejections not expressly motivated by the Spanish consular office. The Spanish embassies in some countries value and take more into consideration those applications filed by property owners in Spain. That is, that the applicant has bought a house in Spain. Even if rental properties can also be provided as proof of address, an owned property has more weight on the application. Nevertheless, we need to make it clear that the current Law on Immigration in Spain does not indicate proof of address as a requirement to be met when filing a non-lucrative residence permit application. However, we have found that some consular offices slightly mention it in their internal information for applicants, like for instance the Spanish embassy in Quito, Equator: “Accommodation Availability or proof of sources leading to such availability”.

  4. Lack of schooling plan

    If applicants have children in schooling age, which in Spain ranges from 6 to 16 years old, they will be required to prepare a schooling plan for them before submitting the applications. The usual procedure involves enrolling the children at a private school, often an international one, being the first step paying a school reservation fee deposit.

    Many applicants find it difficult to comply with the above mentioned requirements, especially since they must invest on a property rental or initial school fees without confirmation or guarantee that the residence permit applications will be approved.

  5. Failure to construct a convincing argument supporting the applicant’s real motivation

    Coherence and common sense are major factors when the authorities review a file and try to interpret the real intention behind a non-lucrative residence applicant. An unconvinced officer may conclude that the applicants are not truly willing to spend at least 6 months in Spain, but just want to acquire Spanish residency to gain freedom of movement around the Schengen area without the need to apply for entry visas, and will thus reject the application. We see two types here:

    • Incoherence in the family situation: Single applicants who apply for just one residence permit for themselves, and have planned to leave their family back home, will probably raise a red flag for the Spanish immigration officer in charge of reviewing the application file. In the officer’s view, this person will probably be unable to meet the minimum stay requirement if his family resides abroad.
    • Incoherence in the employment situation: When applying for a non-lucrative permit, it is assumed that applicants receive enough income from their business activity in their home country, and that such business activity doesn’t require their physical presence. This is easy to meet for wealthy business owners, or retired individuals living on high standard public or private pensions. However, we find that there are many young couples that happen to work salaried who want to relocate to Spain, but wish to keep their managing roles at their current companies (with offices in their home country). This may pose a problem when applying for the first time, as the Spanish immigration officer will deem improbable that the minimum stay requirements will be met, as a managing position cannot be left unattended for prolonged periods of time. In those rare cases where an initial application is approved, the bad news is delivered upon renewal, when applicants are unable to prove having spent enough time in Spain during the previous two years. In the remote work era, applicants may be able to convince immigration officers if they can make their current company sign a letter stating they are allowed to work remotely from within a foreign country for at least 6 months a year.
  6. Failing the interview at the embassy

    Once the application is submitted, the staff at the Spanish Embassy will interview the applicants to confirm that everything stated on the file is true, and to gather any other subjective information not present in the file which can be useful in deciding on the application outcome. They will want to know things such as whether there are any type of family bonds or business connections that support the application and justify the decision to choose Spain among other countries to settle down. Also, if the applicants have visited the country at least once on a recent date or if they have any relatives or business partners already residing in Spain.

    It should be an easy interview. However, a small percentage of applicants will surprisingly fail to provide the right answers to these questions, and some will even tell the embassy staff that they really don’t plan on living in Spain as residents, but instead want to use the residence card as a travel visa. This will result in an immediate rejection.

7 thoughts on “The 6 Most Common Causes for Application Rejection on Non-Lucrative Residence Permits

  1. Seth

    Wondering if you have some thoughts:

    In 2017 i lived in Madrid pursuant to a non-lucrative visa. In early 2018 I left Madrid and move to Germany pursuant to an EU Blue card.

    I am now changing my situation and moving to a remote consulting role (+ I have sufficient assets) and want to move to Barcelona pursuant to a Non Lucrative visa.

    1. Do you know if i have to go through an entire reapplication or is there a way to use my previous Non Lucrative visa as a base?

    2. I’m told that I apply in Germany – however what about the lack of criminal activity component – I’ve been here less than 5 years but is a German background check sufficient?

    Thanks so much!

  2. Patricia Martin Post author

    Hello Seth

    You certainly need to apply for an initial authorization as your previous one expired and as you failed to file the renewal application in time because you moved to another country, you lost the right to extend the validity of the Non Lucrative residence permit. You can file a new application via the Spanish consular office in the country where you are currently residing, that I understand is Germany. With regards to the Criminal records´certificate requirement, you need to provide with records of the countries where you have lived during the last five years, and that includes Germany.


  3. Sarah

    What about a situation of an applicant having a misdemeanor on their criminal record? I understand that this is not a “clear” criminal record. However, if the sentence for the misdemeanor was completed and all associated fees paid and it has been greater than 5 years since the misdemeanor, is there any chance of still obtaining a non-lucrative visa?

  4. Patricia Martin Post author

    Hello Sarah,

    If the criminal records refer to a misdemeanor dated more than 5 years ago and the sentence was completed, you should be fine and ready to apply for a Non Lucrative residence permit providing you meet all the other requirements.

  5. Sarah

    Thank you for this help! Do you know if they judge the 5 years time by the date the misdemeanor was initially received or by the final sentencing of the case? Thank you!

  6. Shane

    Hello another question about maximum days out of Spain.
    My mothers initial residence card was valid from October 15 2018 (her day of arrival) until October 15 2019. She later left for Canada on April 16 2019 and returned to Spain on October 22 seven days after her card expired. But DURING the 365 days when the initial resident card WAS VALID my mother was in Spain for 183 days and out 182 days. If you count the days from when she left on April 16 2019 to October 22 2019 it was 189 days out of Spain.
    In the BOE-A-2011-7703 article 162
    e) Cuando se permanezca fuera de España durante más de seis meses en un periodo de un año.

    They write that she can not be out greater than six months or her process will be terminated. Her renewal has been denied for being out of Spain for more than 6 months. We have a month to reply. Can they count time out of the country after her card was expired ? Or do they only count the time out of the country while the card is valid?

  7. Patricia Martin Post author

    Hello Shane,

    What they check is that she has been out for 6 months in the period of one year. They count 6 months back once she has re-entered Spain, no matter if the card is expired. You so not indicate her nationality, but note that is he does not need a visa to be in Spain on a short visit, she can add three months to her stay and have grounds to file an appeal. Otherwise, she may have to re-apply for the residence permit.


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