You can obtain a residence in Spain and still stay behind
The article I wrote about non-lucrative visa in Spain sparked some interest among South Africans, but the option of working in South Africa or working somewhere else, while your family is living in Spain, was especially interesting to a lot of people. It is an option that you will not find on the Internet and it needs to be explained in detail.
Non-lucrative visa is by far an easiest way to get to Europe. It is being granted to people that can show that they are self-sufficient and by living in Europe they will not cost taxpayers any money. Many European countries have this option, but it differs in requirements, especially in the amount of money you will have to show to prove that you are self-sufficient.
Spain is one of the countries with the lowest entry-level. The amount needed is calculated by the government using IPREM (Multiplier for the Public Income Index) and in 2019 the value of IPREM was 537 euros a month. To be able to qualify, the foreigner must show that he or she has 4 times that amount available in the bank account, for each month of the visa validity. It is 2151,36 euros a month.
Since the first visa is granted for 12 month period, the amount required is 12×2151,36 = 25.816,72 euros. To be able to achieve permanent residence in Spain, you would have to live for 5 years in the country. The first visa is valid for one year, then there is a second visa called Primera Renovacion (valid for 24 months), third visa, Seconda Renovacion (valid for 24 months), and final Permanent Residence, valid for 5 years. Obviously, when applying for renovation, the Spanish Authority needs to see that you are self-sufficient for 24 months, so they will ask to see 2151,36 x 24 on your bank account, which is 51.632 euros. The same goes for the second period. After 5 years, when you apply for Permanent Residence, they are not interested in your accounts anymore.
The amount mentioned is for the couple only. If you have dependents, let’s say, one child, you will have to add another 537 euros a month to your bank account. If you have two children, double that. Let’s do the calculation – for 2 parents and a child for the first visa you will have to show 32.260 euros on your bank account. For a family with two kids, 38.704 on your account. For a second, a 2-year visa, double that. The calculation is easy. It would be best that you don’t touch that money during these 5 years, because, Spanish authorities might ask for an average balance on your account.
There are other requirements for this visa too, but they are less important, (health insurance, a place to stay) and you can read more about them in my Non-Lucrative Visa article.
Now, what is most important, and it is a base for this article, is a fact that the parents don’t have to live in Spain together. Spanish authorities are interested that a person living in Spain becomes tax resident, pays taxes, regardless of any income (no income – no tax) and does not leave Spain for more than 6 months in one go, or 10 months cumulatively in 5 year period. So, this leaves many options open. It means that one parent can stay in Spain with no income and other can work somewhere else, paying the tax in his own country.
How it works
Let’s say, you live in South Africa, have a good business, but you are afraid something might go wrong and you will not have the time to run. Or another option, you are already working overseas, your family is in South Africa and you are scared every day what might happen to them. With a non-lucrative visa, you can send your family to Spain and stay in South Africa, Dubai, Singapore, or wherever else. They will have a nice life, start integrating, while your financial situation will not change.
Basically, your wife alone would apply for a non-lucrative visa. She would take the kids, and live with them in Spain, while you stay, work, travel, and still earn your income. You can separate your tax domicile. She can pay tax in Spain, while you can continue paying tax in South Africa. If Spain is not a country of your main economic interest, you are not required to pay taxes in Spain. The beauty of the system is that spouses can at any time apply for the same permit that the other spouse has. Once 5 years have expired, your wife will get Permanent Residence. Once she gets Permanent residence, you will qualify for the same type of permit. This process is called the Reunification of the family and it is not complicated.
Unfortunately, you will have to split the family. Now, this can be very hard, and this is something you will have to think about, but, on the bright side, you would be able to travel freely and visit your family. You will be able to get a 2 year Schengen Visa and go whenever you wish. Or, you can also apply for –non-lucrative visa from the start and let it lapse. There are many options.
Now, your family lives in Spain and you are alone. It gives you many opportunities, you can sell the house and downscale, transfer that money to Spain. Your family will probably need about 2000-3000 Euros a month to live decently in Spain, but they would probably spend that same amount in South Africa, which at this moment is extremely expensive.
Your kids will go to a European school. If they are very young, they can be enlisted in the standard Spanish school, which is free, and they will enter the education system. If they are older, they will probably need a semi-private or private school, which costs money. But, once they gain the Residence Permit, they will be allowed to study in Europe for almost free (normal university courses cost Europeans about 1000-2000 Euros a year as oppose to 7.000-15.000 for foreigners). Even if their Spanish is not at the best level, there are so many English language programs at European Universities that they will have plenty to choose from.
I find this as an attractive option, especially for the families that are already split. It is again a simple process, that will require the help of an attorney. The normal charges to see this through are from 2.000-3.000 euros, and it would be the best to choose a lawyer from the area you want to move to, so he can help you in the communication with the Spanish authorities once you start renewing your permits.
There are many families in Spain,whose parents are temporarily separated, so it is a path that many expatriates use.