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Stay back in Spain after Masters Programs- A Guide

Updated on 09 November, 2023

Most international students prefer to stay back in Spain after master’s courses to find a suitable job or pursue future academic prospects. Students wanting to work and live in the country for the long-term have a lot to explore in Spain. Having scored high on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Better Life Index, Spain offers excellent work-life balance. Furthermore, Spain has one of the strongest labor laws in Europe to protect its employees. 

Given the flourishing economy of the country, most international students wish to extend their stay in Spain. Today, we take you through the types of post-study work visas after a master’s and the procedure to apply for the same. 

Stay back in Spain after Masters

Students willing to stay back in Spain after their master’s need to deal with any one of the two immigration authorities – La Secretaría de Estado de Migraciones (Secretary of State for Migration) and the labor and employment authorities under the Ministerio de Trabajo y Economía Social (Ministry of Labor and Economy). While the process of a post-study work visa is comparatively easier for EEA, EU, or Swiss citizens, students belonging to non-EU/EEA nations need to go through a long process.

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Types of Post-study Work Visa

After graduating with a master’s degree, students are eligible to apply for a post-study work visa which would enable them to stay back in Spain for a duration of one year. During this tenure, they can look for jobs. However, they need to apply for this transitional residence permit at Spain’s immigration offices (Oficina de Extranjería) 60 days prior to the expiry of the student visa. Listed below are the types of post-study work visas and the purposes they serve.

Work as an Employee (Highly Skilled Professional Visa) 

After finding a job in Spain, students need to apply for a work employment visa since the employer might need it to assure them that they are legally eligible to work in Spain. Non-EU citizens should discover jobs listed on the Shortage Occupation List. Work permit applications may require a processing time of up to 8 months. Upon approval, the Embassy/Consulate issues the residence and work visa for two years. It may be renewed for up to a maximum period of five years. Candidates should meet any one of these criteria to receive a work visa: 

  • Should be an employee or manager handling a comparatively large employee group in the company with a minimum annual salary of €54,000 
  • Should be working in a highly specialized and technical employment position
  • Non-EU citizens completing their studies in a reputed business school or university are eligible, provided they earn at least €40,000 annually

How to apply?

To apply for the post-study work visa, an employer needs to submit an application to the Delegación Provincial del Ministerio de Trabajo e Inmigración (Ministry of Labor) on behalf of the candidate. Once the processing starts, the candidates would receive a copy of the application from the Spanish government. This would be accompanied by the file number and stamp from the permit that would be responsible for the permit. This can be then sent to the Spanish embassy as a part of the visa application, which would then inform the regional labor office of having received the application and the labor office would begin processing the application.  

Self-Employed or Freelance Workers

Working as a freelancer in Spain means applying for a work visa at the Spanish Embassy or Consulate. Work visas have validity for a year but they can be renewed if all conditions are fulfilled. Necessary documents include the following: 

  • Proof of funds
  • Evidence of experience and skills
  • Business plan if required
  • Commissions or contracts from companies if applicable
  • Any necessary registration or license for a particular industry

How to apply?

Candidates can either apply for this type of visa or modify an existing visa for which they have to pay $318 as the visa fees. The method employed depends on their current situation, i.e. if they are already living in Spain on another visa or are a non-EU/EFTA citizen residing out of Spain. 

EU Blue Card 

This is for aspirants who have spent a minimum of three years earning their higher education degree in Spain, enabling them to take employment as skilled professionals in Spain. Those with at least five years of high-level work experience will also be eligible in this bracket. 

The candidates are also required to furnish an employment contract with remuneration that is a minimum of 50% higher than average Spanish wages. It may also be 20% higher than this threshold if the skills are in high demand. Upon approval, they would have to apply for their visa from the Spanish Embassy. The cards have a year’s validity, and they can be renewed from time to time if one fulfills their conditions. 

How to apply?

Since applicants are already in Spain on a student visa, they can stay back in Spain after master’s by submitting an application for an EU Blue Card from the Immigration or Foreigner’s Office of the state in which they want to work. In fact, the employer can also submit the application on behalf of an employee and need to prove that they had advertised for the job opening at least 10 days ago, and could not find a suitable EU national for the role. 

Finding Jobs in Spain

Seasonal work is often available for college students in Spain, ranging from a few months to one year at the most. Most jobs are usually for 40 hours each week on a full-time basis. Those working part-time during their courses may consider full-time employment at the same organizations after completing their courses if possible. 


Job Search Visas 

Staying back in Spain after master’s requires the candidates to select their location carefully and then apply for a post-study work visa. A job search visa is a special permission visa that allows students to stay back in the country for a limited amount of time. 

The job search visa, also known as estancia por estudios superiores que cesa, para búsqueda de empleo in Spanish can be considered to get a residency permit for one year, allowing graduates to look for work in the country. It is a non-renewable and non-extendable permit that comes with the permission to legally work in the country and enjoy the same rights as formal residents. Applications are entertained from 60 days before the expiry of the student NIE or Foreigners Identity Number or till 90 days post expiry. The procedure requires 20-90 days on average. Here are some other points worth noting: 

  • The applicant should apply just after or before graduation while staying in the country at that particular time. They can apply up to six months post the receipt of their degree. They will have to check the list of eligible courses before applying. They also need to prove that they can financially support themselves throughout their stay in the country. 
  • Other documents include a motivation letter (giving a brief on their plans) and an updated resume along with healthcare coverage proof and legal documents (student visa copy, passport, and student ID). 
  • Candidates can only take this pathway if they are looking for highly-qualified employment, i.e. a managerial or technical work position with high remuneration.
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Ways to Move from a Student Visa to Work Permit

Upon finishing their master’s program, foreign students can apply for a work permit which allows them to take up a full-time employment contract at a salary at better suits their needs. Listed below are the ways in which they can go from a student visa to a work permit in Spain.

  • It is possible to stay back in Spain after master’s only if the student has stayed in the country for one year and got a job as a manager or a highly-qualified technical position with a salary higher than €40,000 per year
  • After a year of living in Spain, it is possible to modify the student visa into a job search visa which allows international students to stay back in the country and search for a job
  • After staying in Spain for three years, it is possible to convert the student visa to a regular work permit for both employed and self-employed people. Self-employed people can convert their student visa into a work permit on presentation of their business plans. 


Can I stay back in Spain after master’s?

international students are allowed to stay back in Spain after master’s. They should be residing in the country while applying for the post-study work visa. They need to apply at Spain’s immigration offices (Oficina de Extranjería) 60 days prior to the expiry of the student visa

How long can international students stay in Spain after master’s?

The duration of staying back in Spain after master’s depends on the type of visa applied for. If students apply for a job search visa they can stay back for one year, whereas the EU Blue Card allows them to stay for one year, though it can be renewed upon meeting the conditions.

How can a student receive permanent residency in Spain?

A student can receive permanent residency in Spain upon staying in the country for five years to obtain an indefinite residence situation. It is valid for five years and can be renewed. To apply for a PR in Spain, you need to visit the immigration department or relevant police station in Spain with the application form and required documents.

Pratishtha Ghosh

A post graduate in Journalism and Mass Communication, Pratishtha enjoys penning down things significant. What interests her the most is exploring and researching on gamut of study abroad.

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