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How I got a digital nomad visa to Spain while hiking the Camino de Santiago

Shon left San Diego and moved to Spain, where he feels he can finally experience true safety and freedom from societal pressures

Vasily Glebov is a digital nomad. He travels the world, sometimes changing countries every month, combining remote work and a quest to understand how the world truly operates. Some of his notes are published in the Telegram channel "Vasya Was Here." Vasily even applied for a digital nomad visa in Spain while hiking! It happened during his journey on the Camino de Santiago. He had to consult with a MigRun immigration consultant during rare stops :)

How to manage everything in one day before the Schengen visa expires? Which documents could be prepared online, and what must be done in Spain? Vasily shared his case and tips with you.

Initially, you wanted to obtain a residence permit in Portugal, but then, quite unexpectedly, you changed your decision and chose Spain. How and why did this happen?

Initially, I aimed to obtain a residence permit in Portugal as a highly skilled professional. However, when I had only one week left before my Schengen visa expired, I decided to use that time to embark on the Camino de Santiago. It is a popular route across Europe that leads to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela, where the tomb of Apostle James is located. Pilgrims and people seeking self-reflection or wishing to experience a beautiful journey can be found on this path.

During my journey, I saw a post by Vlad Shipilov, the founder of MigRun, which stated, "Portugal ends." This made me doubt and contemplated what to do next. It turned out that the immigration service was undergoing reforms, and no slots were available for submitting documents on-site. I realized I would have to wait until autumn to apply for documents in Portugal.

The question arose: What should I do? I was on the road with a backpack on my back. At that moment, Anna from MigRun advised me to legally enter Spain while my Schengen visa was still valid and then apply for a residence permit in Spain as a digital nomad. I had only four days left before my Schengen visa expired, but within three days, I was already in Spain.

The situation was comical because each pilgrim was given a special passport with stamps placed throughout the journey during the Camino de Santiago. And at the final point of the route, instead of stamping my pilgrim passport, I received a certificate of legal entry into Spain. This document became a culmination of the journey. All the other records required for obtaining a residence permit were easily gathered online in just one day.

What documents were required for the application?

Previously, I had a digital nomad residence permit in Cyprus. And overall, the documents required were almost the same, if not more straightforward.

‍The main requirements for this residence permit were:

πŸ‘‰ Income level: from ~2520 €
πŸ‘‰ Employment contract valid for a minimum of 3 months (before the application) with a company that has existed for over a year. In my case, I applied as a sole proprietorship, and the requirement was similar: being registered for a minimum of 3 months prior to the application

The standard list of documents required for the application is as follows:

πŸ“ Scan all pages of the passport
πŸ“ Payment of the administrative fee using form 790
πŸ“ Residence permit application form (provided) and sample examples (provided below)
πŸ“ Contract specifying the position and salary. Previously,Β a sworn translation into Spanish was not required, but now it is mandatory
πŸ“ Document confirming that the contractor/employer has existed for over a year. When I submitted my documents, a simple translation with Deepl was sufficient, but now it needs to be translated into Spanish by a sworn translator
πŸ“ Letter from the employer/contractor indicating the position, salary, and duration of employment (must be more than three months), preferably stating that the work is remote
πŸ“ Resume (can be from LinkedIn)
πŸ“ Declaration stating that you will register as a sole proprietor in Spain and the social security system
πŸ“ Certificate of no criminal record with apostille and translation by a sworn translator

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I needed to show a salary meeting the income requirements and officially deposit in the bank. Additionally, I asked my employer to send a signed letter stating that they are okay with me working in Spain and confirming my salary. I also provided a company incorporation certificate stating that the company has existed for over a year and is registered in Delaware, USA. The employer simply shared this certificate with me

Furthermore, I provided my sole proprietorship registration certificate and diploma as proof of my qualifications for the job, both translated into Spanish.

Then, with the assistance of MigRun specialists, we uploaded the documents to the platform, as it required an electronic signature. You can use a power of attorney if you don't have one. According to the law, they have 20 working days to process it after applying. After 20 working days, they may request additional documents, which you must provide within ten days.

Fellow chat members created a diagram showing how long it took for people to receive approval for their digital nomad residence permits on average. It turned out that approximately 90% of applicants received support within 30 days.

Once you receive approval, you must schedule an appointment on the website to provide your fingerprints. You go in person, provide your fingerprints and a photograph, and receive your ready-made residence card within 2-4 weeks. Typically, it is issued for a period of 3 years.

Since I applied as a sole proprietor, I had to sign a document stating that I would open an "autΓ³nomo" (an individual entrepreneur) in Spain, register myself, and pay social security contributions. I haven't explored these details yet, but the team at MigRun will help me with it. In essence, there's nothing to worry about. You don't need to do this if you are employed in a country.

Why did you choose the Camino de Santiago for your spontaneous journey in the Schengen area? This route holds special significance for many people, as they embark on it when they are "ready" or need to figure things out about themselves and their lives.

I was already mentally prepared to settle in Portugal for a few years while waiting for my residence permit, and I had never been to Spain before. So, why not? And I went for it.

Initially, I thought of walking a portion of the route starting from Vigo over a weekend. However, it turned out that it was around 100 kilometers, and the guidebook suggested a relaxed pace of 5-7 days. I walked faster and reached Santiago in 3 days. The route was excellent, and I enjoyed it.Β 

‍How challenging is it for you to live as an expat?

At first, when I had just moved, it was tough. But then I got used to it, and a specific pattern developed. You arrive in a new place, find accommodation, transportation, food, and a gym, and live there for a while. Previously, I would change countries several times a month. I decided to stay longer, for a month or two. And explore the area. This way, I can work on weekdays and engage in my usual routine, and on weekends, I can travel to new places.

What advice can you give someone worried about ending up in a new country where they don't know anything yet?

‍In every country, there are people like you who will always help you navigate everything. The language and culture may differ, but the essential institutions are the same everywhere in the grand scheme of things. Relocation happens within the same planet. I recommend approaching it as an exciting adventure, a quest. MigRun has a board called "reloquests" - and that's exactly what it is. It's like a game where you must figure things out and complete levels. In the end, any process of adaptation comes to an end, and quests are accomplished. There's no need to fear difficulties. It's better to see it as new opportunities, a way to get acquainted with something new: exciting people and a new culture.

And let me tell you, these chat groups worldwide are an incredible support. There are answers to all questions, and everyone supports each other constantly. My Telegram is filled with emoji representing different countries. Each country has its own chat :) In every country, some seasoned residents will advise and help with any questions. I don't know what to do without it; it's unique.

‍Emigration and traveling are very different things. But you manage to combine them harmoniously.

Yes, that's true. I approach each place as if I came here to live, even if it's just for a month. In Google Maps, I mark it as my home. And when I use a navigation app to plan a route, I'm going home.

Home is actually within us, not somewhere outside. A true home is not limited to external walls and material possessions. It extends inward within ourselves and can be found through self-awareness, personal growth, and creating a harmonious inner environment. Home is the feeling of tranquility and security that we often associate with a specific place, an apartment, or belongings. In reality, that tranquility can only be found within ourselves.

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ If you're planning to move to Spain

If you're considering immigrating to Spain, the first step is to understand the Spain immigration process and requirements. To apply for residency in Spain, you must meet the income requirements and follow the immigration rules.Β 

You can move independently, but we are ready to support you if you need assistance. You can book a consultation with Irina, who will review your case and advise you on which type of residence permit to choose, what to fix in your documents, and how to improve your case for a higher chance of obtaining residency in Spain‍

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