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Spain: Information on whether an Uruguayan woman, married for over five years to a Spanish national, neither of whom have ever lived in Spain, can accompany her husband if he moved to Spain, and on her residency rights there

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 January 1995
Citation / Document Symbol ESP19474.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Spain: Information on whether an Uruguayan woman, married for over five years to a Spanish national, neither of whom have ever lived in Spain, can accompany her husband if he moved to Spain, and on her residency rights there, 1 January 1995, ESP19474.E, available at: [accessed 1 June 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


The following information was provided in a 26 January 1995 telephone interview with the counsellor of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Spain in Ottawa. The counsellor stated that if he had been provided with more detailed and precise information than "an Uruguayan woman married over five years to a Spanish national, neither of whom have ever lived in Spain," he would have been able to provide a more complete answer. The counsellor also stated that the following information is equally valid for an Uruguayan man married to a Spanish national.

The counsellor stated that a Spanish citizen who has never lived in Spain must have been born abroad to parents who were Spanish citizens living outside of Spain. Such a child automatically acquires Spanish citizenship and a Spanish passport, but, at age 18, s/he will have to decide whether to remain a Spanish citizen or to take the citizenship of the country in which s/he is living, provided the host country will grant its nationality to the children of Spanish citizens living there. Spain does not permit dual citizenship.

Regardless of her nationality, the wife of a Spanish national, whether he has ever lived in Spain or not, has the right to accompany him if he moves to Spain. However, the wife must have obtained the "reunification of family" visa ("visado de reagrupación familiar"), which is valid for three months, before entering Spain. In order to obtain this "reunification of family" visa from the Spanish consular office in her country of residency, the Uruguayan woman must present a copy of her marriage certificate in order to prove that she is married to a Spanish citizen. She must also be able to provide an address in Spain where she and her husband will live.

Once in Spain the Uruguayan woman must go to the immigration office, where she will receive a residence permit as a result of her "reunification of family" visa. The residence permit is valid for five years and is renewable, should the woman decide not to take Spanish citizenship. However, should the Uruguayan woman choose to take Spanish citizenship, after having received the approval of immigration for permanent residency status, she must then satisfy the additional requirement of living in Spain for one subsequent year. In addition to having been married to a Spanish citizen for over five years, the case of this Uruguayan woman is also special in that she falls into the category of citizens from Latin America who have been married to Spanish citizens for longer than one year and who, as a result, need to fulfill no more than one subsequent year of residency before becoming eligible for citizenship. Citizens from Latin America who are not married to Spanish citizens, on the other hand, can obtain Spanish citizenship by residing in Spain for a period of two consecutive years after having received immigration office approval for permanent residency. The counsellor stated that because they share the same language and/or culture with Spain, citizens from Latin America, Andorra, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal and descendants of the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 have a shorter residency requirement in order to obtain Spanish citizenship than do refugees and other foreign nationals. Citizens from all other countries must, however, be permanent residents of Spain for ten years before they can receive Spanish citizenship, whereas refugees need to live in Spain for only five years before they can obtain Spanish citizenship.

As a resident in Spain with a residence permit, the Uruguayan woman has similar rights to those of a Spanish citizen. However, she cannot vote unless she obtains Spanish citizenship. The Uruguayan spouse of a Spanish national has the right to work, the right to education and the right to receive national social security health benefits. The Uruguayan woman's residence permit allows her to apply for and be granted a work permit. However, the counsellor stated that foreign nationals who are not married to Spanish citizens must have permanent residency status in Spain before being allowed to work, although the terms may depend on whether the country of nationality belongs to the European Union or not.

Although the Uruguayan spouse is eligible to receive education, she must pay the costs. She can also benefit from government programs serving immigrants. The counsellor was unable to provide more information about these programs.

As a spouse of a Spanish national, the Uruguayan woman is automatically covered by the national social security health system, whether or not she is working.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Embassy of the Kingdom of Spain, Ottawa. 26 January 1995. Telephone interview with counsellor.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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