How long can be outside of Spain without losing permanent residence?

Hi all, I read some policies that, with my PR I could not stay outside Spain and EU country for more than 1 year continuously. My question is: If I stay in my country (non EU) and I only return Spain 1 time a year and live for a week, so in this case may I lose my permanent residence?!

If you stay only one week, you must pay your tax of residence in another country, so you claim nothing from Spain? But if you come only for a week, why would you ever want residency?

If you stay only one week, you must pay your tax of residence in another country, so you claim nothing from Spain? But if you come only for a week, why would you ever want residency?
[email protected]


Exactly! If you're staying only a week in a country, you are not a resident.  Generally you can be absent no more than 6 months out of a year.  For more than 6 months, it is assumed that you have abandoned your residence.


If you want to be a tourist, be a tourist.  If you want to have residency, be a resident.  Usually, you can't have it both ways and game the system :)

@Chihieu Le


I note that you made another post about getting a Blue Card a while back, so is this question about the actual PR card that's already in your wallet? Or a hypothetical question about a PR that you might get in a few years?


It's a big deal if you stay legally in the EU for 5 years or more. And you should definitely grab the PR as soon as you qualify. Your PR is an indefinite status (that is, even though your card is issued for a specific term, 5 or 10 years, it is automatically renewable), and it should not be cancelled/revoked except in fairly exceptional circumstances. However, there are DEFINITELY rules about your absence from Spain, so you must follow them if you want to avoid inadvertently losing your card.


In particular, now you have your PR, the clock is counting down to when you can apply for a Spanish passport. And I can totally understand how an EU passport might be an objective, even if you don't want to spend much of your time in Spain.


A lot of us get confused about physical residence, legal residence, and tax residence. Your PR means you're legally resident in Spain, and can come and go as you please (subject to the absence rules). Tax residency is usually based on "substantial presence" (more than 183 days per year), but Spain has other tests too. But certainly there are many legal residents of Spain who are not tax resident there (including me).


Personally, if I really wanted to keep my PR and be absent a lot, I would keep a property in Spain. Which is what I do. This way I am continuously registered on the Padron, keep a bank account, and pay various bills and taxes, and maintain a paper trail of my connection to, and "presence" in Spain. But, of course, this is merely my recommendation, not an official condition of your PR.


I don't know the exact rules on absence, and I think it depends on what card you have, and whether it's valid for 5 years or 10 years. Personally, I would spend a few euros on a consult with an experienced immigration attorney to check the exact rules. My guess is that you're right, and it's one year continuous (but I've also read that it's 2 years). But there might be another cumulative condition (minimum of x days in y years) which might fail if only there a week a year.


If the condition says "periods of absence from Spain must not exceed one year" then you can do exactly as you suggest, and pop back to Spain before the deadline and spend a week or two there.


Some, like @romaniac, think this is a way to "game the system". To me, playing by the rules of the game is sensible. Spanish immigration set the rules by which you originally moved to Spain and became a legal resident, and lived and worked in Spain. It also set the rules for how you kept and renewed your residence permit. And it set the rules for how, after 5 years of living in Spain, you could become a PR. Now, it has further rules about how you can lose your PR. You need to find out what these rules are, and abide by them.


However, separately, if the Spanish passport is the objective, I think you will find that there are more stringent presence tests for gaining citizenship (as opposed to not losing your PR). Also, citizenship has language and culture tests which are probably quite hard to pass if you only spend a few days a year in Spain.

If you stay only one week, you must pay your tax of residence in another country, so you claim nothing from Spain? But if you come only for a week, why would you ever want residency?
[email protected]

In short term I will stay in my country for some reason but after a few years I will be back to Spain and stay here for many years.

@Chihieu Le
I note that you made another post about getting a Blue Card a while back, so is this question about the actual PR card that's already in your wallet? Or a hypothetical question about a PR that you might get in a few years?

It's a big deal if you stay legally in the EU for 5 years or more. And you should definitely grab the PR as soon as you qualify. Your PR is an indefinite status (that is, even though your card is issued for a specific term, 5 or 10 years, it is automatically renewable), and it should not be cancelled/revoked except in fairly exceptional circumstances. However, there are DEFINITELY rules about your absence from Spain, so you must follow them if you want to avoid inadvertently losing your card.

In particular, now you have your PR, the clock is counting down to when you can apply for a Spanish passport. And I can totally understand how an EU passport might be an objective, even if you don't want to spend much of your time in Spain.

A lot of us get confused about physical residence, legal residence, and tax residence. Your PR means you're legally resident in Spain, and can come and go as you please (subject to the absence rules). Tax residency is usually based on "substantial presence" (more than 183 days per year), but Spain has other tests too. But certainly there are many legal residents of Spain who are not tax resident there (including me).

Personally, if I really wanted to keep my PR and be absent a lot, I would keep a property in Spain. Which is what I do. This way I am continuously registered on the Padron, keep a bank account, and pay various bills and taxes, and maintain a paper trail of my connection to, and "presence" in Spain. But, of course, this is merely my recommendation, not an official condition of your PR.

I don't know the exact rules on absence, and I think it depends on what card you have, and whether it's valid for 5 years or 10 years. Personally, I would spend a few euros on a consult with an experienced immigration attorney to check the exact rules. My guess is that you're right, and it's one year continuous (but I've also read that it's 2 years). But there might be another cumulative condition (minimum of x days in y years) which might fail if only there a week a year.

If the condition says "periods of absence from Spain must not exceed one year" then you can do exactly as you suggest, and pop back to Spain before the deadline and spend a week or two there.

Some, like @romaniac, think this is a way to "game the system". To me, playing by the rules of the game is sensible. Spanish immigration set the rules by which you originally moved to Spain and became a legal resident, and lived and worked in Spain. It also set the rules for how you kept and renewed your residence permit. And it set the rules for how, after 5 years of living in Spain, you could become a PR. Now, it has further rules about how you can lose your PR. You need to find out what these rules are, and abide by them.

However, separately, if the Spanish passport is the objective, I think you will find that there are more stringent presence tests for gaining citizenship (as opposed to not losing your PR). Also, citizenship has language and culture tests which are probably quite hard to pass if you only spend a few days a year in Spain.
[email protected]

Well, thank you so much for your advice, it is very detail for me, as you answered my question about Blue Card :). Yes, I am going to get my PR and it is just a question!!

So, to make sure which is the best way to keep my PR when I spend a lot of time outside Spain, I will need to talk with an attorney and see what I could do. As I know that when I lose my PR then I can get it back, but the process will take time, and need a lot of documents also. In my case, I am considering how to avoid losing PR.

The laws have changed (at least in Romania) and I believe it's based on EU law, and there are no longer Permanent Residency cards issued, but rather "Residence of Long Duration" as it is more accurate given the fact that cards do in fact expire after 5 or 10 years, based on one's status, and there are requirements to retain residency status.  From a cursory search online, I'm seeing the same information about Spain if I'm not mistaken.  As the right of residence is not "permanent" as there are still conditions to retaining residence, it is important to understand when a residence permit can be forfeited. 


I held a "Permanent Residence for Family Members" permit in Romania, it was canceled IIRC 1 year after I left Romania and my wife stayed behind awaiting her USA visa to move here.  She received a letter for me at our address in Romania stating the permit was cancelled.  So the permanent residence was not in fact permanent.  Only citizenship can assure that it seems.


@gwynj

I'm sorry if the term "game the system" might bother you, but countries have presence tests for exactly these situations.  It's a reality.  It's just like the 90-day tourist rule from years ago, people would stay for 90 days, go out of the country a day then come back for another 90 days....so they modified the law to 90 days within a 180-day period as too many tourists were trying to reside in counties without following proper immigration procedure.   People will always try to find loopholes of course, but eventually, the rules change and you must adapt to them :)


Romaniac

@romaniac


Hey, great point! Indeed, after 5 years, there are typically 2 options: the national Permanent Residence (PR), and the EU Long Term Resident's Residence Permit (EU LT). There's still lots of confusion about these. Which one you get depends on which one you ask for, and which one you qualify for (there are different requirements for how much of the 5 years you spent in the country). It also depends on which EU country you are in, as some are very reluctant to issue an EU LT. But I would say that it's much preferable to get the EU LT, if you can, as it makes it easier to relocate within the EU. (It is supposed to, according to the EU, grant a level of mobility similar to holding an EU passport.)


I'm guessing your absence from Romania for more than a year was the basis for cancelling your PR. Both the PR and EU LT are "indefinite" permits, in the sense that they get issued for a specific period (5 or 10 years), but are automatically renewable (if you ask). It's definitely a different status from the prior "temporary" residence with a lot more protection for the holder. But there are rules on continuous absence, so if you don't abide by them, you find yourself with a cancellation letter (unfortunately). My understanding is that if you explained why your absence was due to exceptional circumstances (illness, Covid travel restrictions, etc.) and asked nicely for it to be re-issued, it probably would be. But, even so, still better to avoid this.


An EU passport is definitely better, and definitely harder to lose (it's exceedingly rare that folks get stripped of their citizenship). But the clear aim of the EU is that TCNs (Third Country Nationals like you and me) who are long term residents of the EU (more than 5 years, like you and me) should enjoy stronger legal protections of their residence status, and enjoy EU-wide mobility in a similar way to EU passport holders. The wrinkle is that individual EU members have implemented (or not implemented) this in different ways, leading to confusion, and different treatment of TCNs depending on which EU country they first moved to. So the EU is currently doing a "recast" of the Directive on TCNs in order to harmonize across the EU, and make the EU LT more widely available.


https://home-affairs.ec.europa.eu/proposal-directive-european-parliament-and-council-status-third-country-nationals-long-term_en

@Chihieu Le


It's good to maintain your legal status in Spain for 5 years, and then change your status. Good luck doing this. As you didn't get it yet, I recommend you investigate the difference between the PR and EU LT (as in my other post). I would suggest the EU LT is preferable, as it allows you to move more easily to another EU country. But you need to check the presence rules, the EU LT requires more days in Spain (during your first 5 years) than the PR.


It's also good to check the absence rules to avoid losing it, once you have it.


The EU LT rules are in the relevant EU Directive:

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:02003L0109-20110520&qid=1472219910415&from=EN


Which says:


"Article 9

Withdrawal or loss of status

1. Long-term residents shall no longer be entitled to maintain long- term resident status in the following cases:

(a) detection of fraudulent acquisition of long-term resident status;

(b) adoption of an expulsion measure under the conditions provided for in Article 12;

(c) in the event of absence from the territory of the Community for a period of 12 consecutive months.

2. By way of derogation from paragraph 1(c), Member States may provide that absences exceeding 12 consecutive months or for specific

or exceptional reasons shall not entail withdrawal or loss of status."


Visiting once a year for a few weeks will ensure that you are not absent for 12 consecutive months, and doesn't seem like a major imposition, especially as you plan to return to live in Spain in the future.


I don't know if the PR absence rule is the same, but I'd guess it was.

@Chihieu Le


Some helpful pages from an immigration lawyer:


https://balcellsgroup.com/permanent-residency-in-spain/


https://balcellsgroup.com/long-run-vs-eu-long-run-residency-in-spain/

If you are not a citizen of an EU country, then you will lose your permanent residence if you are absent from Spain for more than two years.


If you are a citizen of an EU country, then you will lose your permanent residence if you are absent from Spain for more than five years.