Since last Monday 16 March, Spain has been in a state of alarm as a result of COVID-19, which has been extended until April 11th. The Government issued a Royal Decree by which a series of measures are taken to stop the spread of the virus.
Due to the paralysis of the country, many administrations have cancelled their activity and this has led to a suspension of the deadlines for the files in process. The Immigration Office has suspended the deadlines and has given priority to telematic application channels, when most of the procedures for foreigners are done in person. This may involve difficulties for a large number of foreigners in Spain who wish to obtain or renew their documents proving their residence in the country.
At Lexidy Law Boutique we have prepared this article with the most frequent questions about how to proceed if the sanitary crisis affects your file before the Immigration Offices across Spain.
What are the main changes at the Immigration Offices?
If you had an appointment with the immigration office to renew your TIE or green card, as well as any other type of scheduled activity, those are now cancelled. The same goes for any type of interview appointment. As long as the state of alert lasts, it is not possible to process any file or have an appointment in person. While the Immigration Office is still working with electronic presentations, the Police Stations have cancelled their activity and remain closed.
In addition, all deadlines are suspended, both in procedural and administrative matters. And that is also true for time limits in connection with appeals and court proceedings that were active.
What happens if I had an appointment with the Immigration Office or the Police Station these days?
If you had an appointment with a public administration institution, it has been cancelled. Therefore, any appointments for fingerprinting, return authorisation, EU certificates or flag swearing for nationality procedures are temporarily cancelled.
This does not mean that your appointment is cancelled forever. Once the situation is back to normal, you will get your appointment back and can proceed with your file or application. Once the situation is resolved, everyone who had an appointment that had been cancelled due to the coronavirus will have preferential treatment and will be able to obtain an appointment earlier.
Can I keep on looking for an appointment?
It is still possible to make an appointment for any procedure that has to be done in person before the Immigration Office. However, keep in mind that the earliest you can get an appointment is in September and that, since everyone who had an appointment scheduled that has been cancelled during the sanitary crisis, will get preferential treatment, the delay in the formalisation of your file will be noticeable.
Which procedures have been cancelled?
All the police stations that carry out procedures for foreigners have cancelled their activity and the Immigration Offices have limited it to the procedures that can be done telematically. Therefore, the procedures that are completely affected and that cannot be carried out until the state of alarm is over are: fingerprinting process for the issuing of the Foreigner Identity Card (TIE), return authorizations and EU certificates.
What should I do if my residence card is about to expire and I need to renew it?
The expiry date of your residence card is automatically extended until things return to normal. You will not become illegal because the Immigration Office cannot process your renewal application, therefore you will be able to stay in Spain without being expelled. However, once the state of alert is over, you will have 15 days to voluntarily leave the country. Please note that the renewal of your residence card can also be done electronically with a digital certificate. We can take care of this for you.
My tourist visa is about to expire and I cannot leave the country. What should I do?
Since the borders are closed, you will not be able to leave the country, which means that you will become an irregular person in Spain. However, it is possible to send a letter to the competent institution, they can extend your visa for the duration of this situation. It is likely that you do not receive an answer but that should not be a problem. If you send the mentioned letter, you will be justified and will avoid future legal problems. Once the state of alarm ends, you will have 15 days to leave the country.
How to apply for renewal of your card or citizenship
Since the Immigration Offices have closed it is not possible to submit the application for renewal in person but you can do it by electronic means and for that you will need a Digital Certificate with your personal data. You will have to scan all the relevant documentation and make the presentation of your renewal. Once you have the receipt of your renewal, the validity of your card will be extended until you obtain a resolution of your renewal request.
I initiated an appeal and have not yet received a response. Is that normal?
Please note that since the day the Spanish Government implemented the state of alarm, all administrative and procedural deadlines have been suspended, so your appeal process is paralysed until the situation has normalised.
What about the exams I have to take for my citizenship application?
The exams to obtain Spanish citizenship are cancelled until further notice. The CCSE exams of March and April have been postponed to May and June and, on the other hand, the DELE exams for April and May have also been cancelled; and they will be rescheduled as soon as possible.
How can Lexidy help me?
At Lexidy we can clarify any doubt you may have regarding the scenario that has been created by the COVID-19 and the state of alert. Get in touch with us and see what we can do for you. We are eager to help you with anything you need during these difficult times.