As you may know, the Coronavirus has spread around the world during the last weeks and some countries have proceeded to take measures to try to contain the epidemic and thus prevent more people from getting infected and sick.
Spain, like other European Union countries, has taken steps to protect the Spanish population.
WHAT MEASURES HAVE BEEN TAKEN BY THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT AGAINST THE CORONAVIRUS SPREAD?
On Saturday, March the 14th, the Spanish Government declared the state of alarm for a period of at least 15 days, that is, until March 30th, 2020, which can be extended after approval by the Congress.
The consequences of this state of alarm are that the free movement of citizens is limited to buying food or pharmaceutical products, going to work with the corresponding authorisation issued by the employer and carrying out necessary actions such as going to the bank to withdraw money.
At all times, people will have to go out individually.
Likewise, classes have been suspended in all schools, from nurseries to university, and public transport will be disinfected daily.
On the other hand, shops that do not offer an indispensable service to the society such as malls, clothing stores, etc., as well as coffee shops and restaurants, will remain closed until the state of alarm has ceased.
As for air, sea and rail traffic, for the time being, it is neither limited nor closed. However, Spain has closed land borders and only Spanish citizens and legal residents can enter Spain by road.
I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE SPANISH ADMINISTRATION SCHEDULED FOR NEXT WEEKS. WILL IT BE AFFECTED?
For the moment, the General Police Direction has suspended the issuance of documents and booking of appointments except in case of duly justified grounds of urgency. Also, previous appointments already made are cancelled, which means that during the State of Alarm there will be no issuance of EU Certificates, application for or collection of Foreigners’ Identity Cards or return authorisations. Once normality is restored, all citizens affected will have to arrange a new appointment.
Immigration Offices throughout the Spanish territory have cancelled any and all appointments, but the Administration has established a Plan B.
That Plan B consists of facilitating the submission of the application by electronic means. In order to be able to submit the application by electronic means, first of all, you must receive an email from the Immigration Office cancelling the appointment and at the same time authorising you to submit the application through the aforementioned way. However, in order to be able to submit the application by electronic means you must have a digital certificate, otherwise, a representative of you, as for example we as your lawyers, can submit the application for you.
That way, immigration offices avoid the influx of people in their facilities and also prevent the spread of the virus.
Each Immigration Office has established a different deadline to submit the applications, and in some cases, you will be able to submit them until April 30th or up to 5 calendar days after the end of the state of alarm.
The procedures that can be submitted by electronic means during the state of alarm situation are the following:
– Initial application of residence and work permits
– Permanent residence card for family members of an eu citizen
– First application of the residence card for Family Members of EU Citizens
– First application of the residence and work permit
– Residence permit under exceptional circumstances (Arraigos)
– Family Reunification
– Residence permit for minors, children of legal residents
– Authorisation for separate residence of regrouped family members
In case your appointment with the Immigration Office has been cancelled during the State of Alarm, at Lexidy Law Boutique we will be glad to assist you by submitting the application through electronic means on your behalf.
SUSPENSION OF ADMINISTRATIVE DEADLINES
Deadlines regarding all pending processes by public sector entities, that is, immigration offices, Consulates, the Spanish Superior Court, etc., are suspended and interrupted. The computation of the terms will be restarted when the State of Alarm ceases.
There are a few aspects to clarify. First of all, it is important to keep in mind that regular online applications are still open to presentation. That includes renewals, Golden Visas from Spain and any other application that could be presented online before the State of Alarm. While this can vary from one country to another depending on the specific measures adopted, some Consulates of Spain around the world have already confirmed that they are still open and that applications are being accepted.
Having said that, your application will be accepted until further notice; it is the term of resolution that will be frozen. For how long? We will simply have to add the term of the State of Alarm to the legal term of your application, regardless of whether said application is to be approved in 20 working days or 3 months.
Therefore, our advice is to definitely move on with any application that you are currently preparing and that can be presented online, as you will avoid the expiration of the documents you already have and, after presenting, it will be the Administration’s turn to resolve. As only the resolution terms are being frozen, presenting the application still produces every legal effect, such as legally extending your stay in Spain (if the permit allows you to).
CAN I TRAVEL TO AND FROM SPAIN AS A TOURIST AFTER STATE OF ALARM IN SPAIN ?
Spain has only cancelled all direct flights to Italy, but the rest of the flights remain as they were up to now. The cancellation of these flights with our neighbouring country will take place until March 25th of this year 2020.
In general, it is recommended not to travel unless it is absolutely necessary and essential to avoid crowds of people and thus contact with people who may have the disease.
As this is a fast-moving disease, the scenarios and measures taken may vary from one day to the next. Some countries have already banned the entry of Spaniards into their countries, as is the case with El Salvador, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the US or Israel.
On the other hand, land traffic has been restricted and only legal residents in Spain, supply vehicles and those demonstrating force majeure may enter the country by road.
Therefore, we count on other more restrictive measures being taken by countries and should avoid travel, so as not to get stuck anywhere, as is the case of many people around the world.
THE RIGHT TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR CANCELLATION OF TOURISTIC SERVICES AFTER STATE OF ALARM IN SPAIN
Because of the travel and movement restrictions put in place, many travel plans have been frustrated and cancellations are a daily occurrence.
If you were travelling within the European Union and the airline has cancelled or delayed any of your flights, you would be entitled to compensation.
Similarly, you may have a right to reimbursement in case of tourist services contracted in third countries if you were travelling from Spain and had to cancel due to entry bans from Spain into other countries. In the same way, it will be possible to claim a refund if the services were contracted to travel to one of the countries considered at risk if the flight departed from Spain, in application of Spanish legal regulations. This will also apply to cases of contracting package tours, where two of the following services are booked together: flights, accommodation, tourist activities at the destination.
In the case that your flight came from a third country but had as destination a European country and was operated by a European carrier, the right to compensation and/or reimbursement could also be considered.
HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY FINES DURING THE STATE OF ALARM IN SPAIN?
Non-compliance or resistance to the orders of the competent authorities in the state of alarm will be punished in accordance with Spanish law.
In this regard, the Public Security Law specifies minor sanctions of between 100 and 600 euros for those who remove fences, tape or other fixed or mobile elements placed by the Security Forces and Corps to delimit security perimeters, even as a preventive measure. In addition, disobedience or resistance to the authority or its agents in the exercise of their duties, as well as the refusal to identify yourself at the request of an agent will be punished with a fine of 601 to 30,000 euros.
Furthermore, the Public Health Law contains serious offences, fined at 3,001 to 60,000 euros, for anyone who commits acts or omissions that may cause a risk or serious harm to the health of the population, where their action does not constitute a very serious offence. In that case, the sanctions could range from 60,001 euros to 600,000 euros for the following cases: acts or omissions that produce a risk or very serious harm to the health of the population; repeated failure to comply with instructions received from the competent authority, or failure to comply with a requirement of the latter, if this involves serious harm to health.
The Civil Protection System Law states that the failure to comply with orders, prohibitions, instructions or requests made by the heads of the competent bodies or members of the emergency and assistance services, as well as with the duties of collaboration with the surveillance and protection services of public or private companies, will be serious infringements, ranging from 1,500 to 30,000 euros, where it does not involve special danger or transcendence for the safety of persons or property. And very serious, from 30,001 to 600,000 euros, when this breach involves a special danger or significance for the safety of people or property.
Lastly, the Criminal Code defines the offences of disobedience, which are punishable by a prison sentence of three months to one year or a fine of six to eighteen months, for those who resist or seriously disobey the authority or its agents in the exercise of their duties, or private security personnel, duly identified, who carry out private security activities in cooperation with and under the command of the security forces.
If, due to the exceptional situation we are currently experiencing, you were fined and you believe that the fine is disproportionate or unfounded, Lexidy Law Boutique can help you appeal the sanction.
OPTIONS FOR HOLDERS OF A RESIDENCE AND WORK PERMIT IN THE EVENT OF TERMINATION OF THEIR EMPLOYMENT AS A RESULT OF COVID-19
In case of a dismissal, and in case you are able to comply with the requirements, you will always be able to modify your residence and work permit into a Non-Lucrative Residence Permit, while being legally in Spain.
The application for the modification has to be presented at the time of the renewal of your residence and work permit, which takes place within 60 days before its expiration or 90 days after it.
Please note that, if you hold a residence and work permit and you were employed, you must have worked for a minimum period of three months. If you hold a residence and work permit and are self-employed, you must have fulfilled the tax and social security obligations for self-employment.
Also be aware that in order to modify the residence and work permit, you must also meet the general requirements for a Non-Lucrative residency permit.
For this permit you would have to accredit disposing of the following amounts:
- For your monthly upkeep: 2.151,36 €/month
- For each family member: 537,84 €/month
CONSEQUENCES ON APPLICATIONS FOR SPANISH NATIONALITY: CCSE AND DELE EXAMS SUSPENDED IN ALL COUNTRIES:
Due to the progressive implementation of emergency measures to combat the Coronavirus COVID-19 in the different countries, we announce that:
THE MARCH AND APRIL CCSE CALLS ARE CANCELLED IN ALL COUNTRIES
Although those registered can request a refund through the website, in order to maintain the service, the idea is to move the registered applicants to the May and June calls, respectively, as they should be the closest operationally. The Instituto Cervantes is also looking at the possibility of extending the dates of the CCSE exams from May and offering two exams in the same month, in order to accommodate registrations that have suffered the effect of special mobility measures without affecting the rest.
DELE CALLS FOR APRIL AND MAY ARE CANCELLED IN ALL COUNTRIES
The Instituto of Cervantes is considering moving candidates from these calls to July and September and making the dates more flexible so that candidates can take the exams once the situation has normalized. We will confirm this shortly.
WILL THERE BE NEW CHANGES OR CANCELLATIONS OF THE CCSE AND DELE ?
The situation is changing and therefore complicated, so we are sure that other changes or cancellations will be added progressively. We will inform you about them. As per their information, the whole team of the Instituto Cervantes is working (from home to comply with the regulations) with full energy so that when this situation passes the activity will resume and return to normal as soon as possible.
Since the Instituto Cervantes is studying these and other measures to be able to provide the service to the candidates and to minimize the inconveniences of the cancellations, they ask you for a little time and patience to try to manage the different situations. Their objective is to try to ensure that candidates can have a date for the exam already defined and from there, themselves in the case of Spain, they can change to other dates if they wish.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH THE FEES THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN PAID AFTER STATE OF ALARM IN SPAIN?
Any candidate affected by these special circumstances of mobility will have the right to a full refund of their registration fee if the solution of transferring to another call is not convenient for them, or simply for personal reasons.
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 crisis and the state of alert. Get in touch with us and see what we can do for you. We are eager to help you get established and enjoy your residence in Spain.
If you are having doubts about your future due to the Spain State of Alarm, Lexidy can help you mitigate all your doubts with our solution oriented services: COVID-19 legal advise in Spain.