Queuing for information at a foreign residents' office. Sur
EU citizens in Spain could face proof of income tests if they wish to reside in the country for more than three months, as the Spanish government implements what has been described as "a crackdown on migrants" as it seeks to resolve the ongoing economic crisis.
As such, municipal councils, the National Police and international embassies are urging non-Spanish nationals to familiarise themselves with the new residency requirements (they can be found on many town hall and embassy websites), which have been introduced by the Spanish government.
Under the new rules, EU nationals registering on the 'Registro Central de Extranjeros' (National Foreigners Register) in order to obtain residency in Spain may be required to produce evidence of "sufficient financial means to support themselves and their dependants." Applicants may also be asked for proof of private or public healthcare insurance.
One Benalmádena-based lawyer told this newspaper: "Those who are working will have an income and medical cover – although they will still need to demonstrate this via the 'Vida Laboral' form.
"But those not in work will now need to prove they can support themselves somehow and that they have adequate medical cover."
On this latter point, Anette Skou, Head of Mijas Foreigners' Department, specifies: "If you're not working, you must present a private insurance document or an S1 from the public health service from your home country, plus proof of income (which includes a pension) of no less than 5,008 euro annually."
A further 8,763 euros is also required over and above the 5,008 euros per dependent family member.
Failure to produce the correct documentation could result in residency applications being rejected. However, Fuengirola's Councillor for Foreigners, Katja Westerdahl, tells SUR in English: "If you do not have a certain, specified document upon making the application, you are given 10 days to provide it. But if you fail to do so (after that period) your request will be filed as 'invalid.'"
She added: "If you are already registered in the National Police's Foreigners Register and have your certificate, the new law doesn't affect you in any way. If you have failed to renew your inscription and more than three months have passed, you will have to meet the requirements of the new law in order to get it done."
The Government is said be rolling out this policy as it believes it could save up to one billion euros annually on providing healthcare to foreigners who are not entitled to it.
A statement issued on Monday by the Ministry of Health said the measure will "result in improving the allocation of services and will contribute to ensuring the sustainability of the public health service."
Of course, under European laws any EU citizen is entitled to receive medical attention in any other member state. But Spain's government is justifying the new residency requirement by drawing on a 2004 EU directive on "free movement" which gives member states the authority to define, "without prejudice to national border controls" – meaning EU countries can restrict entry to other citizens of other member states.
For its part, the British Embassy in Madrid said earlier this week: "We are aware of a recent change to Spain's implementation of long-standing EU residency legislation. This change simply brings Spain in line with many other EU countries. We understand the new rules will affect a relatively small number of expatriates.
"Anyone who has further concerns can also seek advice from the Spanish authorities about their personal circumstances."