Asylum in Spain

To request international protection in Spain, a person must formally apply to the competent authorities. Asylum can be applied for within Spain or at border controls. Until 2020, applications couldn’t practically be made at embassies or consulates outside Spain, despite being legally possible. No reports suggest this has changed post a significant Supreme Court judgement.

Asylum seekers outside Spain must apply at border control, specifically to the Border Police. Within Spain, applications can be made at the Office of Asylum and Refuge (OAR), any Aliens’ Office (Oficina de Extranjeros), Detention Centre for Foreigners (CIE), or a police station.

First Steps of Applying for Asylum in Spain

To request international protection in Spain, formally apply to the authorities as soon as possible, ideally within a month of being in the country. You can still apply if you realize later that it’s unsafe to return to your home country.

For asylum, apply at a border checkpoint, immigration office, police station, Immigration Detention Facility (CIE), penitentiary, diplomatic mission, or Spanish consular office abroad. Attend an interview with the national police, requesting an interpreter if needed. You may use a private or NGO lawyer, or a public defender, though this may delay the interview. If you apply at border control, remain there until your case is processed and you receive a Red Card.

The Importance of Red Card Status

The Red Card is crucial for those seeking international protection in Spain, allowing you to receive protection while your application is processed. It grants the right to work after six months, open a bank account, enroll in education, and get married.

You can hold a Red Card throughout the asylum application process, which may take up to two years. Although initially valid for six months, it can be renewed every six months as needed.

Responses to your Application for Protection

While in Spain with a Red Card, the authorities assess whether to grant you refugee status. The Inter-Ministry Commission for Asylum and Refuge drafts a proposal, reviewed by the Office of Asylum and Refuge (OAR), with the Ministry of the Interior making the final decision.

Possible outcomes include:

  • Refugee Status Granted – Recognition as a refugee with permission to stay under protection.
  • Subsidiary Protection Granted – No direct persecution identified, but you can stay due to risks in your home country.
  • Granted for Humanitarian Reasons – Stay permitted due to exceptional circumstances, despite lacking international protection.
  • Shelved – Application suspended due to missed hearings, failure to renew Red Card, or missing documentation.
  • International Protection Denied – The state does not recognize your need for asylum.

The Rights of Asylum Seekers in Spain

Gaining asylum and a Red Card in Spain grants various rights for protection and comfortable living. During your application, you’re entitled to free legal assistance and an interpreter provided by the state, although private options are available if affordable.

You’re protected from deportation during and after the asylum process, and your status is reported to the UN Human Rights Council.

In Spain, you have rights to medical aid, social and housing services, and employment after six months.

As a refugee, you must comply with certain obligations. This includes fully cooperating with Spanish immigration authorities, providing accurate information, attending interviews, obeying Spanish laws, and avoiding legal issues.

For assistance or advice on obtaining political asylum in Spain, contact our asylum lawyers for a consultation via messenger or by mail or our contact form. We offer comprehensive support, including accompanying you to all authorities and providing expert advice throughout the procedure.

Iryna Berenstein
Associated Partner
Mrs. Berenstein is a distinguished and outstanding lawyer with profound experience and exceptional legal knowledge in the field of International Private Law, Financial Law, Corporate Law, investment regulation, Compliance, Data Protection, and Reputation Management.

Asylum in Spain FAQ

Who can apply for international protection in Spain?
Individuals unable to return to their country for non-economic reasons can apply for international protection, recognized as either refugee status or subsidiary protection. Refugee Status is for those with a well-founded fear of persecution in their country due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, social group membership, gender, or sexual orientation. Subsidiary protection is for those facing a real risk of serious harm, like the death penalty, torture, inhuman treatment, or threats to life or integrity due to violence in conflicts, in their home country. A residence permit on humanitarian grounds is considered for applicants with severe illnesses needing specialized healthcare unavailable in their home country, or when returning poses a danger to the applicant or their family's safety.
Where can I submit my application for asylum?
To apply for asylum in Barcelona, schedule an appointment with the Asylum and Refuge Office at Passeig de Sant Joan, 189, accessible via Metro L4 Joanic (yellow line). You can also request asylum at border entry points, ports, airports, and alien internment centers (CIE).
Can I claim asylum from abroad?
The Spanish Asylum Act allows Spanish ambassadors abroad to facilitate the transfer of international protection applicants who approach diplomatic representations citing physical danger, provided they are not nationals of that country.
What are the procedural steps for claiming asylum?
Phase 1: Acceptance for Processing. The Asylum and Refuge Office (ARO) will notify you within one month if your application is not accepted. If there's no communication within this period, your application is considered accepted for processing. At border crossing points, the decision to accept applications takes up to four days. Phase 2: Investigation. The ARO conducts a detailed examination of accepted applications. Phase 3: Resolution. You'll be informed of the decision once your application has been thoroughly reviewed. Note: The EU state where you first arrive is responsible for processing your application. If you enter the EU through Spain, you must apply there.
How long does the asylum application take?
You can apply for asylum at the border, with an urgent process time of 4 days, typically for arrivals without a valid visa. Applications within Spain generally take 6 months by law, with some cases expedited to 3 months. In reality, it often takes between 2 to 4 years to receive a resolution.
I have a visa from a different Schengen country, can I apply for asylum in Spain?
In this scenario, Spain may initiate the Dublin procedure to identify which country is responsible for your asylum application. Unless you have special ties to Spain, your application may be transferred to the country that issued your Schengen visa or where you first entered the EU.