Why has my residency application been rejected?


This article is only for orientation purposes and it does not represent any official sources of information. Please bear in mind that criteria may be different from an Immigration Office to another. For specialised advice on this matter, you may wish to seek individualised legal advice from an expert lawyer in the immigration field, or from the immigration department at your local town hall, at different organisations providing legal advice to third-country nationals, or at the Immigration Office (Oficina de Extranjería).

I don’t understand, why did the Immigration Office reject my application for residency?

This is one of the most frequent questions we get from UK nationals who have seen their application for residency rejected, not only once but maybe twice or more times. The first and crucial step to move forward then is to understand the reasons behind a rejection. Usually, these reasons are explained in the ‘resolution’ that Extranjería sent to you once officials have reviewed the documentation you have submitted.

Please be aware that Asociación Babelia is gathering information through this anonymous survey on residency applications that have been rejected, to raise with the British and the Spanish authorities. Please help us by completing it.

If your residency application has been rejected, please read our post on alternatives to explore. You may also find it useful to check the list of documents to present to the Immigration Office if you are planning to submit a new application.

There could be several reasons to reject a residency application. Here are four of the main and most common reasons in the case of UK nationals and their family members applying for residency under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.

1. Application ‘not accepted into process’ (inadmisión a trámite)

An application for residency could be ‘not accepted into process’ for different reasons. Here are some examples:

  • Applicant already holds a valid residency certificate (green card or A4 document). This is the Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión. If this is your case, you don’t need to apply for residency from scratch, instead, you will just need to exchange your old green certificate for the new TIE card (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero). If you have lost that green document or if it has been stolen, you will need to report that to the police by filling a ‘denuncia de pérdida‘, and take the receipt they will give you to your appointment when applying for the new TIE. For detailed information on how to do this, please visit the following link: https://asociacionbabelia.org/en/switching-from-the-green-certificate-of-residency-to-a-tie/

  • Non-valid representation document. This happens when an application has been submitted by a third party with no valid authorisation or representation document signed by the applicant. In order to be processed by Extranjería, applications submitted by a third party must include a representation document in which the applicant gives said third party permission to act on their behalf; you can download the form here. You could also submit a second application yourself, using your own digital certificate, or at the Immigration Office in person after booking an appointment if there are any available. For detailed information on how to submit an application online, please visit our post on How to submit your online application for residency.

  • No valid passport submitted. This is when an application has been submitted without the main personal identification document: a valid passport. If this is your case, you will need to submit a new application with every single page of your passport scanned, all in a single PDF document, which must be under 6Mb in size. If your passport is out of date, you will need to apply for a new one, in the meantime, Extranjería may accept a copy of your old passport submitted together with the receipt of payment/application of the renewal.

  • Submitting an application using the wrong option/model. If you are applying for residency under the Withdrawal Agreement terms, you have to choose one of the three options available for this procedure:
    • EX20 for UK nationals and their family members also with UK passports,
    • EX21 for their family members from third countries, or
    • EX22 for transborder workers.

  • Applicant doesn’t fall under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. This has been recently, the most frequent reason behind the ‘inadmission into process’ of a residency application since the Transition Period ended on 31st December 2020. The Immigration Office would argue that the application didn’t fulfill the residency criteria before the end of the Transition Period. In the province of Alicante for instance, one of the most common reasons behind this “inadmission” is that the certificate of registration at the town hall (empadronamiento or Padrón) and/or the healthcare insurance are dated 2021. These criteria may be different from an immigration office to another.

From our experience during the last months, the Immigration Office in Alicante is increasingly scrutinising applications submitted after the 31st of December 2020 and essentially those submitted after the 31st of March 2021, looking for credible and reliable proof of having been living in Spain on a regular basis prior to the end of the TP. In other words, months after the end of the Transition Period, applicants need to show proof of a continuous and stable residency in Spain prior to 2021 and that, back then, they already met the residency criteria according to the EU Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of EU citizens and their families to move and reside freely within the EU.

Our understanding is that depending on the individual application and the Immigration Office processing your application, it may be not sufficient to provide an empadronamiento from 2020 if the healthcare insurance is dated 2021 and vice versa. It is not sufficient to provide just a rental contract, house deeds, or utility bills. Applicants would need to provide a pack or a combination of official proof that would convince the official at the Immigration Office that they have indeed been established and living in Spain and meeting residency criteria before the end of 2020, that they continued living in Spain afterward, and that, for reasonable and justifiable motives, they haven’t been able to apply for residency prior to the end of last year.

2. Insufficient economic means

There are standard economic criteria to fulfill when applying for residency under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, however, immigration offices have the competency to evaluate the economic situation and eligibility of every applicant according to individual and family circumstances. So even if two applicants provided a similar level of income and savings, the outcome of their application may be different.

The minimum income they would look for needs to be above the amount that the Law of the General Budget of the State (Ley de Presupuestos Generales del Estado) establishes every year allowing to apply for a social aid called “prestación no contributiva“. This is to avoid granting residency to individuals who would be a “burden to the state”. In other words, applicants need to show a minimum income higher than what would make them eligible to apply for the social benefit called “prestación no contributiva“. Therefore, the minimum annual income an applicant has to show must be above 5.639,20 € in 2021. In addition to this criteria, immigration offices would take into account different other factors, such as the amount of the monthly regular income going into the bank account, the source of that income, whether it is a pension or an in-cash transfer, the number of people living at the same address, etc.

This is the reason why we advise applicants to provide:

  • bank statements of all their bank accounts,
  • average bank balance certificates from their Spanish bank accounts, and
  • any other proof of economic income, such as:
    • pension certificates,
    • bonds certificates,
    • savings, etc.

3. Abscence or insufficient healthcare coverage

Healthcare cover to apply for residency under the Withdrawal Agreement has to be with no copayment, comprehensive and equal or superior to the public healthcare cover in Spain. There are mainly three different options:

  • Permanent public health cover
  • Convenio Especial
  • Private inssurance with no copayment, covering at least:
    • General and specialised medical assistance.
    • Hospitalisation.
    • Surgery intervention.

4. Applicant didn’t respond to an Extranjería request for additional documentation in due time

In this case, the Immigration Office would ‘close’ the application (Resolución de archivo). If that is your case, you would be able to submit a second application, this time submitting the additional requested documents along with all the other documents submitted the first time. We also advise that you attach an explanatory note, explaining that your previous application has been “closed” because you couldn’t answer the requirement in due time.

In all these cases, applicants have the right to appeal the Immigration Office decision if they disagree with it and they are able to provide sufficient proof to challenge that decision. Please see our post on how to submit an appeal against a residency rejection.


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