Hi, I am Emma, and I’m from Skopje, Macedonia. I am an early stage researcher in the PATHSENSE Training Network and I’m carrying out my project in Madrid, Spain in the partner company Natac. My main reason for choosing this topic to be the subject of my first blog is mostly because I know a lot of people from the Balkan non-EU countries that are trying to relocate in a European Institution with better research opportunities, better working conditions and more promising career prospects. Spain is definitely on that list, since the government invests a lot in research and there are various opportunities for researches in its public and private R+D institutions. The Spanish people would tell you that not enough is invested, but that’s only because they haven’t been to Macedonia.
So, let’s start. The first thing you need, of course, is a contract, or let me rephrase that since you’re not from the European Union… someone willing to give you a contract. Now, I’ve heard various reasons why European employers are reluctant to employ people outside of the EU, some say because the tax that is imposed on the employer is higher for non-EU employees, others say that the employer needs to prove that they were not able to match the exact skill set they were looking for within their country first, and within the whole EU second, and then, and only then they had to reach outside of the EU to find this mysterious employee. Unfortunately, I cannot say with 100% certainty if these are the most common reasons, but fortunately for us researches, by the time we get to post-graduate studies we already are unique in a way that each and every one of us has chosen to narrow his/her interest in a particular field, working with a certain methodology and trying to provide an answer to a very specific question. So, you love research, you studied hard, and you got yourself a contract. Congratulations! The great thing about Spain is that a law has been passed called ‘Ley 14/2013’ with the object to facilitate the mobility and residence of investors, entrepreneurs, highly qualified professionals and researchers in the country. Citing this law, it is easier for an employer to hire someone outside of the EU, and it also has the benefit of allowing you to bring your family with you at the same time.
Second good thing is: everything is digitalized! Every form can be found online, every fee form is there and you can submit everything through the governments’ page. Having this in mind, the next step would be acquiring an ‘Authorization of residence’ (Autorización de residencia). This step can only be carried out by the employer, and apart from the contract, they’ll have to provide an application form, a full scan of your passport, a paid fee form, documents accrediting them as an established company in the research and investigation sector, and in my case they also needed to submit a document certifying that I’ve been selected as an early stage researcher in a European MSCA Project. I suppose in other cases they’ll need to provide information about a research project they’ve been granted money for and that they’ve selected you to be working on this project. But this is just a deduction on my behalf, I suppose every case is different in that regard. After the application is submitted, the Administration representatives are obligated to provide an answer within 20 working days. During this time, you sweat, stress and pray to your gods and the gods of the ancient peoples that you receive a positive outcome. If you do, the most important thing that will be issued with the ‘Authorization of residence’ is your personal identification number, or your NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero). Bear in mind that the ‘Authorization of residence’ is void if it’s not accompanied by the corresponding visa in your passport! So, you guessed it! Your next step would be the visa application. For this, apart from the Authorization of residence you’d need to submit the following documents: the employment contract, a medical certification, a criminal record certificate, a rental contract (they will not always ask for this, but according to some new regulations in my country they also asked that I have accommodation acquired beforehand), and lastly, your passport with a suitable copy and 2 photographs. Of course, all of these documents need to be translated in Spanish by an official court certified translator, and the seals and signatures in the documents need to be authenticated with apostilles.
At this point I’ll reveal my second reason for writing this blog. I don’t know why, but people working in Administration somehow expect you to know everything about these procedures beforehand, as if it’s what they’re teaching us in school. I especially had this problem in Macedonia. I would search online what I needed to bring with me and where I needed to go to, and almost always some document was missing, or I had an outdated application form, or I was in the wrong place – “this is not where you ask for that document to be issued”, and most of them looking at me with a “how can you not know this even though we haven’t bothered to put it on any website” look. Well I kindly ask that you please do so, so we don’t have to wander all around the city for something that can be really simple. Anyway, sorry I diverged I guess the experience is still fresh. To get back on topic, after you submit all of the above mentioned documents in the Spanish Embassy, they will process your application for 2-4 weeks and once you have your visa, real congratulations are in order! Now you can search for your flight and good luck with the next chapter of your career! Just remember, once you get in Spain, you’ll need to apply for the identity card, register as an inhabitant, open a bank account, register in the social security system, apply for your medical card, register as a fiscal resident and maybe matriculate in the University and contract Internet and phone services. Feeling overwhelmed?? Well, don’t! Because it’s all worth it in the end! Saludos!