In 2020, Spain received 345 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), -11.4% compared to 2019. This figure comprises 32.8% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 9.6% labour migrants, 32.8% family members (including accompanying family) and 15.3% humanitarian migrants. Around 28 000 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 19 000 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 82 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2020, a decrease of -54% compared to 2019. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Colombia, Morocco and Venezuela were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2020. Among the top 15 countries of origin, the United Kingdom registered the strongest increase (200) and Venezuela the largest decrease (-28 000) in flows to Spain compared to the previous year.

In 2021, the number of first asylum applicants decreased by -28.2%, to reach around 62 000. The majority of applicants came from Venezuela (16 000), Colombia (11 000) and Morocco (6 400). The largest increase since 2020 concerned nationals of Morocco (5 500) and the largest decrease nationals of Colombia (-16 100). Of the 71 000 decisions taken in 2021, 29% were positive.

In October 2021, the Spanish Government enacted Decree 903/2021 on the rights and freedoms of foreigners in Spain. It provides protection and regular status to former unaccompanied migrant minors upon reaching legal age. The new regulation amends the previous decree 557/2011 which left many young migrants without legal documentation and at risk of social exclusion after turning 18. The decree extends the initial residence permit from one to two years, and extends the validity of renewals, and guarantees access to work for minors who are of working age when they reach the age of majority, thus favouring their integration into Spanish society.

On 2 November 2021, the Spanish Government approved a new procedure for the entry and stay of third-country nationals working in the audiovisual sector with the aim of creating an agile, flexible and simple system that facilitates the recruitment professionals in the sector. This new procedure is part of the “Spain Audiovisual Hub of Europe” Plan approved by the Government on 23 March 2021, which aims to improve Spain’s attractiveness as a European platform for business, work and investment in the audiovisual sector.

In December 2021, the Spanish Government approved the National Refugee Resettlement Programme for 2022. The programme aims to relocate and integrate 1 200 refugees in Spain, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. In collaboration with UNHCR, regional governments promote the reception of refugee families and their accompaniment during 2022.

In March 2022, the decree 220/2022 on the international protection reception system was passed by the Spanish Government. The aim was to complement the Asylum Law provisions with regard to reception conditions of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection. In accordance with Directive 2013/33/EU, the new system aims to increase its efficiency in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Likewise, it includes a new funding model for collaborating entities, thereby increasing the stability, predictability and effective evaluation of the system.

In March 2022, Spain launched Wafira, a skills-mobility partnership with Morocco that will turn 250 circular migrant women into financially independent rural actors. It is funded by the European Union through the Migration Partnership Facility Mechanism and promotes the training of women in the agricultural sector in Spain. The programme provides further support to them in their own business initiatives in Morocco by providing financial and technical assistance.

The Spanish authorities have expanded circular migration policies to fulfil labour shortages in the agricultural sector during the harvesting season in Andalucía, southern Spain. In October 2021, the Spanish authorities launched a circular migration programme with the Ecuadorian and Honduran authorities allowing approximately 250 Ecuadorian and Honduran agricultural labourers to work in Spain between December and June 2022.

On 17 May 2022, the land border between Morocco and Spain was officially reopened after its closure in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 health crisis. The reopening takes place progressively, allowing EU and Schengen area residents as well as cross-border workers to enter Spain in a first phase and gradually allowing other groups of individuals in subsequent stages.

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