The Government has approved this Tuesday in the Council of Ministers the reform of the regulation of the Immigration Law with which it will facilitate access to the labor market for thousands of foreigners in Spain, through the reduction of procedures and the creation of new channels to apply for employment permits. The regulatory change seeks to expand hiring at origin, allows foreign students to work, makes it more flexible for small foreign entrepreneurs to promote business and creates a new way for people in an irregular situation to obtain papers through the completion of training courses in sectors that need personnel.
Young immigrants who have obtained their first contract after the reform of the Immigration Regulations
The Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration has defended that the reform aims to “address, with better instruments, the challenges generated by the migratory phenomenon” with the aim of promoting “an orderly and safe migration”. The change, which is estimated to benefit tens of thousands of foreigners, aims to streamline Immigration procedures, described as “complex and highly bureaucratized” by the department led by José Luis Escrivá. The law has received the green light from the Council of State, which “considers that it will contribute to improving the legal situation of many immigrants and fighting against the scourge of the submerged economy.”
The Ministry considered that the previous regulation had “several defects”, since “it is not agile enough to respond to the bottlenecks that occur in the labor market”, in a context of economic reactivation after the pandemic, population aging and structural reduction of the active population. To this is added a migratory model that Inclusion considers “not very efficient” due to its requirements and complicated procedures that “encourage” irregular arrivals and the underground economy, according to its argument.
The reform seeks, on the one hand, to favor the permanence of foreign students in Spain. To do this, the new rule allows students to combine work and training, provided that they are compatible with the studies carried out and do not exceed 30 hours per week. Restrictions on the incorporation of students into the labor market after completing their studies are also eliminated, given that until now a stay of three years was necessary to obtain a residence and work permit.
Another of the main innovations is the creation of a new way for people without papers to regularize their administrative situation: the “rooting for training”. Foreigners who prove they have lived in Spain for a minimum of two years and have no criminal record will be able to access a one-year residence permit – extendable to another year – if they undertake to train in a regulated manner in sectors that require professional help. construction site. Once the courses are finished, the beneficiaries will be able to opt for a work permit if they obtain a contract offer. It also lowers some of the requirements of other existing ways to get the papers: social and labor roots.
The new figure of “rooting by training” is also one of the points that has generated the greatest discrepancies with the Ministry of the Interior which, according to El País, warned in its report presented to the Council of State that opening this door to the regularization of immigrants could “generate a pull effect.” However, the analysis of the Council of State gave the green light to this measure, the most celebrated by organizations specialized in migration, and it has finally been included in the reform.
The Government also reinforces the ways to sign foreign personnel at origin. Among other measures, Inclusion creates a new model of “circular migration” programs, designed to hire groups of people on a temporary basis with the commitment that they return to their country once their work activity has finished. This is a mechanism currently used to hire employees, most of them Moroccan, in the agricultural sector during harvest campaigns, which the reform extends to other sectors.
In addition to seasonal migration programs, the new regulations facilitate the stable hiring of foreign personnel in their countries. Until now, these hirings were limited by the catalog of occupations that are difficult to cover, which establishes in which professions labor is needed and, therefore, in which it is possible to sign workers in other countries. However, according to the diagnosis of Inclusion, the current model of this catalogue, which has not been modified since 2012, “generates a funnel effect for the needs of companies that, despite requiring labor in its different modalities, they find that they cannot access it because the jobs they offer are not reflected”. The reform seeks to facilitate the updating of this mechanism through the quarterly review of the list of professions with few hands, as well as the opening of a way for companies to sign foreign employees if they justify the difficulty in hiring this profile.
In his first speech in the Work Commission of the Congress of Deputies, Escrivá announced his plans to develop during his mandate a “change of model” of the Immigration Law to “strengthen the legal access routes” to Spain, with the aim to make entry routes through the labor market more flexible. His first objective, to facilitate the inclusion of unaccompanied foreign minors once they reach the age of majority, went ahead last October after months of delay due to discrepancies expressed by the Ministry of the Interior. Now, the Inclusion goes one step further in its objective of making a system of residence authorizations existing in Spain as “complex and disperse” more flexible.
According to the INE, the number of unfilled vacancies in 2021 reached 109,085, the vast majority in the service sector (88%). The figures for 2021 are at their highest in the last decade, the years for which the INE offers data (since 2013). The activities with the most unfilled positions are in the public sector, among which 31,521 vacancies stand out in “Public Administration and defense; Compulsory Social Security” and 12,903 positions in “Health and social service activities”. The second activity with the most vacancies is “Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles”, with 13,480 vacancies. According to experts, the explanation for the low employment in these sectors lies in low wages and poor training.