I lived in Spain from 2003 to 2011, most of that illegally. I did have a student visa for a while, a NIE, and a bank account. I tried to get residency via arraigo social after 5 years but was denied (thanks to the global financial crisis, the doors were pretty firmly shut at the time). Met my future-spouse, a Spanish citizen, there in 2005, although at the time we weren't married.
Since 2011, I have been in the US. Got married in 2012 (in Spain) and at that point my spouse joined me here in the USA, had a kid in 2013 and another in 2015. The kids have US and Spanish citizenship. We have a libro de familia and all that (and I'm in it), but other than that I have no legal status in Spain. The bank closed my account long ago.
Note that I am not a US citizen, nor an EU one; I'm here on a work visa sponsored by a US corporation. This means that when we go to Spain I'll have to close up shop and get all of my money and assets out of here. I don't really want to move them back to my home country (incurring exchange costs) if I can help it; I'd like to move them all to Spain.
Moving back to Spain
We know we want to move back to Spain within the next 1 to 3 years. There are three main areas of concern I have:
- My spouse left Spanish job in 2012 on coming to the US. Therefore, when we return, neither of us will have a job, so it is not clear how I can get residency if I can't demonstrate financial support (spouse can at least try to get a job, but I won't have legal status to even try). Spouse does have plenty of money in bank in Spain, although if we buy a house (see point 3), that may end up going away and being replaced by a mortgage instead. How much cash should we keep liquid in spouse's account to avoid problems in this respect? I'm guessing 3-5 months of bureaucracy before I get the residency and can start working (or looking for work). I have no idea how long it will take spouse to find job in field again after 5 or 6 years away.
- I have substantial savings in the US which I will need to transfer over to Spain. My experience with Spanish banks in the past leads me to believe that getting an account open there so I can transfer all this over is going to be tricky; will I be able to get a NIE on a prior visit, use that to an account, and then move the money over via wire? The amount will likely be a six-figure sum. I'm worried not only about the logistics of opening an account, but also the transfer of a very large quantity of money as well (basically, my life savings). This is really money I have earmarked for retirement; it is currently invested in index funds and I want to get it back into ETFs as soon as I can in Europe, so it can continue appreciating there.
- We want to buy a house. Again, worried about how the hell we are going to do that when only one of us is a citizen and we don't reside there yet. Will the Spanish banks touch us? Will I have to break open the retirement nest egg and pay cash for the entire thing? Is there any hope of me getting on the deed for the property given my status as a persona non grata, legally speaking?
At the moment all this is still 1-3 years away, but there are so many pieces that need to line up that I figure we have to start preparing now
. I am sure I'll have much more specific questions as the moment of the move approaches, but for the time-being I just wanted to ask if our plan sounds reasonable and if there are any obstacles or gotchas that we might need to consider.