Posted on July 21, 2004

Immigrants With Work Offers To Get Residency, Jul. 20

BUENOS AIRES — Spain’s new Socialist government will not grant a blanket amnesty to undocumented immigrants but will offer residency to those who can demonstrate they are employed, it was reported Tuesday.

In an interview with an Argentinean newspaper, Spain’s top immigration official Consuelo Rumi said: “There are several requirements to meet and the process will be supervised thoroughly.”

She said the law will regularise the situation of undocumented immigrants who provide proof of employment or can prove “with certainty” that they are self-employed.

Rumi said there will be a deadline to apply, said Rumi.

Applicants will not have to return to their home countries to solicit residency, as the current rules require.

But she added that a special three-month visa for job-seekers will still have to be processed in the migrant’s country of origin.

The newspaper estimated the new law will come into effect before 21 December and said it will constitute an important advance for 90,000 Argentines living in Spain without work permits or residency.

There will also be implications for hundreds of thousands of other immigrants who are currently living illegally in Spain.

But Rumi said: “This does not mean legal documents for everyone. We want to organise and regularize the undocumented immigrants with this law, but there will be several requirements to meet.”

While acknowledging “the final requirements of the regulation are still being considered” and stressing that she did not want to “create false expectations,” Rumi said, “the government wishes to regularise those who have a reliable labour connection.”

She added: “It is very important for those wanting to come to wait for the procedure, which is going to be implemented in accord with Spain’s capacity to accept (immigrants).”

In late March, Spanish authorities said Ecuadorians had become Spain’s largest expatriate group, followed by Moroccans and Colombians.

The Ecuadorian community represents 14.65 percent of all foreigners, with close to 391,000 listed in nationwide registries, according to figures provided by the National Statistical Institute.

Colombians occupy third place overall, with nearly 250,000 citizens registered in Spain, representing 9.18 percent of all foreigners.

At least 190,000 registered Argentines are make-up 4.11 percent of immigrants.

Foreigners in 2003 represented 6.2 percent of Spain’s population, and numbered around 2.6 million — a 34 percent increase over 2002.

That figure vastly exceeds the 1.5 million foreigners holding valid residency permits issued by the Interior Ministry.