The immigration office ion Palma. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter

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The Spanish government has said that the country has launched a plan to speed up the processing of work and residence permits.

In order to be able to speed up the processing, the Spanish Ministry of Territorial Policy has strengthened the Offices of Foreigners’ Affairs, newly allocating almost 300 civil servants to the office.

These employees are responsible for processing authorisations for foreigners to legally work and reside in Spain, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

The European Union Commission explained that this measure aims to resolve the almost 200,000 pending applications and shorten the processing times for work and residence permits.

“The aim of this measure is twofold: on the one hand, to resolve the almost 200 000 pending applications, and on the other hand, to shorten processing times. The measure coincides with the recent reform of the Immigration Law adopted by the government, which is expected to result in thousands of new applications,” the statement of the Commission reads.

In addition, the same revealed that there are currently more than two million non-EU foreigners in Spain who are subject to a system of authorisations in order to work and live.

In 2021 alone, the relevant Spanish offices received more than 866,790 applications for work and residence permits from foreigners, reaching the record number of applications per year since 2012. Moreover, the applications registered in 2021 were up by 2857 per cent compared to 2020.

The increase in the number of foreigners applying for work and residence permits has been constant in recent years, mostly due to the introduction of electronic application options and the war in Ukraine.

Nonetheless, the Commission emphasised that the increase in the number of applications has not gone in hand with an increase in staffing levels, which has led to long delays in the resolution of applications and caused the administration to breach its rules.

It has been pointed out that the law states a maximum period of 90 days for the resolution of an application, but the immigration offices were taking an average of 180 to process them. Taking into account such long processing times, the Commission said that the malfunctioning had been continually referenced in the annual reports of the Ombudsman.

The increase in the number of staff members responsible for processing authorisations began in September, and it will last for nine months.

Apart from the above-mentioned, the Spanish government just recently adapted the immigration law to include migrant workers in the labour market.

The reform allows all those who have lived in Spain for two or more years to regularise their situation if they are skilled or trained to be employed in sectors facing shortages.