Spain: Foreign Residents Reached Six-Million Mark for the First Time in 2021

More foreigners are living in Spain in recent years, as the foreign population in Spain has increased by one million since 2018, marking the highest record of six million by the end of 2021, authorities reveal.

According to the Spanish Ministry of Inclusion, Social Services and Migration, the rise in migration has been evident even before the pandemic, with more than 207,000 foreigners becoming Spanish residents in 2021. In addition, the number of third-country nationals obtaining Spanish residency permits surged by 3.6 per cent in 2021, reports. 

Furthermore, 58 per cent of the foreign resident population (58 per cent) comes from the other EU Member States, whereas 2.34 million are from third countries. In addition, the remaining residents are Brits falling under the Withdrawal Agreement of Brexit – which marks the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. 

Data from Statista shows that more UK nationals are becoming Spanish residents, as 313,975 of those were living in Spain in 2021 – marking a 4.4 per cent surge compared to 2020. 

Brexit seems to have fuelled the desire for Brits to live in an EU Member State as the number of UK nationals living in Spain increased by 9.5 per cent from 2019 (286,753) to 2020 (300,640) – topping it off at 313,975 in 2021. 

Amongst foreign resident nationality groups, Romanians make up the largest share as 1.09 million are now Spanish residents, followed by Moroccans (830,000), Brits (407,000), Italians (377,000), Chinese (230,000), Bulgarians (202,000), French (185,000) and Germans (185,000). In addition, the foreigners’ average age is 40, and the majority of them are men (52 per cent). 

In the bigger picture, Spain’s foreign resident population has increased by 19 per cent in the last five years, with about one million more residents than in 2016. However, the Ministry’s report notes that fewer Venezuelan migrants are becoming Spanish residents, as the rates dropped from a 53 per cent surge in 2020 to only seven per cent. On the other hand, Columbians marked a record-high increase on the matter last year. 

About 77 per cent of third-country nationals residing in Spain have long-term authorisations, and 23 per cent have temporary residency documents, with a 33 per cent of the latter granting such documents through work, family reunification (22 per cent), non-lucrative residence (12 per cent) and humanitarian causes (33 per cent).

The increasing rates of migration in Spain were noticed even last year, as the phenomenon reflected in data from the National Statistics Institute. According to the latter, 126,266 people became Spanish citizens in 2020 – 27.6 per cent more than in the previous year. 

Romanians, Italians, Portuguese and Poles made up for the leading EU nationalities to become Spanish residents in 2020, as thousands of them opted for residency in the Iberian country. 

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