The Spanish government has approved a reform that will make it easier for migrants who arrived in the country as unaccompanied minors to receive residence and work permits. A total of 15,000 youths will reportedly benefit from this reform.
Spain's center-left government has approved a reform that will make it much easier for migrants who reached the country as unaccompanied minors to hold residence and work permits, even after they turn 18.
The Council of Ministers gave the green light to legal changes for foreigners residing in Spain on Tuesday (October 19). Overall, about 15,000 youths are expected to benefit from the reform, according to the government. Among them are an estimated 7,000 migrants between the ages of 18 and 23 who previously lost their legal status when they came of age.
What does reform mean for migrants?
According to the Twitter account of the Spanish prime minister's office, the reform will prevent many migrants from becoming undocumented once they turn 18.
Some of the specific changes implemented through the reform are as follows:
- Migrant minors need to only wait three months to apply for stay permits. (Previously, that time was nine months.)
- Migrants with a residency permit can work at 16.
- Migrants who turn 18 will only need to show that they are receiving an income of €470 euros per month -- possibly from a social support program -- to obtain a residence and work permit. This rule also retroactively applies to people who turned 18 in the last five years.
Praise from advocacy groups
Migrant advocates in Spain have been pushing for reforms of this kind for years.
Following the governments decision, several NGOs praised the implemented changes. "It is an historic step for the integration of children who arrive in Spain on their own," Save the Children said in a statement.
Spain is among the European countries that see the largest number of arrivals from refugees and migrants each year. According to AP, Spain has seen roughly 30,000 migrants arrive so far this year -- predominantly by sea.