• Rank: Comprehensive
  • MIPEX Score (with Health): 60

Key Findings

Changes in policy

Over the last five years immigrants in Spain have benefitted from some improvements to integration policy, mainly in naturalisation and health. The country’s MIPEX score increased by +3 from 2014 to 2019, following international reform trends (+2 points). Naturalisation in Spain now involves standardised testing rather than discretionary procedures, and economic conditions were removed in 2015. In 2018, access to healthcare was granted to both legal and undocumented immigrants.

Positive changes on MIPEX indicators:

  • Naturalisation language requirements
  • Economic resources requirement for naturalisation
  • Conditions for legal migrants (health-related)
  • Conditions for undocumented migrants (health-related)
  • Involvement of migrants in information provision, service design and delivery

Negative changes on MIPEX indicators:

  • None

Conclusions and recommendations

Spain scores 60/100 on the MIPEX 100-point scale, higher than the average country score of 49. Immigrants in Spain enjoy more opportunities than obstacles when it comes to integration. Major obstacles remain only in access to nationality.

Spain promotes a comprehensive approach to integration, like the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries, but this approach is not yet fully favourable. Immigrants to Spain can indeed enjoy many of the same basic rights as Spanish citizens, however integration policies only go halfway towards securing equal opportunities for non-EU citizens. These policies encourage the Spanish public to see immigrants as equals, but not necessarily as their future fellow citizens or neighbours. The ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries treat immigrants as equals, neighbours and potential citizens, and invest in integration as a two-way process.

Integration policies matter because the way that governments treat immigrants strongly affects how well immigrants and the public interact. According to 130 independent studies carried out using MIPEX, integration policies shape not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, sense of belonging, participation and even health in their new home country.

Spain’s current policies are slightly more inclusive than those of other EU, Western European (EU15) and OECD countries. Spain takes a similar approach to Portugal, although the latter has more advanced policies. Spain has a more favourable approach than Italy and France, which both adopt a “temporary integration” approach overall. However, like all new European destination countries, it has less favourable policies than non-EU destination countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and USA).

  • Labour market mobility: slightly favourable: Non-EU immigrants have equal access to employment, self-employment and general employment support. They receive no targeted support.
  • Family reunification: slightly favourable: Spain's inclusive policy allows many immigrants to reunite with their children and spouse after one year of residence, although there are strict economic conditions. Reunited relatives enjoy secure status.
  • Education: halfway favourable: A growing number of immigrant pupils can legally access all schools. There is limited support to learn the language and ‘catch up’ academically.
  • Health: favourable: Since 2018, there have been no legal or economic obstacles to healthcare for immigrants in Spain. Immigrants benefit from responsive services and are properly informed of their healthcare rights, but there remain administrative barriers.
  • Political participation: halfway favourable: Immigrants are more likely to participate politically by circumventing official channels in Spain, given the country’s inconsistent voting policies and limited funding for information campaigns.
  • Permanent residence: slightly favourable: Most non-EU citizens in Spain benefit from an inclusive process for long-term residence, and can apply after five years. Permanent residents have access to social security and assistance.
  • Access to nationality: slightly unfavourable: The naturalisation process is Spain’s main area of weakness. Immigrants can become citizens only after 10 years of residence, and dual citizenship is only granted to those from certain countries. In 2015 naturalisation requirements were eased slightly (e.g. economic resources and language), but there is room for improvement.
  • Anti-discrimination: halfway favourable: Victims of racial, ethnic and religious discrimination are protected by law in Spain. Immigrants who are discriminated against can benefit from strong enforcement mechanisms, but the country’s equality body is weak.

Policy Recommendations from CIDOB

  • Spain needs to reinforce with budget and human resources the educational system would meet the specific needs of children.
  • Administrative barriers have to be removed to ensure actual rights and opportunities to migrants, as it is observed in their access to health, labor market and naturalization, to mentioned significant areas in need of intervention.
  • The approval of the long-awaited anti-discrimination law would provide a legal framework from which effective policy may be drawn
  • The municipalities are the first level of attention to the integration of immigrants. A strategy for this level of government is essential to meet the needs of immigrants.
  • Spain needs to approve and allocate resources to a new  Strategic Plan for Citizenship and Integration (PECI) since the last one ended in 2014 and no new action plans have been approved.
  • Coordination and cooperation between levels of government would entail a more effective and far-reaching policy for the integration of immigrants. In this sense also the effective involvement of civil society is needed.




New results of MIPEX

We are pleased to announce that the new results of MIPEX (2014-2020) will be published by the end of 2020. MIPEX 2020 will include 52 European and non-European countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU28, India, Japan, Mexico, US and much more. Stay tuned!