How to Work in Barcelona on a Student Visa

Working in BArcelona on a student visa

Photo credit: Daniel Osterkamp

This is a brief post meant to inform anyone curious about how to work in Barcelona as a student. I am in Barcelona on a Spanish student visa. I have the TIE. I arrived in Barcelona in September, but only started working in January. The reason for this is because I was not forthright in my search, and because there are some restrictions that prevented me from building sufficient motivation to find something fitting. Not to mention the time that my studies take up.

You are allowed to work on a Spanish student visa

Technically, you can work in Spain if you’re here on a student visa. They say you’re permitted up to 20 hours of work. This sounds great at first, but then you realize that this does not free the company from the responsibility to help you get a work permit. You see, “allowed to work” really means “allowed to try to get work at a company that’s willing to go through the bureaucratic business of getting you a work permit for a specific job that Europeans cannot fill.” Technically, and I say technically only because I can’t speak for everyone, companies can only hire non-EU employees if they can prove that the position in question cannot be filled by a European. Obviously this is baloney, but then, I wonder how many companies are willing to try.

To understand: masters programs have internships in BCN

Here in Barcelona, most of the masters programs are coupled with a required internship once you complete the regular classes. I’ve yet to begin this internship, and I’m not looking forward to it. The reason is that it’s 10 credits (at 82 euros per credit), and the internship is not paid. I have been hoping that I’d be able to get a job here and substitute the experience there for the internship requirement, therefore saving myself a bundle of money and headaches.

How am I working in Barcelona then?

I have been a freelancer for years, but it has never been sufficient to live unless I can dedicate 10 hours a day to it. I don’t have 10 hours a day to spare, so the freelance work fell short.

Thankfully, there are two options to work as a student in Barcelona, at least through the Universitat de Barcelona.

One’s called a convenio, a convention. This is an agreement that exists in which the student can find work through their university, thereby bypassing that itchy requirement of a work permit. It is a contract that is signed by the three parties: student, university and employer. In my case, I’m allowed to work up to 25 hours per week and 450 hours maximum per cycle. This kind of convention can later be renewed, so once I finish the permitted hours, I can get reallocated worktime.

The other is also a sort of convention, but based on scholarship. Basically, you can work for the university. In this case you are a becario, because you receive a beca, a scholarship. I’ve seen becas that run from 250 euros a month to 1000 a month for 5 hours of work per weekday. 1000 euros is quite rare right now with the economic crisis still lingering.

The process whereby I found this work

This is going to upset you because it has very little to do with your chances of getting work, and for that I’m sorry. But I’m writing this here so that you have at least one true story of how an American got to work part time in Barcelona.

I study at the Facultad de Biblioteconomia at the Universitat de Barcelona. I have a program director who keeps in touch with everyone in my masters program. There happens to be a company that regularly pools workers from this program. My director received word, and sent us an email telling us that the company was looking for 2 part-time student workers. I sent my CV (with photo) to the attached e-mail, along with an introductory message. Later, I interviewed with them at their offices, and when I received word that I got the job I accepted. I work every weekday from 9 to 2.

This might be relevant to you if you’re in a pragmatic masters program, or even a theoretical one (but I imagine the job pickings are slimmer). My advice to you is that you contact your program director and make your intentions to work very clear so that their ears are perked for anything that might be interesting to you. Additionally, the becas in my faculty are regularly posted not only in the main hall cork boards, but online as well, in our “virtual campus”. I recommend that you find out all there is about where to keep updated on new opportunities.

How much do I make as a student employee becario?

You can get paid pittances for 5 hours of work per day because of this damn crisis. Avoid those jobs if you can’t manage to support yourself. I saw work for 250 euros a month with the same time commitments. No way. I’d rather hustle as a freelancer.

With this new job, I’m getting paid 7 euros an hour in a data company. It’s the second highest pay I’ve seen on offer at my faculty, after the 10 euro an hour offer (though, that job had a cap of 25o hours total). Most jobs for students seem to pay around 450-500 bruto (that’s before taxes). I’ll have to update this later or write a new post about how much taxes Spain takes from my student salary later, given that I have my own health insurance.

How to start working once you’re hired

Here’s a brief step-by-step to start working via a convention once you’re been hired.

Step 1: Get hired

Step 2: Get three copies of the convention signed by all three parties: student (you), univeristy (faculty), and the company.

Step 3: Make a copy of the convenio and your TIE.

Step 4: Find a social security office in Barcelona.

You need to get registered with a social security number if you want to work in Spain. This is easy, and doesn’t require an appointment online, just make sure you go before 2pm. Take a copy of the signed convention, a copy of both sides of your TIE card and you’re good. You’ll fill out a form at the office, wait your turn, then hand all the documents in to  someone at a desk. They’ll assign you a social security number, and later, you’ll have to give this number to your employer (since they pay part of the social security, and you’ll pay the other part).

More to come…

I’m working now for just over a week. I’ll update this later as important milestones in the experience are reached. For example, I’ll tell you how I will eventually renewed the contract, or if they decide to hire me full-time, and whether I can use my experience in this company to satisfy the UB’s requirement of an internship.

3 Responses

  1. Anastasia says:

    Thank you. The information is very useful.

  2. hitesh says:

    thankyou. really worth and useful information for the new who come students in barcelona from india . i want part time job while studying pls assist

  3. Tanchho hang angdembe says:

    Thanks a lot. How difficult is to get job as student of bit? Please reply as soon as possible.

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