Spain makes it easier for young migrants to legalize status

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MADRID (AP) — Spain is smoothing the path for unaccompanied young migrants to obtain residence and work permits, with around 15,000 expected to benefit from changes announced Tuesday.

The legal changes published by the government ease requirements for obtaining documents and cut waiting periods, removing barriers for those who turn 16 to live and work legally in Spain.

The government said its aim is to integrate migrants, who sometimes are abandoned by authorities to live on the fringes of society.

Spain has struggled to cope with large migrant arrivals from Africa in recent years. So far this year, just over 30,000 migrants have arrived, almost all of them by sea. That’s 37% higher than in the same period last year, according to the United Nations.

Under the new rules, unaccompanied child migrants are to be entitled to documents after three months in Spain, instead of the current nine months.

Those who turn 18 or who did so in the past five years need to prove only that they receive 470 euros ($548) a month, possibly from a social security support program, in order to get a residence and work permit.

Previously, they had to show higher income to get and retain a residence permit, which didn’t grant them a work permit.

Nongovernmental organizations have pressed Spain for years to make the changes.

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