Jan. 5, 2023 · 5 min read
This Blog shares my transition experience from a student in Spain with «estancia de Estudiante» to a resident with work permission.
In 2016, I completed my studies as an engineer in electrical and automation at the National Engineering School of Gabes, Tunisia. Then I started my PhD in machine learning, where I got the opportunity to come as an exchange PhD student within the international prestigious Erasmus exchange program at the UIB university, Palma de Mallorca. During the exchange program, I learned from some colleagues and professors in the lab about a master's program named «Master in Intelligent systems». The program was well balanced to have wonderful research experiences and technical practices in data science and machine learning. Based on these facts, the recommendations of Prof. Mourad Zaied and the high demand for data science skills in the job market, I decided to apply for a master program. Luckily, I got accepted by the program committee at the Universidad of Islas Baleares (UIB) in 2019.
So, I applied for a student VISA from my country Tunisia and moved to Spain to study as foreign student. The two years master's went very well and fruitful, with many technical and research projects hands-on experiences. I achieved international accomplishments during this period, such as publishing a paper at a ranked international conference and getting a grant from a prestigious organization (IEEE). With my achievements and technical contributions, I got an opportunity to do internships in a couple of multinational companies, for example, Interdigital, France and Oehoe Data Science, Belgium. Meanwhile, I have completed my PhD in machine learning at the National Engineering School of Gabes, Tunisia.
The next phase was transitioning from my status as a student with "estancia de Estudiante" to postgraduate with a one-year research work non-lucrative residence in Spain after completing my studies by December 2021.
I started job surfing in the data science domain; LinkedIn helped me reach out to Antoni Aloy, CEO at APSL. He was welcoming to give opportunities to highly educated students, and he requested an interview with his colleagues. It was a great honor to meet his highly motivated, supportive team and share fantastic ideas to support the community and business. Based on my interview, I was selected to be a part of the highly motivated team as a data scientist. By January, I got my first full-time work contract as a data scientist at APSL. We thought that it would be possible to do a full-time job with research work residence until I get the work permit from the government; however, it turned out after legal advice that I can not do part time\full time work with it. Therefore, APSL started looking for the appropriate program that allows foreign students to do part-time/full-time jobs.
Finally, they found the program named «residencia temporal y trabajo por cuenta ajena» and initiated the process by February 2022.
Per the lawyer, getting the work permit will not take much time. She said that it was a matter of a maximum of one month. However, wait time went against what was expected, starting from March to June. Later, APSL was notified that the application was missing a document concerning the national employment situation that allows hiring stated as “The competent Immigration Office considers that it has not been possible to fill the job according to the certificate that the Public Employment Service issues on the management of the job offer”. In other words, to have a permit to work, you need a certificate from the ministry that no one in Spain with my qualification is unemployed. We understood that this certificate was optional because I was already a student legal resident in Spain searching for a job. After receiving this notification, we realized that our knowledge was not correct.
By the end of June, immigration office gave 30 days to submit the requested document which the legal counsel didn’t pay attention to. APSL started working on getting the requested document after some time and it took around 22 days to get the document and submit it back to immigration office unfortunately 1 day after the deadline, as the government platform failed the last day. Immigration office refused the application due to late submission of missing requested documents.
I will never forget the day when I got rejected by the immigration office. That day, I was on the bus heading back to Lyon, and after six months of waiting, this rejection meant that I lost the work that I wanted to do, my residence and more importantly my time. However, I'm lucky to have the unconditional support of APSL to get the documents and encouragement to apply for the process again.
This time the process went very smoothly with the complete file submission, as all the documents were available already. Within three months of application submission, I got acceptance by October. So, as Antoni Aloy (CEO, ASPL) puts it, nine months is the total time for the Birth process! Needless to say this whole time I was not able to work in Spain.
Before ending, I would like to present some valuable advice and lessons learned for students or postgraduate students from other countries. It's essential to follow the process steps, read each construction very well, complete all the steps and do it on time. Take any obstacle as a challenge, never give up.
As everyone says, the hardest thing is to take the first step because the first step is the start of the road to success or failure. But each step we take is more complex than our previous one. There are many unexpected obstacles, some are easy to handle, and some are hard to face. We give up, but no, if we are alive, we are nourished, as long as hope, hard work, perseverance and patience are alive together.
Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude to the APSL management team, especially Antoni and Marisa. They never gave up. They took this as a challenge and stayed by the employee's side till the end. I'm so proud to be part of APSL and especially the data science team.
And without forgetting, my special feeling to this Island “Palma de Mallorca”, I fell in love with this small place, the awesome people I met, the nature, the walks along the beach, the sunset, the hiking and adventure experiences, dinners and parties with friends. With each good and bad detail I lived here, a homelike place, this island will always have a special feeling in my heart. Actually, It was one of the reasons to search for a job here despite all the job offers I got.
Happy Holiday and looking forward to a successful 2023 year. The wonderful APSL spirit!