Luxembourg adopted a new law to modernize the economic immigration framework and make it easier and smoother to come and work in Luxembourg, especially for people coming from outside of the EU. These changes should be of interest not only to employers looking to expand their business in Luxembourg, but also to foreign students studying in Luxembourg, to highly qualified workers, to investors and startup entrepreneurs from all over the world.
To highlight the most interesting new changes in the immigration framework, we talked to Anne-Catherine Thill from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Laurent Solazzi from the Ministry of the Economy.
Could you walk us through the different categories of mobility and explain what the new possibilities are?
Anne-Catherine Thill: There are a number of different categories. So let us start with one that is in high demand in Luxembourg, especially for the ICT sector and the ever-increasing innovation jobs that require very specific competences: the permit for highly qualified workers. We have had the EU Blue card scheme in place already for some years. Now we are going to make it more flexible. If you have a job offer, a university diploma and a salary corresponding to 1.5 times the current minimum wage (1.2 times for IT specialists), you will get a residency permit for 4 years (until now it used to be for 2 years only). If at the end of those 4 years, you still fulfil the conditions, you are eligible to a renewal of another 4 years. What’s more, you can request your family’s residency permits immediately.
In addition, we plan to extend the possibility of immediate application for family members’ residence permits to “normal” workers residence permits too.
Another important new element concerns students at the University of Luxembourg, which has a thriving and diverse student body. Students who graduate with a 5-year degree and those that finish their PhD-thesis in Luxembourg will be able to apply for a residency permit immediately after they finish their studies. They are no longer required to leave Luxembourg in order to apply from the country of their legal residence. This will apply to those who want to stay in Luxembourg and work for a Luxembourg-based company and even to those who want to launch their own startup in Luxembourg in line with their academic education.
Let me also add that we are currently working on new measures dedicated to third-country students and researchers which should make Luxembourg, and the EU for that matter, a more attractive place to study and do research. The main improvements here will be the possibility for students and researchers to stay longer after having completed their studies or research projects.
What should I know about this new proposal if I am a business leader in a non-EU company looking to invest and expand in Luxembourg?
Laurent Solazzi: With this text, we are also implementing a European directive on intra-company transfers (ICT) which can be of substantial importance for global companies. Executive workers and experts receive permits of up to 3 years while trainees receive permits of up to one year. People with a residence permit for intra-company transfers may bring their family to Luxembourg. They have the possibility to send both their initial residency permit application and the request for family regrouping at the same time.
With this ICT residence permit, you can come to Luxembourg to live and work here, but you can also move to a second country by application of a new mobility scheme. The new concept will make it easier for a third country company to build up an EU hub because it simply provides more flexibility.
What about self-employed people wanting to work in Luxembourg: what is the situation for entrepreneurs, for startup founders for example?
ACT: We can deliver residency permits of 3 years for self-employed persons or entrepreneurs that can prove they have a viable business plan for their startup in Luxembourg, renewable for 3 years and so on. This new law integrates a new flexibility that may be of particular interest to FinTech companies. If you need to pass the checks of the CSSF (Luxembourg’s financial supervision entity) which delivers your license, the viability is not analysed again by the dedicated committee that checks the soundness of other startups, for example.
The new text also introduces a new regime for people working in business continuity activities. Can you elaborate on this?
LS: Luxembourg has a strong international reputation for the security and quality of its data centers (very high density of Tier IV data centers) and its network infrastructure. More and more parts of the economy but also governments rely on a perfect link to their data back-end in their day-to-day business, and their data needs to be safely stored. A big part of ensuring that it is always safely accessible, no matter what happens, is to make it redundant. In case of a serious incident, a public or private entity can send workers to Luxembourg on a very short notice in order to ensure business continuity. This enables the company to keep on working and serving customers, which is crucial to its survival. The company and third country workers will be pre-cleared so that everything can go as fast as possible in the event of an emergency.
One last word on the more practical part of immigration applications: how quickly can I get a permit and what are the fees for the different categories of permits?
ACT: All immigration applications in Luxembourg are free of charge; you only need to pay a small fee for your visa once approved. In the last years and months, we were able to speed up the checks and to reduce the application process significantly, more or less for all the categories. The same goes for requests for family regrouping procedures, an important fact for those that travel the world to work in Luxembourg.