1.1 What are the main sources of immigration law in your jurisdiction?
The main source is the Law of 29 August 2008 on the freedom of movement and immigration (the "Immigration Law"), as recently amended by the law of 8 March 2017.
1.2 What authorities administer the corporate immigration system in your jurisdiction?
The Immigration Directorate – Department for Foreigners of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs administers all aspects of immigration including corporate immigration.
1.3 Is your jurisdiction part of a multilateral agreement between countries (EU/NAFTA/MERCOSUR) which facilitates the movement of people between countries for employment purposes?
Luxembourg is a founding Member State of the EU, as well as the Schengen Area, and is a member of the EEA (European Economic Area).
It grants immigration and employment of EU, EEA, and EFTA (European Free Trade Association) citizens in compliance with the EU freedom of movement principle.
EU citizens as well as third-country nationals whose direct relatives are EU nationals do not need to secure a permit or visa to enter and work in Luxembourg.
Within the Schengen territory all internal borders were abolished to create one single external border. The Schengen Agreement also proclaims shared common rules and procedures for visas for short stays, asylum requests and border controls.
2 Business Visitors
2.1 Can business visitors enter your jurisdiction under a relevant visa waiver programme?
EU citizens do not need a permit or visa to enter and/or work in Luxembourg. This benefit is in principle also granted to third-country nationals whose direct relatives are EU nationals as well as to EEA or EFTA nationals.
Citizens of the following third countries currently do not require a visa for short stays (i.e. less than 90 days): Albania; Andorra; Antigua and Barbuda; Argentina; Australia; Bahamas; Barbados; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Brazil; Brunei; Canada; Chile; Costa Rica; Croatia; Dominica; El Salvador; Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM); Grenada; Guatemala; Honduras; Hong Kong; Israel; Japan; Macao; Malaysia; Mauritius; Mexico; Monaco; Montenegro; New Zealand; Nicaragua; Northern Mariana Islands; Panama; Paraguay; St. Kitts and Nevis; Samoa; St. Lucia; Serbia; Seychelles; Singapore; South Korea; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Taiwan; Timor-Leste; Trinidad and Tobago; United Arab Emirates; the United States of America; Uruguay; Vanuatu; and Venezuela.
The concerned citizens can stay for maximum 90 days during any period of 180 days in Luxembourg or the Schengen Area for business purposes.
Citizens from the other third countries can enter on the basis of a short stay visa (visa C) to transit through or stay in the Schengen area or for a long stay visa (visa D).
2.2 What is the maximum period for which business visitors can enter your jurisdiction?
Third-country nationals may enter the Luxembourg territory for business reasons either for a short stay (i.e. maximum 90 days), with or without a visa (depending on the concerned person's citizenship), or a long stay (i.e. for a period exceeding 90 days), subject to a temporary residence authorisation and a long-term residence permit.
2.3 What activities are business visitors able to undertake?
Business visitors who come to Luxembourg on a short-term basis can undertake business trips (visiting professional partners, negotiating and concluding contracts, etc.), participate in board of directors' meetings and general meetings or provide services within a group of companies.
2.4 Are there any special visitor categories which will enable business visitors to undertake work or provide services for a temporary period?
Yes, but subject to prior authorisation by the authorities.
It is further to be noted that the Immigration Law provides for the possibility to use Luxembourg as a back-up centre. In case a serious incident occurs in a third country, the relevant foreign company may temporarily, and on very short notice, send employees to Luxembourg in order to ensure business continuity, subject to a pre-clearing procedure.
2.5 Can business visitors receive short-term training?
This is currently not expressly foreseen under the Immigration Law and would have to be verified on a case-by-case basis.
3 Immigration Compliance and Illegal Working
3.1 Do the national authorities in your jurisdiction operate a system of compliance inspections of employers who regularly employ foreign nationals?
Illegal working is controlled by the Luxembourg police and by customs officers. It can also be controlled by the Labour Inspectorate and by the department of the Ministry of Economy which is in charge of delivering business permits. These authorities have to notify the tax and the social security administrations of any offences observed.
3.2 What are the rules on the prevention of illegal working?
The employer must verify that an authorisation to stay (or working permit, depending on the case) has been granted to the employee before he/she is recruited as well as during the working relationship. During his/her employment, the employee has to keep a copy of his/her authorisation to stay with him/her for possible examination which may occur from time to time. The employee must also spontaneously inform the employer, should the employee's authorisation to stay (or working permit, depending on the case) forfeit during the working relationship.
3.3 What are the penalties for organisations found to be employing foreign nationals without permission to work?
Employers who illegally employ one or more employees from third countries with no valid authorisation to stay and work in Luxembourg may face administrative, financial and criminal sanctions.
In addition, the sanctioned employer can be forced to pay any outstanding remuneration to the illegally employed third-country national as well as an amount equal to any taxes and social security contributions that the employer would have paid, including relevant administrative fines or legal fees.
4 Corporate Immigration – General
4.1 Is there a system for registration of employers who wish to hire foreign nationals?
The employment of nationals of any EU Member State, other EEA countries and Switzerland is not subject to specific requirements.
If EU nationals or EEA/Swiss nationals intend to stay in Luxembourg for more than three months, they must merely declare their arrival and obtain a registration certificate from the local authorities in the area where they are living.
In case an employer located in Luxembourg wishes to employ a non-EU or non-EEA/Swiss national for a period exceeding 90 days, the general procedure is as follows:
The employer must notify the job vacancy to the public Employment Development Agency (Agence pour le développement de l'emploi, ADEM).
The notification must state that the employer intends to employ a non-EU or non-EEA/non-Swiss national. If the ADEM cannot fill the vacancy with a registered European jobseeker within three weeks, the employer may apply to ADEM for a certificate entitling the employer to recruit a non-EU or non-EEA/non-Swiss national. Such certificate will be granted only under the condition that the employment of a non-EU or non-EEA/non-Swiss national meets Luxembourg's national interests.
Once the employer has found a suitable non-EU candidate, it may sign an employment contract with him/her.
While still in his/her country of residence, the prospective employee must lodge an application with the Luxembourg Immigration Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs for a temporary residence authorisation. The application must be accompanied by various documents, including a copy of the employment contract and of the employer's ADEM certificate permitting it to employ a non-EU or non-EEA/non-Swiss national. Alternatively the prospective employee may authorise the prospective employer to make the application on his/her behalf.
Once a temporary authorisation to stay has been granted, the employee may lawfully enter Luxembourg territory. Depending on the individual's country of origin, he/she must also secure a visa before entering the country.
Upon his/her arrival in Luxembourg, the employee must make a declaration of arrival to the local authorities in the area where he/ she intends to live, and undergo a medical examination.
After the medical examination and within 90 days of arrival, the employee must apply for a long-term residence permit to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.
For any employment lasting less than 90 days, the employer must notify ADEM of the vacancy and obtain a certificate permitting employment of a non-EU or non-EEA/non-Swiss national and then sign an employment contract with the individual concerned. The employee (or the employer on his/her behalf) must then apply to the Immigration Directorate for a work permit, entitling him/ her to work in Luxembourg for the relevant period. On arrival in Luxembourg, the employee only needs to declare his/her arrival to the local authorities.
4.2 Do employers who hire foreign nationals have ongoing duties to ensure immigration compliance?
Pursuant to Luxembourg law, any employer employing foreign nationals must verify whether the concerned employees meet all the applicable legal requirements in order to perform the contemplated activity on Luxembourg territory.
4.3 Do the immigration authorities undertake routine inspections of employers who sponsor foreign nationals, to verify immigration compliance?
No specific controls are foreseen by the Immigration Law. However, the Labour and Mines Inspectorate controls whether working conditions and legal requirements are being complied with.
4.4 Do the immigration authorities maintain a list of skilled occupations which may be filled by foreign nationals?
No specific list of skilled occupations to be filled by foreign nationals is in place or about to be established.
However, the Immigration Law foresees the possibility to apply for a residence permit as a "highly qualified employee". The given residence permit is generally treated as a priority by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the residence permit in question is valid for four years. In case an employer would like to employ a highly qualified employee it does not need to follow the labour market test and obtain the above-mentioned ADEM certificate. Luxembourg immigration law generally encourages the hiring of highly skilled foreigners.
4.5 Is there a recognition that some occupations may be in short supply and do special exemptions apply to certain sectors and occupations?
The Immigration Law facilitates the immigration of certain IT specialists and scientists by providing less burdensome immigration requirements.
4.6 Are there annual quotas for different types of employment-related work permits or visas?
No, this is not foreseen by the Immigration Law.
4.7 Are there restrictions on the number of foreign workers an employer may sponsor, in relation to a maximum percentage of foreign workers in the employer's workforce?
No, this is not foreseen by the Immigration Law.
4.8 Are employees who are sponsored to work in your jurisdiction required to demonstrate language proficiency?
No, this is not foreseen by the Immigration Law.
4.9 Are employees who are sponsored to work in your jurisdiction required to undergo medical examinations before being admitted?
When an employer wishes to recruit a new employee, the employee must undergo a medical check with the occupational health practitioner of the occupational health service with which the employer is affiliated, irrespective of the employee's citizenship.
The practitioner will determine whether the employee's health status allows him/her to fill the contemplated position.
After the recruitment of an employee, the employer must, in certain cases, also organise regular medical examinations.
Third-country nationals who require a residence permit in Luxembourg must further undergo a medical examination before they are granted a residence permit, based on the requirements of the Immigration Law.
This examination will be carried out by an accredited medical doctor in Luxembourg.
Any person refusing to undergo the required examination will be denied a residence permit as it is a preliminary condition for the application for a residence permit
4.10 Are employees who are sponsored to work in your jurisdiction required to have medical insurance or are they entitled to any free public medical services?
In principle, any person staying in Luxembourg for a period exceeding 90 days and/or carrying out an activity on Luxembourg territory needs to be covered by health insurance. In some cases, non-EU/non-EEA nationals may have to provide proof of private health cover before being granted a visa. Foreigners intending to live in Luxembourg without an occupation must produce some proof of health insurance in order to obtain a residence permit.
4.11 Does the work permit system allow employees who hold work permits to be seconded to a client site?
This is possible as the employee remains the employee of his/her initial employer.
5 Highly Skilled Visas
5.1 Is there an immigration category which covers highly skilled individuals?
Specific rules apply, under the "European Blue Card" scheme, to highly qualified non-EU or non-EEA/Swiss workers, which are defined as workers in possession of a higher education degree or at least five years of highly skilled work experience. An employer wishing to recruit such an employee does not need to obtain a certificate from the ADEM permitting employment of a non- EU/non-EEA/non-Swiss national. The market test is hence not applicable to highly qualified workers. The employing entity must sign an employment contract with the prospective employee. The prospective employee must apply to the Immigration Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs for a temporary residence certificate, providing a copy of an employment contract with a duration of at least one year, and proof of an offer of remuneration above a certain level (generally 1.5 times the average gross pay in Luxembourg). If the certificate is granted, the employee must obtain an entry visa, if required, and, once in Luxembourg, must declare his/her arrival to the local authorities and undergo a medical examination. Within 90 days of arrival, the employee must apply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the residence permit as highly qualified employee (the European Blue Card).
The holder of the European Blue Card may work in any highly-qualified position and may, after a certain waiting period, take up another position within Europe without securing a prior authorisation in the concerned foreign country.
6 Investment or Establishment Work Permits
6.1 Is there an immigration category which permits employees to be authorised to work based on investment into your jurisdiction?
An amendment to the Immigration Law introduced a resident permit for investors from third countries.
In order to be granted a residence permit as an investor, a third-country national interested in investing in Luxembourg may opt for one of the following investments:
- invest at least EUR 500,000 in an existing Luxembourg company and commit to maintaining the existing jobs for five years, except if the company is in difficulties at the time of purchase, in which case the aforementioned employment condition is not applicable;
- invest at least EUR 500,000 in a new Luxembourg company and commit to creating at least five jobs in the next three years (the vacancies have to be filled in collaboration with the Luxembourg Employment Agency);
- invest at least EUR 3,000,000 in an existing or new investment/management structure which has its registered office in Luxembourg and has proven appropriate substance. Furthermore, the investment and management structure must employ at least two people and have appropriate accounting and governance rules; or
- deposit at least EUR 20,000,000 with a financial institution established in Luxembourg and maintain this investment for at least five years.
7 Temporary Work Permits
7.1 Is there an immigration category permitting the hiring of temporary workers for exchanges, career development, internships or other non-economic purposes?
The Immigration Law foresees the possibility to apply for a residence permit as a student, trainee or au pair. It is also possible to apply for a residence permit as a researcher or a professional sportsman. Hence, several immigration possibilities exist for non-economic purposes.
7.2 Are there sector-specific temporary work permit categories which enable foreign workers to perform temporary work?
The Luxembourg Parliament recently passed a new law on immigration, implementing Directive 2014/36/UE on the conditions of entry and stay of third-country nationals for the purpose of employment as seasonal workers and Directive 2014/66/UE on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer.
The implementation of these two directives introduces four new categories of residence permits in Luxembourg, three of which are of a temporary nature, namely the residence permit for seasonal workers, the residence permit in case of temporary intra-company transfers, and the residence permit within the framework of a business continuity plan for non-EU companies.
It is hence possible to opt for a residence permit within the framework of a business continuity plan for non-EU companies. The business continuity plan allows a relevant foreign company to temporarily send employees on very short notice to Luxembourg in order to ensure a business continuity plan in case a serious incident appears in a third country.
The residence permit for temporary intra-group transfers should allow a third-country national who has entered into an employment contract with an undertaking established outside the territory of the EU to be temporarily seconded for occupational or training purposes to a group entity which is established in the EU. Where applicable, it should also facilitate the mobility between host entities established in one or several other EU Member States.
Furthermore, there exists a possibility to apply for a residence permit as a seasonal worker. The residence permit as a seasonal worker will allow a given employee to legally reside and carry out seasonal work in Luxembourg for a maximum period of five months over a reference period of one year whilst maintaining his/her main residence in a third country.
8 Group or Intra-Company Transfer Work Permits
8.1 Does a specific immigration category exist for inter-company transfers within international groups of companies?
A specific immigration category for temporary intra-group transfers for third-country nationals has recently been implemented (inter-company transfer – ICT).
The given residence permit allows a third-country national who has entered into an employment contract with an undertaking established outside the territory of the European Union to be temporarily seconded for occupational or training purposes to a group entity which is established in the EU and should, where applicable, facilitate mobility between host entities established in one or several other EU Member States.
The holder of a valid ICT permit issued by a Member State is in principle allowed to enter, stay and work in one or more other Member States, in accordance with the provisions governing short-term and long-term mobility, provided certain conditions are met.
8.2 What conditions must an employing company or organisation fulfil in order to qualify as part of a group of companies?
Pursuant to the law of 2 September 2011 governing access to artisanal, commercial or industrial activities in Luxembourg as well as certain liberal professions, companies which fulfil one of the following conditions may qualify as a group company:
- a company which has the majority votes of the shareholders of another company;
- a company which has the right to nominate and to revoke the majority of the members of the board of directors and which is at the same time a shareholder of the given company;
- a company which has the right to exercise a dominant influence on another company of which it is a shareholder due to a contract concluded between the companies or because of a provision in the statutes of the company; and
- a company which is a shareholder or associate of a company and which, by way of an agreement with other shareholders and associates, controls by itself the majority of the voting rights.
On top of these conditions, the Immigration Law foresees that the group company must exercise the relevant activity for a duration of at least 24 months in another EU Member State, must be considered a medium-sized or large company and must genuinely carry on an activity in Luxembourg.
8.3 What conditions must the employer fulfil in order to obtain a work permit for an intra-company group employee?
The host company must prove that it belongs to the same group of companies as the concerned company, which is established in a third country.
It must prove that the citizen from the third-party country has been working in the given country for a period of at least three to 12 months prior to the intra-group transfer (for experts and upper management). For trainees, a period of six to 12 months is required It must evidence that the concerned employee has entered into an employment contract with the third-party country and present an engagement letter of the initial employer which foresees the duration of the transfer and the localisation of the host company, proof that the employee will be employed as upper management, expert or trainee, remuneration as well as the working conditions during the transfer period and proof that the concerned employee may return to work for a company of the group post transfer.
It must prove that the employee has the necessary qualifications and experience to work for the host company.
8.4 What is the process for obtaining a work permit for an intra-company group employee?
Please refer to question 8.3 for the conditions.
As regards the process, the transferred employee will be subject to the general immigration procedure, meaning that he/she will first have to apply for an authorisation to stay, register with the local authorities, undergo a medical examination and then apply for a residence permit.
8.5 What is the process for the employee to obtain a visa under the intra-company group transfer category?
The question of whether an employee is subject to a visa requirement or not before entering the country depends on his/her nationality. As regards the applicable process, a visa application must be submitted in the country of origin to the Luxembourg embassy or consulate in the given country.
8.6 How long does the process of obtaining the work permit and initial visa take?
For work permits, the process should not take more than three months as of the day the applicant has submitted the application for an authorisation to stay, including all the relevant documents, to the Immigration Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.
In practice, the delays are often shorter.
In case the applicant has been granted an authorisation, she/he may subsequently apply for a residence permit. Again, the procedure should not exceed three months.
As regards the application for a visa, the applicant must apply for the said visa from his/her home country. The duration of the process varies from one country to the other, but usually does not exceed a few business days. It is recommended to expect at least 15 business days.
8.7 How long are visas under the "initial" category valid for, and can they be extended?
In case a given person wants to stay in Luxembourg for fewer than 90 days over a period of 180 days, the applicant must apply for a type C visa. This type of visa will allow a stay of a maximum period of 90 days in Luxembourg over a period of 180 days. The given visa category does, however, not allow the visa holder to pursue a paid activity in Luxembourg.
Should an applicant wish to carry out a paid activity, then he/she must apply for a type D visa. A type D visa is valid for a period of 90 days to one year maximum.
In case of an intra-group transfer, an employee must therefore apply for a type D visa, which allows a stay of more than three months as well as the possibility to work.
8.8 Can employees coming under the intra-company transfer route apply for permanent residence?
Such a possibility seems rather unlikely in practice, as the intra-company transfer should by nature be temporary and limited in time and the possibility to request permanent residence is subject to a stay in Luxembourg for at least five years.
8.9 What are the main government fees associated with this type of visa?
In order to apply for a visa and for a residence permit, the applicant will be obliged to pay a tax to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs which amounts to about EUR 80.
9 New Hire Work Permits
9.1 What is the main immigration category used for employers who wish to obtain work permits for new hires?
The main immigration categories used are the residence permit for ordinary employed persons and the residence permit for highly skilled employees.
Ordinary employed persons are persons without a higher education degree or equivalent diploma.
Highly-qualified non-EU or non-EEA/non-Swiss workers are defined as those evidencing a higher education degree or at least five years of highly-skilled work experience.
9.2 Is there a requirement for labour market testing, to demonstrate that there are no suitable resident workers, before a work permit can be issued to new hires?
As a matter of Luxembourg law, all vacancies within a company have to be declared to the ADEM before the company is allowed to hire employees. The ADEM will check whether unemployed citizens of EU Member States would qualify for the considered vacancy. Should this be the case, it is unlikely that the certificate which is necessary in order to employ a third-country national will be issued by the Luxembourg Employment Administration, unless the employer is able to justify why it prefers to employ a third-country national rather than an EU citizen (e.g. the vacant position requires extensive knowledge on the home country of the employing entity).
9.3 Are there any exemptions to carrying out a resident labour market test?
The labour market test does not apply in case an employing entity would like to hire a highly qualified employee.
9.4 What is the process for obtaining a work permit for a new hire?
In case a foreign, non-EU national would like to take up office within Luxembourg and reside on Luxembourg territory, he/she must first obtain a temporary residence authorisation and a subsequent long-term permi
The application for the residence authorisation/permit is divided into three practical steps. The first step is the application for the temporary residence authorisation which the applicant must submit from his/ her home country. As soon as the applicant has received his/her temporary residence permit, he/she may enter Luxembourg territory (in some cases, a prior application for a visa is, however, necessary).
As a next step, the foreign non-EU national will have to register with a local municipality and undergo a medical test. After that, he/ she can apply for the long-term residence permit.
9.5 What is the process for the employee to obtain a visa as a new hire?
Foreign non-EU nationals may not take up work on the sole basis of a visa. Accordingly, each new hire must obtain a work permit before starting work on Luxembourg territory, irrespective of the duration of service in Luxembourg. In addition, certain persons may be subject to a visa obligation before entering Luxembourg territory (see question 2.1).
9.6 How long does the process of obtaining the work permit and initial visa for a new hire take?
The issuance of a work permit may take up to three months as from the date of submission of all the requested documents to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. In practice, shorter delays are often experienced.
The application for a visa should not take more than a couple of working days.
9.7 How long are initial visas for new hires granted for and can they be extended?
A type D visa is granted for a period of 90 days to one year. An extension is possible; however, in general, it will not be necessary provided the the applicant has received his/her long-term residence permit in the meantime.
9.8 Is labour market testing required when the employee extends their residence?
No, this is not necessary.
9.9 Can employees coming as new hires apply for permanent residence?
It will be possible to apply for a permanent residence permit after a stay of five years in Luxembourg.
9.10 What are the main government fees associated with this type of visa?
The applicant will be obliged to pay a tax to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs which amounts to about EUR 80.
10 Conditions of Stay for Work Permit Holders
10.1 What are the conditions of stay of those who obtain work permits and are resident on this basis?
No specific conditions apply.
10.2 Are work permit holders required to register with municipal authorities or the police after their arrival?
Each foreign national who wants to apply for a long-term residence permit in Luxembourg will need to register with the municipal authorities upon his/her arrival in Luxembourg.
11.1 Who qualifies as a dependant of a person coming to work on a sponsored basis?
The following family members are generally permitted to accompany or join a foreign employee and live with him/her in Luxembourg:
- spouse or registered partner;
- direct descendants; and
- direct ascendants.
In some cases, persons financially dependent on the foreign employee or persons able to evidence a lasting relationship with the concerned employee are allowed to benefit from family reunification.
11.2 Do civil/unmarried or same-sex partners qualify as family members?
They do, provided they fulfil the above-mentioned conditions.
11.3 Do spouses and partners have access to the labour market when they are admitted as dependants?
Family members of EU citizens (or citizens of a country treated as such) may access the job market without any prior authorisation.
Third-country national family members of an EU citizen may take up a remunerated activity subject to prior approval by the local immigration authorities.
11.4 Do children have access to the labour market?
Children have access to the labour market subject to certain limitations set by the Luxembourg Labour Code and prior approval of the immigration authorities.
12 Permanent Residence
12.1 What are the conditions for obtaining permanent residence?
The main condition for permanent residence consists in having officially resided in Luxembourg for an uninterrupted period of five years.
12.2 Is it possible to switch from a temporary work visa to a work visa which leads to permanent residence?
This is possible, subject to certain prior formalities.
13 Bars to Admission
13.1 What are the main bars to admission for work?
There are no specific bars to admission for work in Luxembourg except for regulated positions such as the professions of lawyers accountants, doctors and leading positions in the financial industry. Certain qualifications and authorisations may be necessary to exercise regulated activities. In some cases, minimum language requirements apply.
13.2 Are criminal convictions a bar to obtaining work permission or a visa?
Depending on the conviction, a criminal conviction may constitute a bar to obtaining residence permission or even a visa.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.