On 13 July the European Commission published its long-awaiting proposal for a new EU Directive on intra‑corporate transferees (ICT), intended to make it easier for multinational corporations to transfer non-EU employees temporarily to another branch or subsidiary located in the EU.

Specifically, it is intended to address a number of obstacles which currently exist for companies wanting to transfer non-EU nationals to the EU temporarily: the lack of clear specific schemes, the complexity and diversity of visa or work permit requirements, costs and delays in transferring foreign ICTs from one European corporate headquarters to another and the difficulties with securing family reunification. Additional difficulties exist for the mobility of ICTs across Member States within the EU.

The main highlights of the proposal are:  

  • Transparent and fast-track entry procedure: 30 days to process applications, with a common definition and harmonised criteria;  
  • Single application for a combined work and residence permit;  
  • Procedural safeguards: possibility to challenge rejection decisions and requirement that authorities give reasons for such decisions;  
  • More attractive residence conditions for the families: handling of applications for family reunification in the first State of residence within two months;  
  • Enhanced mobility within the EU: ICTs would be issued with a permit allowing them to carry out their assignment in the employer’s various entities, including, under certain conditions, those located in other Member States;  
  • Level playing field with EU workers: ICTs should enjoy the same working conditions as posted workers whose employer is established on the territory of the EU;  
  • Flexible system to take account Member States’ needs: this Directive would not create a right of admission; Member States would still be able to determine themselves the volumes of admission of third-country nationals entering their territory;  
  • A fast-track procedure for recognised undertakings, allowing accelerated procedures for the issuance of permits and visas.  

This is just the first stage of the legislative procedure. The proposal still has to be agreed by the European Parliament and the Member States in the Council, a process which can take more than a year and during which the proposal can be amended many times.  

Once adopted, an EU Directive has to be transposed into national law by the EU Member States. Therefore it will be some years before these new rules become reality.