Under an EU directive, member countries are required to implement a single application procedure and single work-and-residency permit. EU Directive 2011/98 aimed to simplify procedures and ensure that foreign workers receive equal labor rights and social benefits. It exempts intra-company transfers (ICT). Passed in 2011, the directive set a deadline of December 2013 for member states to implement and incorporate the new procedures into their national laws. However, not all countries met that deadline, the directive has not been adopted everywhere, and the rules vary from country to country. Below is a summary of adoption in various EU member states:

Denmark, Ireland and the U.K. These countries are not bound by the directive and are not required to transpose it into their national laws.

France. France has not adopted legislation and continues to issue separate work and residency permits for third-country nationals who are not Blue Card holders. The government is expected to make the change to a single permit when it overhauls its immigration regulations.

Germany. Germany has implemented a “one-stop shop” for work and resident permits for non-EU nationals who are applying to work and live inside the EU or who are already living and working within the EU. The application process has not changed and is the same as before. However, this process does not apply to holders of permanent residence and work permits, employees transferred permanently from one entity to another within the EU, au pairs, refugees or sailors.

Hungary. Hungary implemented the single permit in January. Previously, the work permit application could be processed first, before an employee entered Hungary, and the residence permit was processed after entry. Now, the employee may not begin working until the Immigration Office issues the combined permit, now called a “residence permit,” which displays the name of the employer. If the employee changes jobs, he or she must apply to change the residence permit as well as the work permit.

Italy. Italy implemented the EU directive March 4 in Legislative Directive n.40. However, the new procedure for a single work-and-residence permit does not significantly alter the application process and does not affect intra-company transferees or highly-skilled workers.

The Netherlands. The Netherlands passed the Combined Work/Residence Act (GVVA) on April 1. The combined permits replace the work permit (TWV) and are now granted by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), instead of by the UWV Werkbedrijf. Sponsoring employers apply to the IND and the IND consults with the UWV Werkbedrijf to determine if other job seekers should be given priority and whether other criteria have been met, such as adequate recruitment efforts by the employer. Many foreign workers are exempt from the GVVA, including intra-company transferees, student trainees, students on work placement, employees provided by cross-border service providers, independent contractors, long-term residents of other EU member states, and others.

Poland. Poland adopted a single work-residence permit on May 1, but it only affects in-country procedures for foreign nationals already legally living and working in Poland.

Spain. Spain passed the single permit law (14/2013) on Sept. 27, 2013, as part of its Entrepreneurs Law. The provision implements a single application form for all third-country nationals and applies to all types of work permit applicants. Although the law does not specify whether the provision applies to intra-company transferees, the Unidad de Grandes Empresas y Colectivos Estratégicos (UGE-CE) is applying the new single procedure to ICTs, giving work authorization to dependent family members and possibly avoiding the visa process if the applicants are legally in Spain during the immigration process; visa nationals applying from overseas must go through procedures to obtain a visa to enter Spain.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network providers located in EU member countries. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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