Most EU member states, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Finland and others, are now implementing an EU directive that relaxes criteria and provides eased mobility for non-EU/EEA students, scientific researchers and interns. The directive, which was approved by the EU in 2016, updates and replaces directives from 2004 and 2005 that cover entry and stay of non-EU students and researchers in Europe.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work and residence permits.
  • Business impact: Employers can benefit from being able to offer expanded internship options to recent graduates and scientific researchers conducting a research project in multiple EU countries.

Background: The EU Students and Researchers directive 2016/801 was adopted in May 2016. Member states were supposed to implement the directive no later than May 23, 2018, and most are now doing so. To date, a handful of EU countries, including Greece, Poland and Cyprus, have not yet transposed the directive into their national laws, while Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom have opted out of the directive.

The directive provides for relaxed rules for work authorization, residency and mobility within the EU and is intended to promote the EU as an attractive destination for non-EU/EEA talent in science and research.

  • Students. The directive expands opportunities for students, providing a potentially longer validity period for residence permits, permitting recent graduates to look for work or start a business, and affording greater mobility within the EU. France, for example, allows non-EU/EEA students, who wish to return to France within four years of completing their studies, to look for a job or start a business in France. Portugal has expanded the validity of residence permits for students to two years or a period that matches the length of their studies, instead of the normal one-year validity period.
  • Scientific researchers. Scientific researchers benefit from enhanced mobility to conduct their research across the EU. Individuals who hold a residence permit as a scientific researcher in one EU country may continue their research project in another EU state for up to 180 days without further immigration processing. The directive allows countries to extend this period to 360 days.
  • Interns. Non-EU/EEA students will have increased opportunities to gain work experience in their field of study through an internship in Europe. Notably, the directive does not require that an intern be enrolled in a foreign academic institution and allows recent graduates to engage in internships within two years after completion of their studies. (The previous EU directive required that the internship be a mandatory part of the academic program.)

Analysis & Comments: The directive provides expanded opportunities for employers and organizations to attract and retain non-EU/EEA nationals in training and internship programs and to conduct scientific research projects in multiple EU locations. Employers are reminded that the research project must be the same one for which the permit in the initial EU country was granted and that interns are only eligible for on-the-job training, not for regular employment. Each EU country may be at different stages of implementation, and rules may vary from country to country. Employers are encouraged to work with their immigration advisors to determine which options are currently available in individual destination countries.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.