GERMANY – New Intra-Company Transfer Permits Introduced
Germany has introduced new processes for intra-company transfers, which implement the European Union intra-company transfer (ICT) directive (Directive 2014/66/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer”).
There are three new routes available for intra-company transferees, which came into effect on 1 August 2017:
ICT Card for stays of more than 90 days for third-country national transferees from outside the EU; Mobile ICT Card for stays of more than 90 days for transferees holding an ICT card issued by another EU member state; Notification for short-term intra-company transfers of up to 90 days for transferees holding an ICT card issued by another EU member state.
The intra-corporate transferee permit, or ICT Card, is a new residence category for third-country nationals on assignment in Germany from outside the EU, for more than 90 days.
The applicant must be on assignment as a manager, specialist or trainee, with appropriate qualifications if applicable, within the same group of companies. The applicant must have been continuously employed by the group of companies for at least six months prior to the assignment. Managers and specialists can obtain an ICT Card for assignments up to a maximum of three years (non-renewable), while trainees may be granted a maximum of one year. A “cooling off” period of six months between applications applies. A holder of an ICT Card issued in Germany can work in another EU member state for a company of the same group, for up to 90 days in a 180-day period, without obtaining a separate permit in that country (the host country may require a notification). For stays of more than 90 days, but not longer than the assignment in Germany, a “mobile ICT permit” may need to be approved by the second EU country or countries. The transferee’s spouse does not need to demonstrate German language skills to obtain a residence permit as a dependent.
Mobile ICT Card
The Mobile ICT is a new residence category for third-country nationals holding an EU ICT permit issued by another EU member state, on assignment in Germany for more than 90 days, as managers, specialists or trainees, within the same group of companies.
The transferee may not stay in Germany for longer than in the EU member state that issued their original EU ICT permit.
Notification for Short-Term Intra-Company Transfers
Third-country nationals holding an EU ICT permit issued by another EU member state, sent on assignment to Germany within the same group of companies, for up to 90 days within any 180-day period are not required to obtain a mobile ICT card.
The sending company in the EU member state for which the transferee already holds an EU ICT permit must notify the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) of the assignment, in advance of the trip.
Comparison with Existing Schemes
The existing residence permit for employment purposes (available for intra-company transfers) continues to be available in parallel to the new EU ICT Card.
Also still available are the expedited process for assignees hosted by companies which qualify for the International Personnel Exchange programme, and the expedited process for certain short-term assignments under 90 days for fitting, installing, maintaining or repairing machines, equipment, computer programmes, or other technical systems for a client or a branch office within the same group of companies.
The new ICT Card is not available for short-term assignments (under 90 days) from outside the European Union. For this kind of assignment, only the existing national processes are applicable.
Under the existing schemes, the assignee must have worked for at least one year for the sending company.
For the new ICT Card, managers and specialists only require six months of seniority with the sending company.
Under the national scheme, dependent spouses are required to prove basic German language skills, unless the principal applicant is a national of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea or the United States – this is not a requirement under the new ICT Card rules, making the new process an attractive alternative for assignees travelling with their family.
Companies sending or hosting third-company nationals for assignments within the same group of companies are advised to consult an immigration specialists for more specific advice on the most appropriate route.