The ICT Directive created a set of rules for multinational companies transferring non-EU nationals to a European office within the same corporate group. It aims to facilitate the mobility of intra-corporate transferees between the EU Member States during their temporary assignments in Europe. All EU Member States except the UK, Denmark and Ireland have opted in.
Belgium has not yet incorporated the ICT Directive into its national law, however it is expected to do so in 2019 depending on upcoming appointment of the federal government.
What is the ICT Permit?
The ICT Permit is an authorization for non-EU citizens coming to Europe to enter, stay and work on assignment. It is directed at employees engaged in activities outside the EU who are transferred to a branch of the company within the EU.
It complements past harmonization initiatives such as the EU Blue Card and Single Permit Directives.
Who is eligible for the ICT Permit?
The ICT Directive harmonised conditions for the admission, residence, work and mobility of non-EU transferees assigned to perform work on a temporary basis within EU subsidiaries of a multinational group.
The ICT Directive applies if all of the following conditions are fulfilled:
- a third-country national residing outside the territory of the EU Member States at the time of application lodges an application for the ICT permit to be admitted to the territory of an EU Member State;
- the individual must be a skilled manager, a specialist or a trainee;
- the individual must be transferred to one (or several) undertakings of the company group within the EU to which his employer belongs;
- the transfer must be for a maximum of three years, for managers and specialists, and one year for trainees.
What are the anticipated admission criteria in Belgium?
The ICT Directive leaves room for discretion in the setting up of the admission criteria. Belgium is anticipated to set up the following criteria:
- no quota system;
- processing time is expected to be between four and six weeks;
- short-term mobility ICT permit holders from another Member State coming to Belgium for less than 90 days would be authorised to live and work in Belgium; The future law will likely implement a notification;
- long-term mobility based on an ICT permit delivered by another Member State would not be allowed. A new application for a mobile ICT Permit would be required prior to residing and working in Belgium for more than 90 days;
- the establishment of a cooling-off period, whereby the individual would be required to leave the country before applying for an ICT permit, remains a possibility;
- income requirement: third-country nationals would be required to earn the same income as a local hire at the same position;
- working at a client’s premises would be authorized;
- managers and specialists would be required to account for six months of uninterrupted service within the company before applying; trainees would need to have three months of service before their transfer to the EU.
How does the ICT Permit affect your business?
The ICT Directive's main attraction for global companies is that it allows increased mobility of their staff across the EU. Intra-corporate transferees with a valid ICT Permit are exempt from Schengen visa obligations and may enter, stay and work in other EU Member States without the need to apply for another work permit for a period up to 90 days (short-term mobility).
For long term mobility (over 90 days), the rules are stricter. However, most of the EU Member States opted in for full-mobility, both short-term and long-term. This enables the intra-corporate transferees with a valid ICT Permit delivered by another Member State to live and work in the other Member States which opted in for full mobility, without having to apply for a local ICT Permit.
The introduction of the ICT Permit is a considerable benefit for companies that operate globally and want to temporarily engage third-country nationals in Europe.
Watch this space for an update on the future implementation of the ICT Permit in Belgium.