Today, using the example of one of our law firm’s clients – a Polish company specializing in the construction of photovoltaic surfaces – I will present to you 5 ways to relocate employees from third countries to another European Union country, in this case, Germany. Why did I choose to start this year with this topic?

The geopolitical situation and continuously rising prices force entrepreneurs to intensify their search for alternative energy sources. The high demand in global markets for the construction of wind farms and photovoltaic installation also creates the need for swift employee relocation to the place of work, often another country. As a result, many companies employing individuals from third countries, due to market competitiveness, win contracts in other countries for the construction of electricity-generating facilities.

Unfortunately, the need to reduce dependence on Russian gas is not accompanied by amendments to regulations. These amendments are necessary for the smooth and efficient relocation of employees to the location where services will be provided. In light of this, how can we relocate employees effectively and efficiently for our company?

I will provide the answers below!

Introduction …Earlier, I mentioned that this post is based on an existing factual situation. To begin with, I will summarize a few important facts about the situation our client find themselves in.

A photovoltaic company with Turkish capital ( but based in Poland ) employs Turkish citizens who specialize in the construction of large photovoltaic surfaces. The company received a contract to carry out work in Germany using their own employees. Unfortunately, the deadline for completing the contracts was very short. It was necessary to smoothly and quickly relocate employees to the project site. What options did the company have?

Delegating employees for temporary service provision in another EU country. This is simplest way to relocate employees from third countries who are legally employed in Poland to another EU country. However, this method is not entirely applicable when it comes to relocating employees to Germany. You might wonder why.

Germany effectively restricts access to its labor market. This is reflected in the requirement to obtain a Vander Elst visa for each relocated employee from a third country. The Vander Elst visa serves as a verification document for the correct process of delegating employees to Germany. The visa is issued by the German Embassy in Warsaw. Unfortunately, visa issuance timelines are very distant and may only apply to a small number of employees sent to work across the Oder River.

However,our client needed to send 40 employees at once. This number made it impractical to apply for Vander Elst visas for each employee within a very short timeframe. Therefore, we began searching for alternative methods of legally transferring the company’s employees to Germany for the purpose of fulfilling a large contract.

5 ways to Relocate Employees within a Group of Companies – Intra – Corporate Transfer (ICT) Card. The ICT card is a permit that allows for the relocation of employees within affiliated companies, whether they are capital or personal connections with one of the companies located outside the European Union, in accordance with 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 intra – corporate transfer.

The application for an ICT card is submitted in the country where the employee will reside the longest for work purposes. This also applies when the first country of residence for an employee from a third country is another EU country.

In our case, what should the employer of the Polish company do? With the possibility of relocating employees from Poland to Germany in mind, the employer should apply to the Polish Voivodeship Office for an ICT card for Turkish citizens if:

The foreigner is to be seconded to Poland by their parent employer located outside the territory of the European Union member states, the European Economic Area or Switzerland as part of an intra-corporate transfer to a company in Poland ( the company must have a capital or organizational connections with the parent employer or belong to a group of companies) . The foreigner will work in Poland as a manager, specialist, or trainee for a period exceeding 3 months ( 90days). Similar conditions for obtaining an ICT card apply in Germany. In this case the receiving company applies for the ICT card at the Foreigners Office. It will be the German branch of a foreign company located outside the European Union – in our case, Turkey.

Before coming to Germany, the employee should obtain a work visa from the appropriate embassy of the country of origin. The ICT permit allows for the legalization of the foreigner’s stay and work within a single administrative process, eliminating the need to apply for a separate work permit.

The ICT permit is granted for the planned duration of the intra-corporate transfer, but not exceeding: 3 years for managers and specialists, 1 year for trainees.

What does obtaining an ICT card in Poland enable? Obtaining an ICT card facilitates the mobility of employees within European Union countries. Foreign employees holding an ICT card in one EU country can temporarily work in: another EU country, subject to certain conditions, within the same company or group of companies without the need to return to their country of origin. I will discuss this further below.

Short – term mobility Foreign employees from third countries holding a Polish ICT card can work in Germany for up to 90 days. Of course, this is possible within the framework of intra-corporate transfers or within a group of companies. This short – term transfer does not require an additional residence permit in Germany. It is sufficient for the Polish company ( or branch) to notify the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) about the temporary work assignment of employees to a company(or branch) located in Germany.

The notification can be submitted by email. The authority should grant permission for the employees entry to Germany within 20 days. This means that if you want to send employees from outside the EU to Germany, you should do so at least 20 days before their planned arrival in Germany. Approval from the German employment office is not required in this case.

5 ways to relocate employees within a group of companies – Mobile ICT Card Foreign employees from third countries holding an ICT card issued in another EU country can also stay in Germany for a period exceeding 90 days. However, they need a residence permit in Germany, known as the Mobile ICT card.

Applications for a mobile ICT Card should be submitted to the appropriate Foreigners Office based on the location of the branch or company within the group of companies.

The condition for issuing a Mobile ICT Card is that the employee: belongs to the managerial staff or is a specialist in their field or a trainee.

Note: A Mobile ICT Card in Germany is only issued if the duration of stay in Germany does not exceed the duration of stay in the country where the original ICT card was issued.

If an employee has arrived in Germany for a short-term-stay by submitting the appropriate notification to the Office for Migration and Refugees, an application for Mobile ICT Card, due to an extension of their stay beyond 3 months, should be submitted at least 20 days before the end of the short – term stay. Approval from the Federal Employment Agency is required for issuing the Mobile ICT Card, which is obtained by the Office for Migration through an internal procedure.

International personnel exchange /foreign projects : another option for relocating employees to Germany is international personnel exchange and foreign projects.

What is the procedure for internationally operating entrepreneurs and corporations in Germany? The Foreigners Office grants permission for international personnel exchanges within a group of companies or a corporation (without the involvement of the German Employment Agency). The condition for granting permission is that employees involved in the international exchange are qualified employees, particularly those with higher education or technical qualifications. This fact must be demonstrated with the appropriate documents.

Transfer within the framework of foreign projects applies to situations where activities in Germany within a company belonging to the group outside the borders of the European Union are aimed at preparing for the implementation of a project outside Germany.

It should be noted that, regardless of receiving permission for personnel exchange, employees coming to Germany should obtain an entry visa from their country of origin.

5 ways to relocate employees within a group of companies -Summary are you relocating your employees to other EU countries or planning to do so? If you need support in this area, we are happy to discuss and address your concerns. Give us a call…