The law of 20 June 2020 introducing certain temporary measures relating to the application of the amended law of 29 August 2008 on the free movement of people and immigration was published on 25 June 2020 and entered into force on the same day (hereinafter referred to as the “Law”).
The purpose of the Law is to extend specific deadlines provided for by the amended law of 29 August 2008 on the free movement of people and immigration (the “Immigration Law”), so as to not penalise third-country nationals who would not have been able to take the necessary steps with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs during the state of crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Law also incorporates temporary travel restrictions imposed on third-country nationals during the state of crisis.
Former provisions established during the state of crisis
During the state of crisis, declared by a grand-ducal regulation dated 18 March 2020 and further extended for a maximum duration of three months by a grand-ducal regulation dated 24 March 2020, certain temporary measures concerning the validity period of travel documents and the free movement of third-country nationals in the EU had already been taken.
The Grand-Ducal Regulation of 18 March 2020, which has been repealed at the end of the state of crisis (i.e. on 25 June 2020) provided, in particular, that the validity periods for visas, temporary residence permits, residence cards and residence permits, which expired after 1 March 2020, were extended for the duration of the state of crisis. The regulation also provided that the stay of third-country nationals not subject to the visa requirement and whose stay exceeded 90 days was regular for the duration of the state of crisis.
In addition, this regulation implemented temporary travel restrictions for non-essential travel of third-country nationals, in line with the recommendations of the European Commission (please read our Newsflash for further information on this topic).
All of these temporary measures have been repealed at the end of the state of crisis, i.e. on 25 June 2020. Most of these measures have nonetheless been incorporated into the Law and extended beyond the state of crisis.
Extension of immigration deadlines
To date, the Immigration Law provides that a third-country national shall apply for a residence permit before the expiry of a period of three months following its declaration of arrival. In order not to penalise third-country nationals who have made their declaration of arrival between 1 January and 31 July 2020, the period within which they must apply for a residence permit is extended by the Law from three months to six months.
The Law also provides that the period of validity of residence permits expiring after 1 March 2020 is extended until 31 August 2020.
Finally, the Law provides that the stay of third-country nationals holding a short-stay visa and those not subject to the visa requirement whose stay has just exceeded 90 days after 1 March 2020 is regular until 31 July 2020.
Temporary travel restrictions on third-country nationals
In addition to the measures related to the extension of certain deadlines, the Law provides that, by way of derogation from Article 34 of the Immigration Law, third-country nationals may no longer enter the territory of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The Law refers to a grand-ducal regulation as to the duration of the restriction and the categories of persons concerned.
A Grand-Ducal Regulation dated 20 June 2020 published on 25 June 2020 (the “Grand-Ducal Regulation”) details that third-country nationals may no longer enter the territory of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg until 15 September 2020 inclusive.
The Grand-Ducal Regulation then lists third-countries whose non-European residents may enter Luxembourg territory as from 1 July 2020 as an exemption to the temporary travel restrictions and in line with the recommendations of the European institutions, according to which Member States should agree on a common list, to be reviewed every two weeks, of non-EU countries for which travel restrictions can be lifted as of 1 July. The list currently includes the following countries:
- China (subject to reciprocity at EU level);
- New Zealand;
- South Korea;
In addition, pursuant to the Grand-Ducal Regulation, travel restrictions do not apply in the following cases:
- third-country nationals who have long-term resident status, as well as any other person with a right of residence in accordance with European Directives and the national law of a Member State of the EU and the Schengen associated countries, or who hold a national long-term visa of one of the above-mentioned States;
- third-country nationals travelling for study purposes;
- highly qualified third-country workers if their employment is necessary from an economic point of view and their work cannot be postponed or carried out from abroad;
- cross-border workers;
- seasonal workers in the agriculture sector;
- transit passengers;
- passengers travelling for urgent and duly justified family reasons;
- persons wishing to seek international protection in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg or for other humanitarian reasons;
- health professionals, health researchers and care professionals for elderly people;
- researchers and experts providing advice in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- persons employed in the transport sector;
- members of the diplomatic corps, staff of international organisations and persons invited by these international organisations whose physical presence is required for the proper functioning of these organisations, military personnel, personnel in the field of development cooperation and humanitarian aid, in the exercise of their respective functions.
Citizens of San Marino, Andorra, Monaco and the Vatican City/Holy See and their family members are also exempt from these temporary travel restrictions.
The Law finally provides that the restrictions on travel of third-country nationals shall cease to have effect on 31 December 2020. Such provision implies that temporary travel restrictions imposed on third-country nationals until 15 September 2020 by the Grand-Ducal Regulation could subsequently be extended beyond the latter date, possibly until 31 December 2020.
Such a decision to extend the restrictions on third-country nationals entering Luxembourg territory beyond 15 September 2020 will depend on the development of the health situation worldwide and on further recommendations to be possibly issued at EU level.