Amcham- Maud, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when you started to work for Fragomen
Maud Aupetit– I am a French national, currently residing in Belgium and I lived previously in London and Paris. I am married and have 2 children. I started to work at Fragomen nearly 5 years ago and moved to Belgium from London for this occasion. Prior to joining Fragomen, I worked in a corporate immigration firm based in London. I have been working in the field of immigration law for about 12 years now.
You are the companies Manager for the Luxembourg inbound practice, can you explain to our readers what this entails?
As part of my role, I am responsible for managing corporate immigration compliance and advisory work for companies wishing to hire or send employees to Luxembourg. We help companies and their employees to obtain work and residence authorizations to work and reside in Luxembourg. Together with a team of immigration experts, we support multinational and medium-sized corporations and individuals with effective, strategic and efficient immigration solutions to bring talents to Luxembourg. I also work on several projects for clients including business traveller solutions and advising on the full range of immigration compliance services, including posted workers notifications and social security compliance. Part of the job is also to develop and maintain good and strong relationships with the Luxembourg government authorities who help us with the applications in a daily basis. In addition, I act for private clients where I advise on French and Luxembourg nationality, family reunification, permits for private reasons and visitor visas. Overall, we strive to be an integral part of our clients’ success by providing representation, services and strategic advice to facilitate the hiring and movement of skilled talent globally.
You provide immigration and advisory related services to clients based or with operations in Europe, and your team more specifically in Luxembourg, how difficult has this been during the recent pandemic?
It has been a very challenging period. The immigration environment worldwide has been uncertain and, in many respects, in a state of flux. Government enforcement increased and regulations and policies changed at lightning speed. We had to understand and adapt to the situation immediately, discuss with the authorities to check the impact the pandemic would have from an immigration perspective and inform our clients as fast as possible so that they could prepare and plan ahead. But the authorities did not always have the answers to all the questions, and we had to face some unusual situations, as the authorities were waiting for some guidelines from the government. Several other varying considerations created a chaotic landscape of evolving entry policies, often changing weekly. At times, it felt like a full-time job just to keep up—especially as the world continued to adjust to the complicated pandemic landscape with entry and exit bans, quarantines and travel restrictions throughout the world being implemented.
You speak quite a lot of European languages, do you use them all in your day to day business?
I speak French, English and Spanish fluently, but only use French and English in the day to day business. The standard language we use at work is English. But I use French as well as working on Luxembourg. I do not often use Spanish, but if needed I could still be able to meet client requests. I used to speak and read German quite well, but I am not using this language anymore. My goal is to use them more and take some lessons so that I can use also this language as well which is very important for Luxembourg.
How does immigration law differ between countries?
Immigration laws vary around the world and throughout history, according to the social and political climate of the place and time. Many people are often surprised to see how different it can be in Europe for instance, from one country to another. Each country dictate their own immigration rules, linked to their political and social climate, and immigration change often, depending on the government in place. So when a new government is elected, the immigration policy will likely change in this country.
What country is the easiest to move to with regard to immigration?
In our Brussels office, we cover 3 jurisdictions: Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. We see, while comparing the immigration policies and processing times of the 3 countries, that the Netherlands seems to be the easiest and fastest one to move to. But, at European or worldwide level, this would need to be assessed against different elements: such as the type of contract, duration of the contract, type of work to be performed in the country, grossly year salary, citizenship of the persons, etc, as each country has their own rules and policies.
You’re based in Brussels, do you have to travel for your job?
From time to time, yes. Before the pandemic, I tried to travel to Luxembourg once a month, to meet clients, participate to conferences or events. When there is an important client meeting or event, in Luxembourg or elsewhere, if this makes sense for me to go there for my jurisdiction, then I am immediately ready to go !
What do you like to do in your “down time”?
I love to travel and discover new places around the world. Since the pandemic, the travel habits have changed a bit, and I like to discover, with my family, new places around Brussels, either in Belgium or in the neighboring countries. There are so many great places around!
I also like to read, mainly thrillers, but also novels and I love going to the theater because it is live and authentic and the performance can be so different each time, which makes it very unique.