• Rank: 15 out of 38
  • MIPEX Score: 57
  • HEALTH 43

Key Findings

Changes in context

  • Foreign citizens make up nearly half of the LU population (recently estimated at 46%) a larger share than in almost any other developed democracy (only comparable to SG) and the largest share of EU citizens (38% of the total population)
  • University-educated make up larger share of non-EU immigrants in LU (1/2 and rising since 2008) comparable only to IE and UK 
  • Overall employment rates are relatively stable and above-average for the EU
  • Pro-immigrant attitudes held by large majority of LU residents who agree that immigrants enrich LU culturally and economically and should enjoy equal rights as LU citizens
  • Stable government coalition in LU including both right and left parties; now Christian Democrats out of power for 1st time since 1979 and only 2nd time since WWII

Key Common Statistics

Country of net migration since:% Non-EU citizens% Foreign-born% Non-EU of foreign-born% Non-EU university-educated % from low or medium-developed (HDI) country
UN 2010 data in 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Note: Adults aged 18-64, Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013

Changes in policy

  • +2 points overall on integration policies in 2010/1
  • +4 on Labour Market Mobility with new procedure for right to Validation of Acquired Experience (VAE)
  • +3 2011 Orientation provided to training opportunities in LU through Welcome and Integration Contract (CAI)
  • +1 on Family Reunion: Sponsors in ‘stable relationships’ now eligible to reunite
  • +8 on Political Participation with non-EU citizens granted the right to stand for all municipal positions, including mayor
  • 2011 saw minor changes in powers and structure of local and national Councils of Foreigners

Conclusions and recommendations

2008 saw the passage of major reforms recognising LU as a permanent country of immigration. More opportunities for integration were provided by the Nationality Law (+5 points overall on MIPEX though stricter eligibility and language requirements than in most countries) as well as several improvements on family reunion, anti-discrimination and political participation (+5 more points). Since then, only minor improvements were made to LU's approach to integration. 

Integration is the reality for the mostly long-settled immigrants in this small, wealthy, multilingual country, according to EU's Migrant Integration Indicators and the MIPEX data. Employment rates for EU citizens are higher than for LU citizens and generally similar or higher for long-settled non-EU citizens. Nearly half of working-age EU and non-EU citizens are university-educated, compared to 1/3 of LU citizens. These high-educated may become more politically active over time than the high-educated born in LU. Inequalities do appear in terms of the social concentration of immigrant pupils in disadvantaged schools, the under-representation of immigrants and their descendants in the public sector (the greatest of any Western country), gaps in income, in-work poverty, poverty-risk and uptake of training, especially for non-EU citizens, experiences of discrimination as well as knowledge and use of the LU language compared to the other 2 official languages (FR and DE).

Democratic deficit is probably the most glaring inequality in LU today. The Nationality Law has shown some success (18,982 new citizens in 5 years since reform vs. 5,374 in 5 years before), while LU enfranchises most EU and non-EU citizens in its relatively inclusive model of local democracy. Even so, LU remains one of the most exclusive national democracies in the developed world, with the largest share of adults disenfranchised in national elections. According to 2013 OECD data, after 10+ years in the country, LU citizenship had been granted to only around 20% of the foreign-born, including among the non-EU-born, who are generally most likely to naturalise and see the benefits. LU would have joined NZ, UK, PT and a few global leaders in granting national voting rights for foreign citizens, had this not been rejected in a 2015 referendum on the 2013 Liberal/Socialist/Green coalition's package of 3 electoral reforms. 

In the aftermath of the referendum, the government is reconsidering how to guarantee equal opportunities for all foreign citizens, encourage them to naturalise and open up LU public institutions to diversity. A revised Nationality Law can better recognise integration realities for long-settled residents and reward FR- or DE-speaking newcomers for making extra efforts learning to speak basic Luxembourgish. The anti-discrimination framework could strengthen protections against nationality discrimination, especially for non-EU citizens, and strengthen all victims' access to justice through roles for equality NGOs/class actions and greater powers and resources for LU's relatively weak Equal Treatment Centre. Mainstreaming diversity and equality in this very international country could open up the public sector with greater access and bridging support for settled residents and greater equality duties across society, following international trends. The education system in particular has a duty to promote social integration and intercultural education through greater outreach to immigrant parents and communities and guaranteed access for all pupils to adapted language learning and teaching on diversity, citizenship and immigrants' languages. 

Policy Recommendations from ASTI

  • Concerning access to social security, it would be crucial to have a standard and to define whether it is compulsory to have a residence permit or if a proof of living in Luxembourg is enough to apply for social security
  • For non-EU citizens, the 12 months residency and work delay is too long for a family reunification demand, as well as the waiting period of 9 months for the answer. The housing criteria for the family have to be better specified: the number of bedrooms, the size of the house, etc.
  • For both non-EU and EU citizens the definition of “dependency” concerning parents or children above 21 in relation to family reunification, is not clear, since it is difficult to evaluate the exact amounts of money the person in Luxembourg has to have sent to his family member in order to prove it
  • To obtain a long-term residency permit, the non-EU citizen has to prove 5 years residency and work in Luxembourg before he can apply. If he stopped working, even for a short period, the long-term residency permit can be denied (except for some specific reasons like health, pregnancy or studies)
  • The waiting period of 6 months to obtain an answer from the authorities is too long
  • The new law on citizenship should be large and inclusive in order to permit a large access to Luxemburgish nationality, especially by introducing the “jus soli”

Download the detailed recommendations in French


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Labour Market Mobility

Key Findings

Labour market integration happens over time, but small numbers of non-EU citizens access training and benefits in LU, potentially due to legal barriers and limited targeted support

Potential Beneficiaries

How many immigrants could be employed?

Around 1/3 of working-age non-EU citizens in LU are not in employment, education or training, according to 2011/2 EU Labour Force Survey data. This is similar to the levels on average in Europe, lower than in BE or FR but higher than in NL or UK. The numbers of non-EU citizens not in employment, education or training are highest in countries such as BE, FR, GR, ES and lowest (around 20-25%) in Nordics, CY, CZ, PT, NL, CH, UK. Further disaggregations by gender and education provide for only very rough estimates. Generally across Europe, this is less common among men & high-educated (1/4) than among women & low-educated (40%). 

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?

Non-EU newcomers are placed in slightly disadvantaged position in LU's growing but rigid labour market, with its policies ranked 30th out of 38. Access to the labour market is a key weakness for non-EU temporary workers. They must wait for a few years before they can change jobs or sectors, but many jobs and sectors, including in the public sector, are closed to them as non-EU citizens. Non-EU newcomers have information and rights to education and training, but not the right to any necessary social security, financial aid or the right to an official recognition of their previous non-EU qualifications. Most other Western European and traditional destination countries are investing in more effective targeted support. 

Dimension 1: Access to labour market

  • A major weakness in the integration strategy, non-EU residents have unfavourable access to the labour market in LU (comparable only to FR and slightly less restrictive than CY, SK or TU)
  • Non-EU residents with the right to work are excluded from the public sector, several areas of the private sector and self-employment, unlike the majority of other countries

Dimension 2: Access to general support

  • Non-EU newcomers enjoy slightly favourable access to general support in LU as on average in Western Europe
  • Immigrants can access public employment offices, higher education & vocational training in LU and most countries, often thanks to EU law
  • Non-EU citizens must wait five years or be refugees to access the same financial aid that LU and EU citizens use to pursue studies in LU 
  • Non-EU citizens face greater obstacles than EU citizens to pursue higher education and high-qualified work because LU's procedures are more complicated to recognise non-EU academic and professional qualifications (see recent reform in DE and policies in DK, NL, SE, UK)
  • Those with 3 years or 5,000 hours of paid or voluntary work may benefit from the new procedure for the validation of acquired experiences (VAE) since 2010

Dimension 3: Targeted support

  • Newcomers can increasingly get basic information on recognition and job-hunt procedures (e.g. Citizens' Counter and Welcome and Integration Contract) 
  • Further work-related support and trainings are usually ad hoc and project-based 
  • With below-average targeted support (like BE, CH), LU does not provide a programme of job-specific language training, bridging/work placement programmes, peer-to-peer mentoring (see Nordics, DE, PT, AU/CA/NZ)
  • Bridging/work placement programmes are also increasingly available in the public sector (e.g. CA, FR, DE, NO, SE)
  • Promising initiatives like 'Language Holiday' for workers could offer work-specific or -based LU training  

Dimension 4: Workers' rights

  • Non-EU workers' rights are only halfway favourable for their long-term labour market integration in LU, ranked 26th out of the 38 (similar to AU, MT, NZ, UK)
  • Once migrants find jobs, they generally enjoy the same working conditions and access to unions as LU citizens
  • These workers pay their taxes but must wait 5 years to access the social security system and housing benefits as long-term residents, which increases their risk of poverty and in-work poverty
  • Access is so restricted in just half the MIPEX countries (e.g. AU/NZ/US/UK and new countries of immigration)
  • Full access is guaranteed for all non-EU temporary residents in 14 countries (CA, Northern & Southern Europe)

Real beneficiaries

Are immigrants acquiring new skills?

Only 17% of working-age non-EU citizens were recently enrolled in education or training in LU and on average across the EU, according to the 2011/2 data. Very rough estimates indicate that the uptake of education and training in LU is much higher among high-educated non-EU citizens than low-educated. The EU Zaragoza Indicators published on Eurostat's website reveal that both EU and non-EU citizens are slightly less likely to participate in training (15%) than LU citizens (22%). Furthermore, most unemployed non-EU citizens must find a new job without the support of unemployment benefits. According to 2011/2 rough estimates from a selection of EU countries, only around 1/3 of non-EU citizen men and women who were unemployed last year received any unemployment benefits. This number rises to only 38% in LU (see higher rates in AT, BE, FI, FR, CH). 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants find skilled and well-paid jobs?

  • High employment rates (≥70%) and ≥2% average GDP in LU, like DE and CH 
  • Some of the most rigid employment protection legislation in BE/FR/LU
  • Majority of non-EU citizens are university-educated but also not coming for work or study reasons 
  • Large numbers coming with some exposure to one of LU's official languages, but not the LU language

Outcome indicators

Are immigrants employed in qualified and well-paid jobs?

Labour market integration is a reality for immigrants in LU, according to 2011/2 EU Labour Force Survey data. Employment rates for EU citizens are higher than for LU citizens and generally similar or higher for long-settled non-EU citizens. For example, among the long-settled non-EU-born (10+ years' stay), both high and low-educated men are just as likely to work as their LU-born male counterparts. These low-educated women are 60% more likely to work than LU-born low-educated women. The one slight gap in employment rates is for high-educated women (69% for long-settled non-EU-born vs. 82% for LU-born). Most high-educated men and women seem to end up in jobs at their level of qualification. 

The major gaps are in incomes. For example, the EU Integration indicators show that at-risk of poverty is nearly 2 times lower for LU citizens than for EU citizens (around 20%) and 3 times lower than for non-EU citizens (around 40%) because the median income of EU citizens is 75% that of LU citizens and that of non-EU citizens only 57%. In-work-poverty is also 2 times higher for EU citizens (around 15%) and over 4 times higher for non-EU citizens (around 1/3). Furthermore, the under-representation of immigrants and their descendants in the public sector is the greatest in LU of any Western country. 

Family Reunion

Key Findings

LU's family reunion policy have become slightly more 'family-friendly' in recent years, following the average trends in Europe and basic requirements of EU law

Potential Beneficiaries

How many immigrants are potentially living in transnational couples?

Transnational couples are one of the main potential beneficiaries for family reunion, but they are rarely identified through statistics and assisted to reunite. According to 2011/2 estimates from 17 European countries, 3.5% of non-EU adults in LU are separated from their spouse or partner. These numbers are slightly lower than on average in Europe.

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants reunite with family?

Since transposing EU law in August 2008, non-EU families enjoy better and clearer right to make their home in Luxembourg, following average trends in Western Europe. Before, no law governed family reunion for non-EU residents. Now, family definitions, requirements and rights are slightly favourable for separated family's reunion and integration in LU, ranking 15th. These definitions further improved with 2011's opening to sponsors in stable relationships. 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Ranked 14th, LU's slightly favourable definitions allow sponsors, with sufficient income and housing, to apply after 1 year for their adult spouse or civil/long-term partner, dependent parents as well as minor and certain adult children 
  • Since 2008, sponsors can now apply for their families after 1 year as in most MIPEX countries, but subject to well-founded possibility of obtaining long-term residence 
  • Before, family reunion was in practice accepted only for long-term residents (after more than 5 years)
  • Since 2008, sponsors can also apply for adult children who are financially dependent or up to age 21, as in 18 other countries
  • Under December 2011 Immigration Law, a stable relationship can be taken into account (as in 16 other countries), based on the intensity, length and stability of the links proven by all means (e.g. living together ≥1 year, shared responsibility for child)
  • Civil partner (PACS) also eligible to apply, as in 26 other countries

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • Sponsors must pay a nominal fee and prove appropriate housing meeting LU's general health and safety standards
  • The major obstacle is the strict requirement on economic resources, allowing no reliance on the social security system (any basic legal income accepted in 22 other countries)

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Families are only halfway certain of their chances to be reunited and stay in LU due to slightly more complicated procedures in LU than on average in Western Europe
  • Their application can be refused and permit withdrawn on several grounds, including changes in the family's conditions
  • Authorities must justify any refusal or withdrawal, take the family's personal circumstances into account and allow for appeals, as is common in most countries
  • Their permits will not be as secure as their sponsor's, unlike in 19 other countries

Dimension 4: Rights associated

  • Thanks to the 2008 law, reunited families enjoy the same basic rights and opportunities as their sponsor to integrate in socio-economic life in LU, as in 22 other countries
  • For example, they enjoy the same access to education, training, housing and social assistance
  • The fact that spouses and adult children are not entitled to automatic autonomous permits after 3 years can have unfavourable consequences for gender and family equality (better facilitated in 11 countries: AU, BE, CA, IT, NO, NZ, PT, SI, ES, TU, SE)

Real beneficiaries

Are families reuniting?

1,072 non-EU family members reunited with their non-EU sponsor in LU in 2013. These numbers increased from around 300 in 2009/10 to around 1,000 in 2012/3. Children made up a slight majority (60%) of these family members in 2012/3, followed by spouses/partners (1/3) and a small number of other family members.

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants reunite with family?

Non-EU families have been just as likely to reunite with sponsors in LU in recent years as on average across Western Europe. Non-EU family reunion is relatively rare in the EU. Out of every 100 non-EU residents in the average EU country, only 2.2 are newly arrived non-EU family members. That rate rises to around 3 out of 100 in Western European countries. Since 2008, rates have slightly risen in LU to 3.3 in 2013. With very few exceptions, non-EU families have been more likely to reunite in countries with inclusive family reunion policies, such as the Benelux, Nordic and Southern European countries. 


Key Findings

With the largest number of 1st/2nd generation pupils of all developed democracies, the needs are even greater for the LU education system to promote equal opportunities and new opportunities for learning and social integration

Potential Beneficiaries

How many pupils have immigrant parents?

As both a large and long-standing destination with long-settled communities, LU has by far the largest share of 1st and 2nd generation pupils within its education system compared to all other developed (OECD) democracies. For example, nearly half (46%) of LU's 15-year-olds taking the PISA in 2012 had an immigrant parent. 17.3% were born abroad while 28.7% were born in LU to immigrant parents. Only 1/4 of these pupils had parents who spoke Luxembourgish at home, one of the lowest levels among the developed democracies on par with AT, IS and FI. 

Policy Indicators

Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?

Average for Western Europe, LU offers the basic support to target immigrant pupils' specific needs and even more to implement intercultural education for all pupils. All newcomers have at least initial access to schools, a good introduction from CASNA, some mother tongue support and ad hoc assistance from intercultural mediators. But like most other European countries, its education system faces many challenges to guarantee equal access for immigrant pupils to all types of schools and make schools into spaces for social integration. Compared to other countries, the education system in LU has an especially large task ahead to promote equal opportunities, multilingualism and a mixed intercultural education.

Dimension 1: Access

  • All newcomers can access compulsory education, though barriers emerge for undocumented children needing apprenticeships within their vocational education
  • Enrolling newcomer pupils in LU's complex multilingual school system is assisted by outside experts (CASNA), a unique institution to welcome newcomer pupils and parents (see also FR)
  • CASNA informs newcomer parents about the school system and is trained to assess students’ prior learning and place them in the right school and year

Dimension 2: Targeting needs

  • Newcomer pupils receive the same basic targeted support in LU as in most Western European countries
  • A 2009 ordinance acknowledged newcomers’ challenges becoming fluently multilingual—a first in 40 years
  • Teachers can start to improve their capacity to teach in a diverse classroom; Diversity learning is taught to new teachers and voluntarily available in in-service training
  • Teachers can to some extent rely on assistance from LU's intercultural mediators to assist in classrooms and extracurricular activities (e.g. summer holidays) 
  • Preschool children can benefit from a few hours of extra LU language training, while compulsory-age pupils with limited language proficiency should benefit from either separate 'welcoming' classes or subjects integrated into the mainstream class
  • However all are not guaranteed full and high-quality language support to learn Luxembourg’s 3 official languages, a unique challenge for a small multilingual country 

Dimension 3: New opportunities

  • Education system in LU, like FR, does relatively little to help schools to seize the new opportunities for learning and social integration brought by diversity 
  • These policies are slightly weaker than on average for Western European and the traditional destination countries
  • Immigrant parents may be better able to communicate with teachers if schools choose to call on LU's intercultural mediators 
  • Schools are recommended when they deem necessary to offer a 2-3 weekly lessons of the official curriculum in the mother tongue or outside the school day (similar to CLIL methodology), with embassy-paid teachers under bilateral agreements (e.g. traditionally with PT)
  • In contrast, other leading countries are finding ways to bring immigrant languages and cultures into the classroom for all pupils and starting to experiment with ways to diversify classrooms, extracurricular activities, the teaching staff and parents' committees (see AU/CA/NZ, Nordics, BE, DE, CH)

Dimension 4: Intercultural education

  • All pupils receive slightly favourable support to learn about diversity in school and public life (see also support in BE, NL, NO, PT, UK)
  • New teachers should be trained on citizenship education and interculturalism in pre-service training, while these topics are also available for in-service training
  • Intercultural education is supposed to be taught across the curriculum, with diverse texts provided by the Ministry, though teachers have the discretion on how to implement this in their teaching and school life 

Real beneficiaries

Are pupils with limited literacy getting remedial courses?

One indicator of immigrant pupils' access to learning support is number of Low-literacy immigrant pupils receiving extra out-of-school literacy courses. This data is provided for 15-year-olds taking the 2012 PISA test. Around half (49%) of foreign-born pupils with low-literacy scores were enrolled in extra out-of-school literacy courses. These numbers were slightly lower for low-literacy 2nd and non-immigrant pupils in LU (41% vs. 36% respectively). These relatively low numbers for LU are comparable to the BE, FR, DE and NL education systems but far below the Nordics and most EN-speaking countries.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether the children of immigrants excel at school?

  • Near-majority of immigrant pupils with low-educated mothers are concentrated in disadvantaged schools, much more likely than for similar non-immigrant pupils in LU (also large gap for BE, FR, DE)
  • Only 1/4 of 1st/2nd generation speak the official language/s at home 
  • >20% of foreign-born pupils arrive after age 12 
  • Student-teacher ratios relatively low in LU

Outcome indicators

How well are the children of immigrants achieving at school?

Immigrant pupils make major progress from one generation to the next but large gaps still remain in LU as well as in similar education systems (DE, LU, NL, but not FR). For comparison, around 1/4 of non-immigrant 15-year-olds in LU with low-educated mothers ended up as math low-achievers on PISA in 2012. For foreign-born pupils with low-educated mothers, the number of math low-achievers was twice as high (54%). This level drops to around 1/3 (35%) for 2nd generation pupils with low-educated mothers. 

No systematic link emerges between targeted education policies and outcomes. Targeted education policies may be too new, too weak, too late or too general for most migrant pupils to benefit from them in all schools. Moreover general issues within the LU education system, such as multilingualism and especially social concentration in schools, probably have a greater impact on the outcomes of migrant and other disadvantaged pupils.


Key Findings

Inclusive healthcare entitlements and intercultural interpreters, but health services and policies could improve their capacity to serve a diverse public

Policy Indicators

Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?

Ranked 22nd, LU adopts an inclusive approach to healthcare entitlements covering nearly all migrants within its public health insurance system. Intercultural interpreters are useful to inform migrant patients and help services respond to any of their specific needs. However requirements for interpreters could be better integrated into health services along with standards, trainings and a leading migrant health policy to guarantee equal quality treatment for all. 

Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE. 

Dimension 1: Entitlements

  • Ranked 8th like BE and NO, most migrant patients can be covered by LU's public health insurance system, though a few gaps emerge for vulnerable legal and health groups
  • Legal migrants have the same right and duty to join the statutory public health insurance system as LU citizens (equal entitlements also in BE, FR, DE, NL and CH)
  • Asylum-seekers are also guaranteed full healthcare entitlements through OLAI (see general equal entitlements in FR)
  • Undocumented migrants can be confidentially insured through the health system if their employers are prepared to contribute (or they can afford to pay the full contributions themselves) and they can obtain the proper documents
  • Limited exceptions to the insurance requirements protect vulnerable groups (pregnant women and babies) 
  • Problems of adminisitrative discretion can arise for uninsured legal migrants applying for help for 'insurmountable costs' and for asylum-seekers applying for reimbursements by OLAI in their 1st 3 months 

Dimension 2: Access policies

  • Intercultural interpreters can be extremely useful for service-providers and migrant patients, but other policies on access and information are relatively basic and average for Western Europe  
  • Trained and hospital-paid intercultural interpreters are available in over-a-dozen languages upon request to the LU Red Cross when medical and social services have communication difficulties due to language or cultural differences (similar mediators available in 17 others)
  • Similar to most countries, legal migrants and asylum-seekers in LU can access written and online materials in the LU, FR, DE and PT languages on entitlements and health issues, while asylum-seekers benefit from individual meeting upon arrival
  • This information on entitlements may not make its way to all service-providers and staff, a weakness across countries
  • Reporting and sanctioning are not explicitly forbidden for health services treating undocumented patients (see e.g. FR, IT, NL, NO, SE, CH)

Dimension 3: Responsive services

  • Health services can be halfway responsive to any specific health/access needs of migrant patients in LU
  • This response ranks 17th, relatively average for Western Europe (similar to BE, DK, NL, see instead AT, NO, CH, English-speaking countries)
  • Other than through the system of intercultural interpreters, health services have few tools to respond 
  • These interpreters are paid and well known by health services who can decide whether or not to use them
  • Standards and trainings on intercultural competence are available but not obligatory 
  • Certain services (e.g. obstetrical and psychiatric treatment) are starting to consider ethno-cultural specificities in their diagnosis and treatment 
  • In 21 other countries, migrants are involved to some extent in information provision, service design and delivery – most actively in AT, AU, IE, NZ, UK

Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change

  • These changes in health services are not supported by a coordinated migrant health policy in LU (as weak as FR, JP and most Central European countries)
  • While health data is available by nationality, migrant health issues and obstacles are under-researched in LU
  • Health is not a priority issue for integration, while migrants and people with limited language proficiency are not a priority issue for health policy (see instead approaches in AU, NZ, UK, US as well as NO, IE)

Political Participation

Key Findings

Democratic deficit is probably the most glaring inequality in LU today

Potential Beneficiaries

Who are disenfranchised from voting?

Only an estimated 1/3 of non-EU citizen adults were ineligible to vote in local elections in 2011/2, based on EU Labour Force Survey data. However, 100% of foreign residents were disenfranchised in national elections. LU has the largest share of adults disenfranchised in national elections of any of the developed democracies, comparable only to SG. 

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?

As the MIPEX country with the largest foreign population, Luxembourg provides nearly favourable opportunities for them to participate in politics, though more inclusive policies can be found in NZ, IE and Nordics. Voting rights are slightly inclusive at the local level and improving since 2011. One of LU's strengths for integration is its support for immigrant civil society through State funding and slightly favourable consultative bodies. 

Dimension 1: Electoral rights

  • Foreign citizens have slightly favourable opportunities to vote in local elections after 5 years and, since 2011, to stand as candidates for all municipal positions, including the mayor
  • Newcomers can more quickly vote in IE (immediately) and the Nordic countries
  • National voting rights are granted in only 4 countries: New Zealand to all permanent residents after one year of residence since 1975 (the most inclusive policy), Chile after 5 years, Malawi after 7 years, and Uruguay after 8 years; A few other countries grant national voting rights to only certain foreign citizens, such as UK (Commonwealth) and PT (Brazilians)

Dimension 2: Political liberties

  • All residents in LU can exercise their basic political liberties in LU as in the vast majority of countries

Dimension 3: Consultative bodies

  • Since 1975, LU's Foreigners' Councils have slightly favourable powers to represent foreign residents and better than any other, though countries and cities are constantly experimenting with more democratic and participatory methods
  • Among registered associations, elections are held for members and the chair of the National Council, with a composition reflecting LU's residents and the right of initiative
  • Local Councils must operate in every municipality with the right of initiative and include ordinary LU as well as foreign citizens, including non-EU citizens, who are allowed to apply, selected by the City Council and then elect the chair

Dimension 4: Implementation policies

  • Foreign citizens are encouraged to use their political right and opportunities and have their voices heard in LU's public life
  • Their associations can receive state support to represent their civic interests
  • Ad hoc information campaigns are organised around local elections to inform and encourage foreign citizens to register to vote and, since 2011, to stand for elections
  • This type of funding and information is regularly provided in most countries of Northwest Europe, CA, KR, NZ and PT

Real beneficiaries

How many non-EU immigrants are eligible to vote?

According to Statec, the referendum on national voting rights for foreigners could have made foreign citizens into 28% of the future electorate. National voting rights could have benefited up to 105,000 people by 2018, although the requirement to 1st participate in local elections would have brought the numbers down to only 35,000. For example, in the 2011 local elections, only 17% of eligible non-EU citizens were registered to vote, a slow increase from 12% in 1999 to 15% in 2005. These voters would have been slightly younger than the average LU citizen, more economically active and mostly working in the private sector (77%) compared to only 51% of LU citizens. Most are citizens of PT, IT and neighbouring countries, though only 1/4 regularly speak the LU language. 


Looking at both enfranchised and naturalised non-EU citizens in 2011/2, LU emerges as a country of 'second-class citizenship' (like DK, EE, FI, IE), with an inclusive local democracy but low shares of naturalisation. Only around 20% of non-EU-born or long-settled residents (10+ years) have become LU citizens. LU can only avoid becoming an ageing and shrinking democracy by facilitating naturalisation for the 2nd and long-settled 1st generation and/or building support again for national voting rights.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants become politically active?

  • Around half are university-educated in LU and thus likely to participate politically
  • 3/4 of foreign-born from EU countries and 1/3 of non-EU citizens from highly developed countries
  • Generally high levels of civic engagement in Benelux countries
  • Most long-settled in LU 

Outcome indicators

Are immigrants participating in political life?

While few immigrants vote in national elections, many are participating politically in LU. For example, the European Social Survey collected data in the early 2000's about whether people recently took part in a political party, association, petition, demonstration or contacting a politician. Long-settled non-EU immigrants (10+ years) with university degrees are slightly more likely to participate politically than people born in LU (80% vs. 70%). However, long-settled non-EU with low levels of education are much less likely to participate than the low-educated born in LU (1/3 vs. 1/2). This gap for the low-educated is similar to other countries with inclusive political participation policies (e.g. NL, SE). 

The link between political participation policies and rates is probably not direct. It is clear that no trade-off exists between promoting political participation among foreigners and promoting naturalisation. Actually, political participation policies tend to be stronger and non-EU immigrants slightly more likely to naturalise in countries with inclusive naturalisation policies.

Permanent Residence

Key Findings

The large number of long-settled non-EU citizens are starting to become EU long-term residents under LU's slightly favourable policies based on EU law

Potential Beneficiaries

Who can become long-term residents?

Around 2/3 of non-EU citizens have lived in LU the 5+ years required to become long-term residents, according to 2011/2 estimates from the EU Labour Force Survey. 

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?

Non-EU citizens can undertake a slightly favourable path to long-term residence in LU that is average for Western Europe. Compared to family reunion, the way LU transposed its EU obligations in 2008 had little positive integration impact on long-term residence. Fewer groups are now eligible for greater rights. Those with 5 years’ residence and eligible permits can apply under slightly favourable conditions. For example, long-term residents now cannot have their permit withdrawn on economic grounds. They acquire average equal rights as in most European countries, but little residence security.

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Non-EU temporary residents become eligible for long-term residents under average rules for Europe
  • The requirements for former students and periods of absence come from the 2003 EU Directive
  • Excluded groups include seasonal, transferred or seconded workers and 'formally limited' permits e.g. individuals receiving professional training

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • The requirements to become long-term residents are relatively basic and similar to several other Western European countries 
  • Voluntarily participating in an integration programme can only help immigrants in the review of their application
  • The fees are basic and affordable
  • However, non-EU citizens have to meet a disproportionately demanding income requirement without depending on social assistance (any legal income accepted in 26 other countries)
  • This income requirement has been better defined through several Administrative Court decisions from 2011-2013 based on the EU Directive

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Applicants and long-term residents are slightly more insecure about their status in LU than in other Western European countries with greater guarantees 
  • Applicants obtain a quick response and a 5-year-renewable permit
  • Their application can be rejected and permit withdrawn on several grounds, including 1-year outside the EU
  • Decisions to deport long-term residents are not required to take into account all of their personal circumstances or exempt the long-settled with effective links to LU
  •  For example, LU does not protect minors and residents settled there since childhood from expulsion (unlike in BE, FR, NL, SE)

Dimension 4: Rights Associated

  • Since 2008, long-term residents are guaranteed social and economic rights as citizens in LU, as in 29 other countries (though see equal access to public sector for long-term residents in several countries, most recently IT) 

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are long-term residents?

LU was home to 8,912 long-term residents in 2013. 2/3 were EU long-term residents, with the right to live and work in other EU Member States. More non-EU residents are becoming both long-term residents, with numbers rising from 2,660 to 6,077 for EU long-term residence and from 1,528 to 2,835 for national forms of permanent residence. 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants become long-term residents?

  • Most residents on potentially eligible ≥1-year-permits 
  • 2/3 of non-EU residents are long-settled in LU
  • Slight majority of permit holders are humanitarian or family migrants likely to settle long-term
  • Major option to secure residence for long-settled residents and 2nd generation discouraged by naturalisation requirements

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become long-term residents?

While an estimated 2/3 of non-EU citizens are long-settled in LU in 2011/2, only 30% had officially become national or EU long-term residence by 2013. Long-term residence is becoming more common over time in LU, rising slowly from 8% of non-EU citizens in 2010. This indicator suggests that more and more eligible non-EU citizens are benefiting from the slightly favourable path to secure their residence and more equal socio-economic rights, with several potentially positive effects on their integration outcomes. LU policy can focus on informing and assisting eligible long-settled residents to further smooth the application process.

Access to Nationality

Key Findings

2008 Reform creates path to dual nationality, but also a few new obstacles to naturalisation and integration

Potential Beneficiaries

Who can become a citizen?

60% of non-EU-citizens in LU have lived there long enough to become eligible for naturalisation, according to 2011/2 estimates. Compared to other European countries, a sizeable share of LU's non-EU-citizens (15%) are actually the second generation, born and raised there but not entitled to citizenship.

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become citizens?

In 2008, immigrants and their grandchildren gained the opportunity to become dual nationals through a more objective, but more demanding procedure. The 2008 reform was slightly favourable for integration, doubled its MIPEX score on nationality and followed several European reform trends. Still, the requirements may not be adapted to the integration realities in LU and actually inappropriate for the second generation. Minor amendments, inspired by best practices from similar countries, could create a favourable path to citizenship that encourages immigrants and their children to become full LU citizens.

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • As a compromise, the 2008 law only went halfway to set favourable eligibility rules for a country of immigration
  • LU is the only country with a citizenship entitlement for the grandchildren of immigrants, but none for their children born or schooled in the country (see e.g. BE, FR, DE, NL, SE)
  • After the law, immigrants had to wait longer from 5-to-7 years (7 is average but 5 is the most common standard e.g. BE, FR, NL, UK), while spouses of nationals lost their special entitlement (unlike in most MIPEX countries)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • While the procedure is free and slightly favourable, the language requirement may act more as obstacle than as an incentive for immigrants' actual integration in society (see box)

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Since 2008, applicants enjoy a much less discretionary administrative procedure (see also BE) and a more secure status
  • Rejected applicants have the right to a reasoned decision and appeal
  • Naturalised citizens face fewer and clearer grounds for rejection and withdrawal
  • They may lose their status if they have committed fraud, but may not if it would make them stateless

Dimension 4: Dual nationality

  • The opportunity for dual nationality was the major improvement in the 2008 law, part of a reform trend now in most MIPEX countries
  • Immigrants no longer need to renounce their previous citizenship, a major disincentive for naturalisation that immigrants and NGOs opposed for years
  • According to the law, applying for dual nationality proves immigrants’ willingness to contribute to LU's future, without severing their ties to their or their parents’ home countries

Policy Box

After the 2008 Law, speakers of French and German, the most commonly used official languages, are no longer considered sufficiently integrated to become citizens. They must understand B1-level Luxembourgish (the highest level used in Europe) and speak it at A2-level. A more effective incentive would legally exempt vulnerable groups (see BE, FR, DE, NL) and reward immigrants who learn one of the national languages (e.g. BE, FI, NO, CH) or choose to complete the basic free CAI LU course (e.g. NO).

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are becoming citizens?

The 2008 reform effectively quadrupled the total number of naturalisations from around 1,000 year from 2003-2008 to around 4,000 per year since then.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?

  • 2/3 of non-EU citizens from less developed countries
  • Majority meet residence requirement
  • Majority are family migrants likely to settle long-term
  • Certain nationalities not allowing dual nationality (e.g. BH)

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become citizens?

In recent years, LU has had one of the highest naturalisation rates in Europe, though mostly due to EU citizens (e.g. BE, FR, DE, PT). Its naturalisation rate for non-EU citizen men and women remains below-average for Europe (only 2 naturalisations for every 100 non-EU citizens in 2012), on par with DE (2.0) and below FR (2.9), BE (6.6) and NL (8.1). According to 2011/2 estimates, only one in five non-EU-born adults in LU have naturalised as citizens. This is one of the lowest shares in Europe, especially for Western European countries. The obstacles may arise for a few of the steps on LU's path to citizenship. For example, the naturalisation rate has been above-average for elderly non-EU citizens over 65, perhaps due to the 2008 Law's provisions for very long-settled residents. Generally, citizenship policies are the strongest factor determining the naturalisation outcomes for immigrant men and women from developing countries.


Key Findings

More equal opportunities for EU and non-EU citizens could be guaranteed through stronger laws covering nationality discrimination and more powers and resources for LU's equality body and NGOs; Nearly 7% of LU residents report discrimination based on origin but hardly report these incidents to the Equality Body

Potential Beneficiaries

Who said they experienced racial/ethnic or religious discrimination last year?

According to European-wide data (2012), 6.7% of people in the LU felt that in the previous year they had been discriminated against or harassed based on their ethnic origin (6%) and/or religion/beliefs (1.6%), which are relatively high rates for Europe, similar to BE and UK.

Policy Indicators

Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?

Foreign residents benefit from only halfway favourable protections against discrimination in LU, far below average in Europe and ranked 29th overall, alongside CY, CZ and ES. 

LU's legal definitions and fields of discrimination fall behind in explicitly outlawing nationality/citizenship discrimination, unlike in 22 countries. Strong prohibitions of nationality discriminations are necessary to guarantee equal opportunities in countries of immigration, especially for non-EU citizens. Victims may have difficulties to access justice because the powers and resources are limited for LU's Centre for Equal Treatment and for equality NGOs in court (e.g. class actions). LU's equality policies involve more voluntary and ad hoc initiatives than binding obligations on the public sector and service-providers.   

Dimension 1: Definitions

  • Ranked 27th alongside DK, MT and PL, LU's legal definitions provide EU and non-EU citizens with only halfway protections against discrimination
  • Wide range of actors cannot discriminate against a person on the grounds of race, ethnicity or religion
  • Victims have little-or-no options to fight discrimination based on multiple grounds in LU (see 8 other countries, e.g. DE, UK) or based on their nationality in (see strong definitions in 16 MIPEX e.g. BE, NL, UK and weaker ones in 6 others, e.g. FR)

Dimension 2: Fields of application

  • Everyone is generally protected in all areas of life against ethnic, racial, religious but not nationality discrimination (see other 16 MIPEX countries)

Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms

  • The mechanisms to enforce anti-discrimination law have improved to meet European averages, since victims receive full protection against victimisation in 2008
  • The use of situation testing and equality data could be expanded to provide better evidence in court (see 13 countries, e.g. BE, FR, SE) 
  • More organisations promoting equality could have stronger legal standing to intervene on behalf of victims (16) lead class actions (now in 9 countries plus, since this MIPEX publication, FR) 

Dimension 4: Equality policies

  • LU's equality policies and body are weaker than in 30 out of the 38 countries, providing weak leadership to support the public to use their rights and promote equality across society
  • The Centre for Equal Treatment is slightly ineffective for providing victims real assistance (see instead BE, FR, NL), without the mandate to represent them in court (unlike in 8, e.g. BE, NL, SE) initiate its own proceedings (16, e.g. FR, NL, SE, UK) or provide alternative dispute resolution mechanisms (15, e.g. Nordics, IE)
  • The LU public sector makes few legally binding commitments to equality (see public sector equality duties & positive actions in FI, FR, NO, SE, UK), though potential options have been tested through voluntary initiatives and ad hoc projects/campaigns

Real beneficiaries

How many racial/ethnic and religious discrimination complaints were made to equality bodies?

Discrimination cases are not recorded by national courts or kept as statistics by government authorities and labour inspectorates. Data on complaints is reported by LU's equality body. For example, in 2012, the Centre for Equal Treatment received 15 new cases of alleged discrimination based on race/ethnicity and 3 based on religion. The numbers were similar in 2013, with 16 on race/ethnicity and 4 on religion.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether potential victims report discrimination cases

  • Around 1/3 of general public know their rights as discrimination victims, a relatively low level of public awareness of Western Europe (similar to AT and DE)
  • High levels of trust in police and justice system
  • Most long-settled and potentially more likely to report discrimination incidents
  • But most are also not naturalised in LU and thus less likely to report 

Outcome indicators

How many complaints were made last year for every person who said they experienced racial/ethnic and religious discrimination?

Few complaints are made in LU compared to the important numbers of people reportedly experiencing incidents of discrimination based on their origins. Complaints seem to be more common in the countries with stronger, longstanding and well-resourced anti-discrimination laws and bodies; 1 complaint is received for approximately every 150-250 people experiencing ethnic or religious discrimination in FR, NL, IE and SE. Similar levels of complaints are estimated in BE (391) and CY (515). Hardly any potential discrimination victims take even the 1st step towards justice across most of Europe, including LU: only around 1 complaint is received for every 1,600 potential victims. In other words, only 0.06% of potential cases are reported in LU, similar to DK and MT, both with relatively new and weak policies.