What is a EU
Blue Card?

The EU Blue Card is a work and residence permit for non-EEA nationals, which provides the holder with a pathway towards permanent residence and citizenship in a EU country.

The programme is designed to make Europe a more attractive destination for professionals from outside the EU. 25 out of the 27 EU countries currently issue the Blue Card. It does not apply in  Denmark and Ireland – or the UK.

A Blue Card gives highly qualified workers from outside the EU the permission to live and work in a EU country, provided they have higher professional qualifications such as a university degree, and an employment contract or a binding job offer with a high salary compared to the average in the EU country where the job is located.

To a certain extent, the Blue Card is a merit-based system as it relies on individual education qualification or professional experience. The EU Blue Card is not points-based; either you have the education or skills, or you do not.

In this article, we give a brief overview of the scheme, who is eligible to apply and the rights in which a Blue Card grants its holder.

Eligibility criteria for a EU Blue Card

To be eligible for a Blue Card, you must meet the following criteria in order to be considered a ‘highly qualified worker’:

  • You must prove that you have ‘higher professional qualifications’, by showing a higher education qualification (such as a university degree). Some Member States may also accept at least five years of relevant professional experience.
  • You must work as a paid employee. The EU Blue Card does not apply to self-employed work or entrepreneurs.
  • Your annual gross salary must be high, at least one and a half times the average national salary, except when the lower salary threshold applies.
  • You must present a work contract or binding job offer in a EU country for at least one year.
  • You must have the necessary travel documents. You must have health insurance for yourself and any relatives who come to the EU with you.
  • You must prove that you fulfil the legal requirements to practice your profession, where this profession is regulated.

Where can I apply?

The application for a EU Blue Card is made to the competent national authorities in the country where you wish to work.

Length of stay

Blue Cards are usually issued for between one and four years, and can be renewed. The card also allows the holder to travel between and visit other Blue Card scheme countries, but only for a combined period of 90 days in any six-month period.

Changing jobs or employers

After 18 months on a Blue Card, employees can apply to another country for a new Blue Card. Applicants are also free to change jobs with their employer after two years on a Blue Card, or start working for a new employer in the same country. In relation to shifting occupations and employers, certain nations are more restrictive.

Family members

The Blue Card allows applicants to include family members on their application, as long as you and they meet all the conditions.

Get support with European immigration

If you have questions about the EU Blue Card scheme, or need support in any other area of European immigration, Smith Stone Walters can help.

To speak to a member of the team, please contact us today.

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