What is an EU Blue Card?

An EU Blue Card is a permit that allows a qualified holder from a non-European Union country to reside and work in an EU country. The Blue Card program is designed to attract highly skilled third-country citizens (more on that later) to fill jobs in the EU where there is a shortage or expected shortage of qualified professionals. It aims to simplify the procedures of working in an EU state and improve the legal status of foreigners already in the EU.

The European Union member states can only issue EU Blue Cards to non-EU foreign nationals. A holder is authorized to take up residence in the country that issued it.

What Opportunities Does the EU Blue Card Offer?

The EU Blue Card comes with several benefits and securities. For instance, it enables a qualified professional to receive a residence title to work in the EU. The holder can also bring their spouse, partner, child, and other dependents to the issuing countries, and all of them are granted freedom of movement within the EU. The cardholder is responsible for sponsoring all his family’s permits.

With a Blue Card, working professionals can apply for family reunification. Spouses may also receive a residence permit if their knowledge of the member state’s language is lacking. An EU Blue Cardholder is entitled to equal treatment with the citizens of the country they have settled in. However, they can only work within the profession or sector they applied for.

After 18 months of regular employment in a member state, a third-country national with an EU Blue Card is at liberty to move to another EU member state to take up gainful employment. However, they must notify the necessary authorities within one month of their relocation to the new state.

A cardholder can go back to their home country or visit a non-EU state for up to 12 consecutive months without having their EU Blue card revoked. They can also apply for permanent residency after 33 months of work in the first hosting state or after 21 months if they prove their mastery of the local language.

Which EU Countries Issue the Blue Card?

25 EU member states recognize the Blue Card, and all have a similar primary criterion for applying. Here is a list of member states you can work in if you have an EU Blue Card:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden

A few EU member states are not part of the EU Blue Card program and thus do not issue the Blue Cards. These include Ireland, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. The EFTA member states, including Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, also do not issue EU Blue Cards.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for the EU Blue Card?

Not everybody who wants to work in the EU can do so with a Blue Card. There are set criteria that every applicant must meet if their application is to be accepted, hence the term highly qualified worker. To be considered a qualified worker, you must meet the following conditions:

  • Have at least a one-year work contract in your home country
  • Prove your ‘higher professional qualifications’ by presenting a higher education qualification like a university degree.
  • Other member states also require a minimum of five years of experience in your profession
  • Have a job offer or work contract for at least one year for a highly qualified job position in an EU member state
  • Meet the minimum salary requirement in the member state that you want to work in
  • Prove that you meet all the legal requirements necessary to practice your profession if your profession is regulated in the member state.

How to Apply for an EU Blue Card

You or your employer will submit an application to the relevant authorities in the country where you have a job offer. Here is what you will need to make an application:

  • An application form filled out by either you or your employer. The information presented must be honest and correct. The form should be printed twice, with both copies signed.
  • A passport valid for at least 15 months after your planned date to leave the EU. It must be in good condition and have at least two blank pages where the visa will be attached.
  • Copies of the first few passports pages with your details and those with visa stamps and stickers
  • You will also have to submit your previous passports if any.
  • Two identical photos meeting the ICAO standards; color photos with a plain white background and taken within the past three months.
  • A work contract with an employer-based in the EU member state you wish to work in. The job contract should be valid for at least one year, meet at least the minimum wage threshold, and signed by you and your employer.
  • Proof of professional qualifications in the form of a university degree and/or evidence of five continuous years of work experience in your profession (usually an up-to-date resume). For regulated professions, present the acquired certificate.
  • A written declaration by your EU employer stating the reasons for your hiring and the benefits they stand to gain from it
  • Proof that you don’t pose a threat to the public policy, health, or security of the EU member state
  • Proof of health insurance
  • If the job offer is in a field with a shortage of professionals, proof that your annual gross salary is at least 1.5 times the average salary in the hosting state.

Once you have gathered all these documents, it takes an average of 4–6 months to have everything ready to begin the application process. Usually, you will have to set an appointment at the host country’s embassy or consulate in your home country to apply, but some member states allow online applications. However, the EU member states are free to decide whether you or your employer will make the Blue Card application.

The application fee is usually €140, while the renewal of the Blue Card will cost €100. After handing in your EU Blue Card application, you will have to wait for a maximum of 90 days until processing is complete.

How Long is an EU Blue Card Valid?

A Blue Card usually is valid for three years, but the holder can renew it if their work contract is extended past this period. If your work contract runs for over a year but less than three years, you will be issued a Blue Card valid for that period.

After an EU Blue Card expires, you have three additional months to renew or find another job. When applying for a renewal, you must have a copy of your previous blue card. Your renewal application can take up to 90 days, but you can work and reside in the hosting EU member state legally.

If you lose your current job as a Blue Cardholder, you have three months to find a new job before your Blue Card is withdrawn, and you have to leave the host country.

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