The European Union Blue Card allows entry of highly skilled migrants to work in an EU Country. The Blue Card is the EU's bid to attract highly skilled workers; The EU hopes that the EU Blue Card scheme will enable the EU to compete effectively against the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for skilled migrants. It is an EU-wide work permit scheme allowing highly-skilled non-EU citizens the right to work and live theoretically in any of the EU countries apart from Denmark, Ireland, and the UK.
In order to be eligible to apply for a Blue Card, you must have the following:
- Professional level qualifications,
- a work contract or job offer from an EU employer with a salary at least 1.5 times the average gross salary,
- a valid travel document
- sickness insurance
This is a great way to sidestep what can be complicated work and resident visas requirements in many EU Countries. It is a one-track process to obtain your visa and, and in some cases, can even lead to permanent residency. Member States determine the number of third-country nationals they admit.
The EU Blue Card is an Immigration Visa which legally entitles the holder to work and live in the EU for a period of between one and four years. It may also be possible to renew the EU Blue Card. EU Blue Card holders may apply for permanent residence after:
- five years of legal and continuous residency within the EU as an Blue Card holder, and
- legal and continuous residency for two years immediately prior to the submission of the application within the Member State where the application for the long-term resident's EC residence permit is lodged
Successful Blue Card applicants will receive a special residence and work permit. In a Press Release on 25 May 2009 the EU had the following to say:
"...The Blue Card will facilitate access to the labour market to their holders and will entitle them to a series of socio-economic rights and favourable conditions for family reunification and movement across the EU...."
After eighteen months of legal residence in the first member state as an EU Blue Card holder, the Blue Card holder and his/her family may move, under certain conditions, to a member state other than the first member state for the purpose of highly-skilled employment.
Workers on the Blue Card will receive equal treatment as nationals of the EU Country issuing the Blue Card including the same access to education and training, and welfare benefits.