The EU Blue Card (the misnamed)

The EU Blue Card (the misnamed)
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A few days ago, Spain adapted the application of its European Blue Card, responding to the Council of Europe. The latter had proposed at the end of 2021 a new directive on the European Blue Card in order to harmonize its conditions of issue and residence, leaving 2 years for the members of the European Union to apply it. Here are some things you need to know about this  immigration system specially created for highly qualified talents!
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What is it

The EU Blue Card (EBC) is a work/residence permit designed to ease the mobility of highly qualified workers from non-EU countries wishing to work in the European Union. It exists since 2009 as part of a European directive, which was amended in 2021, and is available in 25 countries.

It is generally considered the Holy Grail in immigration, since it:

  1. Allows a relatively long stay (this period varies depending on the country: 4 years for France and Germany, 2 years for Greece and Italy, for example)
  2. Allows the holder’s family to accompany him and reside/work in the chosen country
  3. Is generally obtained faster than other work permits

They vary from one country to another, but generally, the EU Blue Card requires to meet criteria of salary, diplomas, professional experience. It is also necessary to have an employment contract in the host country, of a minimum duration of varying length.

Do’s and Don’ts
  1. The EBC holder and his/her family may reside and work in the country that issued the work/residence permit. They can also travel to other EU countries, up to 90 days, for tourism/business activities.

Note that the holder of an EbC can only work in the country that issued it: having a Spanish Blue Card does not allow you to work in Germany, for example.

  1. If the EbC was created to facilitate the mobility of international high talents, and that obtaining it is generally more fluid than any other work permit, it is nevertheless a legal device whose conditions vary and evolve: to the question “can I do everything with my EBC?”, the answer is (as often in immigration) “it depends“. It is therefore important to check what can be done before changing employer or country, for example.
Why it is misnamed
  1. It is not a bank credit card;
  2. It is not really blue;
  3. It is not truly European.

By its name, one might think that the European Blue Card is a kind of magical visa authorizing its holder to do everything in Europe. It is not the case.

  1. Each EU Member State can adapt the Directive to its national legislation: the conditions for issue, minimum wage thresholds, contract duration, validity therefore vary from one country to another.
  1. This is a European directive (the only one in immigration), which must not oppose or evade national work permits. Some European countries will therefore give the advantage to their national immigration systems and will make very little use of the EPC; others will use it first.

Around 30,000 EU Blue Cards were issued in 2021 – the majority by Germany. Other countries such as Belgium or Portugal have issued less.

  1. As mentioned above, it does not allow to work for another European country. If you are already in the Netherlands with an EBC and would like to obtain a new one in France, a new application will have to be made.

Note that if you have been residing for 18 months under EBC in a European country, the procedure can be facilitated.

Do you have questions about the EU Blue Card?

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