EU Blue Card Requirements And Benefits
If you are from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA), and are considering working in an EU country, you may be wondering which immigration options are available to you and which will be most suitable for your needs. One option which you may not have previously considered is the ‘EU Blue Card’ scheme which enables people from outside of the EEA/EU with strong qualifications to live and work in a European country. Indeed, the EU is an increasingly popular destination for skilled workers from around the world due to the high standard of living available, a large number of highly skilled jobs, and the ability to travel anywhere within the continent and beyond. In this article, we will discuss the purpose of the EU Blue Card, who is eligible, and how to apply.
What Is The EU Blue Card Scheme?
The EU Blue Card is a work permit for highly-qualified workers. The scheme is geared towards individuals with a university degree or higher from outside the EU and affords them the right to live and work in a participating EU country. In addition to having higher professional qualification, applicants also need a firm offer of employment with a salary that exceeds the average in the EU country.
As an EU Blue Cardholder, you will be able to:
- Enter and remain in a particular EU country for employment
- Leave and re-enter the country that issued your card
- Bring your family members to join you
- Accumulate periods of residence in the different EU Member States in order to meet the five-year requirement for an EC long-term residence permit.
In Which Countries Is The EU Blue Card Scheme Available?
The EU blue card scheme is available in most countries within Europe. Of the 27 EU nations, the EU Blue Card scheme operates in 25. It is not available in Denmark or Ireland. The countries using the scheme are 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 and Sweden.
Am I Eligible For The EU Blue Card Scheme?
One of the main criteria for the EU Blue Card scheme is that applicants must meet the definition of a ‘highly-qualified worker’. According to the European Commission, you will be considered a highly-qualified worker if you have a work contract with a duration of at least one year and if you meet the following eligibility requirements:
- You must be able to prove that you have a 'higher professional qualification'. 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 an 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
If you are in a regulated profession, you may need to have your qualification evaluated as being equivalent to those required in the EU country in which you are applying for a job. More information on this is available on the ENIC-NARIC website.
Applicants may be pleased to know that there is no language requirement to acquire an EU Blue Card.
Higher professional qualifications
Higher professional qualifications are typically associated with post-secondary higher education courses of study of three or more years in duration. To make an application for an EU Blue Card, you will need to show evidence of your qualification/s in the form of a diploma, certificate, or other document issued by a ‘competent authority’ which shows you completed the course successfully. Depending on the rules in the EU state in which you are applying, you may need to provide formal acknowledgement by a competent authority that your foreign qualification is acceptable.
Professional experience in lieu of qualifications
Some EU member states, including Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Slovakia allow professional experience in lieu of a formal qualification. This must be professional experience of at least five years (this is ten years in Malta) relevant to the “profession or sector specified in the work contract or binding job offer”.
Labour Market Tests
During the application process, you may hear reference to a ‘labour market test’ (LMT). While this is not a test for you, it is a process that EU employers may need to complete. An LMT is a check undertaken by employers that there is no suitable settled person in the country (or the EU) already available to do the work being advertised for. This includes citizens of the country, EU nationals, and those who have acquired residency rights. While most EU countries require LMTs, they do not all follow the same process.
The application process for an EU Blue Card will be handled in the country in which you plan to work.
The EU Blue Card scheme provides an opportunity for highly-skilled individuals from around the world to live and work in a European country, and to bring their family members with them. And if desired, they may choose to remain indefinitely. The process of applying for an EU Blue Card scheme is relatively straightforward (typically no longer than three months). If you need assistance with your EU Blue Card application or if you wish to review your other immigration options for working and living in Europe, consider engaging the services of an immigration lawyer. Whichever EU country you choose, we wish you the very best with your European adventure.