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Getting the EU Blue Card, 2017

If you do not meet the minimum points to migrate to Australia, Canada or New Zealand or you are not eligible for the U.S. greencard, Europe offers the Blue. Here's the updated overview.

Crispin ArandaOriginally posted on January 9, 2017; updated January 9, 2017

Getting the EU Blue Card, 2017

One Blue for all of EU

Simplify, Unify.  Just one Blue Card for all 25 EU Countries.

That is what Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Immigration expressed to the Italian Newspaper La Republicca in November last year. A single regulation for the needed highly skilled skilled foreign workers just like what the U.S. green card offers.  Until this expression of interest is introduced, tackled and approved by the EU Commission, each of the 25 EU countries offers its version of the Blue Card.

What is an EU Blue Card?

An EU Blue Card gives highly-qualified workers from outside the EU the right to live and work in an 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.

The EU Blue Card applies in 24 of the 27 EU countries. It does not apply in Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom. 

What is a highly-qualified worker?

You are considered a highly-qualified worker if you have a work contract of at least one year, and if you meet the conditions listed below.

What conditions must I fulfil to apply for an EU Blue Card?

  • You must prove that you have ‘higher professional qualifications’, either by showing a higher education qualification (such as a university degree) or by having 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;
  • 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.

Where can I apply?

You or your employer must submit an application for an EU Blue Card to the competent national authorities in the country where you wish to work. Depending on the rules in that country, you may have to pay an application fee.

How long must I wait for a decision?

You are entitled to receive a decision within 90 days of the date your application is registered.

Can my application for an EU Blue Card be refused?

Yes. The national authorities will reject your application if:

  • You do not meet the various conditions outlined above.
  • Your application was based on incorrect or false information.
  • You represent a threat to public policy, public security or public health.

National authorities may reject your application if:

  • A national or EU worker, or an already legally present non-EU citizen, could fill the vacancy.
  • Your employer has been found guilty of employing irregular migrants without the necessary documents.
  • Your home country lacks qualified workers in your sector.

Can EU countries set quotas on the number of non-EU citizens who can enter their countries for highly-qualified work?

EU countries may also set an upper limit on the number of non-EU citizens who can enter their country for highly-qualified work.

Do I need a visa?

You may need a visa. This depends on your nationality and on the rules in the EU country you arrive in. You can find information on the visa requirements that apply to you on the EU map or by using the search tool on the left hand-side of the page.

How long can I work with an EU Blue Card?

Normally you can stay and work for a period of between one and four years. The card may also be renewed for the same period as long as you still satisfy all the conditions. With a valid EU Blue Card, you can enter, re-enter and stay in the EU country which has issued the card. You can also pass through other EU countries and stay there for up to three months (read more below).

Am I free to change jobs and/or employer?

Not immediately. For the first two years you must stay in the job for which you got the Blue Card in the first place, unless you have permission from the national authorities to change jobs. After those first two years, you may be able to change jobs and/or employers, but EU countries have different rules on this so you need to check by selecting the country of your destination on this map.

Can I bring my family with me?

Yes, you can apply to bring your family to live with you in the country which issues your EU Blue Card as long as you and they meet all the conditions.

Does the EU Blue Card allow me to travel to other EU countries?

Yes. You can visit other EU countries for up to three months during a six-month period. You can also travel through other EU countries on your way to the EU country that you live and work in. For more information, go to moving between EU countries.

Can I work in other EU countries?

After 18 months you may move to a different EU country to work in highly-skilled employment. You must apply for a new EU Blue Card in the country you wish to move to.

What other rights do I have?

As a holder of an EU Blue Card, you are guaranteed equal treatment with citizens of the host country as regards:

  • Working conditions;
  • Professional education and training;
  • Recognition of diplomas and qualifications;
  • Social security and
  • Access to goods and services offered to the public (e.g. transport, museums, restaurants, etc.)

With an EU Blue Card, it will be easier for you to get long-term residence status, as the rules for calculating the period of time necessary are more generous (you can add together periods of time spent in different EU countries, instead of the whole five years being in just one EU country).

What happens if I lose my job?

If you become unemployed, you have three months to find a new job. If you are still unemployed after three months, your EU Blue Card may be withdrawn. If that happens, you may have to leave the country.

Are there any other risks of losing my EU Blue Card?

You could lose your EU Blue Card for any of the following reasons:

  • You no longer meet the necessary conditions outlined above.
  • It is found out at a later stage that your application was based on false information or documents.
  • You represent a threat to public policy, public security or public health.
  • You do not have sufficient financial resources to maintain yourself and your family members without social assistance.

If anything like this happens, you will be informed by the competent national authorities.

May I argue against a decision to refuse or withdraw my EU Blue Card? 

Yes, you will be able to legally challenge such a decision with the relevant national authorities.

What happens if I overstay my EU Blue Card?

If you overstay the validity period of your EU Blue Card, you will find yourself in an irregular situation and may be required to leave the country.

Authors & Contributors

Crispin Aranda

Crispin Aranda

Crispin R. Aranda is an established International Visa Conselor and Immigrant Advocate. He is the president of IVC and is in several migration radio programs.

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