The EU blue card.

AuthorWisskirchen, Gerlind
PositionConning the Newsletters

Gerlind Wisskirchen is a specialist lawyer in the area of labor and employment law with a special focus on advising international corporations. The excellence of her advice lies in her profound understanding of the business environments of her clients and her strategic, precise, clear recommendations. In a globalized world in which national borders are increasingly diminishing and corporations are facing global challenges, she has particular expertise in cross-border projects like business reorganizations (outsourcing, off-shoring), compliance issues, cross-border compensation programs, cross-border audits and internal investigations, company co-determination, matrix structures of multinational corporations, the European works council, the implementation of codes of conduct and whistleblowing systems, the posting of employees, data privacy protection issues and holistic production systems (Toyota business system). She developed the UEU Labor & Employment Law Navigator", a comparative analysis of the labor law systems in Europe.


This article originally appeared in the August 2016 Employment Law Committee newsletter.

THE EU Blue Card is a work and residence permit granted by a member state of the European Union. (1) Citizens of third countries can apply for it in order to commence employment in the specific EU state. Its name is derived from the U.S. "Green Card" and the blue color of the European flag.

The legal basis is EU Directive 2009/50/ EC. In October 2007, the European Commission adopted two proposals: the first one known as the EU Blue Card Directive, which was adopted by the European Council in May 2009 for the purpose of admitting skilled and educated migrants to the EU, and the second known as the Single Permit Directive, which simplifies migration procedures by funneling applicants into a single application procedure. The second directive was adopted in December 2011. Together, the directives establish the EU Blue Card scheme, a demand-driven, residence and work permit.

The Blue Card's purpose is to make it possible for the residence of third-country nationals in the EU to balance the expected or already existing shortage of qualified persons in a lot of employment sectors. The EU Blue Card is granted within the entire EU, except for Great Britain, Ireland and Denmark.

  1. Requirements for Obtaining an EU Blue Card? (2)

    The people who can obtain an EU Blue Card are: highly qualified workers, researchers, vocational trainees, students, school pupils in exchange programs, voluntary workers, seasonal workers and intra-corporate transferees.

    1. Highly Qualified Workers (3)

      The first condition is that a worker has a work contract in the EU member state. Otherwise, they have to apply for a job seeker/employment visa to look for a company that is willing to bring foreign employees within their work environment and could benefit from the skills they provide.

      1) To get a job seeker/employment visa, the worker has to have a university degree and sufficient funds to support themselves. Such a visa allows residence in the desired member state for six (6) months in order to find a job.

      2) If they already have a job, they need to have the following documents to obtain an EU Blue Card:

      * For unregulated professions--a recognized university diploma

      * For regulated professions--the acquired certificate

      * A work contract for at least one year in the hosting state

      * Proof that the salary exceeds the average in the hosting state by 1.5 times or 1.2 times for professions in shortage

      * A written declaration by the employer--only paid employees, no self-employed or entrepreneurs

      * A valid travel document

      * Proof that the applicant does not represent a threat to the public policy, security or health of the hosting state

      * An application form, filled out either by the applicant or the employer

      * Two passport-size personal photos, not older than six months

      * Proof of application fee payment

      * Health insurance proof

      The application is filed by post to the authorized Federal Office for Migration or Employment in the hosting state. A decision is made within 90 days after the application. The EU Blue Card holder is entitled to the same rights as citizens of the hosting state after two (2) years of work and residency, excluding loans, grants and housing rights.

      The EU Blue Card allows the card holder to visit other EU member states for three months during a six-month period. After 18 months, the card holder may move to another member state to start highly-skilled employment. In the new country, a new application for an EU Blue Card is obligatory. (5)

      To change jobs during the first two years of arrival, a request should be filed with the competent authorities, and the decision of the authorities must be complied with. Unemployment for highly-qualified workers may not last longer than three (3) consecutive months. The competent authorities should be notified of the unemployment period. If unemployment recurs, a withdrawal of the EU Blue Card by the competent authorities may be the consequence.

      1. The application for an EU Blue Card can also be refused. (6) The national authorities will reject the application if:

        * The applicant does not meet the various conditions outlined above.

        * The application was based on incorrect or false information.

        * The applicant represents a threat to public policy, public security or public health.

      2. The national authorities may reject the application if:

        * A national or EU worker, or an already legally present non-EU citizen, could fill the vacancy.

        * The employer has been found guilty of employing irregular migrants without the necessary documents.

        * The home country lacks qualified workers in the applicant's sector.

        The EU member states can also set a quota for high-qualified workers obtaining an EU Blue Card.

    2. Researchers (7)

      The Researchers' Directive applies to the procedure of admission for non-EU researchers interested in carrying out work in an authorized research organization in an EU member state for periods longer than three months. A research organization --university, institute, private company--is considered authorized when approved by the national authorities to host non-EU researchers. The applicant must provide:

      * Scientific qualifications

      * Sufficient financial resources

      * Health insurance proof

      * An agreement with the employer

      * A valid passport/travel document

      * A written declaration from the research organization concerning the reimbursement of costs should he/she overstay

      The agreement is similar to a contract with the...

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