An EU Blue Card is a residence permit for qualified non-EU foreign nationals to work in an EU country. It permits its holder to enter and remain in a particular EU country for employment.

The card facilitates the admission of non-EU highly skilled professionals into the EU. It intends to simplify the procedures and improve the legal status of those already in the EU.

The permit authorizes its holder to enter, re-enter and stay in the country that has issued it. Their family members can accompany them. The EU Blue Card holder and their family members are entitled to freedom of movement within the EU.

The EU Blue card holder enjoys equal treatment with the nationals of the Member State where they have settled. Yet, they can only work in the sector they are concerned.

If a third-country national holds an EU Blue Card, after 18 months of regular employment, he or she can move to another EU member state to take up employment. He or she must notify the authorities there within one month of their arrival. Note that Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom are not part of this program.

Where Can I Work With an EU Blue Card?

EU Countries Issuing the EU Blue Card

  • 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
  • Sweden

Although the EU Blue Card is recognized by 25 EU member states with the same basic criteria applying for all, there are minor additional criteria set by each member state for its own.

EU Countries Not Issuing the EU Blue Card

Member states that have opted out of the EU Blue Card Directive and as a result do not issue the EU Blue Card are:

  • Denmark
  • Ireland
  • The United Kingdom

Other states in the European Union not issuing the EU Blue Card are the EFTA member states:

  • Norway
  • Liechtenstein
  • Iceland
  • Switzerland

EFTA member states participate in the single EU market through the EEA agreement while Switzerland operates by a bonding bilateral agreement with the EU member states in regards to free market and the sharing of services.

Who Needs an EU Blue Card?

If you are wondering if you need an EU Blue Card to work in an EU country as a highly skilled, do not rush to apply immediately. There are nationals of some countries are exempt from obtaining this residence permit.

Here is the complete list of countries that need to apply for an EU Blue Card.

EU Blue Card Eligibility Criteria

Start the application process to get a Blue Card, by checking if you are eligible. When applying for a Blue Card the applicant must meet the following conditions:

  • Have a Master’s Degree or equivalent.
  • Have at least 5 years of experience in your field.
  • Have a work contract or a job offer for highly qualified employment for at least one year.
  • Meet the minimum salary threshold in the EU country in which you want to work.
  • For regulated professions: proof that the national legal requirements are met.

In case you lose your job within the first three years under a Blue Card, you will have three months to find another job. Or else you will have to leave the country.

EU Blue Card Requirements

The required documents for an EU Blue Card are as follows:

  • Application Form. It must be filled by either you or your employer with honest and correct information. Print the form twice and sign both copies at the end.
  • Passport. Valid for at least 15 more months beyond your planned date to leave the EU. Is must not be damaged. It must have at least two blank pages in order to be able to affix visa, as well.
  • Copies of important passport pages. These are the first pages with your details and the pages with visa stickers and stamps.
  • Previous passports. If you have any older passports, you will have to submit them too. If you have more than one old passport then tie them together with a rubber band.
  • Two photos. They must be identical and meet the ICAO standards. The photos must be in color, with white plain background and taken within the last three months.
  • Work contract with an EU employer based in the country you wish to work in. It should be signed by all parties involved. It must be valid for at least one year, meeting at least the minimal required wage.
  • Proof of professional level. A university diploma is required as a proof of professional level. It is compulsory to also show proof of continuous 5 years professional work experience in your field.
    • In case of regulated profession – present the acquired certificate.
  • Up-to-date CV.
  • Proof of application fee payment.
  • Proof of health insurance.
  • Proof that your salary exceeds the average in the hosting state by 1.5 times or 1.2 times for professions in shortage
  • A written declaration by your employer. This is a document written by your employer stating reasons of employment and the benefits gained by this act. As a sponsor it is sufficient to write a declaration stating that the employee meets all conditions and requirements important to the employer.
  • Proof of no threat to the public policy, security or health of the hosting state.

*Note: To prepare and gather the required documentation, such as the recognition of qualification or translation of documents and other similar documents, you will need approximately 4-6 months. Some member states may be quicker although you will need to keep this detail in mind when interested to apply.

Application Process for an EU Blue Card

The application process for an EU Blue Card differs from one EU country to another. The Member States are free to decide whether the application for the card has to be made by the third-country national and/or their employer.  Most of the member states require candidates to apply by setting appointments at the appropriate Embassies or Consulates in their home countries; few member states offer online applications.

The EU Member States can also set an upper limit of the third-country nationals that can enter their country under an EU Blue Card. The application fee payment for issuance is 140 € while 100 € for the renewal of the EU Blue Card. After handing in the application, you may have to wait for a maximum of 3 months/90 days until processing is complete.

EU Blue Card Application Processing

The maximum processing time for issuing an EU Blue Card is 90 days.

EU Blue Card Validity

The standard period for which a Blue Card is valid, is three years. If your work contract gets extended, you can renew your EU Blue Card accordingly.

If the work contract you have is valid for more than a year but less than three years, then you will be granted an EU Blue Card valid for that period (i.e. 30 months).

After the expiration date of the EU Blue Card, you are granted 3 additional months in order to provide you with a sufficient amount of time to extend or find another job, should circumstances change.

In case you are applying for the EU Blue Card renewal, you should provide a copy of your earlier EU Blue Card

While your application is being processed, which may take up to 90 days to complete, you are allowed to legally work and reside in the hosting state.

What Can You Do With as an EU Blue Card Holder?

Amongst many exceptional advantages gained by becoming an EU Blue Card holder, presented below you may find an overview of the key beneficial components:

  • Equal work and salary conditions to national citizens,
  • Free movement throughout EU,
  • Social rights, including education, economic, cultural, human, health rights,
  • Family reunification and
  • Permanent-residency rights.

All benefits except for housing, loans and grants are provided to the EU Blue Card holders.

EU Blue Card holders are allowed to go back to their home countries or other non-EU states for a maximum of 12 consecutive months without losing the EU Blue Card ownership.

You can apply for the permanent residency permit after 33 months of working in the first hosting state, or 21 months if B1 language level knowledge is achieved.

EU Blue Card Rejection Reasons

Your application for a Blue Card may be rejected based one or more of the following:

  • You have not met the eligibility criteria.
  • Your application was based on incorrect or false information.
  • You are considered a threat to public policy, public security or public health of the EU.
  • A national or EU worker or an already present non-EU citizen could fill the vacancy.
  • Your employer has been found guilty for employed irregular migrants without documents.
  • Your home country lacks qualified workers in your sector.

You have the right to appeal against the decision of rejection or withdrawal within three weeks of the decision’s arrival – an attorney can also appeal on your behalf.  The hosting states’ competent authorities will determine the court and the time where the appeal may take place. If you do not apply before the deadline, you will be rejected.

How can my family join me in applying for the EU Blue Card?

Depends on whether your family applies at the same time as you. If applying simultaneously then you can include them in your online application. If not, they can fill their own online application.

What will my salary be in the EU member states?

The salary depends mostly on the company you have been admitted to. But, there is the salary threshold which shows the minimum salary that is respected and protected by the law.

Can I get permanent residency through the EU Blue Card?

Yes. You must work for 33 months in the hosting state or 21 months while also earning the B1 language certificate which enables you to qualify for the permanent residency permit earlier. Furthermore, if you work in different EU member states and gather 5 years of work experience altogether then you are a strong candidate for the permanent residency permit.

What happens if I lose my current job while an EU Blue Card holder?

If this happens, then you are allowed to stay unemployed for 3 months in order to find a new job otherwise your EU Blue Card may be withdrawn and you may be asked to leave the hosting country.

What is a Recognized Qualification?

The process of evaluating differences or the equivalency of professional and vocational qualifications obtained in foreign countries compared to the ones obtained within the specific hosting state is known as the Recognition of Qualifications. The intention is to determine whether there are differences in the content and the duration of such qualifications. Such procedures are governed by the Federal Law. The EU directive on the recognition of professional diplomas/qualifications is effective since 2005 and it enables the recognition of EU diplomas while also granting free access into the labor market.

Should there be differences among the training obtained and the one relevant in the hosting state, then compensatory measures set out by the competent authorities must be completed successfully.

For students that have completed their qualification programs in any of the EU member states, there is no need for further recognition of qualifications or compensation measures.

Examination certificates are issued once the compensatory measures in training have been completed.

For obtaining recognition of qualifications, fees range from 200 to 600 €. In case of requirements for translations, notarization, or other documents – charges may rise.

How to compensate your trainings or qualifications?

Regulated occupations

These are occupations that you must have a license, certificate or be registered with a regulatory body/agency in the location you plan to work. These occupations have their own standards of practice and have the authority to self-regulate their professions.

In order to practice occupations regulated by law, such as Craftsmanship, Doctors of Medicine, Dentists, Psychotherapists, Veterinary, Nurse, Obstetrics, Lawyer, Notary, Teacher, Engineer, Medical specialists, and other similar, it is necessary to meet certain standards by undergoing State examinations or Compensatory measures regarding knowledge and professional ethics.

Compensatory measures

Compensation measures refer to the measures recommended to undertake for the recognition procedure to be completed. You may be required to complete an additional training, work experience or exam. More specifically, it refers to the compensation of substantial gaps and significant differences among non-EU trainings and trainings n the hosting EU member state.

Non-regulated occupations

For practicing a non-regulated occupation, you do not need a state license, certificate or registration. You should be educated and/or experienced in order to practice your knowledge and skills. Dual system professions are part of this category since the certificates obtained are both for theoretical and practical trainings.

Dual system professions/occupations

Professions that require learning by doing in both theoretical and practical trainings are considered dual system professions. Also, vocational trainings which require work experience as well as learning are known as such professions.

How to Apply for Qualification Recognition?

For qualification recognition, you must apply from your home country.
First, apply for the license to use the specific title of your profession. You may undertake compensatory measures if significant differences are found. If valued as equivalent, you are free to move on to the labor market right away. Your professional experience will also be considered during the recognition procedure. The significance of your qualification is measured by the content and the duration of courses.

A fee, dependent on specific rules and laws of the hosting state, ought to be paid.

The documents you need when applying:

  • Identity card or passport,
  • Training qualification certificate or diploma,
  • Relevant work experience proof and
  • Skills (trainings or similar)

Individuals with non-regulated professions are required to provide proof of at least 2 years of correlating work experience.

What is the Integration Agreement?

The Integration Agreement is intended to offer an ease for non-EU citizens by providing language courses and other helpful integration tools in order to enable taking part in the social, economic and cultural life in the hosting state. There are various helpful integration points within each member state on many diverse topics:

  • Introduction of newly-arrived immigrants and recognized refugees
  • Civic participation
  • Indicators
  • Handbook on Integration European exchange of information and good practice
  • Mainstreaming immigrant integration
  • Housing in an urban environment
  • Economic integration
  • Integration governance of substantive and methodological topics for exchange
  • European exchange of information and good practice
  • Mass media and integration
  • Awareness-raising and migrant empowerment
  • Dialogue platforms
  • Acquisition of nationality and the practice of active citizenship Immigrant youth
  • Education and the labor market