The EU Blue Card is a residence permit that allows foreign nationals with high qualifications to work in an EU State. It is a very desired permit because of the freedom and opportunities it offers the holder (long-term validity, freedom of movement, family reunification, permanent residence), which is why many international students will try to qualify for the EU Blue Card after they graduate.

However, it can be difficult for recent graduates to obtain the Blue Card since employers often require work experience along with a university degree.

If you are an international student or vocational trainee in the EU and want to apply for an EU Blue Card, this article should clear your doubts.

Can international students apply for an EU Blue Card?

International students cannot apply for an EU Blue Card while they are still on student visa status. However, if during your studies, you have found a job that meets the eligibility criteria for the EU Blue Card, you can submit the EU Blue Card application after you graduate.

If you have not found a job that qualifies for the EU Blue Card during your studies, once you graduate, you can apply for a residence permit that allows you to look for work for up to 18 months. During this time, you can live in the EU state and work in other jobs while you search and apply for Blue Card-eligible positions.

Can international vocational trainees apply for an EU Blue Card?

Just like international students, foreign vocational trainees in an EU State have to wait for their training to finish in order to apply for the EU Blue Card.

If you already have a job that meets the eligibility criteria for the EU Blue Card lined up, you can apply as soon as your Vocational Traning finishes. If you do not have a job offer, you can apply for a visa that allows you to look for work for up to 18 months.

What are the eligibility criteria for the EU Blue Card for Students/Vocational Trainees?

In order to qualify for an EU Blue Card, you have to fulfill the following requirements:

  • You have to be from one of the eligible countries for the EU Blue Card
  • You must have at least a Bachelor’s degree or an equivalent from an EU university or a recognized university abroad.
  • You must have at least five years of work experience in the relevant field. Sometimes the work experience can substitute the lack of university qualifications, but in most cases, employers ask for both work experience and education.
  • You must have a work contract or job offer for at least one year for a position that requires high qualifications or skills or a position for which there is a shortage of eligible EU citizens.
    • Your employer must prove that they advertised the position in the EU for at least 10 days, and no EU national was better suited for the job.
  • You must have a salary that is 1.5 times the national average. For positions in shortage (mathematics; informatics; natural sciences; technology; medicine), the salary requirements are 1.2 times the national average.
  • You must have EU Blue Card health insurance

How to apply for an EU Blue Card as a student/vocational trainee?

Since you are already in the EU on a student or vocational trainee visa, you have to submit the application for an EU Blue Card from within the EU State in which you want to work.

Depending on which State you are in, you have to go to the relevant authority there, such as the Immigration or Foreigner’s Office. For example, if you are applying for an EU Blue Card in Germany, you have to submit the application at the Foreigners Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) in your city of residence.

Some countries, such as Sweden, also offer an online application process.

Your employer can also submit the application on your behalf. Moreover, before you apply for the Blue Card, your employer must be able to prove that they have advertised the position for at least 10 days, and could not find an EU national who was suited for the job.

Keep in mind: The EU Blue Card is a residence permit and work permit in one, so you do not have to apply for both of them separately: you can apply through the same process, known as the Single Permit. The same application process is also applicable to seasonal workers.

Where can I work with an EU Blue Card?

If you obtain an EU Blue Card, you can work in the country which issued the Card. After 18 months of working in the same EU State, you can apply for the Blue Card in another State. However, keep in mind that not all EU States issue Blue Cards.

What if I do not find a job that qualifies for the EU Blue Card?

If you finish your studies, but you cannot find a job that meets the criteria for the Blue Card, you can apply for a regular Work and Residence Permit (ie. a Work Visa).

What are the benefits of the EU Blue Card?

If you receive the EU Blue Card as a highly-qualified worker or researcher, then you get to enjoy the following benefits:

  • Long-term validity. The Blue Card is issued for up to four years at a time, depending on the duration of your work contract/offer.
  • Freedom of movement. You can freely travel to all EU/EFTA states as a tourist for 90 days out of every six-month period. You can also remain out of the country for up to a year without losing your residency status.
  • Family reunification. As an EU Blue Card holder, it is easier for you to bring your close family members (spouse, children, or other dependents) to the EU. Additionally:
    • Your family members can work in any occupation without a work permit
    • Your family members do not have to pass a language proficiency test in order to join you in the EU
  • Permanent residency. You can apply for permanent residency of the EU state you live in after 33 months (21 months if you also submit at least a B1 level language proficiency certificate).

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