The EU Blue Card for skilled migrants: your questions answered
Everaert Advocaten is a respected leader in Dutch migration law. Based in Amsterdam, its multilingual team advises expats on residency and migration-related legal issues.
The EU Blue Card is a residence permit for highly skilled migrants from outside the European Union. This residence permit allows holders and their families to live and work in the Netherlands or in other EU Member States.
A permit option for skilled migrants
My clients often have questions about the EU Blue Card. Mostly they wonder whether this is a work permit for the entire EU - seeking a comparison with the US Green Card.
When the EU Blue Card Directive was being drafted the original aim was for complete labour mobility across all EU Member States. Unfortunately, these ambitions did not make it to the final draft, which was implemented in the Netherlands on June 19, 2011.
However, compared to other residence permits there are some advantages for Blue Card holders, in particular the possibility to move to or work in other EU Member States.
For whom is the Blue Card applicable?
The EU Blue Card was created for highly skilled workers from outside the European Union. For example, the top three nationalities to make use of the EU Blue Card in 2014 were skilled migrants from India, the USA and China.
The purpose of the Blue Card, besides providing residence to skilled migrants, is to attract and retain highly skilled workers to the EU to fulfil labour needs of the Member States and to strengthen the EU's competitiveness and economic growth.
What are the requirements for an EU Blue Card in the Netherlands?
In order to qualify for an EU Blue Card in the Netherlands, a highly skilled migrant must:
› Have an employment contract for at least one year.
› Earn a minimum of 4.908 euros gross per month (excluding the mandatory holiday pay).
› Must have completed at least a three-year post-secondary higher education program such as a diploma or degree.
This educational qualification will be measured against the Dutch educational system and must in turn meet the Dutch requirements of the relevant profession.
What's the difference with the Dutch Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme?
In the Netherlands skilled migrants (and their employers) have two residence permits to choose from: the EU Blue Card or the Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme (kennismigrantenregeling). However there are some differences to be aware of.
Requirements for the skilled migrant scheme (Dutch national policy) are based on salary, and market conformity of the salary, whereas the Blue Card combines a salary threshold with an educational threshold. Additionally, the income requirements for the EU Blue Card are higher.
However, for the EU Blue Card, the hiring company does not need to obtain "recognised sponsorship" status first. This status is often hard to obtain for startups and can be costly for small companies in any case, as the IND government filing fees for obtaining it are 5.116 euros.
It is usually easier to obtain a highly skilled migrant residence permit than an EU Blue Card. However, the international benefits of the EU Blue Card can also be worth investigating if you think you may work in multiple EU countries.
Advantages of having a Blue Card
One of the main benefits of having a EU Blue Card offers is being able to work in other EU Member States. This is usually possible under the following conditions:
› The new country's legislation grants direct access to the labor market.
› You have spent a minimum of 18 months in your first EU Member State as a Blue Card holder.
This is an important advantage for professionals who are relocated often by their employer, and thus are never able to gather five years of legal residence in one place (required to get permanent residence status or obtain citizenship).
Applying for permanent residence or citizenship
If a skilled worker would like to acquire permanent residence or citizenship then they can accumulate periods of residence in different Member States, as a Blue Card holder, to fulfil the required duration. The requirements are:
› Five years of legal and continuous residence within the territory of the EU as an EU Blue Card holder.
› Legal and continuous residence for two years as a Blue Card holder within the Member State where the person intends to lodge their long-term residence application.
A personal asset
Although many readers of this article may already hold a residence permit in the Netherlands, understanding the benefits of the EU Blue Card can still be worthwhile.
A Blue Card can be considered a personal asset for highly skilled employees who wish to maintain or improve their labour market mobility within Europe.
The Blue Card provides an easier option for those relocating more often, as they do not lose their eligibility for a permanent residence card, even if they are not staying in Member States for the full five years.