For many, Europe has long been an attractive region in which to work. With economic powers like Germany, France, and Italy all among the world’s top ten economies, interest from outside the European Union is growing. And for many, the goal is to obtain an EU Blue Card. The Blue Card is an EU work permit offered by 25 of the 28 member states to highly-skilled non-EU citizens. In addition to socio-economic rights, the Blue Card offers a pathway to permanent residence in Europe – but the path to the Blue Card may have different requirements depending on the applicant’s country of origin.
Applying inside and outside the EU
The EU Blue Card was created to attract highly skilled foreign workers to the EU and applies to all member states except the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Ireland. European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland also do not issue Blue Cards. Unlike some points-based systems, the Blue Card program is a merit-based system, meaning it evaluates an applicant based on whether or not they have the appropriate education and work experience.
Those who wish to apply must:
- Be a non-EU citizen
- Meet certain educational requirements or have professional experience
- Have an employment contract or job offer from an EU organization.
Once obtained, blue card holders will be granted:
- The same working and salary conditions as nationals
- Freedom of movement within the Schengen area
- Permanent residence
- Freedom of movement
- Possibilities for family reunification
If an applicant is traveling to his or her destination country to work, he or she should first apply for a work permit. However, if an applicant is employed by a company in a country that allows free entry as a tourist, he or she can enter the destination country as a tourist and then make an appointment to apply for a Blue Card. If an applicant’s passport requires a visa upon entry, the applicant should wait until the work permit process is initiated. Once this process has begun, the applicant may obtain a Class D Schengen visa.
The Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows its holder to travel within the 26 member states of the Schengen area without going through border controls. This visa allows the holder to transit through or stay in the Schengen area for 90 days within a 180-day period. The Schengen visa is required for nationals of certain countries, while other nationals may enter without a Schengen visa.
If an applicant is already within an EU member state, he or she can still apply for a Schengen visa. The applicant must first register with local authorities within seven days of arrival. If the applicant has an apartment, a letter with the applicant’s lease and length of stay is also required.
EU Single Permit Directive
Launched in 2011, the Single Permit Directive, which combines both residence and work permits into a single permit, is a complementary directive to the Blue Card. The Single Permit allows non-EU citizens to both work and reside in the country in which it is issued. This policy allows applicants to apply to a single authorized agency instead of applying to different agencies for both a work permit and a residence permit. The Single Permit provides rights for non-EU workers who are legally residing in their host country but have not yet obtained long-term resident status.
Some of these rights include:
- Same working conditions as EU citizens.
- Educational opportunities
- Tax advantages
- Social security
- Vocational training
Start the Blue Card application process early
Because applicants must have a job within the EU to obtain a work permit, the application process can quickly become challenging. Applying for a visa early can help reduce some of the stress. This means that an applicant should complete all required paperwork before leaving their country of origin. There, the employer may be able to complete all of the applicant’s required paperwork. If this is not the case, the applicant’s respective immigration office or home consulate can help with the process.
With numerous forms and strict deadlines, applying for an EU Blue Card can easily become overwhelming. Our global immigration solutions support you throughout the application process, including the collection of important documents and live support. Contact Velocity Global today to learn more about how our immigration experts can help you apply for your EU work permit.