On Tuesday, the European Commission accepted the agreement which was concluded by the European Parliament and the Council on the revised rules of the Blue Card Directive. Amendments included more flexible admission conditions, enhanced rights and the possibility to move and work more easily between EU Member States. As stated by Ylva Johansson, the Commissioner for Home Affairs, “today’s agreement is a key element of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum that will allow us to normalise our migration policy”.
The first amendment was more flexible requirements. The salary threshold has been reduced to between 1 and 1.6 times the average gross annual salary, and the duration of employment contract has been reduced to 6 months, thus allowing more people to apply for the Blue Card.
The revised rules will promote the recognition of profession skills, with focus on occupations in the information and communication technologies sector. During the first year of work of an EU Blue Card holder, one can change their position or employer by completing a labour market test. After the one year period, such change might be subject to a notification sent to the relevant national authorities explaining their situation and why they require such a change. Additionally, highly skilled beneficiaries of international protection will be eligible to apply for an EU Blue Card.
Families of those holding a Blue Card are allowed to accompany their family member in the Member State and have access to the EU labour market. Therefore, all family members can travel to a secondary Member State after one year of employment in the host Member State issuing the Blue Card. This can lead to obtain an EU long-term resident status as the periods of time spent working in different Member States are recorded.
The EU Blue Card holders have several rights, including entering, re-entering and staying in territory of the EU Member State issuing the Blue Card, the right to request family reunification and to be treated on an equal level to the nationals, the right to access highly qualified employment in the host Member State and the right to accumulate periods of residence in different member states to be eligible for an EU long-term residence permit.
Tuesday’s political agreement still needs formal confirmation by the European Parliament and the Council. Once this is done, the Member States will have 2 years to transpose these rules into national law.