European Union Blue Card — New Rules for Highly Skilled Migrant Workers

Who is eligible?

To apply for a Blue Card, the applicant must:

  • Prove to have higher professional qualifications, by showing a higher education qualification (such as a university degree). Some Member States may also accept at least five years of relevant professional experience;
  • Have a valid work contract or binding job offer for a highly qualified employment with a duration of at least 1 year;
  • Meet the minimum salary threshold in the Member State concerned (in Portugal this corresponds to €665.00);
  • For regulated professions: present documents proving that the national legal requirements are met;
  • For unregulated professions: present documents proving that the relevant higher professional qualifications are met;
  • Present the necessary travel documents;
  • Present a proof of health insurance (or a proof of having applied for it);
  • In addition, the applicant must not be a threat in the view of the country for which he or she is applying.

With these objectives in mind, the following changes were agreed to take place

  • The EU Blue Card is now accessible for more people, since the salary threshold will be reduced between 1 and 1.6 times the average gross annual salary, and the minimum duration for a contract of employment will also be reduced to 6 months — instead of a year;
  • The new rules also facilitate the recognition of professional skills for occupations in the information and communication technologies sector, and applicants with professional experience equivalent to a higher education qualification in some specific sectors will also be eligible to apply;
  • During the first 12 months, EU Blue Card holders only need to complete a new labour market test if they wish to change position or employer. Solely after this period, EU Blue Card holders may be subject to an obligation to notify a change in their situation to the relevant national authorities;
  • Highly skilled beneficiaries of international protection will be eligible to apply for an EU Blue Card;
  • To attract and retain highly skilled workers from outside the EU, family members of EU Blue Card holders will be able to accompany them and access the EU labour market (although a labour market test may still be carried out before giving access);
  • The EU Blue Card holders and their family members will be able to move to a second Member State based on simplified mobility rules after 12 months of employment in the first Member State. Also, periods of time spent working in a different Member State will be taken into account, facilitating easier access to the EU long-term resident status;
  • Finally, to increase the popularity of the new scheme and to address the inconsistencies in the previous scheme, the revision proposes to abolish parallel national schemes.

Important notes with regards to Portugal

Some Member States apply a Labour Market Test (LMT). This is a mechanism that aims to ensure that migrant workers are only admitted after employers have unsuccessfully searched for national workers, EU citizens (in EU Member States this also means EEA workers), or legally residing third-country nationals with access to the labour market according to national legislation. Portugal does not apply a labour market test, which is a plus, since it makes it easier to obtain the EU Blue Card.

Regarding the next steps for the changes in the EU Blue Card

The European Parliament and the Council still need to formally confirm this political agreement by adopting the EU Blue Card Directive. Once the Directive is formally adopted, Member States will have 2 years to transpose the rules into national law.

Learn More About Relocating to Portugal

Another visa you may be interested in especially in light of Brexit is the Golden Visa. Also read on to find out why Portugal is a great destination for Digital Nomads.

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