EU: Council Presidency and European Parliament Reach Provisional Agreement on Amendments to EU Blue Card Scheme

May 21, 2021

Representatives of the European Parliament and the Council presidency have reached a provisional agreement on a draft directive amending the EU Blue Card scheme for highly qualified non-EU nationals.

The proposed new rules, which have been under discussion for at least five years, aim to improve the EU’s ability to attract and retain highly skilled workers, by:

  • establishing more inclusive admission criteria, including by reducing the salary threshold for admission, allowing for lower salary thresholds for recent graduates or professions in need of workers, reducing the minimum length of the work contract to six months, and extending the scope to include highly skilled workers from the information and communication technology (ICT) sector;
  • facilitating intra-EU mobility, including by reducing the minimum period of residence in the first member state, simplifying and speeding up the procedure for exercising mobility and allowing for the accumulation of periods of residence under different schemes to acquire long-term resident status;
  • facilitating family reunification and giving the spouse or partner of the blue card holder unrestricted access to the labour market;
  • simplifying procedures for recognised employers;
  • granting a very high level of access to the labour market, by establishing that member states may allow EU blue card holders to engage in self-employed activities or other subsidiary professional activities, as well as offering protection, particularly in the case of unemployment;
  • extending the scope to include non-EU family members of EU citizens and beneficiaries of international protection.

The new rules would not outlaw parallel national schemes for highly skilled immigration. However, the amendments will introduce provisions to ensure a level playing field so that EU blue card holders and their families are not at a disadvantage compared to holders of national permits.

The provisional political agreement is subject to approval by the Council and the European Parliament before going through the formal adoption procedure.

Our Advice

Employers who may be affected are encouraged to contact a Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice.