Blue card

Modelled on the US Green Card, the European Union wants to create the Blue Card to attract highly skilled immigrant workers in Europe. Issued by Franco Frattini in 2007, the idea has been accepted by the European Parliament.

Characteristics of the Blue Card

European standard of work permit for highly skilled migrant workers, valid throughout the European Union, except in Britain and Denmark that asked for derogation;

  • Conditions: minimum a one-year contract with an European employer, with earnings of 1.7 times the average gross wage in the host country;
  • Attached to the person who obtains, Give work permits to wife/husband in the EU
  • Valid for 2 years, renewable;
  • Give access to the social security system in the host country;
  • Equal to both a work permit and residence permit, entitle to permanent residence after 5 years.

+ National prerogatives: the host country nevertheless keeps control of its migration policy and determines:

    • the number of Blue Card issued
    • wage level to achieve the Blue Card
    • renewal of the Blue Card after two years or not

Is based on certain findings

  • On a worldwide level, most of the highly skilled migrants are moving to the United States (50%), Canada or Australia, when Europe is reaping the leftovers (5%) ;
  • There is a notorious lack of skilled workers in Europe (20 million for the next two decades as estimated by the EU) ;
  • The countries of the South offer few opportunities for highly skilled workers which leads to frustration for young people coming out from higher education.

Current situation

Companies wishing to hire workers outside the EU must seek themselves work permits. To get it, although it varies from country to country, the employer must generally prove that he finds no skilled EU citizens. After a time, if the worker wants to change over to another employer, his new employer must apply for new a work permit.

The actors in this initiative

  • European firms: they lack increasingly of skilled workers.
  • Policy makers: they must negotiate immigration between a worried population and a business lobby pushing for a selective immigration.
  • Highly skilled migrant workers: less sensitive to migration policies, their concern is more the quality of the jobs available in Europe.


  • Too restrictive to the point of view of some, the Blue Card would put more barriers to hiring skilled workers outside the EU than incentives;
  • Centralization goes too far;
  • Exacerbates the problem of brain drain, and even if measures are taken to prevent this problem, Europe is nevertheless trying to attract the best profiles and will leave the remains in the South;
  • Restrictions on mobility of labour still exist for new members from eastern Europe.

Blue card’s path

Presented by DG Justice and Home Affairs Commission (Commissary: Franco Frattini (Italy)) at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 23 October 2007.

Vote on a resolution and amendments by Parliament on 20 November 2008, according to a report of the Parliamentary Ewa Klamt (EPP).

1° Project departure (October 2007) : highly skilled migrant workers could obtain it for a period of three years for themselves and their families if they have:

– A recognized degree ;

– 3 years of professional experience ;

– An offer of employment for a one-year contract with minimum salary three times the minimum wage required in the host country, which cannot be filled by European workers.

2° Amendments suggested by the Parliament (November 2008):

– 6 months instead of 3 months to find a new job at the expiration of the basic contract;

– 5 years experience or a diploma recognized by the host country ;

– 1.7 average gross salary minimum required in the host country rather than 3 times the minimum wage required in the host country. This salary can not be lower than a comparable worker in the host country;

– The number of Blue card issued ;

– The Blue Card cannot be considered as a right;

– States may refuse;

– Beware of the consequences on brain drain.