Update on the EU Blue Card

Further to the determination of the European Union to attract highly qualified workers from third countries, the Council recently adopted the “Blue Card” Directive [1]. Its main objective is a harmonised admission and residence procedure for highly qualified workers and simplified procedures to ensure easier mobility throughout the EU. For this purpose, the EU created its own single scheme called the EU Blue Card, inspired by the US Green card programme.

The Blue Card will entitle Non-EU Member State nationals to both reside and work within the Member State that issues them the Blue Card. After 18 months, he/she will be entitled to move to another Member State to take up a highly qualified position. To obtain a EU Blue Card, the applicant has to fulfil legal requirements which include providing a valid employment contract or a legally binding job offer for a highly qualified position lasting at least 1 year; presenting a valid travel document; and earning an annual gross salary that is not inferior to at least 1,5 times the average gross annual salary in the relevant Member State.

The EU Member States have until 19 June 2011 to implement the Directive in their domestic legislation and therefore use the EU Blue Card. More news will follow once we know how and when the Belgian government will implement the Directive.