New rules for highly qualified immigrants who want to work in Europe

New rules for highly qualified immigrants who want to work in Europe
Credit: Belga

The European Parliament announced on Wednesday new rules for highly qualified immigrants who want to work in Europe.

The new rules are part of a reform of the EU Blue Card, designed to facilitate the employment of highly qualified non-EU nationals in order to address labour shortages in certain sectors.

The changes include more flexible admission criteria, a lower threshold for the minimum salary that must be earned in order to qualify and more rights for beneficiaries and their families, like easier movement within the EU and faster family reunification.

“We must do everything we can to improve legal migration to Europe and, above all, facilitate the arrival of qualified workers who contribute to the development of our continent,” said Javier Moreno Sánchez (S&D, ES) in a statement.

“A more attractive and viable scheme adds real value to the existing national schemes. In the future, we intend to go further so that workers in medium and low-paid jobs can contribute to our society in the same beneficial way that Blue Card holders can now.”

Shortened wait times

Currently, a 12-month contract or offer is required in order to obtain a Blue Card.

Going forward, a valid work contract or binding six-month job offer will be enough to meet admission criteria, as well as evidence of higher qualifications or professional skills.

Translation: The EU must develop all dimensions of the Migration and Asylum Pact. With the reform of the Blue Card, new avenues for legal migration and integration are opening up, with a focus on People’s rights, European companies’ interests

The salary threshold has been reduced from a minimum of 150 percent (with no upper limit) to at least 100 percent and no more than 160 percent of the average gross annual salary in the Member State of employment.

Refugees will also be allowed to apply for a Blue Card in Member States other than the one in which they received asylum.

“It will be possible to attest certain types of professional qualification, such as in the information and communication technology sector, through proof of relevant work experience,” according to a press release from Parliament.

Easier movement through the EU

Lastly, people with a Blue Card will be able to move to another Member State after spending 12 months in the country that first granted them the card, and benefit from a faster family reunification process that will allow family members to also work in the EU.

The Blue Card has been around since late 2009, but Parliament said it hasn’t attracted enough of the workers they need.

Only 36,806 Blue Cards were issued in 2019, and most of them (28,858) were issued by Germany. Belgium granted 110 in the year 2019, and 117 last year.

Parliament backed the reforms in a vote of 556 to 105 (31 abstentions).

The reforms will have to be approved by the Council before entering into force, at which point Member States will have two years to bring their national legislation into line with the changes.


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