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Immigration update: upcoming regulations on blue card procedure

Council presidency and EU Parliament reached a provisional agreement aimed at updating the Blue Card immigration scheme.

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In the past months, the Council presidency and European Parliament officers have reached a provisional agreement on a draft directive aimed to modify the Council Directive 2009/50 (Blue Card Directive), establishing more flexible entry conditions for highly qualified non-EU workers coming to live and work in the EU. The new rules aim to harmonize the conditions of entry and residence for such workers, in order to increase the attractiveness of the EU Blue Card.

Which are the main new provisions?

The new measures adopted will include:

  • Reduction of the salary threshold for admission, allowing for lower salary thresholds for recent graduates or sectors facing skills shortages;
  • Reductions of the minimum length of the work contract to six (6) months;
  • Facilitation of intra-EU mobility, by reducing the minimum period of residence in the first member state and simplifying the procedure to acquire long-term residence status;
  • Facilitation of family reunification, by offering the spouse unrestricted access to the labor market;
  • Higher level of access to the labor 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 in case of unemployment.

What are the implications for EU member states?

EU member states will be allowed to maintain national schemes aimed at highly qualifies workers in parallel with the EU blue card scheme. However, the new provisions are aimed 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.

When will the new provisions become effective?

The provisional political agreement is subject to approval by the Council and the European Parliament before going through the formal adoption procedure. Each EU member state will then have a period of time to transpose it in their national law.

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