Some more news should come soon…
As you can see in my earlier post endorcement for Blue Card had to come in February-March 2009. Febaruary is over, but March not… so we should wait. I was digging trying to find out when exactly it should be, but in vain. So not much for the moment.
Below I present the most recent official summary of what Blue Card is. It is downloaded from the European Parliament Legislative Observatory.
The European Parliament adopted, by 388 votes to 56 with 124 abstentions, a legislative resolution, amending the proposal for a Council directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment (European Blue Card Directive.) The report had been tabled for consideration in plenary by Ewa KLAMT (EPP-ED, DE), on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. Parliament’s amendments seek to ensure a clearer framework for the Blue Card scheme, with more precise definitions, more flexibility Member States, whilst aiming to avoid a brain drain from third countries.
The main amendments – adopted in the framework of the consultation procedure – are as follows:
Definitions: Members stress that higher education qualifications or higher professional qualifications are required to qualify. They deleted the Commission’s reference to ‘higher education qualifications or at least 3 years of equivalent professional experience.’ Parliament stated instead that “higher professional qualifications” means qualifications attested by evidence of at least 5 years of professional experience of a level comparable to higher education qualifications, including at least 2 years in a senior position.
This is much stronger than it was before… check again if you comply…
Scope: the Directive will apply to third-country nationals who apply to be admitted to the territory of a Member State for the purpose of highly qualified employment, but Parliament stated that it would also apply to third-country nationals already legally resident under other schemes in a Member State who apply for an EU Blue Card. It will not, however, apply to those staying in a Member State as applicants for international protection or under temporary protection schemes or who, in either instance, have applied for a residence permit and on whose legal status no decision has yet been taken. Nor will it apply to the following: those who have who have applied for recognition as refugees; intra-corporate transferees, providers of contractual services and trainees with higher education qualifications who are covered by the European Community’s obligations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS); and seasonal workers. However, the plenary did not accept the view of its competent committee that an EU Blue Card should be granted only to highly qualified immigrants from third countries with which the EU has previously concluded cooperation and partnership agreements, including in the areas of mobility and immigration.
I’m currently working in EU so will be quite interested in applying for Blue Card – it should give me some flexibility for finding new job in the case the my contract is not prolonged…
Other admission conditions: Parliament stated that the following conditions will also apply
- level of pay: the gross monthly wage must not be inferior to a national level defined by the Member States which shall be at least 1.7 times of the gross monthly or annual average wages in the Member State concerned and shall not be inferior to the wages which apply or would apply to a comparable worker in the host country;
- health insurance: Blue Card holders must prove that entitlement to health insurance benefits are provided in connection with, or resulting from, the work contract;
- public policy: they must show that they do not, for reasons which can be objectively demonstrated, constitute a threat to public policy, public security or public health.
Members deleted the derogation in the Commission’s proposal relating to a third-country national of less than 30 years of age and holding higher education qualifications.
Nice that 30-years-old thing is removed…
Community preference: Parliament amended the Commission’s text and stated that, for reasons of labour market policy, Member States shall (rather than may) give preference to Union citizens. They may give preference to third-country nationals, when provided for by Community legislation, as well as to third-country nationals who reside legally and receive unemployment benefits in the Member States concerned. Member States shall reject an application for an EU Blue Card in labour market sectors to which access by workers from other Member States is restricted on the basis of transitional arrangements set out in the Acts of Accession of 16 April 2003 and 25 April 2005. A Member State may give preference to holders of the residence permit “long-term resident – EC / EU Blue Card holder” over other third-country nationals applying to reside there for the same purposes in a situation where two or more candidates are equally well qualified for the job.
Validity of the Blue Card: the initial validity of an EU Blue Card shall be of 3 years (rather than 2) and shall be renewed for at least another two. If the work contract covers a period of less than 3 years (rather than 2), the EU Blue Card shall be issued for the duration of the work contract plus 6 months (rather than 3). Unemployment in itself shall not constitute a reason for withdrawing or failing to renew an EU Blue Card, unless the period of unemployment exceeds six consecutive months. An EU Blue Card holder shall have the right to remain on the territory of the Member States for as long as he/she is engaged in training activities aimed at further increasing his/her professional skills or professional re-qualification.
Brain drain: a new clause states that Member States shall not actively seek to attract highly qualified workers in sectors that are already subject, or are expected to be subject, to a shortage of highly qualified workers in the third country. This applies to the health and education sectors in particular. Members note that the derogations to Directive 2003/109/EC will encourage the circular mobility of these professionals, as well as the subsequent involvement of the same migrant workers in training, research and technical activities in their countries of origin. Member States should establish cooperation agreements with third countries with a view to safeguarding both the Union’s needs and the development of the third countries from which highly qualified immigrants come. Member States may reject an application for an EU Blue Card in order to avoid a brain drain in sectors suffering from a lack of qualified personnel in the countries of origin.
Some ‘third-countries’ may list all professions as “brain drained” to avoid people leaving these countries… I hope this is not very serious.
Making the EU more attractive: in the competition for the ‘best and brightest’, the EU comes off relatively badly by comparison with the United States, Canada or Australia. Members stipulated that, by issuing an EU Blue Card a Member State commits itself to issuing relevant documentation and visas, where applicable, as speedily as possible, but at least a reasonable period of time before the applicant is due to commence the employment on the basis of which the EU Blue Card was issued, unless the Member State cannot reasonably be expected to do so because of late application for the EU Blue Card by either the employer or the third-country national concerned.
Establishment in a 2nd Member State: after 36 months of legal residence in a Member State as holder of a Blue Card, the person concerned shall be allowed to carry out highly qualified employment in another Member State while residing in the first Member State.