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What is the EU Blue Card? Everything You Need To Know

Curious about what the EU Blue Card can offer you? Learn more about this visa for skilled workers and the application process

Jemima Owen-Jones
Written by Jemima Owen-Jones
February 13, 2024
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Key takeaways

  1. The EU Blue Card allows skilled workers from outside the European Union to work in a specific member state.
  2. To be eligible for a Blue Card, you must have a valid job offer with a salary that’s 1.5 times above the country’s average.
  3. Successful applicants can include their dependents and travel freely between EU countries.

If you’re a skilled worker seeking opportunities overseas, the EU Blue Card could be your golden ticket. Holders have the right to live and work in one country and travel freely between member states.

Preparation is key as the EU Blue Card application process can be complex. What’s more, as the requirements vary between countries, there’s a lot of information out there. You may have to sift through a lot of irrelevant and misleading details to get answers to your questions.

To get you started, read our introduction to the EU Blue Card scheme. We’ll discuss all the essentials, like eligibility criteria and paperwork, and indicate your next steps.

What is the EU Blue Card?

The EU Blue Card is a temporary residence permit for foreign workers from outside the European Union. You can live and work in a specific EU member state provided you have a job offer that meets the minimum wage requirements. Typically, the threshold is 1.5 times the country’s average salary.

EU Blue Card holders can stay in the country for the duration of their contract or until the permit expires, whichever comes first. The maximum length of stay differs between member states. Most countries give you the option to renew your Blue Card if you still have a valid work contract.

Otherwise, the conditions for the different EU member states can vary wildly. As you’ll see, the minimum salary requirements range from around €15,000 to almost €100,000.

As more and more businesses go global-first, the EU Blue Card has become increasingly popular. Eurostat data shows that the number of approved permits has almost doubled since 2019 to over 800,000 applicants, not including dependents.

Who qualifies for the EU Blue Card?

The eligibility criteria differ between countries. However, to qualify for an EU Blue Card, you must generally meet the following conditions:

  • A binding job offer: You must be a paid employee of an EU company. Freelancers and entrepreneurs aren’t eligible for the EU Blue Card scheme
  • Above average pay: Any work contract must state a gross annual salary 1.5 times above the country’s average. Employers can’t include variable pay, benefits, or paid time off in this amount
  • Expertise in your field: You should have the qualifications and professional experience expected for your work. For example, software engineers would typically need a university degree in computer science
  • Travel documents: All applicants and their dependents must hold passports that are valid for a minimum of 15 months from when they enter the EU
  • Health insurance: You must also obtain medical coverage for yourself and any dependents for the duration of your stay. You can usually apply for temporary insurance to enter the country and then switch to your employer’s plan

It’s worth noting that some people from outside the EU don’t require a Blue Card to work in member states. You can forgo this process if you’re a citizen of the Economic European Area (EEA) or Switzerland or the immediate family member of an EU citizen. 

Which countries participate in the EU Blue Card scheme

25 of the 27 EU countries participate in the Blue Card Scheme. Denmark and Ireland don’t issue these cards or accept migrants on this visa.

Here’s a breakdown of:

  • The 25 countries
  • The maximum length of stay
  • The minimum salary thresholds

2 years
3 years
€60,998 (€55181 in the Flanders region)
5 years
31,308 BGN
2 years
To be announced
2 years
409500 CZK
27 months
2 years
€62,508 per year
4 years
€53,836 per year
4 years
€58 400 per year
2 years
€30 675 
4 years
7,264 800 HUF
2 years
5 years
3 years
Not stated but around €13,500 
4 years
1 year
4 years
3 years
114228 PLN
2 years
2 years
162936 Leu
4 years
Based on 1.5 times the average wage for the sector
2 years
Not stated but around €24,287

1 year
2 years

Note that many countries have exceptions to the minimum wage requirements. For example, Luxembourg has set a lower threshold of €67.824 for jobs in high demand, like software developers and mathematicians.

Germany is the most popular place to apply for an EU Blue Card by far. In 2022, they made up 74.6% of approved applicants, according to Eurostat. Read our guide to getting permanent residency in Germany to explore the visa process in more detail.

Interested in moving to Germany? Deel can verify your eligibility for different work visas, including the EU Blue Card.

Discover more about the types of German visas that Deel supports.

Benefits of the EU Blue Card

Compared to other work visas, the EU Blue Card offers you a high degree of autonomy. You can move unrestricted between different member states provided you spend the majority of your time in the country where you applied.

European businesses often operate across borders, so having this flexibility can be essential. For example, many Austrian, Hungarian, and Slovak residents commute between countries as their major cities are so close.

Once you’ve reached the end of your work contract or the card expires, you can renew for the same length of time. Note that you must stay in your original job for the first two years.

If you want to stay in the EU long-term, the Blue Card can help you obtain permanent residency. For example, France and Spain let you apply for legal residence after you’ve spent five continuous years in the country.

How to apply for the EU Blue Card

Here are all the steps to the EU Blue Card application. As the process differs between countries, this guide is an overview to give you an idea of what to do.

1. Secure a job offer

You need a legitimate job offer from an EU-based company. When applying, you’ll need to provide evidence such as your work contract or resume.

If the business doesn’t have an entity in the EU, they could use an employer of record (EOR) like Deel to hire you on their behalf. We would sponsor your visa and assume all liability for you. However, your employer would still manage your work and pay your salary.

Writing international employment contracts can be challenging. Deel can help employers draft documents that comply with different rules and regulations. We also enable workers to sign digital contracts from wherever they are in the world and store these files securely.

2. Undergo a labor market test

Most EU countries require employers to conduct a labor market test before they formally extend the job offer. The test checks whether there are any other suitable candidates for the job already in the country.

You don’t have to do anything during this stage, as the employer handles everything. However, it’s essential to allow for this time in your planning as the test can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months.

3. Collect your paperwork

Generally, you’ll need the following documents to support your application:

  • Your valid passport
  • Biometric pictures
  • Your resume
  • Verified copies of your qualifications and work permits
  • The signed employment contract or job offer letter
  • Evidence of your health insurance
  • Proof of address in the EU country
  • The completed EU Blue Card application form 

You need to collaborate with your employer to arrange some of the documents. Depending on who’s responsible for applying, you may need to send them your paperwork or visa versa.

Medical coverage is often a requirement for the EU Blue Card. While applying, workers can use temporary insurance and switch to national health insurance or the company’s plan.

Deel has a benefits tool so employers can check which plans their new hires need.  

4. Obtain an entry visa

Some EU member states require you to enter the country on a temporary visa before you apply for the Blue Card. You usually have to book an appointment at the nearest consul or embassy in that country. 

For example, for France, you must obtain a “passport talent” and a long-term visa. You should indicate that you’ll apply for a French EU Blue Card on the form.

Once the embassy has approved your stay, you can enter the EU. You may not have the right to work yet, so check the conditions of your stay.

5. Complete the EU Blue Card Application

The next step is to get a Blue Card application from the relevant authorities. 

Many countries let you download the application from the government portal. Others require you to get the forms from your home country’s embassy or their regional offices.

When you file, you or your employer needs to pay the application fee. The exact amount depends on factors like the country, the length of stay, and the type of work. However, expect to pay somewhere between €150 and €500.

The processing time is typically 90 days. You’ll receive a notice, and you may be required to collect the physical EU Blue Card in person. 

Deel can guide you through the visa process. We help you with everything from ratifying professional qualifications to collecting the EU Blue Card. Applicants can even monitor their progress via our dashboard to see how long they need to wait and their next steps.

Learn more about Deel’s visa mobility support.

What happens next

Once you’ve secured a Blue Card, ensure you and your employer stay compliant with its conditions. Generally speaking, you have to:

  • Register with the local authorities
  • Stay with your original employer for a minimum of two years
  • Maintain continuous residence in the county where you applied
  • Notify the immigration offices about any changes to your employment
  • Renew your EU Blue Card before it expires
  • Leave the country if you don’t renew your visa

If you become unemployed, you’ll usually have three months to secure a new job. You should inform the relevant authorities.

Your employer must also comply with regulations by adhering to the country’s labor standards and notifying authorities of any changes. For example, it’s crucial they follow regulations concerning working hours and time off.

Make relocating a breeze with Deel

If you’re considering a move to the EU, consider applying for the EU Blue Card. The popular scheme has already helped millions of highly qualified workers find long-term residence abroad. 

Deel can simplify the relocation process. If your employer is based outside the EU, we can hire you via our Employer of Record. We can also guide you through every step of the process, from the initial entry visa to helping you register with local authorities.

Contract the Deel immigration team to learn more about how we can support the EU Blue Card application.

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