How to Obtain the Blue Card of the European Union

In 2022, 82,000 highly skilled foreign workers received the Blue Card in the European Union (EU). In this article, we will provide detailed information about this document.

Previously, we discussed traveling with children in Europe.


The Blue Card (also known as Blaue Karte) is the European Union’s counterpart to the American Green Card, offering residency for foreign citizens with high qualifications. Holders of this document and their family members have the right to enter, exit, and live in a specific European Union country for employment purposes, as well as the freedom to move within the EU.

The EU Directive on Highly Qualified Specialists (Blue Card EU) was first adopted in 2012. In November 2021, it underwent a revision and came into effect in a new version: the minimum salary threshold was lowered, professional groups covered by the directive were expanded. In 2023, further relaxations were introduced:

  • The minimum required gross salary threshold is €39,682.80 for professions in deficit sectors, €43,800 for all others.
  • IT specialists are not required to have a higher education degree; three years of relevant work experience are sufficient.
  • The list of deficit professions expanded to include managers in various fields, veterinarians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, and school teachers, besides the previously added ones (mathematics, natural sciences, medicine, engineering).
  • The contract duration reduced to 6 months.
  • Blue Card holders are now allowed to add self-employment to their current job without the risk of card revocation.

The goal of the EU Blue Card is to facilitate entry and simplify the lengthy bureaucratic visa acquisition process for third-country specialists (non-EU members). After 18 months of work in one EU state, an individual can relocate for employment to another Union member country.

The Blue Card is not issued in Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, and Switzerland.

The last four countries are not part of the EU but are members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). This sometimes leads to misconceptions that one can obtain the Blue Card there, but they did not adopt the directive. Currently, obtaining the Blue Card is also unavailable in the United Kingdom, as the country is no longer a part of the European Union.

For information on the directive and legal details of the Blue Card and how to obtain it, you can refer to the official European Union website (available in various languages).

The Blue Card is recognized by 25 member states of the European Union and has consistent basic criteria for applicants:

  • Evidence of “higher professional qualification”: documentation of education, such as a diploma or academic degree.
  • Employment agreement or job offer in a European Union country for a minimum of 6 months (previously one year). The vacancy must align with the candidate’s education*; for example, a programmer cannot be hired as a landscape designer, and so forth. Self-employment and entrepreneurship are not considered.
  • Annual gross salary must be at least 1.5 times higher than the country’s average (except for special cases and when the lower salary threshold applies).
  • The chosen vacancy must imply the completion of higher education by the employee.
  • Possession of necessary travel documents, as well as medical insurance for the candidate and accompanying relatives.

Note: The interpretation of education corresponding to a vacancy is somewhat disputed. There is no uniform understanding of when education aligns with a job and when it does not. The decision depends solely on the human factor, namely, the official reviewing your case. To resolve misunderstandings, for example, in Germany, the applicant or employer must fill out the “Detailed Job Description” form. With the employer’s consent, the document can use job titles matching those in the higher education document. If an agreement cannot be reached, information about courses taken can be used in the diploma to fit them into the vacancy.

The EU Blue Card is not the only way to obtain a work visa. If you do not meet the requirements, consider exploring alternative avenues for obtaining permission.

The basic set of documents for obtaining the Blue Card looks as follows:

1. Application form filled out by the candidate or employer in 2 copies + attachments 1 and 2.

2. Valid passport (with at least 15 months of validity beyond the planned departure date from the EU) with 2 blank pages for visa stamps.

3. Copies of passport pages with candidate’s personal information, visa stickers, and stamps.

4. Include old passports if applicable.

5. 2 identical color photographs, taken according to ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standards (similar to Schengen visa requirements).

6. Signed contract with the employer based in the country where the candidate plans to work, valid for at least 1 year, and meeting the minimum required salary.

7. Confirmation of high qualification: University diploma recognized in the host country. In some cases, proof of 5 years of work experience is required. If the profession falls under regulated categories, a certificate allowing the applicant to practice in that field is needed.

8. Current resume.

9. Proof of payment of the registration fee.

10. Information about medical insurance.

11. Evidence that the candidate’s salary in the host country exceeds the average by 1.5 times or 1.2 times for deficit professions.

12. Written statement from the employer indicating reasons for hiring and benefits. In practice, stating that the future employee meets all requirements and conditions is often sufficient.

It is recommended to start collecting all necessary documentation 4 to 6 months in advance, especially for qualification verification.

The application process depends on the specific country’s policy. In most cases, host countries require the candidate’s personal presence at their embassy or consulate.

Let’s explore the differences in the Blue Card application process by examining three countries: Germany, Poland, and Cyprus.

Blue Card in Germany

According to Eurostat, Germany approved the highest number of Blue Card applications in 2022—63,242. This is likely an effort to address workforce shortages by attracting foreign professionals.

Differences from the Basic Blue Card Criteria in Germany

  • As mentioned earlier, employers or prospective employees must complete a “Detailed Job Description” to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Remuneration must be at least 50% of the annual Beitragsbemessungsgrenze (pension fund contribution limit). In 2024, this is €3,775 per month.
  • Young professionals and representatives of professions with a labor shortage may qualify for the Blue Card with a salary below the limit; for them, the minimum threshold is €3,420.
  • The diploma must be recognized by Germany, with the education program equivalent in hours and content to German standards, and the duration of higher education should be at least 3 years. Verification is recommended through the Anabin database.
  • Blue Card holders enjoy simplified mobility. After working in another EU country for 12 months, they can relocate to Germany for a job that meets Blue Card conditions, and they can apply for a new German Blue Card on-site.
  • Family reunification procedures are streamlined.

IT professionals without formal education can qualify for the Blue Card if they earn a salary exceeding 45.3% of the Beitragsbemessungsgrenze and can demonstrate at least 3 years of relevant work experience within the last 7 years.

Blue Card in Poland

In terms of the number of approved cards, Poland, while not surpassing Germany (in 2022, only 4,931 were issued), holds the second position in the EU for this parameter.

Note: When searching for information about the Blue Card in Polish on the Internet, be sure to use the phrase “niebieską kartę UE.” Simply “niebieską kartę” refers to another document.

Differences from the Basic Blue Card Criteria in Poland

  • Foreigners must have 5 years of higher education. In this case, regulatory acts do not specify whether it must correspond to the chosen position. The decision is made by the employer. For example, a person with a linguistics degree may convince a potential employer that they can work in an IT company, and there are no obstacles to obtaining the Blue Card.
  • The gross salary must be at least 150% of the country’s average for the previous year. In 2023, the average salary in Poland was 7,155 Polish złoty, meaning that in 2024, to be eligible for the Blue Card, one needed a minimum salary of 10,732 złoty per year.
  • Residence Requirement: It is necessary to be in Poland and have a document confirming residence, even if it is temporary.

Additional Option: Besides the Blue Card, in Poland, it is possible to obtain a Residence Card (Karta pobytu). It confirms the identity of the foreign citizen and their legal presence in the country. Earlier, we provided information on how to obtain a Residence Card.


Blue Card in the Republic of Cyprus

The country adopted the directive on the Blue Card in 2024.

Differences from the Basic Blue Card Criteria in Cyprus

To be eligible for the Blue Card in this country, one must:

  • Have continuously resided in the Republic of Cyprus on legal grounds for 5 years before submitting the application.
  • Have a valid residence.
  • Provide evidence of income sufficient to support oneself and dependents.

Foreign students, refugees, asylum seekers, seasonal workers, and diplomats cannot obtain the Blue Card.

How long does it take to receive a decision?

The response will be provided within 90 days from the date of application registration.

Can the application be rejected, and why?

Yes. Reasons for rejection include:

  • not meeting Blue Card eligibility conditions,
  • providing false information in the application,
  • or posing a threat to national policy, public safety, or health.

In cases where:

  • the vacancy can theoretically be filled by a citizen of an EU country or a legally present citizen of a non-EU country,
  • the employer was found guilty of hiring illegal migrants,
  • in the candidate’s country of residence there is a shortage of qualified personnel in the field of activity where the candidate plans to work,

the application may or may not be accepted.

Can EU countries set a quota for the number of non-EU citizens who can enter to work?

Yes. Each country may set its own quotas for issuance of the Blue card.

Do I need a visa when entering in specialist status with an EU Blue Card?

It depends on the applicant’s nationality and the specific rules of the EU country.

How long is the EU Blue Card valid for?

It is valid for 1 to 4 years in the country that issued the Blue Card. Renewal is possible if the candidate still meets all requirements.

Can one change jobs?

Job changes are allowed only after 2 years. Changing employment or position earlier requires approval from national authorities.

What happens if the Blue Card holder loses their job?

A grace period of 3 months is given to find new employment. Otherwise, the card may be revoked, and the former holder must leave the country.

Can the Blue Card be revoked or not extended?

Yes, the Blue Card be revoked or not extended if the holder:

  • no longer meets the criteria,
  • provided false information or documents to obtain the card,
  • poses a threat to public policy, public safety or health,
  • lacks sufficient means to support themselves without social assistance.

National authorities shall notify the holder of the decision.

Is there an option to appeal a Blue Card rejection/revocation decision?

Yes, candidates/holders have the right to challenge the decision, including through legal means.

What happens if the expiration date is missed?

After the EU Blue Card expires, the person may need to leave the country as they would be in an illegal stay situation.

What is a regulated or unregulated profession?

A profession is considered regulated if access to it and its practice depend on having professional qualifications. Additional details are available in the database.

Can permanent residency be obtained through the Blue Card?

Yes, with conditions such as:

  • working for 33 months in the host country
  • working for 21 months + obtaining a language certificate (B1 level).

Overall work experience in EU countries for 5 years is a positive factor.

Relocating due to employment is one of the most common reasons for immigration. However, life and work in Europe, even for an extended period, do not necessarily mean severing ties with one’s home country. To support loved ones back home, the Korona app can be a valuable tool.


Download it from the App Store or Google Play to send transfers:

  • To 50+ countries,
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In our blog, we share a lot about life and work in Europe. If this topic interests you, follow the link to read more.