BRUSSELS: The EU Blue Card Scheme, which allows highly-skilled foreign workers to work in the European Union (EU), will be simplified and its scope widened to encourage member states to utilise it.
An individual applying for the card will need a contract or a binding job offer of at least nine months. Asylum seekers and refugees will also be eligible to apply for the Blue Card.
Members of the European Parliament backed the changes on Thursday to make the Blue Card Scheme more attractive. The legislation was passed with 45 votes in favour, 10 against with two abstentions.
Under the new rules, applicants will need to present evidence of their professional skills and higher education certificates. The candidate and the employer would also need to file a request for the card.
A Blue Card holder may lose the card if he or she is unemployed for more than six consecutive months, except if that situation is due to illness or disability, or if their salary no longer meets the established threshold.
To avoid competing with the EU common system, all national schemes for the admission of third-country nationals for employment of highly-skilled labour will be abolished.
Following the adoption of the directive in 2009, the EU Blue Card has been in place since late 2011, but is not widely used. Germany grants the biggest share of pf the cards, with more than 85 per cent of the total cards issued in the EU in the last few years.
UK, Ireland and Denmark do not take part in the initiative.