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Are you from a country outside the EU and want to work or study in any of the 28 EU countries?

Immigration rules vary from country to country, but on these pages you will find general information on how to get the necessary permits to stay in most EU countries if you are coming from outside the European Union. EU rules apply if you:
  • Are highly-qualified and wish to work in an EU country.
  • Wish to study, do research or voluntary work in an EU country.
You will also find links to reference documents and websites that provide further information.

It is important to bear in mind that applications must always be made to the authorities of the EU country you plan to move to. There is no single institution handling applications for all EU countries. For details on the rules in a particular EU country, select the country on this map or go to the search tool on the left hand-side of the page and fill in the name of the country and select the migration category closest to your situation.
Which EU rules apply if you are…
If you do not fall into any of these categories, select your destination country on this map or use the search tool on the left hand-side of the page.
Further Information

More information on a particular EU country

More on EU-wide immigration policy

Overview of EU legislation on legal migration

EU-wide laws on working and studying in the EU

The future of EU migration policy

HIGHLY-QUALIFIED WORKERS – EU BLUE CARD
Are you a highly-qualified worker wishing to work in an EU country?
Highly qualifed worker If so, you might be able to get an EU Blue Card. On these pages you can find out what an EU Blue Card is, how to apply for one and learn more about the rights that an EU Blue Card holder can enjoy.

Some EU countries may offer other employment permits for highly-qualified workers in addition to the EU Blue Card. For detailed information on what rules are in use in a particular EU country, select your destination country on this map or use the search tool on the left hand-side of the page.

What is an EU Blue Card?

An EU Blue Card gives highly-qualified workers from outside the EU the right to live and work in an EU country, provided they have higher professional qualifications, such as a university degree, and an employment contract or a binding job offer with a high salary compared to the average in the EU country where the job is.

The EU Blue Card applies in 24 of the 27 EU countries. It does not apply in Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom. For information on rules for highly-qualified workers in these three countries, select the country on this map or use the search tool on the left hand-side of the page.

What is a highly-qualified worker?

You are considered a highly-qualified worker if you have a work contract of at least one year, and if you meet the conditions listed below.

What conditions must I fulfil to apply for an EU Blue Card?

  • You must prove that you have ‘higher professional qualifications’, either by showing a higher education qualification (such as a university degree) or by having at least five years of relevant professional experience;
  • You must work as a paid employee - the EU Blue Card does not apply to self-employed work or entrepreneurs;
  • Your annual gross salary must be high, at least one and a half times the average national salary;
  • You must present a work contract or binding job offer in an EU country for at least one year;
  • You must have the necessary travel documents. You must have health insurance for yourself and any relatives who come to the EU with you.
  • You must prove that you fulfil the legal requirements to practice your profession, where this profession is regulated.
More on recognition of qualifications

Where can I apply?

You or your employer must submit an application for an EU Blue Card to the competent national authorities in the country where you wish to work. Depending on the rules in that country, you may have to pay an application fee.

How long must I wait for a decision?

You are entitled to receive a decision within 90 days of the date your application is registered.

Can my application for an EU Blue Card be refused?

Yes. The national authorities will reject your application if:
  • You do not meet the various conditions outlined above.
  • Your application was based on incorrect or false information.
  • You represent a threat to public policy, public security or public health.

National authorities may reject your application if:
  • A national or EU worker, or an already legally present non-EU citizen, could fill the vacancy.
  • Your employer has been found guilty of employing irregular migrants without the necessary documents.
  • Your home country lacks qualified workers in your sector.

 

Can EU countries set quotas on the number of non-EU citizens who can enter their countries for highly-qualified work?

EU countries may also set an upper limit on the number of non-EU citizens who can enter their country for highly-qualified work.

Do I need a visa?

You may need a visa. This depends on your nationality and on the rules in the EU country you arrive in. You can find information on the visa requirements that apply to you on the EU map or by using the search tool on the left hand-side of the page.

How long can I work with an EU Blue Card?

Normally you can stay and work for a period of between one and four years. The card may also be renewed for the same period as long as you still satisfy all the conditions. With a valid EU Blue Card, you can enter, re-enter and stay in the EU country which has issued the card. You can also pass through other EU countries and stay there for up to three months (read more below).

Am I free to change jobs and/or employer?

Not immediately. For the first two years you must stay in the job for which you got the Blue Card in the first place, unless you have permission from the national authorities to change jobs. After those first two years, you may be able to change jobs and/or employers, but EU countries have different rules on this so you need to check by selecting the country of your destination on this map.

Can I bring my family with me?

Yes, you can apply to bring your family to live with you in the country which issues your EU Blue Card as long as you and they meet all the conditions.

Does the EU Blue Card allow me to travel to other EU countries?

Yes. You can visit other EU countries for up to three months during a six-month period. You can also travel through other EU countries on your way to the EU country that you live and work in. For more information, go to moving between EU countries.

Can I work in other EU countries?

After 18 months you may move to a different EU country to work in highly-skilled employment. You must apply for a new EU Blue Card in the country you wish to move to.

What other rights do I have?

As a holder of an EU Blue Card, you are guaranteed equal treatment with citizens of the host country as regards:
 

  • Working conditions;
  • Professional education and training;
  • Recognition of diplomas and qualifications;
  • Social security and
  • Access to goods and services offered to the public (e.g. transport, museums, restaurants, etc.)

 

With an EU Blue Card, it will be easier for you to get long-term residence status, as the rules for calculating the period of time necessary are more generous (you can add together periods of time spent in different EU countries, instead of the whole five years being in just one EU country).

What happens if I lose my job?

If you become unemployed, you have three months to find a new job. If you are still unemployed after three months, your EU Blue Card may be withdrawn. If that happens, you may have to leave the country.

Are there any other risks of losing my EU Blue Card?

You could lose your EU Blue Card for any of the following reasons:

  • You no longer meet the necessary conditions outlined above.
  • It is found out at a later stage that your application was based on false information or documents.
  • You represent a threat to public policy, public security or public health.
  • You do not have sufficient financial resources to maintain yourself and your family members without social assistance.

 

If anything like this happens, you will be informed by the competent national authorities.

May I argue against a decision to refuse or withdraw my EU Blue Card?

Yes, you will be able to legally challenge such a decision with the relevant national authorities.

What happens if I overstay my EU Blue Card?

If you overstay the validity period of your EU Blue Card, you will find yourself in an irregular situation and may be required to leave the country.

Further Information

More information on highly-qualified work in a particular EU country

EU-wide rules on highly-qualified workers
Other categories of workers

The EU is currently considering setting up EU-wide rules for:
  • Non-EU seasonal workers.
  • Non-EU workers employed by a company located outside the EU and transferred to a branch of this company within the EU, so called intra-corporate transferees.
The EU is also discussing the possibility of introducing a single residence and work permit for all non-EU citizens, with one single procedure to get this permit and a common set of rights.
Further Information

Proposal for EU-wide rules on seasonal workers

Proposal for EU –wide rules on intra-corporate transferees

Proposal for EU wide rules on a single residence and work permit
RESEARCHERS
Do you wish to come to an EU country to carry out a research project?
If you are from a country outside the EU and you wish to carry out research in an EU country for more than three months, you may need a residence permit.Researcher

On these pages you will find general information on the conditions you should meet and the procedures to follow to carry out research in an EU country, as well as the rights you have as a guest researcher in the EU.

The guidelines set out here apply to 25 of the 27 EU countries, excluding the United Kingdom and Denmark.

For detailed information on becoming a researcher in a particular EU country, select your destination on this map or use the search tool on the left hand-side of the page.

What conditions must I fulfil to enter an EU country as a researcher?

First, you must sign a so called hosting agreement with an authorised research organisation, such as a university or a company. This hosting agreement establishes that a valid research project exists and sets out your working conditions. It must also demonstrate that you have:
  • The required scientific qualifications;
  • Sufficient financial resources;
  • Health insurance.
What is an authorised research organisation?

An authorised research organisation is one which has been approved by the national authorities to host researchers who are non-EU citizens, such as universities, research institutes, private companies, etc.

I have met these conditions. What do I do next?

You apply for a residence permit to the competent national authorities. The immigration services of the host EU country will issue the permit as soon as possible.

What documents must I present when I file my application?

You must present the following documents:
  • A hosting agreement;
  • A valid passport or other travel document.
Depending on the rules in the EU country where you plan to do your research, you may also be required to send in a written promise from the research organisation that it will reimburse any costs to the State if you overstay your residence permit.

For how long is my residence permit valid?

Your residence permit will be valid for at least one year and is renewable for as long you continue to meet the necessary conditions.

If the research project lasts less than one year, your residence permit will cover the duration of the project.

In what circumstances could I have my application refused or my residence permit withdrawn?

Your permit can be refused or withdrawn if:
  • You do not, or no longer, meet the conditions outlined above.
  • Your application was based on false information or documents.
  • You represent a threat to public policy, public security or public health.
If anything like this happens, the national authorities will inform you of their decision.

May I argue against a decision to refuse or withdraw my residence permit?

Yes, you will have the right to legally challenge any decision with the relevant national authorities.

Do I need a visa?

You may need a visa. This depends on your nationality and on the rules in the EU country where you plan to do your research. For information on the visa requirements that apply to you, select the country of your destination on this map or use the search tool on the top left hand-side of the page.

Am I allowed to teach?

It depends on the rules in the country you plan to visit. In some EU countries you will be allowed to teach for a certain number of hours or days per week. In other countries, you will not be allowed to teach.

Can I bring my family with me?

In some countries, you will be allowed to bring your family with you, generally for the duration of your stay. For details on the rules in a particular EU country, use the search tool on the top left hand-side of the page.

Will I get similar treatment as citizens of the host EU country?

You will benefit from similar treatment with citizens of the host EU country as regards:
  • working conditions, including rates of pay and terms of dismissal;
  • recognition of diplomas and qualifications;
  • tax benefits;
  • certain branches of social security; and
  • access to and supply of public goods and services (e.g. transport, museums, restaurants, etc.).
Can I carry out part of my research in another EU country?

Yes. Your residence permit will allow you to carry out part of your research project in another EU country, as long as you meet the relevant conditions. If you go to the other EU country for less than three months, you can do so on the basis of your hosting agreement. If you go for longer than three months, you may need a new hosting agreement in the other EU country.

Further Information

Consult vacant research positions in European countries and post your CV on the EURAXESS website

More information on carrying out research in a particular EU country

EU-wide rules on researchers
STUDENTS
Are you a student wishing to come to the EU?
 
If you come from a country outside the EU and you are planning to study in a university or another establishment of higher education in an EU country for more than three months, you will generally need a residence permit.Student

On these pages you can find out what basic conditions you must meet to be able to get a permit to study at a university, college or third level institute in an EU country. Also outlined here are the general procedures you could expect and the rights you would have.

The information on these pages applies in 24 of the 27 EU countries, excluding the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark.

Applications for residence permits must be made to the national authorities in the country where you wish to study.

For more detailed information on a country-by-country basis, select an EU country on this map or use the search tool on the top left hand-side of the page.

What conditions must I fulfil to get a residence permit to study in an EU country?
  • You must have been admitted to a higher education institute to follow a full-time course of studies leading to a higher education qualification, such as a diploma, certificate or doctoral degree;
  • You must have enough financial resources to cover your living and study costs for your stay, as well as you return travel costs;
  • You must not threaten public security or public health.Depending on the country that you wish to study in, you may also have to prove:
    • That you have knowledge of the language of the study programme.
    • That you have paid the fees charged by the higher education institution.
What documents must I present to apply for a residence permit?

You must present evidence that you fulfil the conditions above. You must also present the following documents to the authorities in the country where you plan to study:

  • A valid travel document. Exactly what type of document is required varies from country to country. Find out which one you need through the search tool on the top left hand-side of the page;
  • Parental authorisation, if you are not legally an adult under the national law of the host EU country – in most EU countries this means that you need proof of your parents' agreement if you are younger than 18;
  • Health insurance, if requested by the relevant EU country;
  • Proof that you have paid an application fee for the residence permit, if that is requested by the relevant EU country.
I fulfil all the necessary conditions and have presented the proper documents. What happens next?

For studies that last longer than a year, you will be issued a residence permit valid for at least one year. The permit is renewable if you continue to meet the necessary conditions. You may have to pay a renewal fee.

If the period of study is less than one year, your residence permit will cover the duration of the study period.

In what circumstances could I have my application refused or my residence permit withdrawn?

Your permit may be refused or withdrawn if:
  • You do not/no longer meet the admission conditions;
  • You do not respect the conditions related to working;
  • You do not make acceptable progress with your studies;
  • Your application was based on false information or documents;
  • You represent a threat to public policy, public security or public health.
If anything like this happens, the competent national authorities will inform you of a decision to refuse or withdraw your permit.

May I argue against a decision to refuse or withdraw my residence permit?

Yes, you will have the right to legally challenge such a decision with the relevant national authorities.

Do I need a visa?

You may need a visa. This depends on your nationality and on the rules in the host EU country. For information on the visa requirements that apply to you, select the country of your destination on this map or use the search tool on the top left hand-side of the page.

May I work during my studies?

Yes, you may work on a part-time basis. Each EU country can set its own limit on the maximum amount of hours you can work per week but must allow a minimum amount of ten hours per week.

You or your employer might have to inform the relevant national authorities that you are working.

In some countries, you may only start work after you have been resident for one year. For information on the rules that apply to you, select the country of your destination on this map or use the search tool pn the top left hand-side of the page.

I have been admitted as a student in one EU country. Can I go on to study in another EU country?

Yes, you can apply to the authorities in a different EU country to move there either to continue your course or to study something related to your original area of studies.

What conditions must I fulfil to study in a second EU country?
  • You must fulfil the general conditions outlined above;
  • You must provide all necessary documents proving your academic record;
  • You must prove that the course in the second EU country is properly related to the course you were following in the first EU country;
  • You must have been studying in the first EU country for at least two years or you must be participating in an EU or bilateral exchange programme.
What happens if I overstay my residence permit?

If you overstay the validity period of your student residence permit, you may be in an irregular situation and may be required to leave the country.
Further Information

More on studying in a particular EU country

For the latest information on courses available in universities in 32 European countries, go to the Study-in-Europe site

EU-wide rules on students
UNPAID TRAINEES, EXCHANGE PUPILS AND VOLUNTARY WORKERS

Volunteer workers If you are from outside the EU and you wish to spend more than three months in an EU country as an unpaid trainee, a school pupil on an exchange programme, or a volunteer, you will most likely need a residence permit.

The EU sets optional rules on how to get such a residence permit. These rules may be adopted by EU countries, excluding Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

These pages provide general information on how to apply for a permit, in the EU countries which follow these general EU rules. For detailed information on a specific EU country, select your destination on this map or use the search tool on the top left hand-side of the page.

Unpaid Trainees

What conditions must I fulfil to work in an EU country as an unpaid trainee?

To apply for a residence permit to work as an unpaid trainee you must show that:
  • You have signed a training agreement for unpaid work with an enterprise or a training centre of an EU country;
  • You have sufficient financial resources to cover your everyday living costs, training and return travel costs.
Depending on the rules in the EU country you wish to go to, you may need to undertake basic training to ensure you have the language skills needed.

For detailed information on a country-by-country basis, select an EU country on this map or use the search tool on the left hand-side of the page.

Exchange School Pupils

What conditions must I fulfil to attend a school in an EU country as an exchange pupil?

To apply for a residence permit to attend a school in an EU country as an exchange pupil, you must show that:
  • You have been accepted by a secondary education centre (i.e. between primary education and tertiary education, typically between 12 and 18 years);
  • You are taking part in a pupil exchange programme agreed by the EU country.
  • The pupil exchange organisation accepts responsibility for all your costs (living, study, return travel, health insurance);
  • You will stay with a host family;
  • You are within the age limits set by the host country.
For detailed information on a country-by-country basis, select an EU country on this map or use the search tool on the top left hand-side of the page.

Voluntary Workers

What conditions must I fulfil to do voluntary work in an EU country?

To apply for a residence permit to do voluntary work in an EU country you will have to meet the following conditions:
  • Be within the age limits set by the host country;
  • Show that you have an agreement with the host organisation responsible for the voluntary service programme. This agreement would set out your tasks and working hours and any training you may receive, explain how you would be supervised, and describe the funds available to cover the costs of your stay (travel, living, accommodation);
  • Provide evidence that the voluntary service organisation will accept responsibility for you throughout your stay and look after your health care needs.
Depending on the rules in the EU country you wish to visit, you may also be required to take part in a basic introduction to the country’s language, history and political and social structures.

For detailed information on a country-by-country basis, select an EU country on this map or use the search tool on the left hand-side of the page.

Unpaid Trainees, Exchange School Pupils and Voluntary Workers

I meet the necessary conditions for one of these three categories.

What further documents must I present when applying for a residence permit?

You will have to present the following documents:

 

  • A valid travel document. The exact type of document required depends on which country you wish to visit;
  • Parental authorisation, if you are not considered an adult under the national legislation of the host country;
  • Health insurance;
  • Depending on the country, proof that you have paid the fee for a residence permit.
For how long is the residence permit valid?
  • If you are school pupil, your residence permit will last for one year.
  • If you are an unpaid trainee or a volunteer, the residence permit will last for the duration of your placement/programme and for a maximum of one year. In exceptional cases, the residence permit may be renewed once.
In what circumstances could my application be refused or my residence permit withdrawn?

Your permit can be refused or withdrawn if:
  • You do not or no longer meet the conditions outlined above;
  • Your application was based on false information or documents;
  • You represent a threat to public policy, public security or public health.
Can I argue against a decision to refuse my application?

Yes, you have the right to challenge a decision to reject your application.

Do I need a visa?

You may need a visa. This depends on your nationality and on the rules in the host EU country. For information on the visa requirements that apply to you, select the country of your destination on this map or use the search tool on the top left hand-side of the page.

What happens if I overstay my residence permit?

If you overstay the validity period of your student residence permit, you may be in an irregular situation and may have to leave the country.
Further Information

More on coming to a particular EU country as a school pupil, unpaid trainee or volunteer

EU-wide rules on unpaid trainees, exchange pupils and volunteers

 

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