Europe: Blue Card recast to facilitate integration of highly-skilled
Alongside its Integration Action Plan, the European Commission presented its proposal for the recast of the EU Blue Card Directive. The recast aims to improve the integration of highly-skilled third-country national workers and their families by facilitating their family reunification rights, access to long term status as well as the eligibility for beneficiaries of international protection, with the aim to both increase the attractiveness of the EU and facilitate their labour market integration.
Derogations from Directive 2003/86/EC are provided in order to facilitate family reunification of highly skilled workers. Like under Directive 2009/50/EC, no waiting period or integration measures can be imposed before reunification is allowed. As a further new facilitation, family members will be entitled to receive their permits immediately when the EU Blue Card is issued and thereby be able to join the worker without any delay. Moreover, Member States cannot apply limitations regarding family members' access to the labour market, but a labour market test can be carried out before granting access. The stated reason is that integration and waiting periods are not necessary because highly skilled workers and their families are likely to have favourable starting point regarding integration in the host community.
Derogations from Directive 2003/109/EC will give EU Blue Card holders facilitated access to EU long-term resident status. Compared to Directive 2009/50/EC, further facilitations are introduced while building on the existing model. In order to guarantee a sufficient level of integration in the host country, access can be gained first of all through a continuous residence period of three years in one Member State as an EU Blue Card holder. Alternatively, where the EU Blue Card holder has moved to another Member State under the EU Blue Card mobility provisions, the status can be obtained through five years of continuous residence accumulated in different Member States.
Beneficiaries of international protection
The proposed Directive continues to not apply to persons seeking international protection and awaiting decision on their status or to those who are beneficiaries of temporary protection or residing in a Member State on a strictly temporary basis. As a novelty it does cover, however, beneficiaries of international protection under Directive 2011/95/EU, including resettled refugees. They will be able to apply for an EU Blue Card like any other third-country national, while retaining all the rights they enjoy as beneficiaries of protection. Highly skilled beneficiaries of international protection will thus become more accessible to employers and be able to take up employment in a more targeted way in accordance with their skills and education, filling shortages in sectors and occupations in any Member State.