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EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is a combined residence and work permit for highly qualified expats who are not a national of any of the member states of the European Union (they are third country nationals).

The permit stems from an EU Directive (Directive 2009/50/EC) and is administered in the Netherlands next to the national program for Highly Skilled Migrants. On 21 October 2021, a new EU Directive (Directive (EU) 2021/1883) came into effect. The full implementation of the new EU Directive has been delayed and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2024. In the meantime, a part of the new rules for the EU Blue Card has already come into effect per 18 November 2023. The relevant application forms have been adjusted to reflect this. The most important changes are discussed in this news article.


When an expat without EU-nationality finds a highly qualified job with an employer in the Netherlands, a Blue Card can be a suitable permit.

The employer does not need to be a recognized sponsor with the IND.

These 3 conditions must be met
  • The employee earns at least the minimum salary pay for Blue Card holders per month, exclusive of 8% holiday allowance. The minimum wage amounts are revised annually on the 1st of January, current amounts be found here.
  • The employment contract is at least for a duration of 6 months.
  • The employee has completed at least a 3-year bachelor study at a higher educational institute. Foreign degree certificates must be accredited by the EP-Nuffic. A degree is not required if the employee is an ICT manager or ICT specialist with at least 3 years relevant work experience accumulated over the 7 years prior to the application.

Long-term mobility

A Blue Card holder who has completed 12 months of work in a first EU member state, is allowed to take up Blue Card work in a next member state under the conditions of this other member state.
Each member state applies its own policy, such as the minimum wage, based on at least 1,5 times the national average annual gross salary.

The expat must apply for another residence permit in the member state of next destination but is exempted from the requirement of an entry clearance visa (mvv). The application is assessed by the member state of next destination.
Mobility in this context is only possible to and from member states that have implemented the Blue Card directive. A Blue Card cannot be applied for in Ireland, or Denmark.

The permit

The Blue Card is valid for the duration of the employment agreement plus 3 months and can be issued for a maximum validity of 4 years. The permit can be renewed as needed.

The Blue Card holder may only work for the employer with whom the permit was issued. 

Spouses, registered partners and minor children are entitled to a residence permit to live with the Blue Card holder. They have free access to the Dutch labor market.

Blue Card or Highly Skilled Migrant permit?

The Blue Card and the Highly Skilled Migrant permit both facilitate labor migration of the highly qualified. There are however some essential differences:

  • The salary threshold for Blue Card holders is substantially higher than for Highly Skilled Migrants.  Consult our salary criteria overview.
  • For a Blue Card, a degree certificate is required; this is not the case for a Highly Skilled Migrant permit.
  • To apply for a Highly Skilled Migrant permit the employer must obtain sponsor recognition from the IND; this is not required for a Blue Card application.
  • A Blue Card holder may also qualify for a Blue Card in another member state.
  • Highly Skilled Migrants who become unemployed may be entitled to a search period of maximum 3 months, regardless of whether the employment was terminated by the employer or the employee. EU Blue card holders who become unemployed may be entitled to a search period of maximum 6 months.

Since the implementation of the Blue Card directive, the number of applications for the Blue Card have been relatively low in the Netherlands and other EU member states. Tough requirements, such as the degree requirement and the high minimum salary, are not appealing to employers. In the Netherlands, employers will generally opt for the Highly Skilled Migrant program.

For more information, please contact us.

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