Agreement on an improved EU admission system for highly qualified workers

  • More flexible criteria for admission: a valid work contract or binding job offer of at least six months 
  • Lower threshold for minimum salary that applicants must earn in order to qualify 
  • Expanding the rights of beneficiaries with simplified intra-EU mobility and faster family reunification procedures 

EP and Council negotiators reached a provisional deal to make the Blue Card system more attractive to highly qualified third-country nationals wishing to work in the EU.

Under the newly agreed rules, applicants – who will be able to apply also from within the EU territory – will need to present a work contract or a binding job offer of a minimum of six months. Currently, an offer of minimum 12 months is required, as well as evidence of their higher qualifications or professional skills. In certain cases, for example in the information and communication technology sector, qualifications can be replaced with relevant professional experience. The salary threshold for applicants has been reduced to at least 100 % but not more than 160 % of the average gross annual salary in the member state of employment. This figure is currently at least 150 % with no upper limit.

Blue Card holders will be able to move more easily from one EU member state to another after an initial 12-month period in the first member state. The situation of accompanying family members will also be improved through faster reunification procedures and access to the labour market.

Alongside the EU-wide admission system, national schemes will continue to exist in member states.


After the agreement, the rapporteur Javier MORENO SÁNCHEZ (S&D, ES) said:

“After five years of work and three years of member states blocking the negotiations, this deal sends a positive signal in the right direction. Europe must increase legal migration pathways and facilitate the arrival of qualified workers who can contribute to Europe’s development. EU Blue Card holders and their family members will have additional rights, including easier intra-EU mobility, which will increase its value compared to national systems.”

Next steps

The agreed text will now be put to the Civil Liberties Committee and plenary for approval as well as to the Council.


The revision of this labour migration legislation was proposed by the Commission in 2016 in order to attract highly-qualified talent to the EU and help alleviate the demographic as well as labour and skills shortages in some key sectors. The aim was to simplify the procedures and qualifying criteria, to widen its scope and to strengthen the rights of EU Blue Card holders and their families.

The Blue Card Directive defines the conditions of entry and residence in the territory of the member states as well as the rights of third-country nationals for the purpose of highly-qualified employment and applies to their family members. It has been in place since late 2011. Germany grants the biggest share of “Blue Cards”, whereas Ireland and Denmark do not take part in the scheme.