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Saturday, March 24, 2012

European Blue Card - Update March 2012

Time for another Blue Card update.  Overall things are moving along quite well but there are still some hitches.  Back in November I reported in this post that the EU had chastised six countries (Germany, Italy, Malta, Poland, Portugal and Sweden) for their failure to meet the EU deadline for implementation.    According to this article, Luxembourg and Malta are off the hook since they have started the process of passing legislation to comply with the Blue Card Directive.  However, in the latest press release from Europa, the EU has warned three other countries (Greece, Austria and Cyprus) saying:
Three Member States are still making it too difficult for highly skilled people to come and work in the EU, prompting the Commission to act. Despite having been warned in July 2011, Austria, Cyprus and Greece have not yet transposed the rules of the Blue Card Directive, which should have been implemented before 19 June 2011. This is why the European Commission today issued reasoned opinions (Article 258 TFEU) requesting Austria, Cyprus and Greece to bring their laws into line with EU legislation.

The Commission goes on to say (and I found this very heartening):
If Europe is to secure economic prosperity, remain competitive and maintain its welfare systems, it needs immigrant workers. The current economic and financial crises makes this need all the more pressing, while highlighting the need for common rules and a comprehensive and balanced EU migration policy.
So whatever the rhetoric at the Member Country level, the EU is committed to bringing in immigrant workers and will invoke EU treaty provisions (Article 258 TFEU) to make them comply with the Blue Card Directive. I personally don't think it will end up in the European Court of Justice.  In the case of Greece, for example, they have some very good reasons for not having complied.  Honestly, does anyone think this is one of their top priorities right now? 

On to the country updates:

France:  Looks like the prefectures are finally getting their procedures together.  This document, "PIÈCES À FOURNIR pour une demande de titre de séjour « Carte bleue européenne" (Documents to provide for a request for a EU Blue Card) was put on-line early March by the Prefecture de la Vienne (western part of France).

Update:  Wullar provided this great link in the comments section: 
http://www.immigration-professionnelle.gouv.fr/en/proc%C3%A9dures/fiche/european-blue-card
All the French Blue Card info you could possibly want and it's in English.  Thanks so much, Wullar, for sharing that.

Luxembourg:  This government site "Portail  Citoyens" has published a page on the Blue Card and how to obtain one.  You'll notice that the minimum salary is 66,000 Euros except for those professions "belonging to groups one and two."  Follow this link to the ILO CITP they refer to and you will see that IT people are in group two which means that the minimum salary could drop to 53,000 Euros if the government decides that there is a real need in that sector.

Sweden:  This site, Sweden.se The Official Gateway to Sweden, has this very welcoming message on their main page:  
If you are thinking about moving to Sweden for work, you've come to the right place. Workinginsweden.se is aimed mainly at non-EU/EEA citizens interested in working in Sweden for at least one year.
Above is a step-by-step guide to the Swedish migration process, which has become a lot easier for non-EU/EEA citizens* due to new rules in Sweden. The portal also describes some of the advantages of a work life in Sweden.
On the other hand the EU Immigration portal is reporting that "There is no specific scheme for highly-skilled workers in Sweden" and I could not find specific Blue Card information on the site.  However, I did find this link to the Swedish Migration Board which has an on-line application procedure for work permits and this page which explains the process for non-EU migrants.  So, it looks like Sweden is not yet ready for the Blue Card.
Romania:  This site, European Union Blue Card, (really good site by the way) is reporting that, yes, Blue Cards are being issued and someone actually has one.  Here are the details as of early March: "Move One Inc. is proud to be among the first recipients of the so called “blue card” work permits issued in Bucharest, obtained on behalf of a highly qualified third country national and his Romanian company. Move One Inc. is a logistics company with its headquarters in Dubai and a branch office in Romania."
That is excellent news.  :-)
I'll stop there and open up the discussion in the comment section.  As always, if you have your own news or links to share, please feel free to post them.



14 comments:

Jackie Brown said...

I like that there is a pretty high minimum salary.

Jackie Brown said...

J'ai oublié plus de la moitié de mon commentaire.

Hopefully, people holding a blue card won't be accused of driving down salaries. I remember reading a lot of "nasty" stuff about H1B visa holders in the US. However, I can't say I blame them totally. The company that hired me wrote a higher salary on the immigration application than what it actually paid me. Let's see how it works in the EU.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Bonjour Jackie,

I think the minimum salary is one way for the EU to demonstrate that they are trying to protect local workers.

That said, I've been working in IT here for many years and I think the salaries have already dropped for certain types of IT skills (basic programmers, for example). I know programmers with *years* of experience who are making much less then 50K Euros a year.

What's pushing some salaries down? I think it's primarily French companies that are choosing to outsource a lot of IT tasks and they are asking the SSII's to give them a flat (and cheap) daily rate. IT departments are under enormous pressure to cut costs (IT is overhead).

That said there are still some skills that are in very high demand and command top rates: security, experienced project managers, IT managers/executives and so on.

Jackie, are you in the US on an H1-B visa (or another type of visa)? If so I'd be very interested in knowing what the market is like there.

All the best,

Victoria

Wullar said...

Thank you for the update. I am sure this page must have been linked somewhere on your blog, but in any case http://www.immigration-professionnelle.gouv.fr/en/proc%C3%A9dures/fiche/european-blue-card provides complete detail in English!

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Wullar,

Thank you so much - that is an outstanding link. I have linked to that site before but not to that particular page. That is really useful and I'll add it to the post above because I think it will help a lot of people.

Thanks again,

Victoria

Jackie Brown said...

I first came in the US (back in 1997) on an H1B visa as a translator (considered even more overhead than IT), and got my green card back in 2001. So, before all the big changes to H1B visa rates. I was laid off in 2004, and have been a freelancer since. So, I don't really know what the market is like now. Unless you have a specific question I might be able to answer.

Wullar said...

It indeed is very helpful and I was surprised to find so much information - even FAQ's in English! Sure, should be in the update post!

Anonymous said...

Hi Victoria,

Thanks for the update again. The figure 51444 really scares me. Do you think its a realistic figure to employ some one (even with a lot of specialized skills)? Is there a place where I can look up salaries offered in France for different job profiles?

Thanks again
.K.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Jackie: That is one thing I do miss about the US, the ability to freelance. Concerning the market, I'm getting getting conflicting information. Some say that the US job market is doing just fine and other says it is too soon to tell. Probably depends on the sector.

@Wullar: Again - a really great link. Thanks so much.

@K: 50K sounds about right to me for that level of education and experience. Also, remember that the salary sounds high but the cost of living is high too. 50K is well above minimum wage but just look at the price of apartments in a major city here like Paris. Even something as simple as a transit pass will cost from 60 to 100 Euros a month. And then there are the taxes. There is social security (medical and retirement) and income tax. Once you get through paying all that, 50K will not seem all that generous. :-)

Victoria

Wullar said...

@Victoria

Glad I could be of some help :)

@ K

http://www.payscale.com/research/FR/Country=France/Salary might give you a rough idea about french salaries.

Best

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that the French and German conditions for gaining permanent settlement is so different. So the EU harmonisation of rules has clearly not worked.

Secondly, there is no grandfathering clause for someone like me who has already lived in Europe for the past 6 years in 3 different countries. But still a reasonable start.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Hi anonymous, It's a work in progress. Immigration is such a politically sensitive topic right now. There is work behind the scenes (common formats for residency cards, for example). The EU seems to prefer small steps (slow but steady progress) to big initiatives that might scare the public and generate controversy.

One of the big stories is harmonisation of degree programs across EU countries. It's called the Bologna process. http://www.minedu.fi/OPM/Koulutus/artikkelit/bologna/index.html?lang=en

I'm not sure where they are in the process but what I do know is that I can't find one European in my circle of family and friends who has any idea that this is happening. :-)

Victoria

Anonymous said...

Dear Victoria, Having lived on this continent for a fairly long time and spent time in pretty much every country, I consider myself as European as you can get. I understand and know both the history and culture of the major individual countries and see how the EU process is deeply influenced by this.

As far as the Blue card system is concerned, I really think that politically it is unsaleable hence the kind of irrational rules from the French (it was easier to naturalize in France without the Blue Card!).
Secondly, as the existing ethnic populations from North Africa and Turkey have been integrated so badly into the EU states what is the hope that new foreigners will fare any better? I think a few companies will be able to bring in mid management staff at cheaper salaries (for ex: an existing middle manager in France will likely draw more than 51K atleast in Paris). And for those coming in the lack of growth will eventually get on their nerves. Overall I doubt this is going to be the much touted plan which will save the EU from a slow descent into mediocrity. Although I do hope I am wrong as this is a truly lovely continent with great culture and people! Krish

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Krish, I fear that you're right. I've talked to folks here in Paris (French and some foreigners) and most are not favorable to the idea of the Blue Card. When I explain that it's already in progress, they are very negative about it. Id' be very interested in your experience in other EU countries (mine is really confined to France). Do people (EU natives) know about it? If they do, what do they say? Favorable? Unfavorable?

I hear what you are saying about growth. These days I think the countries that are most interesting to migrants are those fast growing places with lots of opportunity: Singapore, Brazil, China....

On the other hand we may see more serial migrants. Those who have skills and take advantage of a program to come to a country, stay a few years and them move on. These folks aren't that interested in integrating beyond being able to live and work or naturalizing. they may even choose a completely new country for retirement (those International Retirement Migrants).

Victoria