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Spain rolls out EU Blue Card: What foreign workers should know

The Local Spain
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Spain rolls out EU Blue Card: What foreign workers should know
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The Spanish government is rolling out its EU Blue Card to align with the EU's Blue Card Directive for highly-skilled and qualified workers.

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The Spanish government is bringing out its own EU Blue Card in keeping with EU Blue Card Directive, which offers a way for highly-skilled and experienced non-EU nationals to work and live in Spain. It also opens a route to permanent residency and perhaps even citizenship. 

The EU blue card

What is the EU's blue card?

This specialist residency permit is similar to the US green card in that it's geared towards drawing highly qualified professionals and talented foreigners to the EU, as well as helping to rebalance Spain's (and Europe's) demographic and workforce imbalances. In Spain, as in many EU countries, it is also a way of helping bolster sectors where employers need workers.

It also provides a viable pathway to long-term EU residency and even citizenship.

According to the EU Blue Card scheme website: "Labour migration into Europe boosts our competitiveness and therefore our economic growth. It also helps tackle demographic problems resulting from our ageing population."

Who qualifies?

You can qualify for an EU Blue Card in Spain if you:

  • Have a higher education qualification equivalent to at least a level 2 qualification under the Spanish Qualifications Framework for Higher Education. 
  • Are a non-EU citizen.
  • Don't have a criminal record or have been denied entry to Spain in the past.
  • If you don't meet the qualification requirements, you can qualify with at least five years of professional experience in a relevant profession or sector (or three years in the prior seven years for information and communications technology managers or professionals).
  • Already have an employment contract lasting for at least six months that will pay you 1.5 times the average gross annual salary, which based on 2022 average figures works out to around €38,000.

How do I apply?

According to immigration lawyers Balcells, the process has three key stages:

Firstly, you must have a job lined up in Spain. The employer should then initiate the application.

Secondly, the applicant (the employee) must apply for a visa in their country of origin through the Spanish embassy.

Thirdly, once approved, you should arrive in Spain and receive your residency.

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How long is it valid for?

EU blue cards are generally valid for up to three years, or equal to the duration of the contract plus an additional period of three months in the event that the duration of the contract is less than three years.

However, during the last sixty days of the permit, it is possible to renew the Blue Card for a further two years if you still meet the requirements. In Spain, this would mean you're able to obtain full residency after another five years when the requirements for it are met.

READ ALSO: Portugal and Ireland have scrapped their golden visas. Will Spain be next?

Can I travel around Europe with a Blue Card?

Holders of an EU Blue Card can travel to other EU member states for up to 90 days in a 180-day period, like any other non-EU national on other non-resident visas.

What about family and dependents? 

Family members of EU Blue Card applicants can also apply for a residence permit as dependents under the main applicant’s EU Blue Card application.

How much does it cost?

There are a few costs involved in applying, renewing, and replacing the Blue Card. According to the EU's immigration portal in Spain they are:

Application fee: €418.

Renewal fee: €112.

Replacement fee: €112.

How long does it take to get the Blue Card?

The processing time is around 45 days.

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Changes to pre-existing highly qualified permit

Spain's pre-existing visa for highly qualified professionals has also modified its requirements and expanded the possible pool of applications. Foreign nationals can now qualify for the permit if:

  • They have qualifications comparable at least to level 1 of the Spanish Qualifications Framework for Higher Education.

  • Have at least three years of relevant professional experience.

  • Permit validity has been expanded to the duration of the employment contract plus three months (up to a total of three years).

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