LONG term or permanent residency is—like Philippine vehicles-color-coded.
The United States has the Green Card. Europe created an alternative—the Blue Card.
Realizing that the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand—as well as Asian countries —are getting the bulk of skilled workers and professionals, the European Parliament through the European Council issued a directive on May 25, 2009, encouraging member states to come up with implementing regulations on how to attract qualified and eligible applicants.
At the time, Europe’s economy was on the upswing; new members were being admitted into the Union attracted to the vision of a unified economy and single currency, the Euro.
By yearend of 2009, the political vision clashed with economic reality.
Several Eurozone members were unable to repay or refinance their government debt and had to be bailed-out of their dire situation, giving birth to the European debt crisis (often also referred to as the eurozone crisis or the European sovereign debt crisis).
With souring economies, unemployment rate rose, affecting mostly the young members of the labor force particularly in four of 18 Eurozone states—Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus.
Germany has the lowest unemployment rate at 3.7 percent. The fifty percent of the 15 to 24 year olds in Greece, Spain and Italy (Europe’s third and fourth biggest economies) are unemployed.
Elected officials and candidates for the upcoming elections play to the populist tune and cater to the prevailing sentiment of the electorate.
At the end of 2014, the Economist reports, the Euro zone had by and large recovered, exhibiting a faster-than-expected growth in the fourth quarter of 2014: the euro zone as a whole grew by 0.3 percent in the quarter, and its biggest economy, Germany, expanded by 0.7 percent.
These developments make the Blue Card of Europe an attractive alternative for Filipino professionals and skilled workers who may opt to earn “blue” Euros instead of green bucks.
The EU Blue Card applies in 24 of the 27 EU countries. It does not apply in Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
The Council’s directive was pursuant to the Hague Program adopted by the Council November 4 and 5 2004 and in pursuit of the EU’s objective of “becoming the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion by 2010.”
Five years past the target year, most of the EU finds itself still struggling to be competitive in the global stage except for Germany, Britain, Sweden, Spain, Romania, Estonia, Denmark and Slovenia which are projected to have between 2.0 to 2.0% growth in GDP for 2016.
According to a June 2014 European Parliament and Council report on the Blue Card implementation two years earlier, most Blue Cards were granted by Denmark (2,584 or 70.52 percent), Estonia (461; 12.58 percent) and Luxembourg (183; 4.99 percent).
In 2013, the number of Blue Cards granted increased to at least 15, 261 with Denmark, Luxembourg and France issuing the most – 14,197, 306 and 304 respectively.
Most Blue Cards issued were to highly qualified migrants from Asia (1,886), followed by Eastern Europe (463), Northern America (380), South America (278), Southern Europe (227), Northern Africa (174) and Central America (118). Only 78 highly qualified workers came from the rest of Africa. Oceania accounted for 38 Blue Card holders.
The top countries of origin in 2012 were India (699), China (324), Russia (271), United States (313) and Ukraine (149), out of 96 countries.
Majority of the highly qualified worker issued Blue Cards belong to applicants in the 25 to 35 year age range (73.5 percent or 6,533 of the total. Those in the 35 to 45 year bracket were second with 1,765 or 19.8 percent, followed by the 45 to 55 year olds.
An applicant is considered a highly-qualified worker if s/he has a work contract of at least one year, and provides evidence of a ‘higher professional qualifications’, either by showing a higher education qualification (such as a university degree) or by having at least five years of relevant professional experience; paid full-tine work experience with a legitimate employer.
The applicant must also present his/her license to practice if the occupation is regulated.
Blue Card Validity. Normally you can stay and work for a period of between one and four years. The card may also be renewed for the same period as long as you still satisfy all the conditions. With a valid EU Blue Card, you can enter, re-enter and stay in the EU country which has issued the card. You can also pass through other EU countries and stay there for up to three months.
An applicant must stay on the job for the first two years from receipt of the Blue Card, unless you have permission from the national authorities to change jobs. After those first two years, you may be able to change jobs and/or employers
Family members can come and live with the Blue Card principal applicant, as well as visit or travel to other EU countries for up to three months during a six-month period.
Long Term Residency. Generally, a Blue Card holder may apply for long-term resident status after five years of stay in one EU country. Some countries have shorter residency requirements. As a holder of an EU Blue Card, you are guaranteed equal treatment with citizens of the host country as regards working conditions; professional education and training; recognition of diplomas and qualifications; Social security and access to goods and services offered to the public such as transport, museums and restaurants.
By the way, you need not be from Ateneo or La Salle to qualify.