Netherlands Revamps EU Blue Card for Highly Skilled Migrants

June 21, 2024 |

The Netherlands is renowned for its client-centric legal services. It was awarded “Best Law Firm” for client satisfaction in 2021 and 2020. This excellence extends to its immigration policies, which favor the highly skilled migrant program over the European Blue Card scheme.

Statistics from the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) highlight this preference. In 2020, about 6,500 highly skilled migrant permits were issued. In contrast, only 150 European Blue Cards were granted. This disparity is due to the stringent requirements of the previous Blue Card framework. These included higher salary thresholds, mandatory three-year higher education qualifications, and a reliance on recognized sponsors.

The Revamped EU Blue Card Directive

The European Commission overhauled the Blue Card directive in September 2021. The goal was to simplify procedures, broaden the scope, and strengthen the rights of Blue Card holders and their families. The Netherlands must implement this revised directive by November 18, 2023.

Key Enhancements

The revamped directive introduces significant enhancements for highly skilled non-EU migrants.

Reduced Employment Contract Duration: The minimum duration is now 6 months instead of 12 months.

Shortened Residency Requirement: Residency in the first EU member state is reduced from 18 months to 12 months.

Expanded Work Opportunities: Blue Card holders can now work in other EU member states for up to 90 days without needing an additional work permit.

Extended Validity: The Blue Card is now valid for at least 24 months. Blue Cards issued for at least 24 months are eligible for renewal.

Improved Processing Times: Application decisions are now made within 60 days, and within 30 days for recognized employers.

Adjusted Salary Threshold: The salary threshold now ranges between 100% and 160% of the average gross annual salary in the member state.

Ireland and Denmark’s Stance

Ireland and Denmark have opted not to adopt the revised EU Blue Card directive. They continue to operate under their national immigration frameworks for highly skilled professionals.


As the November 18, 2023, deadline approaches, the Netherlands is set to embrace this progressive legislation. By aligning its immigration policies with the revamped framework, the Dutch government reaffirms its commitment to attracting and retaining the world’s brightest minds. This fosters innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth. The Netherlands continues to solidify its position as a premier destination for highly skilled professionals, offering unparalleled career opportunities and an exceptional quality of life.

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