The European Blue Card is a residence and work permit that allows third-country nationals to live and work in the member states of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) if they meet certain conditions. The main objective of the European Blue Card is to attract highly skilled workers from third countries to contribute to the economic development of the EU. The permit is issued under simplified conditions compared to the standard residence and work permit.
In Croatia, the EU Blue Card is regulated by the Foreigners Act (referred to as the Act) and the Regulation on the Residence and Work of Highly Qualified Third-Country Nationals in the Republic of Croatia (referred to as the Regulation), which is fully aligned with Council Directive 2009/50/EC of 25 May 2009 on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment (OJ L 155, 18 June 2009). This legislation not only regulates the residence and work of EU Blue Card holders in Croatia, but also applies to their family members.
A highly qualified worker is a third-country national who is employed in Croatia in accordance with special regulations governing labor relations (the Labor Act), is remunerated for their work, and possesses the necessary or relevant special expertise acquired through the completion of higher education programs. According to the definition in Article 1(3) of the Regulation, a third-country national is a person who is not a citizen of a member state of the European Economic Area.
An application for the issuance of an EU Blue Card can be submitted by the third-country national personally or by their employer based in the Republic of Croatia where the third-country national will work. The application is submitted at a diplomatic mission or consular office of the Republic of Croatia abroad, or at a police administration or police station in the Republic of Croatia, depending on the place of residence of the third-country national or the registered office or place of work of the employer of the third-country national.
A third-country national may be granted a residence and work permit provided they meet the requirements specified in Article 54 of the Foreigners Act. The application for the issuance of a residence and work permit must be accompanied by proof of health insurance, a copy of a valid travel document (which will be certified by an official after inspecting the original), an employment contract or another appropriate contract related to a highly qualified worker with a duration of at least one year, proof of higher education or completed undergraduate and graduate university studies, integrated undergraduate and graduate university studies, or specialized graduate professional studies, and an excerpt from the court register for a company, branch office, representative office, or institution; Central Register of Trades; Register of Associations; and Register of Representation of Foreign Foundations and Foundations, which must not be older than 6 months. The employment contract or another appropriate contract attached to the application must specify the gross annual salary, which must not be less than 1.5 times the average gross annual salary paid in the industry in which the third-country national is employed. The official data on the average gross annual salary is published by the competent statistical authority. The documents attached to the application for the issuance of a residence and work permit and the approval for temporary and permanent residence must be in the original or certified copy, and foreign documents must be translated into Croatian and certified in accordance with special regulations.
The competent police administration or police station issues a certificate of the submitted application for the issuance of a residence and work permit to the applicant. The certificate contains the name and surname of the third-country national, date and place of birth, nationality, date of application, name of the competent authority, date of issuance, signature of the official, and seal.
Finally, the EU Blue Card is issued in the form of a biometric residence permit, and based on it, the worker for whom the permit is issued may only work for the employer and perform the job for which the permit is issued. In case of termination of the employment contract of the worker who has been granted an EU Blue Card with a specific employer, the worker (and the employer) is obliged to notify the competent police station of the termination of the employment contract within 8 days from its termination.
An application for the extension of the EU Blue Card must be submitted no later than 30 days before its expiry date at a police administration or police station according to the place of residence. The holder of the EU Blue Card may stay in Croatia until the decision on the application becomes final.
According to data from the European Commission in 2021, Germany has the highest number of issued European Blue Cards. Germany is known for the high number of issued blue cards due to its strong economy and the need for highly skilled workers in various sectors. Croatia is still among the countries with lower issuance of EU Blue Cards, but the trend is changing. According to the latest available data, a total of 503 residence and work permits were issued in Croatia in 2022, and it is expected that this number will be significantly exceeded in 2023, indicating an increasing attractiveness of Croatia as a destination for highly educated foreign workers.
As an interesting fact, the concept of the EU Blue Card was inspired by the American "Green Card," which allows foreign nationals to live and work in the United States, with the intention of attracting and employing highly skilled workers.
Anja Juršetić, odvjetnica