Immigration Law, Legal Advice

Residence permit in Greece for “highly qualified” employees (EU Blue Card)

It was the need to attract highly qualified personnel that led to the introduction of a special residence permit in Greece for “highly qualified” third-country nationals, aimed at strengthening the innovative economy and supporting legal migration. Until 31.03.2024, the relevant issues are regulated by Law 4251/2014, while from 01.04.2024, the new Immigration Code (Law 5038/2023) comes into force, which introduces significant innovations in this category of residence permit.

In order for a third-country citizen to receive the “EU Blue Card”, i.e. to be considered a “highly qualified” worker and be allowed to stay and work in Greece, the following conditions must be met:

a) The applicant must present a valid employment contract relating to highly qualified employment, lasting at least six (6) months in Greece, which shows that the gross annual salary, as derived from the monthly or annual salary specified in the above contract, is not less than the national minimum wage for highly qualified employment. The minimum wage threshold for highly qualified employment referred to in the preceding subparagraph shall be equal to one sixth of a point (1,6) of the average gross annual wage in Greece. Currently, the minimum gross amount that a highly skilled worker must receive in order to qualify for the EU Blue Card is €31,918.83 as a minimum.

b) If it is a non-regulated profession, the applicant must provide documents certifying the relevant high professional qualifications for the work to be performed. In particular, higher education qualifications relevant to the profession and the specialization specified in the work contract, officially certified and translated, or evidence of at least five years’ professional experience of a level equivalent to a higher education qualification and relevant to the employment specified in the work contract. Five years’ professional experience is evidenced by employment certificates from previous employers, describing the position held, the highly qualified job and the length of time he/she has worked.

c) In the case of professions regulated by law, the applicant must submit documents certifying that he/she meets the requirements of Decree 38/2010 on the recognition of professional qualifications for the exercise of the profession specified in the employment contract.

d) The applicant must present a valid travel document (passport) and a national entry visa for the purpose of highly qualified employment.

e) The applicant must provide evidence of the existence of health insurance for all risks covered for nationals, with regard to periods during which he/she is not, by virtue of his/her employment contract or in connection therewith, covered by a similar insurance cover or corresponding entitlement to benefits.

f) The competent immigration authority verifies also that there is no danger to public order and safety or public health.

g) The applicant must provide his/her address of residence in the country, if known, and his/her permanent address at the latest at the time of issuance of the EU Blue Card.

It is noted that the number of highly qualified workers employed as highly qualified workers is specific per region within Greece and is determined by virtue of a relevant Ministerial Decision. Therefore, a prerequisite for the submission of the relevant application is that the number of the relevant vacancies provided for has not been exhausted.

In order for a third country national to be admitted as a “Highly Skilled” worker and consequently receive an EU Blue Card, an application must be submitted by the employer for obtaining an authorisation to issue a national entry visa for the highly skilled worker. However, under the new legislative framework introduced by Law 5038/2023, it is not necessary for the employer to submit an application in order to get the confirmation for the issuance of a national entry visa and in case the third country citizen is already in Greece, either with a Schengen visa (tourist visa) or with a visa exemption status, he/she can directly apply for a residence permit for highly skilled work for an “EU Blue Card”, provided that he/she submits a relevant employment contract. The application must be submitted before the end of the allowed period of stay. This is the main innovation of the new law compared to the regime under Law 4251/2014, when it was absolutely necessary to obtain a national entry visa upon prior submission of an application by the employer.

The EU Blue Card is valid for two years. If the employment contract covers a period shorter than the period mentioned above, the EU Blue Card is valid for at least the duration of the employment contract plus three (3) months, but not for a period exceeding two (2) years.

EU Blue Card holders have access to highly skilled employment in Greece. During the first twelve (12) months of their legal employment as EU Blue Card holders, they are obliged to notify the Directorate of Residence Permits of the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum of any change of employer or any other change that may affect the fulfilment of the admission criteria. The right of the EU Blue Card holder to change employment shall be suspended for thirty (30) days while the department referred to in the first subparagraph verifies that the admission requirements are met. The service referred to in the first subparagraph may object to the change of employment if the conditions of Article 31 of Law 5078/2023 are not met within the above thirty (30) day period. After the expiry of the twelve (12) month period, the third country citizen holding the “EU Blue Card” is obliged to notify the Directorate of Residence Permits of the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum only for the change of employer or any other change that affects the fulfilment of the admission criteria of Article 31. The fulfilment of these criteria shall not suspend the right of the EU Blue Card holder to take up and pursue new employment.

The highly qualified worker may be accompanied by his/her family members, who may be granted a residence permit under specific conditions and procedure.

*Our office has extensive experience in all types of foreigners and residence permit law issues (granting and renewal of residence permits, appeals, legalization of illegal aliens, acquisition of Greek citizenship, cancellation of deportations, objections against detention of foreigners, etc.) For further legal advice or to assign your case to our office, please contact us at 2313 079293 or by email at info@siopi-law.gr. Please note that it is prohibited under the Code of Lawyers to provide legal advice without the appropriate fee (article 57 of Law 4194/2013)*

Daphne I. Siopi

LLM Lawyer

52 Tsimiski, Thessaloniki

Τ. 2313 079293, 6977 568673

E. info@siopi-law.gr, dsiopi@siopi-law.gr

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