The E.U.’s Big Blue News
It’s big and it’s blue. It’s big news and it’s the “Blue Card.” It’s what we’ve all been waiting for.
In a report I wrote a while back for subscribers of French Property Insider titled “Seventeen Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Moved to Paris,” the first item on the list was: “That Maybe I Didn’t Need a Long-Stay Visa!” That’s because until now, it was virtually impossible to obtain a work permit in France (equivalent to a U.S. Green Card) and a long stay visitor visa (“Carte de Séjour Visiteur”) which provided the right to live here but not work here, was in essence, worthless. (Don’t miss today’s P.S.!)
Most people believe that immigration has a negative effect on the economic development, but wrongly so. Many recent sociological studies have proven that most immigrants contribute to economic growth. “Immigrants are perceived as taking jobs away from native-born Americans and filling the rolls for public assistance without paying their share of taxes to replenish the kitty. Nothing could be further from the truth.” reports Adam M. Zaretsky, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Finally, the European Union is starting to understand how immigration fuels an economy, particularly the right kind of immigration. And how the “Brain Drain” is adversely affecting the E.U. — all those highly skilled workers who are migrating to the U.S., Canada and Australia. The European Commission has been desperately trying to fill the shortages of engineers, doctors and IT specialists and think they may have found a solution.
Just this morning, the “Blue Card” initiative was unveiled, designed to attract highly skilled immigrants and offering permanent residency anywhere in Europe after five years of work. The goal is to attract 20 million skilled and non-skilled workers by 2030, but rumor has it that Britain will opt out of the program, as well as possibly Austria and the Irish Republic.
Here’s how it works: Blue Card applicants must need a job offer for at least a one-year contract and as with the prior “Carte de Séjour Salarié,” the employer will have to certify tha
t the post cannot be filled from within the E.U. The contract must also offer a salary at least three times the minimum wage in the country where the job is located.
In return, those holding the new Blue Card will have all the same benefits of social and employment rights as other E.U. citizens, including retirement pensions, housing benefits and healthcare. The new immigrants may also move to a new job and new location within the E.U. country after two years of residency in the sponsoring country.
But, the Blue Card is more restrictive than the U.S. Green Card. It doesn’t give permanent residency, it’s valid only two years (compared to 10 years), is more difficult to achieve a work contract (a Green Card applicant can seek five channels: employment, family links, a lottery, investment, or residency since before 1972) and citizenship is not part of the bargain.
Officials hope that the Blue Card will change the image of Europe as a destination for unskilled immigrants. Statistics say that about 85% of global unskilled workers head to the E.U. while only 5% goes to the U.S. and that 55% of skilled workers go to the U.S. and just 5% to the E.U.
All this means we highly educated, skilled immigrants, will hopefully (if it passes!) have a much better chance of finding a legal way into a prosperous life in France.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. A Special Invitation to Parler Paris Readers!:
I will be speaking about “Seventeen Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Moved to Paris,” this coming Tuesday, October 30th, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. to students from the International Affairs and the Public Sphere program in the Grande Salle of Reid Hall. They have generously opened the event to all Parler Paris readers as “observers” to allow the students to field their own questions but allow you to attend and learn from the session. It’s free of charge, compliments of Reid Hall.
“Reid Hall is a complex of academic facilities owned and operated by Columbia University that is located in the Montparnasse district of Paris, France. It houses the Columbia University Institute for Scholars at Reid Hall in addition to various graduate and undergraduate divisions of over a dozen American colleges and universities. For over a century, Reid Hall has served as a link between the academic communities of The United States and France.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reid_Hall)
October 30, 2007
3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Grande Salle, Reid Hall
4 rue de Chevreuse