Global Employer Services News

Italy - Italy’s Blue Card reform is under way

The Italian government has issued a draft legislative decree that would transpose an EU directive finalised in October 2021 that revises the “Blue Card” directive originally introduced in 2009 .
EU member states are required to complete the transposition of Directive (EU) 2021/1883 by November 18, 2023, meaning that by that date, all member states must have enacted the necessary laws, regulations, and administrative measures to comply with the new directive.
The EU Blue Card is a work and residence permit that allows highly skilled employees from non-EU countries to work and live in 25 EU member states. However, since its entry into force, the program has not achieved the desired results and it has not been unanimously embraced by member states; for example, 80% of the current Blue Cards were issued by Germany.

In May 2021, after five years of negotiation, the EU Parliament and Council agreed on a revision of the 2009 Blue Card directive to make it easier for employers in EU countries to hire people from non-member states. 

The new Directive (EU) 2021/1883 stands as the sole legislative change at the EU level in the field of legal labour migration in recent years, and it aims to introduce more flexible criteria on entry and residence conditions of highly skilled workers,  to alleviate demographic as well as labour and skills shortages in some key sectors.

By lowering the admission criteria and strengthening the rights of Blue Card holders and their families, the European Parliament aims to increase the appeal of this special residence permit.
Italy’s Legislative Decree
In Italy, the transposition of the directive provides for amendments to Art. 27 quater, broadening the category of beneficiaries and simplifying the application process. Under the new provisions, third-country nationals are eligible for the Blue Card procedure if they meet the following general requirements:
  • Applicants must have a tertiary-level higher education degree or a professional qualification with a minimum duration of two years. Previously, both requirements had to be met, but under the new rules, they can be met alternatively.
  • Applicants must have an employment contract, or a binding job offer for a duration of at least six months. The previous requirement called for a duration of  at least 12 months.
  • Applicants must receive a salary that is not lower than the average gross annual remuneration as recorded by ISTAT. The previous legislation imposed a minimum salary requirement of EUR 24,789.
The new provisions aim to simplify other aspects related to the right to family unity and access to employment. Specifically, EU Blue Card holders are granted the flexibility to work as self-employed individuals alongside highly qualified employment. Additionally, when a Blue Card was is issued by another member state, the holder is permitted to enter and reside in Italy to carry out a professional activity for a maximum period of 90 days within a 180-day period.

Regarding family unity, this legislative update also aims to facilitate family reunification and the stay of family members within Italian territory. Family reunification will be allowed regardless of the duration of the residence permit, and family members will receive a permit of the same duration as that of the card holder. A new feature is that this permit can be converted into a permit for employment, self-employment, or study.

The amendments also mandate the publication of information on Blue Card requirements and application procedures on relevant institutional websites.

In conclusion, the revision of the EU Blue Card directive represents a significant step forward in harmonizing and simplifying legal labour migration within the EU.

By adopting these changes in their national legislation by 18 November 2023, EU member states have the opportunity not only to make this tool more appealing to highly qualified workers but also to address labour shortages, foster economic growth, and promote social integration within the EU.

Gianluca Marini
BDO in Italy