European Blue Card visa gets green light

October 26th, 2008 - 12:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghBrussels, Oct 26 (IANS) A Blue Card that will make it easier for high-earning and skilled Indians to live and work in Europe is all set to be approved by leaders of European countries. The card - a fast-track work visa - was approved by ambassadors of the European Union’s 27 member-states in Brussels this week, and is expected to be rubber-stamped by the continent’s home ministers at a meeting in the Belgian capital Nov 27-28.

“As the decision was agreed at the ambassadors’ level, it’s not yet official but we do not foresee any further debates and the decision will be ratified by the EU minister next month,” an EU official told IANS.

Major European countries are vying to attract the best talents from around the world, but have watered down original plans by insisting that it is up to national governments to decide how many migrants they will allow in and what qualifications they should have.

The Blue Card makes it easier for workers to bring their families to Europe but its validity of four years falls short of the original proposal - a compromise owing to national sensitivities over immigration.

Moreover, the card will only be issued to people whose expected incomes would be at least one-and-a-half times the national average.

As the brainchild of European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, the Blue Card was designed to be on par with Green Card system of the US.

President Barroso told journalist in Marseille, France, after the EU-India Summit last month, that he expected the card to attract more Indians to Europe.

“We have made a proposal precisely to make it easier for qualified professionals to come to Europe because we want to remain open and, in fact, we want more people coming to Europe, namely qualified migrants,” he said.

“Sometimes we find it’s difficult for them to come so we made a proposal and that proposal is being negotiated by the Council of member states and I think the final outcome will be a good one.”

Addressing a joint press conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and current EU Presidency holder French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Barroso said: “I think it will be a good outcome - a balanced proposal - especially for the Indians to come to Europe and cooperate inside our member states.”

Many skilled Indian workers in Europe have welcomed the move.

Umesh Shenoy, an Indian software consultant working in Brussels, said: “The Blue Card will greatly alleviate the problem of restrictive movement for non-EU employees working in Europe.

“Hopefully it will bring stability to otherwise chaotic procedure that comes with applying for work permit and residence cards. This will be useful for multinational companies which require their workforce to be mobile,” he added.

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