The European Union (EU) Blue Card is a residence and work permit for highly skilled non-EU/EER nationals, so-called third-country nationals. The EU Blue Card does not provide full access to the EU labor market as such, but only to the labor market of the EU Member State that has issued the EU Blue Card.

The implementation date of the European Directive on the EU Blue Card (2009/50/EG) was June 19, 2011. The Netherlands has implemented the EU Blue Card in the Dutch Immigration regulations.

There are two main requirements for the EU Blue Card: a salary threshold and a diploma from a post-secondary higher education program that lasted at least three years. The salary threshold is 1.5 times the average gross annual salary in the concerned EU member state. In the Netherlands, the threshold is EUR 60,000. Before an application can be submitted, the diploma must first be recognised by a Dutch organization called International Credential Evaluation, which specializes in validating diplomas. A decision on an EU Blue Card application may take up to 90 days.

The Dutch highly skilled migrant program, the Knowledge Migrant Scheme (KMR), will coexist with the EU Blue Card. Compared to the KMR Scheme, the EU Blue Card procedure is laborious and slow. The KMR Scheme involves a salary threshold only, with no skills or education test. The current salary thresholds are EUR 50,619 gross per annum for those aged 30 or over, and EUR 37,121 for those under the age of 30. The processing time for the visa is 2 weeks and for the residence card is 4 weeks.

The EU Blue Card, on the other hand, offers the advantage of limited intra-EU mobility after 18 months. The EU Blue Card holder may move, after this period, to another EU Member State for the purpose of employment under the conditions as set out by the EU Blue Card, without first having to request a visa.

Another advantage of the EU Blue Card is that the absence of the EU Blue Card holder from the territory of the EU for a period shorter than 12 consecutive months and up to a total of 18 months will not interrupt the accumulation of the 5 years of legal and continuous residence that would be required in order to secure a long-term (permanent) residence permit.

The United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark are not participating in the adoption of the EU Blue Card Directive and are not bound by it, or subject to its application.