The Republic of Cyprus will issue a Blue Card to highly skilled workers from third countries coming to Cyprus for employment, according to a draft law approved by the Council of Ministers on the 17th of January 2024. The legislation aligns Cyprus with the relevant European directive concerning the entry and residence conditions for third-country nationals for high-skilled employment in member states.

Specifically, the Blue Card pertains to a residence permit with a European dimension, allowing mobility within member states and providing enhanced rights to its holders. Moreover, more flexible rules are introduced to attract high-skilled workers to the European Union, including easier entry requirements, strengthened rights, and facilitation of mobility and work within the EU.

The draft law specifies “high skill” as holding a tertiary education degree lasting at least 3 years or reference letter evidencing professional experience of at least 3 years within the last 7 years preceding the Blue Card application. The professional experience will apply only to high executives and professionals in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT).

It also provides the flexibility to determine admission volumes and foresees a range of sanctions against employers who fail to meet their obligations.

A salary threshold is set in the draft law for granting the Blue Card at 1 to 1.6 times the average gross annual salary of the member state. The government’s proposal grants increased rights to the family members of Blue Card holders.

Additionally, it introduces the possibility of short and long-term mobility within the EU based on simplified rules after twelve months of employment in the first member state. The draft law includes more flexible provisions for access to long-term resident status.

It is noteworthy that the consideration of a valid employment contract and the relevant high professional qualifications by the Department of Labour is mandatory for both the initial permit and changing employers within the first twelve months of residence.

Provisions for labour market checks are included, both for the initial permit and changing employers within the first twelve months of residence, to expedite the Blue Card issuance process and avoid inconvenience for interested parties.

According to the Ministry of Interior, these amendments are in line with the talent attraction program and contribute to the broader effort to promote legal migration as a measure to manage migration.

By implementing the European directive, the European Union aims to become a knowledge and innovation-based economy, reduce the administrative burden on businesses, and improve the alignment of labour supply to labour demand.