Late January, the official French government site, Pour La Promotion de l'Immigration Professionelle, was updated with an entire page devoted to the EU Blue Card:
Ce dispositif vise à faciliter l’entrée, le séjour et le travail en France des ressortissants de pays tiers aux fins d’emploi hautement qualifié.
La France est le premier Etat membre de l’Union Européenne à transposer par la loi du 16 juin 2011 relative à l'immigration, à l'intégration et à la nationalité, la directive européenne 2009/50/CE du 25 mai 2009.
(This new option is meant to facilitate the entry, the residence and work in France of non-EU country nationals who are highly-qualified workers.On this new page you will find links to the text of the law, a list of the papers you and the employer will need to provide and the procedure for the company to follow. Remember that this site is really destined for employers (not migrants) however I think it is useful for everyone concerned. The information here is quite clear and straightforward but there are a few surprising twists:
With the law of June 16, 2011 concerning immigration, integration and nationality, France is the first Member state of the EU to act into law the EU Directive 2009/50/CE of May 25, 2009.)
Nationals not concerned by this law: I knew that nationals of other EU states were not concerned but apparently people from Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Algeria are also exempt. In the last case, entry of Algerians is covered by a 1968 treaty between France and Algeria.
Definition of a THQ: There is a new acronym to learn, THQ, which means Travailleur hautement qualifié (Highly qualified worker). Basically someone with three years of higher education or five years of experience.
Salary requirements: Here they actually give a number to the rather vague "1.5 times the average salary of reference." In 2012 this translates to 51,444 Euros per year before taxes.
Family reunification: A Blue Card holder in France can bring his/her family and there is a simplified procedure for this. And they seem to be saying that family members of a Blue Card holder can work too. Check this one out carefully, folks, but this is what I read: "Carte de séjour temporaire mention "vie privée et familiale" qui autorise à travailler. Cette carte est délivrée pour la même durée de la validité que la carte bleue européenne. Renouvelable de plein droit durant la période de validité de la CBE du conjoint." (Temporary residency permit with the note "private and family life" which gives authorization to work. This card is delivered for the same duration as the Blue Card of the spouse. Renewable for the same period as the Blue Card of the spouse.)
There is much more: no medical visit required, for example, for a highly qualified worker. There is also another service concerned in the process which is the SMOE (Service de Main d'Œuvre Etrangère) and they have an explanation of how an application for a Blue Card is transferred from one service to another.
These are very generous terms. The salary they cite is well within what I would expect for someone with a good degree and/or experience. If spouses can work (and it appears that they can) that is another bonus. After 5 years of continuous residence Blue Card holders qualify for a long-term EU residency permit (10 years) and then possibly citizenship in an EU country. Of course, there is one issue to solve before any of this is possible and that is getting that contract. I am looking for work at the moment and what I will do is try to give you some idea of how to find a job in France in IT in a future post. I've got some good links and sites that might be useful to you and I'll be more than happy to share those with you.