The IND has finally confirmed that the absence from the territory of the Netherlands by European Blue Card holder does not interrupt the 5-year period for obtaining an indefinite residence permit as an EU long-term resident. The period of absence may be a maximum of 12 consecutive months, or a total of 18 months, in the 5-year period.
The fact that a European Blue Card holder may also temporarily stay outside the territory without any interruption is laid down in the European Blue Card Directive (2009/50/EU).
Yet the IND did not follow this.
This provision was included in the directive precisely to promote and support the mobility of highly skilled workers from third countries between the European Union and their country of origin.According to the directive, EU member states may limit the period of absence to cases in which the foreigner can demonstrate that he has left the territory of the European Union to exercise an economic activity in his country of origin as an employee or as a self-employed person, to do voluntary work or follow a course of study. The Netherlands had implemented this provision in the Immigration regulation.
The IND nevertheless continued to take the position that if a European Blue Card holder no longer resided in the Netherlands, the 5-year period – required to qualify for an EU long-term resident residence permit – was interrupted. According to the IND, a European Blue Card holder had to reside legally in the Netherlands for another 5 years before being entitled to that permanent residence permit.
Inge te Pas from Kroes Advocaten Immigration Lawyers has conducted years of proceedings with the IND on this point. The case has been going on since October 2020. Ultimately in October 2023, after a long (judicial) procedure, the IND followed Inge te Pas’s position. With this she has won this point for all (future) European Blue Card holders.
The new European Blue Card Directive (EU 2021/1883) also includes a provision regarding the absence of a maximum of 12 consecutive months, or a total of 18 months, in the period of 5 years. The dispute won by Inge te Pas therefore also continues to apply under the new regulations for European Blue Card holders. The Netherlands must transpose this into national legislation by November 18, 2023.
The new European Blue Card Directive should make the European Blue Card more attractive for highly educated foreigners from outside the EU. There are therefore major adjustments to the current guideline.