Living and working overseas is an incredibly popular proposition for both individuals and families looking for better weather, a different pace of live, new experiences, or a brand-new start. And Spain has historically been one of the most popular EU destinations for European travelers hoping to live abroad.
If you’re one of the millions who dream of living in Europe, then there’s good news: Several countries in Europe are reducing the salaries people from outside the EU need to be eligible for a work visa.
Each country has their own minimum salary requirements that foreign employees must meet to work in the country. Germany, Austria, and Denmark are all lowering these salary thresholds this year to make it easier for businesses to hire IT workers and engineers, as well as to bring in younger workers to balance their ageing populations.
At the other end of the scale Sweden is increasing the salary thresholds for a work permit. These will more than double to 27,360 kronor a month at the start of November, and a further hike to the median salary planned for next year.
Another way of securing a work permit is to apply for a European Blue Card. This is a card issued to high skilled workers allowing them to work in the EU. Under the new more flexible rules for this card, countries can require applicants to earn between 1 and 1.6 times the average annual gross salary.
Here is a country-by-country breakdown of the salary expectations for a range of EU countries:
As of August 2022 it became much easier for non-EU citizens to work in Spain. This law applied to non-EU workers wanting to secure a work permit to work in agriculture, hospitality, or construction. Otherwise you can only work in Spain if your job role is included on the official shortage occupation list.
Spain's standard work permit regime does not have minimum salary requirements. This year, Spain also introduced a Digital Nomad Visa for those living in Spain but receiving their income internationally. This requires proof of an income of €30,240 per year.
In June 2023, Spain introduced the EU Blue Card, which requires an employment contract lasting for at least six months that will pay you 1.5 times the average gross annual salary, which based on 2022 salary figures, comes to €38,000 a year.
If you earn at least €48,180 and are a non-EU national you can apply for a work visa for qualified professionals in Germany. Citizens of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or the USA can come to Germany without a visa but need to apply for a residence permit for the purposes of paid employment within 90 days.
The EU's Blue Card scheme is also a very popular visa for non-EU IT workers coming to Germany to work. Under this scheme they will need a salary of €45,552 per year. Workers in other fields need a salary of €58,400 to be eligible for a Blue Card.
From November, Germany is cutting the salary threshold required for an EU Blue Card to €43,800 and to an even lower €39,682.80 for in-demand "bottleneck professions".
To secure a work permit in France you must have a job offer from an employer who has demonstrated that they have already advertised the job locally and did not get any suitable French or EU candidates. This is a complicated and time consuming process that acts as a deterrant to French businesses from advertising overseas.
If you go through this process then you must earn €1,747 per month, pre-tax (or €20,964 a year) to obtain a standard work permit. Other visa types will have higher salary limits, but the advantages of these are that you get a four-year visa and the right to bring family members with you too.
It is possible to secure a work permit in Italy but the country works on a quote system. This year 82,705 work permits were issued using this system. More than half of these were for seasonal agricultural worker.
The quotas are broken down by industry sector and a new figure is set for each sector every year. For 2023 the majority of visas have been limited to road haulage, construction, hospitality and tourism, mechanics, telecommunications, food production, and shipbuilding. Only 500 permits are currently available to self-employed workers. You will need to earn a minimum salary of €8,500 to apply for one of these quota permits.
The minimum salary for non-EU citizens hired to work in Denmark was cut to 375,000 kroner (€50,269) per year in April of this year. The scheme only applies so long as the unemployment rate in Denmark is below 3.75 percent.
Due to Denmark's opt-out from EU rules on Justice and Home affairs, the EU Blue Card does not apply in Denmark.
Sweden is bucking the trend shown by other European countries by significantly increasing the minimum salary required to secure a work permit in the country. This is more than double to 80 percent of the median salary, or €28,500 (328,320 kronor) a year. Next year, the government plans to hike the minimum salary to the full median salary, with exceptions brought in for key professions.
While the European Blue Card exists in Sweden, it is hardly used. This is because the minimum salary of €65,000 is higher than by using the other form of the scheme.
Just like Italy, Switzerland has a restrictive, quota-based work permit system in place. As a non-EU national you will need to secure one of these limited places to work in Switzerland. Only 8,500 of these permits will issued during 2023.
There is no minimum salary requirement to apply for these work permits. As Switzerland is outside the EU, the EU's Blue Card Scheme does not apply.
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