The EU Blue card is designed to prevent a skills shortage in the EU by providing a residence permit for highly qualified third- country nationals. It is based on the EU Directive 2009/50/EC and allows easier access into the EU for workers from non-EU countries. The EU Blue Card was implemented at the beginning of August 2012 and forms part of the Aufenthaltsgesetz Residence Act in Germany.
In terms of bureaucracy, the EU Blue Card does not involve any more legislation that usual, and it guarantees a four year residence in Germany with a work permit. This is a huge improvement on the previous permits, which were at the discretion of the Immigration Authority and if granted were only valid for a period of one to two years.
Who is eligible for an EU Blue Card?
There is a set of criteria in place for Blue Card eligibility. You must have the following to qualify:
- a German university degree or an equivalent recognised foreign degree OR a qualification comparable to a university degree and at least five years’ experience
- passed the preference test or be included in an exemption from it
- a gross annual salary of at least € 44,800 (€ 3,733 per month)
Additionally, evidence of a genuine job offer must be presented.
For those individuals that meet the above criteria, there are no foreign restrictions upon employment. Where possible German jobs are filled by staff recruited from Germany or other European countries. Blue Card holders’ high quality skills ensure that they are considered for any available jobs, and professions or industries suffering a shortage of workers offer particularly advantageous job opportunities.
One regulation that the Immigration Authority are fairly strict on is the tariff agreements on working conditions. The working conditions of the Blue Card applicant’s job must meet or exceed the German standards when applying for a Blue Card.
Applying for a Blue Card is the same as the usual residence permit route. Unless you are eligible for a visa waiver, an entry visa must be obtained before the residence permit application can be processed. Once granted, the Blue Card is valid for a maximum of four years. The length of time depends on the length of the employment contract and time is allocated once the contract has expired to allow you to renegotiate your existing job, or find a new one. After 33 months you are eligible to apply for a permanent residence permit in Germany. If you are proficient in German language level B1, you may apply for permanent residence sooner, after just 21 months. A period of absence outside of Germany is allowed for up to 12 months for Blue Card holders.
In order to ensure your Blue Card application is considered, it is important to meet all requirements from the start. This includes providing evidence of a German university degree or an equivalent recognised foreign degree, and demonstrating that you have enough funds to secure your livelihood in Germany. Not taking these requirements seriously or failure to present such documents will result in your application being invalidated and possibly being banned from the country.
Once a job hunting visa has been granted, the holder has a period of six months to secure a job that fits in with their CV. If no employment has been found during this time, the card holder must leave the country for six months without return, before trying again. Should you be in the process of interviewing when your job hunting visa expires, a “Fiktionsbescheinigung” or extension may be granted to allow you to stay longer. However, this falls at the discretion of the Immigration Office so it will not necessarily be granted for every circumstance.
A Blue Card not only admits the holder into the country to live and work, but also their spouse. There are no further restrictions on the employment of a Blue Card holder’s spouse. They are also not required to speak German before moving to reside in Germany or completing an integration course.
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