The German EU Blue Card allows qualified third-country nationals to move to Germany on a contract basis. It is essentially a German residence permit for those wishing to work in Germany. The blue card scheme is aimed to attract skilled workers to Germany and provides an easier way to get a long-term residence permit for in-demand workers.
The alternative to a German EU Blue Card is a regular employment VISA. This option does not have such strict financial and education requirements, but it also provides fewer benefits. If you have a higher education degree and able to get a well-paying job in Germany, the EU Blue Card is the best option.
For How Long Is The EU Blue Card Valid?
The EU Blue Card in Germany is valid for up to four (4) years unless your job contract is limited (not indefinite).
If you have a limited contract, your work VISA is valid for the duration of your work contract plus an additional 3 months. During this time you can find a new contract that meets the requirements.
If your contract is indefinite or longer than four (4) years, you can renew the German EU Blue Card.
Benefits for Family Members
Once you have successfully obtained a German EU Blue Card, your family will also be eligible to live and work in Germany under a regular work VISA, but with fewer restrictions.
Qualify For a Permanent Residence Permit
After 33 months of living in Germany under the EU Blue Card, you can qualify for a permanent residence permit. If your German language skills are certified at B1 or higher, you qualify for a permanent residence permit after only 21 months.
Who Does Not Need a German EU Blue Card?
Citizens of an EU country or any country part of the EEA, such as Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein or Switzerland, do not need to apply for a German Blue Card. If you are from one of these countries you can get a work permit without applying for the German Blue Card. A valid identity card or passport is sufficient.
Who Can Apply For the German EU Blue Card?
Depending on your citizenship, you might need to apply for a VISA prior to arrival and taking up employment.
Countries who do not require a VISA and Blue Card Upon Arrival
If you are from one of the below countries, you can enter Germany without a VISA and stay for up to 3 months. During your stay, you need to apply for the German EU Blue Card before being able to take up employment. If you have a work contract in place prior to moving, you can apply for the Blue Card straight away.
Countries requiring no EU blue card and VISA upon entering Germany are:
- South Korea
- New Zealand
- The United States of America
Countries who Require a VISA but no Blue Card Upon Arrival
Citizens of the below countries are required to apply for a VISA at the nearest Embassy in your home country prior to arrival. If you already have a work contract and qualify, you can apply for the German EU Blue Card straight away.
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- San Marino
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- the Vatican
You can obtain either an employment VISA, Visit VISA, Student VISA or any other VISA which describes your purpose of stay prior to arriving in Germany.
The required documents for your VISA can be obtained from the nearest German Embassy in your home country.
It is important to note the duration of stay for each individual VISA and obtain your German EU Blue Card prior to expiry of your VISA.
German EU Blue Card Requirements
Opposed to the regular work VISA, the German EU Blue Card has some specific requirements that you need to fulfil before it is granted.
- University or Masters Degree: Depending on the type of job, a minimum of a University degree is required. Some jobs require a Master’s Degree in order to qualify for the German EU Blue Card.
- Work Experience: You need at least 5 years of work experience.
An employment contract or binding job offer: During your application, you need to present a signed contract or binding job offer.
- Salary Threshold: In order to qualify, you need a minimum salary of €52.000 annually (equivalent to €4.333 monthly). The lower threshold of €41,808 applies to professions of shortage (see below).
Minimum Salary Threshold Details
The annual salary required in order to qualify for the German EU Blue card is dependant on your occupation. If you get a job classified as “professions of shortage” you may qualify for the lower threshold. As of February 2020, the thresholds are as follows:
- Professions of shortage: The minimum salary threshold is €41,808 annually.
- For other professions: The minimum salary threshold is €52.000 annually.
- For jobs with “special interest”: the minimum salary requirement is lower and hence easier to obtain the German EU Blue Card.
Figures vary a bit from year to year, but it can be assumed, based on previous years, that the minimum salary requirements do not deviate much from previous years.
Applying For The German EU Blue Card Without a Job
In order to obtain the German EU Blue Card, it is necessary to have a work contract or a binding job offer prior to applying. Your German employer will act as a sponsor for your Blue Card application.
If you do not have a contract or job offer in place, you can apply for a German Employment VISA. This VISA grants you a 6-month period to find work in Germany and start your German EU Blue Card application once the requirements have been met.
Finding a Job In Germany
There are various ways to find work in Germany. There are governmental Institutions and other 3rd party portals where you can find suitable jobs:
- Federal Employment Agency
- Hotline Working and Living in Germany
- Job portals
- Local employment agencies
- Job fairs
- EURES job fairs
- Recruitment agencies
Alternatively, you can place an advert yourself.
Germany EU Blue Card Application Process
The application process is dependant on which country you are from and if you are already living in Germany.
Process If You Reside Outside Germany
If you are still living in your home country, thus not arrived in Germany yet, you should follow the process below:
- Apply for a German Employment VISA. Depending on your citizenship (see details above), you should complete the application process for the employment or job search VISA before entering Germany. The application can be submitted to the competent German Mission. Remember, if you already have a work contract or binding offer, you can start your application for the Blue Card immediately.
- Register your address in Germany. Upon arrival in Germany, you have two (2) weeks to register your address. This can be done at the nearest registration office in Germany. It is important to start your housing search prior to arriving and remember to open a bank account.
- Apply for the EU Blue Card in Germany. Once you have arrived in Germany, you can start the registration process as soon as possible at the nearest immigration office.
Process If You Already Reside In Germany
If you are already living in Germany and possess a valid employment VISA, you can simply apply for the EU Blue Card in Germany at the nearest immigration office (assuming you have already registered your address and have a valid VISA).
If you are in Germany Without an Employment VISA
You can’t apply for the German EU Blue Card if you are in Germany under a tourist, medical or any other VISA which does not have the purpose of employment.
If you Hold Another EU Blue Card
If you hold an EU Blue Card issued by an EU country other than Germany, you are only able to apply for the German EU Blue Card after 18 months of being issued your current EU Blue Card.
German EU Blue Card Document Requirements
In order to successfully apply for a Germany EU Blue Card, you must submit several documents. The required documents for a successful application are:
- The German EU Blue Card Application Form: Make sure the application form is fully completed and that the details given are in line with the supporting documents submitted along with your application.
- Your passport: Your passport needs to be valid for the entire duration of your stay, plus an additional 15 months after your planned date to leave Germany.
Proof of legal stay in Germany: In case you have entered Germany on a VISA or by any other legal means such as another EU Blue Card, you must provide this.
Rental or housing contract
- Two recent passport photos: The photos must be in color with a wide background and no older than 3 months. The photos must be taken according to the ICAO standards.
- German work contract: You need to submit your work contract with a German company clearly stating your remuneration and title of employment which conform to the blue card requirements.
- Proof of educational level and work experience: In order for the application to be approved, you must be able to provide evidence that you meet the educational and work experience requirements for the German EU Blue Card.
- Your CV: You must submit a recent CV including your education and work history.
A written declaration by your German Employer: This is a position description from your employed called “Stellenbeschreibung”.
- Proof that you are no threat to the security and health: You can submit a police conduct and health certificate proving you are of good health.
- University Diploma: For unregulated professions, you need to provide a recognizes diploma.
- Certificate: For regulated professions, you need to provide a recognized certificate.
- Proof of application fee payment
- Proof of German Health Insurance
Depending on your situation, you may have to submit additional or translated documents other than the ones mentioned above. All documents also require certified copies.
German EU Blue Card Application and Renewal Fee
The application fee for the blue card is €140. The renewal fee is €100 as of January 2020.
The Application Processing Time
The processing time for your German EU Blue Card can take anything from one (1) week and up to three (3) months, depending on if you require special approvals from the Federal Employment Agency.
Getting Help With Questions About Your Application
For general questions, you can call a dedicated hotline to help out with your application. Alternatively, you can also speak to an immigration specialist.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve covered some of the most frequent scenarios below which we have not answered previously in this article.
How Can My Application Be Denied?
There may be several reasons why your application has been rejected. The most frequent reasons why are as follows:
- You have not met the eligibility requirements
- Your application contains missing, incorrect or false details
- Your employer in Germany is not able to hire foreign workers or has been found guilty of employing irregular immigrants (they should check the job market entry requirements (Zulassung zum Arbeitsmarkt) before offering a contract)
- Your salary is too low for local conditions. Local federal Employment Agencies have their own guidelines on local economic conditions. This means that inexpensive areas it is advised to earn 1,5 to 2 times the minimum requirements outlined for obtaining the Blue Card.
- You are considered a threat to public security or health
- A national or EU-worker could fill the position
What do I do If My Application Has Been Denied?
In case your German EU Blue Card application has been denied, there is an appeal process where you can correct any remarks for the denial. The appeal must be submitted within the deadline and for more complex situations it is advised to talk to an immigration lawyer.
What Happens If I Lose My Job?
In case your employer has a valid reason to let you go, it is important to notify the competent immigration authority as soon as possible. You will be given a limited amount of time to find a new job fulfilling the requirements.
In the worse case, if you are unable to find a replacement job within the deadline, you may have to leave the country.
Can I interrupt My Stay In Germany During A Blue Card Period?
Yes, you can stay for up to 1 year in a non-EU country during the validity of your Blue Card. This is also applicable to your family members. However, it is important to note that this time will not be taken into consideration when applying for a permanent residence permit.