Update on the EU Blue Card – changes from 18 November 2023
About the EU Blue Card
The EU Blue Card is a special residence permit for highly qualified non-EU professionals who want to work and live in Germany. It was introduced in 2012 to promote the immigration of talent to Germany and to meet the demand for skilled workers.
From 18 November 2023, the EU Blue Card will be subject to a number of changes that have been adopted by the Immigration Act for Skilled Workers. The changes are designed to make the local labour market more attractive for well-qualified workers and to address the shortage of skilled workers.
New requirements for issuing the EU Blue Card
The requirements for the issue of the EU Blue Card are regulated in detail in Section 18g (1) of the Residence Act. Here is an overview of the requirements for the residence permit with the most important changes:
- Completed university degree or tertiary education programme:
The applicant must hold a German or foreign university degree. If the degree was not obtained in Germany, it must be recognised in Germany or represent a comparable course of study. Alternatively, qualifications may also have been obtained through a tertiary education programme. The training qualification must be equivalent to a university degree. The minimum duration of the training programme is three years. The level of training must correspond to at least level 6 of the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED 2011) or level 6 of the European Qualifications Framework.
- Employment contract or binding job offer: The duration of employment must be at least six months and the employment must be appropriate to the qualification. Whether this is the case is assessed according to the circumstances of the individual case.
- Minimum gross salary:
- For the „big“ EU Blue Card, the gross salary of the job in Germany must be at least EUR 45,300.00 per year / EUR 3,775.00 per month (in 2024). The approval of the Federal Employment Agency is not required for the issue of the EU Blue Card.
- The „small“ EU Blue Card is issued for so-called bottleneck professions (e.g. doctors, nurses, teachers, educators, engineers and engineering scientists) and young university graduates. A low salary threshold applies for these in comparison to the big EU Blue Card. They must have a gross annual salary of at least EUR 41,041.80 / EUR 3,420.15 per month (in 2024). The German or equivalent foreign university degree of the young graduates must not have been obtained more than three years before applying for the EU Blue Card. The approval of the Federal Employment Agency is required for the issue of the EU Blue Card.
Special feature: The EU Blue Card for IT specialists
According to Section 18g (3) AufenthG, an EU Blue Card can also be issued to skilled workers without a university degree. This is intended to facilitate and promote the immigration of highly qualified IT specialists from non-EU countries. The following conditions must be met:
- The IT profession must belong to groups 133 or 25 according to the International Standard Classification of Occupations. This includes the following:
133 Managers in the provision of information and communication technology services
25 Academic and comparable professionals in information and communication technology
251 Software and application developers and analysts
2511 System analysts
2512 Software developers
2513 Web and multimedia developers
2514 Application programmers
2519 Software and application developers and analysts, not elsewhere classified
252 Academic and similar database and network professionals
2521 Database developers and administrators
2522 System administrators
2523 Academic and comparable computer network specialists
2529 Academic and comparable database and network specialists, not elsewhere specified
- A gross annual salary of at least EUR 41,041.80 (in 2024) must be provided through a concrete job offer.
- Knowledge must have been acquired in the last 7 years through at least three years of professional experience in a profession belonging to occupational groups 133 or 25.
- The level of skills, knowledge and abilities acquired must be comparable to a university degree or equivalent tertiary education programme.
- The skills, knowledge and abilities acquired must be necessary for the performance of the employment.
- The Federal Employment Agency will check whether the requirements have been met and issue the EU Blue Card for IT specialists.
Validity of the EU Blue Card
The EU Blue Card is issued for the duration of the employment contract plus three additional months, but only for a maximum period of four years. An extension is possible if the requirements are met. A change of job within the first year of employment must be reported to the relevant immigration authority, which in turn gives its written consent.
Advantages of the EU Blue Card
- Fast track to a permanent residence permit: As an EU Blue Card holder, you can apply for a permanent national residence permit in Germany. The requirement is to have been in highly qualified employment for 33 months and to have paid into a pension scheme at the same time. People who can prove that they have sufficient knowledge of German (level B1) can apply for a settlement permit after just 21 months.
- Mobility within and outside the EU: If you hold an EU Blue Card for at least 12 months, you can move to another EU member state without a visa to take up highly qualified employment there and apply for a new EU Blue Card within one month. After 12 months, there is no need for authorisation from the relevant immigration authority. This also applies to family members. In addition, EU Blue Card holders can stay in a non-EU country for up to 12 months without losing their residence permit, which also applies to family members.
- Family reunification: Spouses can obtain a residence permit even if they have no knowledge of German before entering the country. In addition, spouses have the right to take up gainful employment without restrictions.
- If you are already living in Germany under another residence title: Contact the foreigners authority responsible for your place of residence.
- If you live in a third country: First apply for a visa for the purpose of employment in Germany at the relevant German embassy in your home country. After arriving in Germany, apply for the EU Blue Card before your visa expires (the embassy will issue you with a short-term visa to enter Germany and apply for the Blue Card).
- Third-country nationals with an EU Blue Card from another EU member state: Working in Germany is possible after 12 months. The application must be submitted to the local immigration authority within one month.
How can we help you?
O. Law advises its clients on applying for the EU Blue Card and provides them with the documents they need. By nature, there are many questions before applying for such a visa. The German offices are known for their bureaucratic and sometimes not easy procedures. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need help.
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