The Advantages of the EU Blue Card – Work Permit, Residence Permit and Your Family Can Join You
An EU Blue Card has a four-year time limit after its issue. Apart from that, the duration will depend on your employment contract. If your employment relationship is limited to less than four years, your EU Blue Card will be limited to the duration of the employment relationship plus three months. During this time, you will have a full work and residence permit in Germany.
However, you can also use the EU Blue Card to obtain a settlement permit after 33 months (with German skills at a B1 level after 21 months). This is a permanent residence permit. Further, your family members (in the absence of particular hardship, this is limited to your spouse and children) can travel with you to Germany and have an immediate and unlimited right to work there. Further evidence (of language skills) need not be shown. The spouse who intends to accompany the other to Germany must personally make the corresponding application at their German consular post abroad.
General Requirements for Issuing the EU Blue Card
First, you will need to provide evidence that you hold a degree either from a German university or a recognised foreign university, a foreign degree comparable to a German degree, or a comparable qualification, evidenced through a minimum of five years of practical employment experience. Problems can already occur at this stage, where the determination of comparability/ recognition of a foreign degree is concerned. We are happy to support you in such determination proceedings. You can check on the following page, if your University and your degree is comparable to the German degree: https://anabin.kmk.org/anabin.html.
Approval of the Federal Labour Office and Minimum Salary
Further, the Federal Labour Office has to approve the issue of an EU Blue Card and your salary needs to exceed a certain minimum level. If the latter applies, the approval of the Federal Labour Office is no longer strictly necessary. The German government has increased the minimum salary requirements for EU Blue Cards, effective 1 January 2021. For the year 2021, you must be able to show a minimum gross income of 56,800 Euros per year. However, in so-called understaffed professions, an income of 44,304 Euros will suffice. This applies, in particular, to scientists, mathematicians, engineers, IT-experts, and doctors. A complete list can be found in the Official Journal of the European Union.
The current EU Blue Card salary threshold is in effect from January 1st. The calculation is linked to the income threshold governing the statutory pension insurance scheme, which changes every year. The decisive factor here is generally that the guaranteed salary will have to meet the minimum salary requirement, meaning that the employee can in fact freely dispose of these funds, and payment of their salary does not depend on other factors (the Federal Labour Court so decided in a case concerning minimum wage for building cleaners, see Federal Labour Court judgment from 18 April 2012 – 4 AZR 139/10).
Employment Contract or Job Offer
It should further be noted that you must show evidence of a valid German employment contract, or a concrete job offer. Here lies a significant difference between the EU Blue Card and the US Green Card. (If, however, you have satisfied all other conditions for the issue of an EU Blue Card, you may obtain a six month visa for the purpose of finding employment in accordance with § 18c German Residence Act – the so called Job Seeker Visa.).
Do I need a Visa to apply for the EU Blue Card?
If you are not a citizen of Australia, Japan, Israel, Canada, The Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the United States of America, you generally have to apply for a visa at a German embassy in your country of origin. This becomes unnecessary only if you have a Schengen Visa and if you have signed the employment contract after entering Germany.
If you hold an EU Blue Card from a different EU Member State for at least 18 months, then you will be also able to apply for a visa in Germany within a month of arrival.
The EU Blue Card and the European Union – What Is Allowed?
Those holding an EU Blue Card can generally move to another country in the European Union after 18 months. In that case, the time you have spent in Germany will be taken into account for the purpose of calculating the time required for permanent residence in your new country. You must however note that the Directive on Highly Qualified Employment has no effect in Ireland, the United Kingdom, or Denmark. You are generally entitled to move between Schengen Member States without a visa for tourism purposes.
It should be noted that, as an EU Blue Card holder, you may spend up to 12 months outside of the EU. If this period is exceeded, you may lose your residence permit.
EU Blue Card FAQs
The EU Blue Card has proved to be an incredibly effective immigration tool for those wishing to come to work in the European Union. In fact, as a law firm who specialises in immigration law issues, we receive many inquiries about it. It is worth acknowledging however, that these answers are for general queries and that If your issue is more complex make sure to contact us directly. By doing so, our legal team will be able to provide you with a more personalised service. Here are our EU Blue Card FAQs:
1: Who Can Apply?
The EU Blue Card is designed for high-earning individuals from third countries and for those who are in fields where workers are being sought for. Third countries in this case means non-EU countries (with some exceptions). In order for an applicant to be considered they should make certain of the following conditions:
they have a German or an accredited foreign or a university degree that is comparable to a German one.
they have been offered a job in Germany with gross annual earnings of at least €56,800 (€4,733 per month) – for the year 2021 – or
they have been offered a job in an area where workers are being sought for in Germany (scientists, mathematicians, engineers, doctors and IT- skilled workers) to the amount of €44,304.
The aim of the EU Blue Card is to make it easier for such workers to come to Germany without having to go through the bureaucratic demands of regular visa applications.
2: What Does the EU Blue Card Allow Me to Do?
The EU Blue Card was brought in to allow highly qualified individuals from outside the European Union to move to and work in the EU. The aim of the Blue Card is to make it easier for companies to bring in such individuals to work in their companies and for such highly-qualified individuals to settle in the EU. The Blue Card does not provide for permanent settlement rights but it is possible to change to other forms of permits once a Blue Card has been availed of. It allows the holder to live and work in Germany (other European country) for a period of up to 4 years or based on the length of the contract.
Moreover, the EU Blue Card also allows for family reunification with the holder able to bring some family members to Germany. These family members include spouse (or long-term partner), their children and others who are dependant on the holder (including step-children). This dependency must be proven in the case of children over the age of 21.
3: Is the EU Blue Card Valid in Germany? Where else is it Valid?
Yes the EU Blue Card is valid in Germany. It is valid and used in 25 of the current 27 members of the European Union – it is not valid for Ireland and Denmark. The EU Blue Card is also not valid for the members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) which are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The EU Blue Card is provided for in German Law by § 18b German Residency Act.
4: How Long is an EU Blue Card Valid for?
An EU Blue Card is valid for a period of maximum four years but it also depends on the length of time of the work contract. If the contract of work is for less than four years then this will be correspondingly reflected in the duration of the Blue Card. The Blue Card in this case will be for a duration of the work contract plus an additional three months. Furthermore, the Blue Card can be renewed afterwards if required and based on the facts of the case.
However, it is worth noting that after 33 months with a Blue Card (21 months if one can demonstrate a minimum of B1 standard German) one can apply for a settlement permit in Germany.
5: Can I Apply for the EU Blue Card before Moving to Germany?
An EU Blue Card may be required for you to work in Europe. It is generally the document one uses to work in an EU country. The Blue Card should be applied for before coming to Germany and the application should be made at the German Embassy in the applicant’s country of origin or residence. Please get in touch with us for more information.
The Blue Card can be renewed in an immigration authority office in Germany if the applicant wishes to prolong their stay in Germany. However, the requirements for earnings and job contract remain in place for the application. The applicant should also be aware that the processing time can take up to 90 days.
6: Can I Apply For the EU Blue Card in Germany?
For some non-EU countries a person can enter Germany for a period of three months without a visa. These countries are the USA, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan and New Zealand. Citizens of these countries can come to Germany and apply at the local immigration authority there for the EU Blue Card. Of course, they will need to reach the requirements set forth for the Blue Card in order to avail of it.
Alternatively, a person in Germany from a non-EU country on a different visa i.e. one for studies can apply for an EU Blue Card again at the immigration authority. Furthermore, if you have an EU Blue Card for another EU country and have held it for at least 18 months it is also possible to come to Germany and apply for one valid primarily for Germany. It is worth considering that applications can take several weeks to process.
7: Do I have to Stay in Germany for the Duration of my Blue Card Validity?
The EU Blue Card is not designed to be overly restrictive for its holders in terms of movement. With a Blue Card one can stay out of the EU for up to 12 months without losing the right of residency in Germany. The EU Blue Card holder can also move to another EU country if they have stayed for at least 18 months in Germany.
Should one wish to extend the duration of their stay in Germany and renew their Blue Card they would have to apply at an immigration authority office in Germany.
8: Are Blue Card Holders treated differently than German workers?
When it comes to workers’ rights and social entitlements EU Blue Card holders are legally entitled to the same as Germans. Discrimination based on nationality or ethnic background is prohibited and those seeking to do so can face serious legal challenges. EU Blue Card holders are entitled to have their children educated in Germany and are entitled to the same workers’ rights, human rights and other social rights as Germans. Furthermore, EU Blue Card holders are entitled to the same salary conditions as their fellow German workers.
If, as an EU Blue Card holder, you feel you are not being treated equally in your workplace make sure to avail of legal representation!
9: Can my Spouse / Family Move to Germany with me?
Upon availing of an EU Blue Card, some of the holder’s family can join them by coming to Germany. In this case, those who can join the holder in Germany are family members who are close to or dependent on them. For example, spouses, partners, children, step-children and other family members can join. It must be shown that they are dependent on the card holder to be valid.
The holder must demonstrate that they have the financial resources to support those family members and that the family members have the required health insurance as well as suitable accommodation. The possibility of family reunification is one the strongest reasons for availing of the EU Blue Card.
10: What Language Skills do I need to Apply?
There is no requirement for the applicant or their family members to have any German skills when applying. Having German abilities is an added bonus when it comes to living in Germany but it is not considered a prerequisite of obtaining the card.
However, obtaining a qualification that outlines B1 level of German is important when it comes to applying for a settlement permit. With proof of B1 level German, an applicant can apply for a settlement permit after 21 months rather than 33 months in the case of not having the required language skills.
11: How Can I help my Family Settle in Germany?
Germany has a lot to offer families. As well as schools and universities of the highest quality there is a significant sporting, cultural and social scene in Germany. Of course moving to another country can be daunting – especially if coming from far away and without links to that place. At Schlun & Elseven we are aware of this and that is why we offer a range of relocation services to help people get settled in. Moving to any country brings challenges but with the right advice and assistance one can enjoy the benefits that Germany has to offer!
12: What happens if I lose my job?
Should an issue arise with your contract resulting in it being cut shorter than planned one has the right to spend three months in Germany, after the expiration of the contract, to look for another job. Just remember that if you are seeking to extend or avail of another EU Blue Card of the earnings requirement to be entitled to it.
Should the person be unsuccessful in their search or in extending their EU Blue Card duration for any other reason they may face legal difficulties if they try to remain in Germany longer than they are legally entitled to.