The German EU Blue Card (EU Blaue Karte) is a residence permit to work in Germany. Skilled workers, especially in shortage occcupations, benefit from it. It provides fast track opportunities into permanent residence and facilitates family reunification.
Requirements for an EU Blue Card
From BAMF, these are the requirements for an EU Blue Card
- You are a graduate: If you did not acquire your degree in Germany, it must either be recognised or comparable to a German degree. Information on the equivalence and recognition of foreign degrees is available at www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de
- You have an employment contract or a binding job offer.
- You have a minimum annual gross salary of 56,400 Euros.
A reduced minimum annual gross salary of 43,992 Euros applies to employment in the occupational fields of mathematics, computer science, the natural sciences, engineering and human medicine (not including dentistry) (as of 2022 - the salary thresholds are readjusted for each calendar year).
- The employment must match the qualification.
What are the benefits of EU Blue Card?
- Permanent Residence. Blue Card holders can obtain a Permanent Residence / Settlement Permit quicker as described here.
- Family reunification. Easier to get visa for your Spouse, without German knowledge. In addition, they can also work in Germany.
- Mobility. If you already have an EU Blue Card from a different country for atleast 18 months, you can enter Germany for work without a work visa. You must apply in Germany within a month.
- Living abroad. You can stay abroad for 12 months without losing permission to stay in Germany or EU. This does not mean that you can work from abroad. Your employer must allow you to do that for legal & tax reasons.
Where can I apply for the EU Blue Card?
- In Germany - if you already have a residence permit.
Example: You receive a job offer as a Student and qualify for the Blue Card. Or you already have it from a different country for atleast 18 months (as mentioned above)
- Country of residence - If you live abroad, you must find a German embassy or consulate in your country of residence and apply there.
Will I receive an EU Blue Card when I apply from my country of residence?
No. You receive a temporary work permit. The Blue Card can only be issued in the qualifying countries (EU States).
When I applied in India, I received a 6 month national visa that granted me access to enter Germany. Then I found an appointment in Berlin and applied for the Blue Card.
Note: In May 2022, a friend who moved to Berlin got a 1 year national visa from India. This provides a lot of relief and prevents rushing to the Ausländerbehörde.
If you apply from India, you should try to get the pre-approval of the Federal Employment Agency (Beschäftigungsverordnung - Vorabprüfung). This can improve the processing time of getting a visa (by 4 to 6 weeks). Your employer can apply for this for you in Germany.
What documents do I need to apply?
Once you have entered Germany, find your local foreigners office (Ausländerbehörde). Here is the list of documents.
- Application form for residence permit (Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels) must be filled out. Only required on first application.
- For the approval of the Federal Employment Agency: additional form
Form "Erklärung zum Beschäftigungsverhältnis" (filled out by your employer) *
- Employment contract or job offer (Original)
- Proof of your residence - Anmeldung or confirmation from your landlord (Wohnungsgeber-Bestätigung)
- Proof of health insurance
- Current biometric photo (35mm x 45mm, white background)
- University or university college qualification (Original) - Zeugnisbewertung. *
Note: * This is only required if you already did not qualify for Blue Card at the time of your residence permit application.
Costs for Blue Card
- 100 € when it's the first time
- 96 € for extension up to 3 months
- 93 € for extension of more than 3 months / renewal of the permit
You can pay this by cash, card during your appointment.
Where do I go for the appointment?
This should be mentioned in the letter or email you receive. There are three locations primarily where it can take place.
You can book an appointment on the Berlin website.
What happens during the appointment at the Ausländerbehörde?
This could be specific to Berlin, which is where I had two appointments for Blue Card.
- Show up to the appointment, the security guard checks your appointment time, points you to the floor
- Go to the waiting room, pick up a waiting number (Wartenummer) from the machine. If you booked an appointment online and already have received a waiting number, you don't need to do this again.
- Wait for your number to be displayed on the screen and it tells you which office to go to
- Meet your case worker (Sacharbeiter), give them your documents, answer any questions. They will ask for your photo so it can be scanned, your height (in centimeters), your eye color.
- If everything goes well, your case worker provides a form where you check all of your details are correct, you sign it
- You receive a cash payment card. Take it to one of the machines outside, insert it into the machine and can pay the fees.
Your case worker will most likely speak only German to you. If you're lucky, they might speak in English.
I paid the fees, what's next?
Your case worker will give you a confirmation of your blue card approval. This includes the date in which it was issued, how long it is valid for.
This letter provides confirmation of your visa for another 2 months, until the card is issued from the Federal Printing Office (Bundesdruckerei).
In 6 weeks or so, you will receive your card and zusatzblatt (Supplementary sheet in Green color) delivered to you, or asking you to pick up from Ausländerbehörde.
What is the validity of EU Blue Card?
- 4 years on unlimited working contract
- Length of your employment contract plus 3 months on limited working contract
Example: You have a temporary working contract for 12 months. It will have a validity of 15 months.
In both cases, your validity can be extended if you have a new work contract that fulfills the requirements.
My visa expires before my appointment, what should I do?
This is what the appointment confirmation photo above contains:
- Note: If your residence permit has not expired yet, the residence permit will remain effective in Germany at least until the appointment scheduled today. This also applies to all conditions stipulated on your residence permit, including the regulations pertaining to gainful employment. Please be ware, that this will only apply, if you attend the booked appointment!
- Travelling abroad is only possible within the validity of your last residence permit
- Schengen visa (type of visa: C) always expire with the date of validity. Appointments do not extend the legal stay with a Schengen visa.
How to speeden up the blue card process?
In Berlin, your employer can apply for you using the Business Immigration Service.
In collaboration with IHK Berlin and Berlin Partner, our Business Immigration Service (BIS) offers Berlin businesses an outstanding relocation service for foreign professionals and executives.
Through the BIS, Berlin businesses, foreign investors and start-ups, managers, highly skilled professionals and their families can quickly and easily clarify any residency issues and can be put in touch directly with the person responsible for dealing with them.
How to change jobs with EU Blue Card?
I wrote a detailed guide about changing jobs while having this permit.
What if I lose or resign from my job?
For both limited and unlimited work contracts, if your job ends earlier than expected, you receive 3 months to find a job. Your local Ausländerbehörde can extend this 3 month duration at their discretion. Write to them if you require an extension.
Will I lose my blue card if I lose my job?
- If you change jobs, you must notify the Ausländerbehörde under certain conditions.
- If you lose your job, you get 3 months to find a job that satisfies the requirements.
Permanent Residence after Blue Card
If you satisfy these conditions, you can apply for a permanent residence as an EU Blue Card holder. Read about my experience and the process here.
- In 33 months. You have paid 33 months of pension contributions and have basic German knowledge (A1 on CEFR level)
- In 21 months. You have paid 21 months of pension contributions and have basic German knowledge (B1 on CEFR level)
Path to German Citizenship
To get German Citizenship, it takes 8 years of residence and you must show proficiency of German at B1 level. Holding a Blue card counts towards that period. You require passing the German Citizenship test (Einbürgerungstest).
- If you do a German integration course, it takes 7 years of residence
- If you do German at B2 level, it takes 6 years of residence
Appointments for Blue Card
I'll compile where you can book appointments in different cities in Germany. You can usually look up for "city name Ausländerbehörde" to find appointments.