Can I obtain an EU Blue Card?
The EU Blue Card is similar to the American Green Card. It is a special form of residence permit for those who want to work as qualified professionals in Germany. If you are a professional from outside Germany and the EU, you can apply for an EU Blue Card. The requirements are set out in §§ 18, 18b, 18c, 18g and 19f Residence Act and EU Directive 2009/50/EC.
Please note: An EU Blue Card can be applied for in all EU Member States except Denmark and Ireland. However, the preconditions, such as the amount of the minimum annual salary, differs from country to country.
Important: The amendment to the EU Blue Card regulations has not yet been enforced. Currently, they are expected to come into effect in November 2023. You can find both the current regulations and the changes that are on the way in the chapter below.
What do I need to know?
As of now (July 2023), you can obtain an EU Blue Card if you:
have a German academic degree, a foreign academic degree recognised in Germany or a comparable higher education qualification, and
a binding job offer or a current job contract in your professional field with a minimum annual gross salary of €58.400 (as of now) in Germany.
Important: The minimum gross annual salary for the so-called shortage occupations (“Mangelberufe”), i.e., fields such as mathematics, natural science, engineering, human medicine (not dentistry), and information technology, is lower and currently stands at €45.552. In these shortage occupations, the Federal Employment Agency has to approve the recruitment. This is to ensure that foreign workers are not employed in worse working conditions than German workers. In order to shorten the approval procedure, your future employer can apply for approval before you enter Germany at the Central International and Specialist Placement Service (ZAV).
Please note: No proof of German language skills is needed for obtaining an EU Blue Card, unless you wish to exercise a regulated profession. To learn more about regulated professions, check out our chapter “Recognition of foreign certificates”.
In the near future (possibly from November 2023):
It will become easier to obtain an EU Blue Card, and more skilled workers can apply for it, including:
Individuals who have a German academic degree, a foreign academic degree recognised in Germany or a comparable higher education qualification and a binding job offer or a current job contract in their specific field with a minimum annual gross salary of at least 56.6 per cent of the annual contribution ceiling in the general pension insurance in Germany (“Beitragsbemessungsgrenze in der allgemeinen Rentenversicherung”).
Individuals who have completed a tertiary education programme (e.g., in colleges, technical training institutes, and vocational schools) equivalent to a university degree, with a minimum duration of three years if their qualification corresponds to a level in the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED 2011) or at least level 6 of the European Qualifications Framework. If you are unsure whether you meet the requirements, check out the section “Where can I seek counselling and support?” below.
Skilled workers who work in shortage occupations ("Mangelberufe") and recent graduates who obtained their university degree within the past three years can obtain a Blue Card EU with the approval of the Federal Employment Agency if they meet the minimum salary requirement of at least 45.3 per cent of the annual contribution ceiling in the general pension insurance.
In certain IT jobs, even if an applicant does not have academic degrees, the Blue Card EU can still be granted with the approval of the Federal Employment Agency if the salary is at least 45.3 per cent of the annual contribution ceiling in the general pension insurance and the applicant can prove they have achieved certain skills, knowledge, and abilities through at least 3 years of professional experience during the past 7 years.
Please note: When the new law is enforced, the job offer based on which you apply for an EU Blue Card must provide for a minimum employment duration of six months.
Good to know: The Federal Ministry of the Interior and Homeland specifies the minimum salaries required for obtaining an EU Blue Card in each calendar year by December 31. You can find current figures on www.bamf.de.
In principle, the Immigration Office is in charge of issuing EU Blue Cards.
If you have a residence permit in Germany, you should contact the Immigration Office responsible to obtain an EU Blue Card.
If you have been holding an EU Blue Card from another EU Member State for at least 18 months, you can enter Germany for the purpose of employment without an employment visa; but you must then apply at the relevant Immigration Office within one month of entering the country for the issuance of an EU Blue Card in Germany. You are not allowed to work until you receive approval from the Immigration Office.
If you are a third-country national who lives neither in Germany nor in another EU Member state, you usually need to obtain a visa for the purpose of gainful employment from the German embassy in your country of residence first. After entering Germany (and before the expiry of the visa) you can apply for an EU Blue Card at the competent Immigration Office.
You can find the Immigration Office responsible for you at bamf-navi.bamf.de.
Please note: If you are a citizen of Japan, Canada, Australia, the UK, Northern Ireland, the USA, South Korea, Israel or New Zealand, you can enter Germany without a visa. But you need to apply for a work permit after your arrival.
If you need an entry visa to come to Germany, the first step is to apply for a visa at the German embassy/consulate in your home country or (in case the German embassy in your country is closed) a neighbouring country and present the required documents. To learn more about the visa application procedure, visit our chapter “Visa for Skilled Workers”.
Please note: Your visa application can take several months to process.
Keep in mind: Whether you need a visa depends on your country of origin. On Auswaertiges-amt.de, you will find a list of countries whose citizens need an entry visa for Germany.
In our chapter "Visa for Skilled Workers", you will find a list of documents that all third-country nationals need for a skilled worker’s visa. Depending on where you come from, you might be asked for more documents– it is best to check with the German embassy/consulate in your country.
When applying for an EU Blue Card at the Immigration Office later, you also need the following documents:
a recognised university degree and
an employment contract or a binding job offer in Germany with an annual gross salary within specific limits (Your employer will need to provide you with a signed “Declaration of Employment”)
Please note: You need to have any academic degrees you have obtained abroad recognised in Germany. To learn how, visit our chapter “Recognition of certificates”.
After entering the country, you need to register your address. Then, you must report to the Immigration Office at your new place of residence within three months and apply for an EU Blue card. To do so, you must submit the documents mentioned above (again), as well as, in principle, a police registration certificate and a rental agreement. The authorities will check your papers to make sure you meet the requirements mentioned above. If you do, you will be legally entitled to an EU Blue Card.
The EU Blue Card is usually issued for four years. If your employment contract has a shorter duration, your residence permit will be issued for the duration of the employment contract plus three months. In principle, an extension will be possible with a new work contract.
Yes. You can switch your job with a new work contract; however, as of now, a change within the first two years must be approved by the local Immigration Office. The conditions for granting the Blue Card will then be re-examined.
In the near future (possibly from November 2023):
You will not require permission from the Immigration Office to change jobs within the first twelve months of holding an EU Blue Card. However, during this period, the Immigration Office can suspend and reject job changes if the new job does not meet the requirements for granting a Blue Card EU.
Family reunification is easier for holders of an EU Blue. For instance, with a Blue Card, your spouse does not need to present a German language certificate for family reunification. Furthermore, they will be allowed to work immediately after they come here.
Having an EU Blue Card also enables you to obtain a permanent residence permit after only 33 months of residence in Germany given you work, make contributions to a pension insurance scheme and can prove you have a basic knowledge of the German language (A1 certificate)– in case you have a B1 certificate, you can apply for a permanent residence permit after only 21 months of residence.
In the near future (possibly from November 2023):
The new regulations will allow you more mobility:
Holders of a Blue Card EU issued by another EU member state will be able to work in Germany for 90 days within a 180-day period without requiring a residence permit or work permit if their work is directly related to the job contract based on which they obtained their Blue Card. Additional documentation may be required if your EU Blue Card is issued in a non-Schengen EU member state.
Holders of a Blue Card EU issued in another EU member state who have been residing there for at least twelve months with a Blue Card EU will be able to move to Germany for work. However, in principle, they must also meet the requirements for granting an EU Blue Card in Germany, except for some specific cases.
You can visit our community platform Together in Germany if you have questions regarding the EU Blue Card. For more detailed information on the recognition process, visit www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de. Furthermore, the hotline “Working and Living in Germany”, which is established by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, can provide you with support and answer your questions in English and German on the phone and via email.
Holders of the EU Blue Card can receive a permanent residence permit after 33 months– or, in case you have a B1 certificate, after 21 months. You can learn more about it in our chapter "Permanent Residence Permit".