How to Get a Blue Card in Germany

by Expath Global Mobility

What is a Blue Card and how to get one if you‘re planning on coming to Germany from outside the EU.

What Is a Blue Card?

A Blue Card is a type of work and residence permit for highly qualified professionals who come from non-EU countries.

How to Apply for a Blue Card?

In order to apply for a Blue Card you need to be registered in Germany with your address — a process called Anmeldung that we describe in detail here. For that, you‘ll need to get here, and in order to come here, you will need a work visa. There are exceptions, though, that could allow you to come here without a work visa.

Note: If choosing this latter route, you will only be able to start your employment after your work and residence permit has been issued.

  • If you‘re from one of the eight countries whose citizens are allowed to travel to Germany visa-free and apply here (Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Israel, UK, US, Canada, and, currently, Ukraine).

  • If you‘ve had a Blue Card in another EU country for at least 12 months — with the condition of applying for a Blue Card in Germany within a month from your arrival here.

What Is Special About the Blue Card Permit?

The application process for the Blue Card is usually faster than for other types of work permits in Germany, and it might be easier to apply for a Blue Card in another EU member state. The strongest advantage though is that with a Blue Card, you can apply for permanent residency in Germany after just 27 months (2 years and 9 months), or 21 months if you have a B1 level of German knowledge.

What Do You Need to Apply for a Blue Card?

In order to be eligible for a Blue Card, there are a few requirements you have to meet. Up until November 2023, it was mandatory to have a recognized University Degree that aligns with the Job Title/Description. As of November 18th 2023, the Blue Card is available for everyone with a recognized academic degree, and for IT professionals with relevant work experience.

Documents required for a Blue Card application can differ from region to region, but generally you need to have:

  • A work contract or a concrete job offer from a company in Germany

  • A recognized academic degree, or three years of IT experience

  • A high annual gross salary (this changes yearly so make sure to check the annual threshold relevant to the year you‘re applying for).

If you don’t hold a University Degree, but have at least three years of relevant work experience within the last seven years (i.e. IT Specialist), you also need to provide letters of recommendation and certificates to confirm this.

The Blue Card Journey

While things might differ a little from city to city, there are generally three main steps you‘ll go through, from your home country to getting a Blue Card in Germany:

  1. In order to travel to Germany as a non-EU citizen you will most probably need to apply for a visa at your local German Embassy, unless you‘re exempt from it (see above)

  2. Once arrived in Germany, you will need to do the Anmeldung (address registration)

  3. After registering your address, you can contact the local Ausländerbehörde (Immigration Authorities) to start your application process.

The documents required for a Blue Card and the waiting times are specific to the area you‘re applying from but officially, a Blue Card approval should not take longer than three months in Germany.

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