A German EU Blue Card is an amazing work and residence permit. It works as a kind of fast-track to permanent residency for non EU-nationals. If you’re moving to Germany, here’s what you need to know about applying for a German EU Blue Card. The first part of this post is just about the steps you take before you enter Germany.
If you’re already in Germany or are looking for information about what happens once you’ve entered, read Applying for a German EU Blue Card, Pt. II here!
Applying for a German EU Blue Card
What is an EU Blue Card?
Simply, a Blue Card is a new-ish work and residence permit for non-European Union nationals who hold what the EU considers Specialized Knowledge. For those familiar with American visas, I think the closest approximation is a cross between an O-1 Visa and a Green Card—marrying specialized knowledge with a pathway towards unlimited (permanent) EU residency. This specialized knowledge is demonstrated through academics. Basically, if you hold a Master’s degree or higher that is specific to your field of industry, you could qualify. The other qualifier is making a minimum annual salary. The Blue Card allows you to work throughout the European Union, but each country issues its own permits. Hence, why you’re applying for a German EU Blue Card versus a French one.
This all sounds very straightforward, but in truth, it’s pretty confusing. This is largely because the Blue Card is a fairly new permit, and not everyone is clear on the process or the conditions that need to be met.
Read about real expats’ experiences applying for a German EU Blue Card here.
Basic Things to Know About the Blue Card
- You must apply for the Blue Card either before you leave your home country, or once you hold a different work/residence permit
- It’s valid for four years, but can be extended
- After 33 months, holders are eligible for permanent residency in Germany. You can also apply after 21 months if you have proof of at least B1-level German language
- Holders can leave the EU for up to 12 months without forfeiting the right of staying in Germany or the EU
- Spouses and children EU blue card holders can work immediately upon entering the country without limitations
Can I apply for the Blue Card?
Now that you know what a Blue Card is, you can determine if you are eligible for one. A citizen of a non-EU country can apply for the EU blue card if:
you have a German university degree OR an accredited foreign degree that is comparable to a German one
you have a working contract with a gross annual compensation of at least €50.800 (4.134 Euros per month). OR a contract in the so-called shortage occupation (scientists, mathematics, engineers, doctors and IT- skilled workers) with a gross salary of €39.624 (3302 Euros per month).
Process for applying for an EU Blue Card
Now that you’re clear on what a Blue Card is, good news! The application itself is pretty straightforward. You’ll need to:
- Secure the original, signed contract from your future German employer, stating your salary
- Determine which German embassy/consulate (called “German Missions”) is responsible for your home state
- Schedule an appointment with your German embassy/consulate. This can be done online.
- Prepare your documents (see below)
- Attend your appointment / “interview”
- Wait 4-6 weeks for application to be approved and your passport to be returned to you (either via mail or in personal pick-up)
- NOTE that at this point, you will only have an entry visa that allows you to enter Germany and then finalize your Blue Card within the country.
Documents you need for your German EU Blue Card consular visit:
Your next step will be preparing the documents for your Blue Card application. I assume it varies country by country, so non-American readers, please check with your local embassy/consulate for a final confirmation. American applicants applying from the U.S. will need to prepare the following documents (the original copy plus one duplicate) for your appointment:
- Two completed application forms for a residence permit and declaration of accuracy of information
- Two recent passport size photos (best practice means within 6 months)
- Proof of vocational qualification (copies of your education degrees)
- An employment contract / binding job offer with details of gross annual salary and a detailed description of the employment
- Applicant’s valid passport and two photocopies of the data page. Please
note these important regulations concerning your passport:
- (a) its validity should exceed the duration of the intended stay in Germany by at least 3 months
- (b) it must contain at least 2 blank pages
- (c) it must have been issued within the previous 10 years
- Recent proof of applicant’s current residence in the USA
- Original of valid US alien registration card or valid US resident visa (type A, E, F plus endorsed I-20, G, H, I, J plus J1 document, L, O, R) and one copy
- Visa fee: 60 Euro payable in US Dollars (as of February 2016)
Pro Tip: Make a bunch of copies of these documents. When you organize your application, make more than just the two required for the consular visit. You’ll need these documents again when you get to Germany, so save yourself the stress of finding and making copies.
What happens at the consular visit
If you’re worried about the appointment (sometimes called an interview), don’t be! It’s quick and painless. Come with your documents as neatly organized as possible. It’s not a joke that Germans like efficiency. A representative from the office will look over your paperwork and make sure it’s all in order. Afterwards, you’ll be fingerprinted. The consulate will take your passport so that, when your application is approved, they can sticker in your entry visa. It will be returned either via post or by pick-up.
Obtaining your German EU Blue Card
You’ll only get your physical Blue Card once you’ve entered Germany. For information, documents, and processes regarding this part of the application, read Applying for a German EU Blue Card, Pt. II here!