Notably to encourage the immigration of highly qualified professionals to pursue gainful employment in Germany, the EU Blue Card was introduced on August 1st, 2012.
The EU Blue Card is a residence title which largely corresponds to a residence permit, which is why the regulations applicable to residence permits shall also be applied to EU Blue Cards on a regular basis.
EU Blue Cards are available to foreign nationals who have successfully completed a university degree program. In cases where a foreign national's university degree is not a degree awarded by a German university, the degree either has to have been officially recognized or has to be comparable to a German university degree. Recognition or establishment of comparability may even be done before entering Germany.
As the second prerequisite for award of an EU blue Card, the foreign national needs to present either an employment contract or a binding job offer paying a specific minimum salary. The minimum salary level is set annually and can be obtained from the internet offerings by the German Federal Department of the Interior (see "Related Links"). For 2018 the minimum salary level is 52,800 EUR. In cases where the minimum salary level is reached, the EU Blue Card may also be awarded without the German Federal Employment Agency's (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) consent.
For the understaffed professions (natural scientists, engineers, physicians, academically trained IT professionals), a lower salary level has been stipulated. For 2018 this minimum salary level is 40,560 EUR. In these cases, however, the German Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) will check whether the conditions of employment actually correspond to those of comparable German employees.
The EU Blue Card is a temporary residence title which in the cases of unlimited work contracts will initially be limited to four (4) years maximum. In cases where the duration of a foreign national's work contract is less than four (4) years, the EU Blue Card will be issued for the term of the employment contract plus an additional three (3) months. During the first two (2) years of a foreign national's employment, every job change has to be approved in writing by the Aliens Department.
The spouses of EU Blue Card holders are entitled to the issuance of a residence permit. This residence allows them to take up gainful employment.
After 33 months of highly qualified professional employment, or after only 21 months thereof in cases where proof of adequate proficiency in the German language can be established, EU Blue Card holders have the option of obtaining a permanent settlement permit.
After 18 months of being in possession of an EU Blue Card, foreign nationals are entitled, together with their family members, to relocate to another EU Member State (with the exception of Denmark, Ireland and Great Britain) and to apply for an EU Blue Card allowing them to pursue gainful employment in that country.
Applications for the EU Blue Card have to be submitted to the competent immigration authoritiy.