EU Blue Card: Important changes from November 2023

In August, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier signed and executed the law on the further development of skilled worker immigration drafted by the traffic light coalition. The majority of the changes it contains officially came into force on November 18. With regard to the EU Blue Card in particular, the law makes several far-reaching changes that facilitate access to this attractive residence permit. We explain what exactly is changing and what impact the changes will have in practice.

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Amendment 1: Place of regulation of the EU Blue Card

Old legal situation:

Until now, the rules on the EU Blue Card were somewhat hidden in Section 18b (2) of the Residence Act (AufenthG).

New legal situation (from Nov. 18, 2023):

The Blue Card has now been given its own paragraph, namely the newly created Section 18g of the Residence Act.

Amendment 2: Salary thresholds for the EU Blue Card

Old legal situation:

For an EU Blue Card to be issued, the salary contained in the job offer must be above a certain threshold.

Under the old law, this threshold was two thirds of the contribution assessment ceiling for general pension insurance. For 2023, this resulted in a gross annual salary of 58,400 euros.

For some professions that are in particularly high demand on the labor market, such as IT specialists, natural scientists, architects, designers or medical practitioners, a lower threshold of 52% of the income threshold, i.e. most recently EUR 45,552 gross per year, applied.

New legal situation (from Nov. 18, 2023):

Even under the new legal situation, there are still two different salary thresholds, one general and one for shortage occupations. However, both are now significantly lower.

The general minimum salary is now only 50% of the pension contribution assessment ceiling (i.e. €43,800 gross for 2023), while the minimum salary for shortage occupations is now only 45.3% (i.e. €39,682.80 gross for 2023).

In addition, the new law has considerably expanded the list of shortage occupations through Section 18g (1) No. 1, 2 AufenthG. Veterinarians, dentists, pharmacists, teachers and academically trained managers in logistics, childcare and care for the elderly now also benefit from the lower salary threshold.


In addition, the lower threshold under Section 18g (1) no. 2 AufenthG now also applies to young professionals who graduated from university less than three years ago.


Amendment 3: Link to qualification

Old legal situation:

Under the old legal situation, an EU Blue Card was only issued if the proven university qualification also qualified the applicant for the job they wanted to do in Germany. In practice, this often led to problems in determining what exactly a certain degree actually qualifies a graduate to do.

New legal situation (from Nov. 18, 2023):

The Act on the Further Development of Skilled Immigration has now abolished this link for the EU Blue Card (and even for all skilled workers). This means that people can now also apply for the residence permit if their studies did not explicitly train them for their intended occupation.

Amendment 4: IT workers and the EU Blue Card

Old legal situation:

Even before the new Skilled Immigration Act came into force, academic IT specialists were among the most sought-after occupational groups, who only had to meet the lower salary threshold for an EU Blue Card.

IT specialists without a university degree and without professional training recognized in Germany still had the option of obtaining a special visa for IT specialists. Among other things, they had to have three years of professional experience, demonstrable theoretical knowledge and German language skills at level B1.

New legal situation (from Nov. 18, 2023):

In future, access to the EU Blue Card will be made even easier for IT experts through Section 18g (2) No. 3 AufenthG. As before, only the lower of the two salary thresholds applies to them. However, IT specialists are no longer required to have a university degree recognized in Germany. Instead, they can now also apply for a Blue Card if they would have received the special visa for IT specialists under the old legal situation. This means that three years of relevant professional experience within the last seven years and demonstrable theoretical knowledge at the level of academic training now replace the requirement of a university degree for IT specialists. And another advantage compared to the old IT visa: no proof of German language skills is required for the EU Blue Card.

Amendment 5: Change of employer with an EU Blue Card

Alte Rechtslage:

Nach der alten Rechtslage mussten Inhaber einer Blauen Karte EU bei jedem Wechsel ihres Arbeitgebers innerhalb der ersten zwei Jahre nach Erteilung der Karte die Erlaubnis der Ausländerbehörde einholen. Erst wenn diese Erlaubnis dann vorlag, konnte der Wechsel vonstattengehen.

New legal situation (from Nov. 18, 2023):

Since November 18, holders of an EU Blue Card are no longer required to obtain explicit permission from the immigration authorities if they wish to change jobs in accordance with Section 18g (4) AufenthG. However, they must still notify the authority of any change of employer within the first 12 months. The authority can then suspend the change for 30 days and examine it more closely during this time. However, if it has not rejected the change after the 30 days, it is automatically deemed to have been accepted.

Amendment 6: Family reunification with an EU Blue Card

Old legal situation:

Previously, holders of an EU Blue Card also had to be able to prove that they had sufficient living space and that their livelihood was secure when their family members joined them.

New legal situation (from Nov. 18, 2023):

According to the amended § 29 para. 1 sentence 2 no. 1 - 3 AufenthG, this proof no longer needs to be provided if the EU Blue Card holder already had a Blue Card from another EU member state immediately before moving to Germany and the cohabitation with his/her family already existed there.


Further parts of the law will come into force in the course of 2024. From March 1, 2024, holders of an EU Blue Card will be able to apply for a settlement permit after just 27 months of residence in Germany, six months earlier than under the current legal situation, even if they have no knowledge of German.

In addition, the possibilities for family reunification will be extended from March 1, 2024. From then on, holders of an EU Blue Card will also be able to bring their parents and possibly even parents-in-law to Germany. In addition, from this date, the housing requirement will be waived across the board for all spouses or underage children who join Blue Card holders.

From June 1, there will also be a newly created residence permit for skilled workers or other particularly promising foreigners who want to look for a job in Germany: the " Chancenkarte". It will allow these people to stay in Germany for up to one year to look for a job or gain recognition for their training and to work up to 20 hours a week. If the job search is successful, the opportunity card can be extended accordingly.

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