EU Blue Card

EU Blue Card - a residence permit for highly qualified workers

Since August 01, 2012, employees as well as university graduates have the opportunity to acquire an EU Blue Card. The aim of the EU Blue Card is to promote and facilitate permanent immigration of highly qualified workers from outside the EU to Germany. The legal basis for who qualifies for a Blue Card is regulated in Section 18b of the Residence Act.

The requirements for the acquisition of an EU Blue Card

In order to apply for an EU Blue Card, you must meet the following requirements:


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In order to apply for an EU Blue Card, you must meet the following requirements:

University degrees

In principle, both German and foreign university degrees can be sufficient for applying for the EU Blue Card

  1. German university degree
    A university degree completed in Germany is generally sufficient.
  2. Foreign university degree
    A foreign university degree may also be sufficient for the application, provided that it is either recognized or comparable to a German university degree.
    The extent to which a foreign university degree is recognized in Germany can be queried in the online database of the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB).

In the event that the online database does not contain sufficient information, the applicant must apply to the ZAB for an individual evaluation of the degree, which is subject to a fee (so-called comparability with German university degree).

For more information on the recognition and equivalence of foreign university degrees, please visit Problems can arise in determining equivalence or in the recognition of the university degree acquired abroad and can greatly delay or prevent the blue card application process.

Minimum salary limit EU Blue Card

In order to receive an EU Blue Card, the annual gross salary must be at least 58,400 euros in 2023.
There is a lower limit of currently (2023) 45,552 euros for certain professions that are in particularly urgent demand in Germany (shortage professions).

Regardless of the salary, the qualification of the university degree must also correspond to the employment. In this regard, there is leeway for the authorities to decide whether and how a qualification corresponds to the desired employment in Germany.

List of shortage occupations

  • Academic professionals in information and communication technology
  • Architects
  • Designer
  • Human physicians (except dentists)
  • Engineers and engineering scientists
  • Mathematician
  • Scientist
  • Spatial, urban and traffic planners

Professional practice

If a permit is required to practice a profession under German law (e.g. human medicine, engineering), the applicant must provide proof of this permit or its approval before the EU Blue Card is issued.


The EU Blue Card can be applied for within Germany at the local immigration office. Depending on which country you come from, you will need a work visa to enter Germany. Once you have entered the country, you can apply for the EU Blue Card at the relevant immigration office.

Visa for entry is not required for the following countries: USA, Japan, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Israel and New Zealand. Citizens from these countries can enter without a visa.

If you live outside the EU and do not come from the above countries, you usually need a visa for the purpose of gainful employment. This is issued to you by the relevant German mission abroad. With this visa you can enter Germany and apply for the EU Blue Card at the foreigners authority responsible for you. It is important to note that you must apply for the EU Blue Card before your visa expires.

Persons who have held a Blue Card in another EU Member State for longer than 18 months may also enter Germany without a visa and apply for a Blue Card EU in Germany. In this case, the EU Blue Card must be applied for within one month of entering Germany.

Persons who already have a valid residence title can also apply for an EU Blue Card.

Advantage of the accelerated skilled worker procedure

The application for an EU Blue Card can be carried out in the so-called accelerated procedure for skilled workers. The accelerated procedure for skilled workers speeds up the appointment process at the German diplomatic mission abroad and includes, if necessary, the recognition procedure of a foreign qualification.

Advantages of the EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card opens up many opportunities. Holders of this residence title have very easy access to the German labor market and can live in Germany without any further requirements. While you are working in Germany, you can travel freely within the EU in your free time.

With the EU Blue Card, it is possible to apply for a permanent work and residence permit after 21 months, provided that the language level B1 in German can be proven. Otherwise, you can apply for the unlimited work and residence permit after 33 months.

Basically, with the EU Blue Card you have the same rights and obligations as a German employee.
In addition to work, you can also bring your family (children and spouse) to you within the framework of family reunification.

No approval from the Federal Employment Agency

The Federal Employment Agency must carry out a labor market check, which basically consists of the so-called priority check (checking whether German employees or employees of equal status - e.g. from EU member states - are available for the job) and the check of the employment conditions.

However, if the gross annual income is at least €58,400, the approval of the Federal Employment Agency is not required.

What documents are needed for the application?

  • Copy of passport
  • Biometric passport photo
  • Copy of your original university degree
  • Copy of the English translation of your university degree
  • Resume
  • Letter of intent or employment contract from a company in Germany (incl. detailed job description)

If applicable, you will also need:

  • Copy of your spouse's passport
  • Biometric passport photo of your spouse
  • Copy of the marriage certificate
  • Translated version of the marriage certificate
  • Copy of your child's passport
  • Copy of your child's birth certificate

Regional differences in the application for the EU Blue Card

The formal requirements for applying for an EU Blue Card vary in practice, depending on the place in Germany where the EU Blue Card is applied for. The legal requirements are the same, but the forms, the required documents and the way of submitting the application may differ.

In our overview, you will find the practical requirements for the cities of Berlin, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Cologne, Leipzig, Munich, and Stuttgart with further notes.

For the application abroad and the country-specific practical requirements, see here for the United Kingdom and South Africa.

The EU Blue Card after Brexit

British professionals will also have the opportunity to apply for an EU Blue Card for Germany after 01.01.2021. Learn more about the possibilities and potential of the EU Blue Card for British nationals here.

Frequently Asked Questions about the EU Blue Card (FAQ):

Can they accompany your family as an EU Blue Card holder?

Yes, the (nuclear) family can accompany you. Spouses and children can apply for and receive a work and residence permit at the same time as you within the framework of the so-called family reunification. Family reunification can also already be applied for under the accelerated skilled worker procedure, which has the advantage that the processing time of the application is identical for you and your family. You can enter Germany together. The family members of an EU Blue Card holder are immediately permitted to work without restriction or to be self-employed.

Are German language skills required?

No, unlike other residence titles, German language skills are not required to obtain the EU Blue Card. This applies to both the applicant and his or her family.

Do you need an entry visa to Germany?

If you enter Germany as a national of a privileged country, you do not need an entry visa to apply for an EU Blue Card in Germany. The so-called privileged countries that do not require an entry visa include: Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America.

Citizens of other countries usually need a visa for the purpose of gainful employment, which is issued by the competent German mission abroad.

How long can you leave Germany as an EU Blue Card holder?

You can leave Germany for up to 12 months without losing your EU Blue Card. The period of 12 months also applies to your family members.

How long is the period of validity of an EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is usually issued for four years, unless the employment contract is shorter than four years. In this case, the EU Blue Card is valid for the period of employment plus three months.

The EU Blue Card can be extended before it expires, provided you still meet all the requirements for an EU Blue Card.

What happens if you lose your work cells?

In case you are dismissed by your employer, you have three months to find a new job. If you do not succeed, there is a risk that your Blue Card will be revoked and you will have to leave Germany again.

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