European blue card for international workers

Blue card

What is the EU Blue Card?

The European Commission has introduced a "Blue Card" which is similar to the green card in the United States. The Blue Card entitles international workers to a stay in any EU member state such as Germany in order to practise gainful employment. The Blue Card would make it easier for businesses to employ overseas staff on a temporary basis.

Who can apply for the EU Blue Card?

Nationals of third countries. As a third-country will be considered all countries, except the EU, Switzerland, Iceland, Princedom Liechtenstein and Norway.

What are the requirements?

  • You have a German university degree or a recognized foreign university degree or a foreign diploma that is comparable to a German university degree.
  • You have a gross annual salary of at least 48,400 euros. The gross salary may be lower, if you work in a so called “shortage occupation” (e.g., scientists, mathematicians, engineers, doctors, professionals in information- or communication technology).
  • You need a valid working contract based on German labour law

* Stand August 2015

Characteristics and benefits of the Blue Card

One characteristic of the blue card is that international workers are not allowed to work in Germany for longer than four years. However, it can be converted into a permanent residence permit after 21 or 33 months provided the applicant also proves sufficient knowledge of the German language. After one and a half years, the blue card holder is allowed to move to other EU countries (e.g. UK, France or Spain). Also, the family members may accompany the cardholder in order to work and live in one of the EU countries. Furthermore, blue card holders can stay outside the EU for up to 12 months without losing their right of residence in Germany. Another benefit is that spouses of the Blue Card holder gain unlimited access to the German labour market. For them no knowledge of the German language is required.

The EU Blue Card is tied to your employer. In the first two years you need the permission of the immigration office, if you want to switch to a new employer.

A closer look at the bilateral business relationship between Germany and China

Germany represents one of China’s most important trading partners within the EU. Over the past 40 years (1972-2012), Sino-German economic relations have evolved into the great success story they are today. China is Germany’s second biggest export market outside Europe after the United States, and was its fifth most important export market overall. In 2012, the main German exports to China were motor vehicles and vehicle parts (accounting for 29 per cent of exports), machinery (25.3 per cent), data-processing equipment, electrical and optical goods (8.8 per cent), electrical equipment (8.7 per cent) and chemical products (6.2 per cent).

Due to the excellent business relationship between China and Germany the EU Blue Card is especially useful to experts and specialists coming from foreign countries like China to live and work in Germany. The requirements for them to obtain the Blue Card are defined in a way that can actually be fulfilled. This makes the card more attractive than its previous models. Currently around 900 Chinese companies are active and employing international expats and engineers in Germany.

With the steadily increasing importance of Asia generally and China in particular, more and more employees are considering a stay within the European Union, especially Germany, as a career stopover before returning to China in higher positions. The Blue Card really could develop into a German-Chinese success story for both sides.

For the EU Blue Card to be issued, the application must be submitted to the employees before they come to Germany in one of the representative offices in their home country. PLEASE NOTE: The final decision on being granted an EU Blue Card is made by the responsible municipal or district immigration offices. The municipal or district immigration office at the place of residence is responsible for foreigners who have held an EU Blue Card issued by an EU member state for at least 18 months. You can apply for an EU Blue Card valid for Germany at the municipal or district immigration office responsible for your intended place of residence before your arrival in Germany. The application for an EU Blue Card has to be filed within one month after your arrival in Germany. The municipal or district immigration office at the place of residence is responsible for workers who are already residing in Germany and possess a residence permit as well as for workers who are allowed to enter the country without a visa.

How we may assist you:

Counselhouse helps companies who are planning to support their business operations in Germany by employing qualified international workers and experts. Included in this service is the support our advisors will give to international workers to help them benefit from the non-contributory family insurance when they relocate with their family to Germany.

Counselhouse is committed to supporting companies to enable their employees to enjoy a quick start in their new role in Germany. Advising employing companies as well as employees and guiding them through the complete process of application and beyond so that they can live and work in Germany and Europe is just one of many areas of expertise of the company.

Katerina Koleva

Katerina Koleva

Attorney-at-Law
Email me


Copyright Counselhouse 2017
*Copyright Counselhouse 2017. Counselhouse is a legal service provider. All legal advisory services offered on this website are provided by René Udwari & her team. René Udwari is a registered business lawyer in Germany.