The EU Blue Card – an opportunity for academic professionals from abroad

As a university graduate from a non-EU country, the Blue Card makes it easier for you to enter the labour market within the EU. Find out here what you should know about the EU Blue Card and how to apply for it in Germany! 

What is the EU Blue Card?

The EU Blue Card is a residence permit for academics and professionals who move to the European Union from non-EU countries in order to work here. It is therefore a proof of legal residence in an EU country.  

Who can apply for the EU Blue Card and what are the requirements?

Any university graduate from a non-EU country can apply for the Blue Card. Usually, proof of German language skills is not required. Members of regulated professions such as doctors or pharmacists are exempt from this. In order to practise these professions, a so-called approbation or license to practice is required, for which proof of German language skills must be provided. Approbation ensures that the foreign university degree is comparable with the German degree. 

What are the requirements for the EU Blue Card?

There are four requirements that you must fulfil in order to qualify for an EU Blue Card. 

1. Recognised completion of a higher education degree

The first requirement is the completion of a higher education degree. This must either have already been completed in the desired EU member state, be recognised there or be comparable to a university degree there.  

Tip: In the “anabin” database, you can check whether your university degree is comparable with the corresponding German degree. 

2. Employment contract or binding promise of a job

The second requirement is the existence of an employment contract or a binding promise of employment with an employer in the desired EU member state. It is not possible to apply for an EU Blue Card for job search purposes. 

3. Minimum gross annual salary

The third requirement stipulates a gross annual salary of at least 56,800 euros (2022). However, for some occupational fields a lower salary has been set. These include mathematics, engineering, human medicine, natural sciences and computer science. For university graduates seeking employment in these professions, the annual gross salary must be at least 44,304 euros (2022).  

The minimum annual gross salaries are adjusted every year. The figures mentioned here apply specifically to Germany. They may differ in individual EU member states. Please inform yourself about the minimum gross salaries applicable in your desired EU country before applying. 

4. Type of job

The fourth and final requirement for applying for the Blue Card stipulates that the job in an EU country must correspond to the qualifications of the applicant. In other words, your university degree must be directly related to the desired occupational field. 

Where and for how long is the EU Blue Card valid?

The EU Blue Card can be applied for in almost all member states of the European Union. The only two exceptions are Denmark and Ireland. These countries do not issue this residence permit. 

When an EU Blue Card is issued for the first time, it is valid for a maximum of four years. If the employment contract is limited to less than four years, the Blue Card is issued for exactly this duration plus three additional months. After the residence permit expires, it can be renewed. 

How much does the EU Blue Card cost?

The cost of an EU Blue Card is 100 euros, regardless of the period of validity. If an existing Blue Card is to be extended, an extension of up to three months is charged at 96 euros and an extension of more than three months at 93 euros. 

Does the EU Blue Card enable family reunification?

For holders of the EU Blue Card, family reunification is made much easier. Spouses and minor children are entitled to a residence permit. In addition, spouses will receive immediate permission to work. This applies regardless of their German language skills, as long as both spouses are at least 18 years old. The application for a visa and work permit must be submitted by the spouse in person. 

How do I apply for the EU Blue Card for Germany?

There are two ways to obtain an EU Blue Card for Germany. If you are already in Germany with another residence title, you can apply for the Blue Card at the foreigner’s authority responsible for you. 

In the case that, you are currently still in another EU country, you must first apply for a visa to work in Germany. You can apply for this visa for the purpose of gainful employment in Germany at any German representation abroad. Citizens of the following countries are excluded from this visa requirement: New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, and the United States of America.  

After entering Germany, you apply for the Blue Card at the foreigner’s authority responsible for you.

Do I need a visa for the purpose of gainful employment to apply for the EU Blue Card in Germany?

Since it can take several weeks before the EU Blue Card is issued, it is recommended that you apply for a visa for the purpose of gainful employment even if you have the opportunity to enter Germany without a visa. 

It is strongly advised not to enter Germany with only a tourist visa in order to apply for the Blue Card. In most cases, it is not possible to change to another residence title. In the worst case, you will have to leave the country and re-enter it. 

What happens if I lose my job?

If you lose the job for which the Blue Card was issued, you must immediately inform the responsible foreigner’s authority as the holder of an EU Blue Card. The residence title will then remain valid for the time being and can also be used to look for a new job. However, the foreigner’s authority can determine a time limit for the residence permit at its own discretion. 

When can I apply for a permanent residence permit in Germany?

If you have a Blue Card, you can apply for a so-called permanent residence permit after 33 months. With this permit, unlimited residence in Germany is possible. A prerequisite for this, is that the employment contract has lasted for 33 months without interruption and that contributions to the pension plan have been made during this time. 

In addition, there are some general requirements that must be met in order to apply for a permanent residence permit. One example is proof of basic German language skills (level A1). If, as a holder of the Blue Card, you can prove that you have sufficient German language skills at level B1, you can apply for a permanent residence permit even after just 21 months. 


Even if applying for the EU Blue Card takes some time and effort, it is definitely worth it. So, if you live abroad and have the dream of living and working in the EU after graduation, get started now! We look forward to supporting you on your way! 

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Last update: September 1, 2023