Residence permit

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EU Blue Card

Do you hold an academic degree? Highly-skilled citizens looking to work in Germany can apply for the EU Blue Card to secure long-term residence.

General information

The EU Blue Card (German term: Blaue Karte EU) is a special residence permit for highly-qualified workers. The basic requirements for receiving a Blue Card are a university degree (must be recognised by German authorities) or comparable qualification, and the intention to take up a profession that requires such qualification. For employees in bottleneck professions (that is, professions with a particular shortage of skilled workers) as well as first-time employees, the gross annual pay must be €41.041,80 or more; for all other professions, the gross annual pay must be €45.300 or more (as of 2024).

EU Blue Card Perspectives

Employees will receive the EU Blue Card for the full period of their employment, plus an additional three months, with a maximum of four years. If the requirements for the EU Blue Card are fulfilled, a general residence permit in Germany may be granted.

After a minimum of 27 months of employment, EU Blue Card holders may apply for a permanent settlement permit (German term: Niederlassungserlaubnis). With more advanced German language skills (level B1 and above), this period can be shortened to only 21 months.

EU Blue Card holders and their family members may leave Germany for a maximum period of 12 months before their residence permit expires. Anyone who has had the EU Blue Card for more than 12 months may settle in any other EU member state (except Ireland and Denmark) without a visa and apply for an EU Blue Card there within one month.

EU Blue Card and Job Changes

EU Blue Card holders who wish to change their job in Germany can begin their new job without any trouble as long as their EU Blue Card is still valid. However, they need to notify their local immigration office (German: Ausländerbehörde) of their new work situation if they change their job within the first 12 months of employment. The immigration office will re-assess whether the new job still meets the requirements for the EU Blue Card. If this is not the case, foreign employees may apply for another kind of residence permit (German: Aufenthaltserlaubnis), for example a residence permit for employment (German: Aufenthaltserlaubnis zur Beschäftigung).


Visa Blue Card EU

  • Citizens of certain countries can apply for a residence permit after entering Germany. More on this in the article on visas.
  • Citizens of the EU, the EEA and Switzerland enjoy unrestricted freedom of movement.

Officially recognised degree/qualification
Holders of a foreign university degree or other degree of higher education must have their degree officially recognised in Germany, or it must be equivalent to a German university degree or degree of higher education.
Tip: applicants can use the anabin website (German only) for foreign training qualifications to check whether there is already a recognised equivalence of their degree in Germany.

You do not have a conventional degree of higher education?
Anyone who does not have a conventional degree of higher education must provide evidence of a tertiary training qualification with a training period of at least three years in order to obtain an EU Blue Card. This training qualification must be equivalent to level 6 of the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED 2011). This includes, for example, the titles of master craftsmen (German: Meister or Handwerksmeister) as well as degrees in educational professions (such as nursery school teachers or childcare workers). 

Employment contract or binding job offer in Germany
In both cases:

  • The employment tenure must be more than 6 months long. 
  • The position must suit the applicant’s degree/qualification. 
  • The position must pay the applicant a gross annual pay of at least €45,300 (as of 2024). 

Applicants working in bottleneck professions may obtain an EU Blue Card with a lower gross annual pay of at least €41,041.80 (as of 2024) if the Federal Employment Agency (German: Bundesagentur für Arbeit, BA) has agreed to their employment. The German Federal Ministry of the Interior (German: Bundesministerium des Innern und für Heimat) announces changes to the minimum pay thresholds for each year. For an overview of bottleneck professions in Germany, see here.

Sufficient health insurance coverage.

Special Case: First-Time Employees

Professional newcomers may acquire an EU Blue Card with a gross annual pay of at least €41,041.80 (as of 2024) if they received their latest university degree or similar formal qualification within the last three years. This applies to new workers in all professions. However, the approval of the Federal Employment Agency is required.

Special Case: EU Blue Card for IT Experts Without Formal Qualification

IT experts or executives without a formal degree who wish to work in IT in Germany may be granted an EU Blue Card under the following conditions:

  • Applicants must have proof of a concrete job offer as an IT expert in Germany.
  • The position in Germany must generate a gross annual pay of at least €41,041.80 (as of 2024).
  • Applicants must have had at least 3 years of experience working in IT within the last 7 years. The work experience must be equivalent to university qualification, and it must be mandatory for the type of employment in Germany.

Submit application

Applicants who meet these requirements are entitled to receive an EU Blue Card according to section 18g AufenthG (short for Aufenthaltsgesetz, lit. ‘Residence Act’; German only). For more information, see this page on entry and visa processes.

Submit application

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Apply for a residence permit

Information and documents for applying for your residence permit in Hamburg can be found in the Forms and Checklists section.