Complete Guide: the EU Blue Card


An EU Blue card is a work permit allowing qualified, talented non-EU citizens to live and find work in all EU countries. Aside from this, it can provide numerous other advantages to those who have one. We are going to look at ways to make the most out of your Blue Card.

The Blue Card is accepted in all EU countries with the exception of Denmark, Ireland, and the UK. At first, the Card is valid for a maximum period of 4 years however the period will vary depending on the length of the employment contract. If the contract is for less than 4 years, the card is issued for the contract length with an additional 3 months.

Why the Blue Card came about

The Blue card was an ideal way to fill the vacancies for qualified workers in the EU. It was a way of reducing bureaucracy and paperwork, bringing the EU and non-E labor market closer together.

It originated in Germany in 2012. Germany is the biggest promoter of the Blue Card, issuing more than 85% of Blue Cards in Europe, in 2017. After Germany, France issues 4.2% and Luxembourg 2.7%.

In 2016, 22.1% of Blue Card holders were from India, 8.7% from China and 7.9% from Russia. There were also Blue Cards issued to Ukrainians (5.3%) and Syrians (4.7%).

Is it valid for the whole of the EU

Don’t confuse the Blue Card with the US Green Card as the Blue Card won’t automatically grant permission to live and work anywhere in the EU. If you obtain a Blue Card in Germany, you won’t necessarily be able to work in any European country.

There are requirements and an application process but keep reading to find out how you and your family can benefit from a Blue Card.

What do you need to apply

You will need a university degree in order to apply. More often than not, your degree won’t be from Germany. You can check if your degree is valid in Germany by looking online. Check Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen.

You will also need an employment contract with a minimum income. As of 2019, the minimum income for a regular job is 4,466.67€ per month (53,600€ annual). If the job is in a filed with skilled labor shortages, the amount required is reduced. The minimum monthly salary is 3,484€ (41,808€ annual). Jobs that are in labor shortage are in the Math, IT, Natural Science and Technology industries, for example.

You will also need:

  • A valid passport
  • A biometric photo
  • An application for a Residence Permit

Frequently asked questions:

What happens if I change my job in the first two years?

If you want to change your employment, you will need permission from the immigration authority. You will need to comply with the same conditions as when you first applied for the Blue Card, including the minimum income.

What happens if I want to leave the EU for a while?

You are allowed to travel back to your home country for a period of up to one year without losing your Blue Card. You can also visit other European countries under the same conditions. Remember, your time away won’t count towards any settlement permit applications you are applying for.

What about if I want to move to another country in Europe?

You must have had your original Blue Card for at least 18 months. Once this time has passed you can move to a different EU country and apply for a new Blue Card.

I’m thinking about going on holiday, is that OK?

Absolutely. You can travel to any of the countries in the Schengen Zone for 90 days, in a period of 180. You will be travelling as a tourist.

Can I become a permanent resident?

You can apply for permanent residency in Germany after 33 months have passed. If you can demonstrate a B1 level of German or higher, the 33 months can be reduced to 21 months.

Traveling with family

Spouses and minors can travel with the Blue Card holder. They will be given residence permits and spouses can work without any restrictions. In general, spouses do not need to prove their level of German. Depending on the immigration authority, they might have to take part in an integration course.