July 10, 2012

Last week, Germany’s Foreign Office announced that EU Blue Card applications are being accepted for assignments having an effective start date of August 1,2012.

What’s Changed?

In May 2009, the European Union (EU) introduced a “fast-track” process to move non-EU national, highly-skilled labor in hopes of cross-pollinating foreign entrepreneurship and shortage occupation labor throughout the EU community. Since 2009, each EU-member country has had opportunity to phase in this directive according to each member state’s labor needs.

In April 2012, the German Bundestag (the National Parliament) passed the EU’s Blue Card Directive to make it easier for highly-skilled and shortage occupation workers to obtain work permits and reside in Germany. As of this week, Germany’s Foreign Office announced it will now begin accepting EU Blue Card applications for foreign nationals applying to commence work on or after August 1, 2012.

Basic EU Blue Card Qualification Requirements

According to the Foreign Office, the EU Blue Card Fast-Track Migration Scheme general requirements are as follows:

  1. Applicants must have a university degree and a firm job offer (work contract) in Germany;
  2. Applicants must earn a minimum annual gross salary of €45,000 (approx. US$55,266);
  3. Skills-shortage professions such as engineers, IT experts and doctors may earn a minimum annual gross salary of €35,000 (approx. US$42,984);
  4. EU Blue Card-holders may be eligible for an unlimited German work and residence permit after only three years of continuous residence in legal status, provided that they also have a valid work contract at the time of application for permanent residence;
  5. Blue Card holders with a basic working knowledge of spoken/written German (e.g., a B1 international language certificate) may be eligible to apply for an unlimited work and residence permits after two years of continuous residence in legal status;
  6. Qualified accompanying spouses would be entitled to apply for derivative work authorization regardless of German language skills;
  7. While not yet officially announced, it is possible that the Foreign Office may introduce new six-month residence permit to allow non-EU national graduates of German universities to seek qualified, long-term employment opportunities in Germany.

According to the Foreign Office, the Federal Labor Office will “fast-track” Blue Card application processing within two weeks from date of application. However, as the Foreign Office and the Labor Office must train up staff on appropriate processing protocols, initial Blue Card applications may take longer to process until staff is comfortable with the procedures and requirements.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

Announcement of the EU Blue Card Scheme has been largely welcomed by the German academic and business community to address the increasing shortage of skilled engineering and IT specialist workers.

While the Blue Card is recognized in other EU-member states, companies who have assignees working in other EU countries in Blue Card status should be cognizant that the German Labor Office may not yet be on board with “fast-tracking” these types of applicants. Given the newness of this scheme, assignees wishing to leverage their existing Blue Card status should review their ability to do so with their German immigration supplier.

Companies and assignees interested in submitting EU Blue Card applications are strongly advised to work with their German immigration suppliers to confirm a prospective applicant’s qualifications with the Federal Labor Office. Applicants should bear in mind that as this is a newly-announced work permit scheme, Blue Card application requirements, protocols and timing expectations may change with little to no advance public notice.

Glenn Faulk, Senior Manager, Knowledge Management, has written this alert in coordination with our German KGNM-Cheryl Koenig Relocation Services Group GmbH.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This content is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or final guidance for any immigration matter. Readers are reminded that a country’s immigration laws and requirements may change with little to no advance public notice. Questions regarding specific immigration matters should be addressed to your Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist.