The EU Blue Card has been incorporated into the German Residence Act as part of the implementation of the EU Council Directive on highly qualified employment, and Germany's own objective of facilitating and promoting the migration of highly skilled workers into the country. It is a new residence permit for highly qualified non-EU workers, like natural scientists, engineers, and IT specialists etc, who have a university degree or equivalent qualification and a minimum defined salary.
In addition to the Blue Card, numerous changes have been made for facilitating stay and employment of students and other highly skilled workers, as well as to help small businesses to find foreign skilled workers for positions that would otherwise go unfilled.
Changes affected from August 1st 2012:
Foreign nationals holding a German university degree or comparable qualifications, i.e. a foreign but recognized university diploma/degree comparable to a German degree.
Granted only for a specific job (unlike US Greencard), having an annual gross salary of C 44,800/-, or C 35,000/- in case of shortage occupations (precisely C 34,944) (scientists, mathematicians, engineers, doctors, and IT specialists, etc.).
Duration of employment contract + 3 months – Maximum Four years.
After 33 months (if work contract continues);
With German language (level B1) skills: 21 months.
Following graduation, students can remain in Germany to seek employment for up to 18 months (instead of one year permitted earlier), without any restrictions (instead of limited access to German labour market permitted earlier).
Students are now allowed to work for 120 days or 240 half days in a year alongside their studies, (instead of 90 days or 180 days respectively, allowed previously)
(a)Employment with an employer
University graduates with a degree from a German or another recognized university or a degree from a comparable foreign university, and sufficient means of subsistence, can now enter Germany to seek employment. The job seeker visa allows stay for upto to six months, and is not extendable. During this period, it is not permitted to work.
The earlier threshold requirement of C 25,000/- for self-employment has been done away with. No minimum investment is now required. The creation of 'five Jobs' requirement, has also been done away with. No Job creation required now.
The 'superior economic and regional interest', now replaced with 'Any economic and regional interest'. 'Secured financing' requirement, however, remains a discretionary decision.
Changes in respect of highly qualified, i.e. experienced executives and specialists:
The Minimum salary requirement of C 67,200/- has been done away with completely. No minimum salary now required. The consent from labour authority is, however, now required. For the accompanying spouse, there is no language requirement and is permitted to work.
Can accompany the Blue Card holder, and will receive residence permits. They will not be required to have German language skills before entering Germany and are allowed to work immediately.
Period of absence from Germany/EU
May move to another EU country after a period of 18 months and, permitted to - stay outside the EU for up to twelve months. The card will remain valid.
Stays in other EU countries will be taken as continuous stay for the purpose of permanent residence.
Citizenship, purpose of stay, qualifications, i.e. university degree (from a German University), and salary, would be the principle factors to consider when sourcing foreign talents.