The new EU Blue Card is designed to make it easier for highly-skilled citizens of non-EU member states to live and work in the EU, and thus in Germany. Germany hopes to attract more highly-skilled migrants.
The German Bundestag has passed a bill that will put into practice the EU’s Blue Card Directive (or Directive for Highly Skilled Migrants).
The EU Directive, which dates back to May 2009, lays down the terms and conditions on which citizens of non-EU member states are entitled to enter and reside in the EU in order to exercise a highly skilled occupation. The new German legislation uses the scope provided for in this directive to make Germany more attractive to this group of migrants.
Good for Germany
The new law will translate into practice the provisions of the EU’s Blue Card Directive. It will also serve to make Germany more attractive to migrants, thus making it easier for highly-skilled workers to live and work in Germany in the longer term.
The legal conditions for foreign students who would like to work in Germany after obtaining a degree from a German university are also to be improved. Dedicated and highly skilled workers are, after all, the foundation on which Germany can build prosperity and growth.
Making Germany more attractive to migrants
The salient points of the new law are as follows:
A new residence permit is to be introduced – the EU Blue Card.
To obtain a Blue Card, migrants will have to have a university or college degree and a contract of employment worth a gross annual salary of at least 44,800 euros.
In future there are to be no priority reviews (see box below for explanation) or reviews of comparable working conditions (see box below for explanation), which will facilitate immigration and speed up the process significantly.
For highly-skilled workers in occupations currently suffering from shortages of skilled labour, the required salary level will be lowered to 34,944 euros. This will apply in particular to engineers, degree holders in the field of information and communications technology and experts with comparable qualifications in this field, and medical doctors.
The priority review is to be dispensed with here too, but working conditions will be reviewed for comparability.
Blue Card holders will be issued with a settlement permit after three years, provided they are still employed. If a Blue Card holder can provide evidence of B1 level German language skills, the settlement permit may be issued after two years.
Easing other restrictions
As well as merely translating into practice the EU Directive, other restrictions are to be eased.
Special mention should be made of the following:
University graduates shall be entitled a residence permit for six months provided they can secure their livelihood during that period.
Students at German universities will in future be permitted to work for 120 full days or 240 half days alongside their course of study. Until now they have only been permitted to work 90 full days of 180 half days.
Graduates of German universities will in future have 18 months rather than only 12 months to find a job that corresponds to their academic qualifications. Graduates of vocational training facilities will have one year to find a job commensurate with their qualifications. Both groups will be permitted to work without restriction during this period.
The bill was introduced by the German government in December 2011. It must still be passed by the second chamber of the German parliament, the Bundesrat.
A citizen of a non-EU member state may only be employed if no suitably qualified German applicant is available, and if no suitably qualified non-German applicant is available, who enjoys the same rights as German applicants under German labour law, and if no other suitably qualified non-German applicant is available who is entitled to priority access to the labour market under the laws of the European Union.
Review of the comparability of working conditions
A non-German citizen may not be employed under worse working conditions than any comparable German employee.
(Paragraph 39 of the Law on the Residence, Employment and Integration of Foreigners in the Federal Republic of Germany)