Hamburg Welcome Center - Entry & Residence

Hamburg Welcome Portal EU Blue Card

Foreign nationals with a university degree or similar qualification who wish to work in Germany may apply for an EU Blue Card, which grants extended rights and benefits and makes fulfilling the conditions for a long-term stay in Germany simpler.

Symbolic image: The EU Blue Card

EU Blue Card - Hamburg Welcome Center

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).

Nationals of EU or EEA (European Economic Area) member states and Switzerland do not need a residence permit to obtain work, as they enjoy unrestricted freedom of movement in Germany.

Chapter overview

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 33 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.

Chapter overview

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).

Chapter overview


  • Entry with a German residence permit for employment
    Exceptions: residents of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, UK, and USA may enter without a visa and apply for the residence permit on site in Germany.
  • 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.
    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). For more information on the equivalence and recognition of foreign training qualifications, see our page on Recognition.
  • 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 (see this form)
Chapter overview

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.

Chapter overview

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.

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.

Applicants can file for an EU Blue Card at the Hamburg Welcome Center or at the local Hamburg Service Point for Foreigners’ Affairs. Please use this Online Service for Residence Permits in Hamburg to file an application.

See our page on forms for more information on the documents required for application.


Eu Blue Card