EU Blue Card 2023: How expats can benefit from Germany's new skilled migration law
The German parliament (Bundestag) has passed a law overhauling and simplifying the EU Blue Card requirements. Schahroch Taleqani, a partner at RT & Partner, a law firm specialising in immigration, gives an overview of the EU Blue Card’s current and new legal framework, and explains how expats can make the most of the upcoming changes.
On August 16, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German president, signed the new skilled immigration law (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz), the first major part of which will come into force on November 18, 2023. The new law will have a profound impact on highly skilled expats looking to apply for an EU Blue Card.
What is the EU Blue Card?
The EU Blue Card is a popular option among academically qualified expats looking to work in Germany. And for good reason: it grants access to the German job market with the same rights and protections that German citizens enjoy. It enables recipients to bring their close family with them and opens up the possibility of obtaining a permanent residency title.
However, at the moment, expats wanting to apply for a Blue Card must, among other requirements, meet relatively high salary thresholds and hold an officially recognised university degree. The new law sets out to lower these eligibility criteria, thus making the EU Blue Card an even more attractive option for highly skilled workers.
What changes will the new law bring?
The new skilled worker law will bring a number of significant changes:
Lower salary limits for EU Blue Cards
Chief among the upcoming changes is a decrease in salary thresholds. For the remainder of 2023, the gross annual salary required for an EU Blue Card will be lowered from 58.400 euros to 43.800 euros.
For applicants with certain occupations which are especially sought-after (so-called “Mangelberufe”), an even lower gross annual salary of just 39.682,80 euros (down from around 43.800 euros) will be sufficient.
Expanded list of high demand professions
Also, the new law lists more jobs as being in such especially high demand - including veterinarians, teachers and academically trained executives in logistics, child care or elderly care. These occupations have been added to those like IT specialists, architects and engineers who already benefit from the lower Mangelberufe threshold.
Lower salary limit for career starters
Additionally, the lower threshold will also apply to young professionals who graduated less than three years ago.
Waiver of connection between academic qualifications and employment
Another highly important change is the decoupling of the pursued field of work from applicants’ academic degrees. Currently, EU Blue Card applicants are only allowed to work in jobs for which their degree qualifies them for. The new law does away with this restriction and opens up the whole job market to Blue Card applicants.
IT specialists can also look forward to the new law. Specifically, for them, the Blue Card’s need for an academic degree will be abolished. Instead, IT professionals who can prove three years of work experience and theoretical knowledge on a level comparable to that of academics will be able to acquire a Blue Card without a degree.
New opportunities for expats coming to Germany
When it comes into force on November 18, this new law will have a tremendous impact on expats. The reduced salary thresholds and simplified rules for IT specialists will make it easier to benefit from the many advantages the EU Blue Card has to offer. Additionally, expats who already hold a residence permit for academia will not have to have their degree checked for compatibility when applying for an EU Blue Card.
The new law also makes it easier for expats to manoeuvre Germany’s job market. It abolishes the general need for EU Blue Card holders to request the immigration authority’s approval when changing employers within the first two years of their stay.
Instead, in the future, EU Blue Card holders will only have to report all relevant changes occurring during their first year of holding the title. Authorities will only be able to halt changes of employer within this first year. If they do so, they then have 30 days to examine whether the new job fulfils all Blue Card criteria. If it does or if they fail to reach a decision within 30 days, the change of employer will go through.
The usual challenges of German bureaucracy can make applying for an EU Blue Card quite complicated. If both you and your future employer want certainty and peace of mind, it is advisable to seek assistance from a law firm specialising in business immigration like RT & Partner. They will provide individual counselling, examine your documents, handle the entire correspondence with the relevant authorities, and, if possible, apply for the accelerated procedure on behalf of you and your employer, enabling you to receive your EU Blue Card as fast as possible. Get in touch with RT & Partner’s lawyers today!