The EU Blue Card is a work visa for highly skilled professionals giving them greater access to work in the EU and removing barriers that once made this quite difficult, like proving that someone already residing in the country couldn’t do your job. In Germany, it also has the added bonus of fast tracking your permanent residency if you wish to apply for it.
I called up the friendly Hamburg Welcome Centre, who handle visa applications and do so in English, to make an appointment a couple of weeks ago. They are a big improvement over just going to your local Ausländeramt, who are known for their rudeness and long wait times. My appointment was yesterday and to be honest I didn’t think I would qualify as the guidelines were not clear on whether you just needed a university degree or whether you needed a university degree in the your current profession. I had problems getting my original work visa because my university degree is not for my current profession. In Germany, this is unheard of because you must have official qualifications to work in every single industry. Even the cashiers at the local supermarket have done a three year apprenticeship to be able to operate a cash register.
So I went in thinking that I would not qualify but at the very least I could talk to them about my options when my current work visa expires next year. However, it turns out that I did qualify, well at least I was given that impression. I handed over all my documents, had my fingerprints taken, paid the €110 fee and was told my PIN number for my electronic EU card would be sent to me in 28 days after which I can come pick up my brand new work visa. I’m still worried that The Powers That Be in Berlin to whom all my information was submitted to will turn me down, but then again I worry about everything.
However, if I am lucky enough to get my EU Blue card, I will be allowed to stay in Germany for the next four years and if I get my B1 German qualifications, I can apply for permanent residency in 21 months time. If I don’t get my B1 (as unlikely as that is), I can apply for permanent residency after 36 months – this is a huge change to the previous law which allows permanent residency to be applied for only if you have your B1 and only after 5 years. Also, after 18 months, if I choose, I can move to another EU country and work there without having to apply to that country for a work visa. Whilst I have no plans to do this, I never know where life is going to take me and it is good to have this option available. Also, I can leave the EU for up to 12 months without it affecting my right to apply for German residency, again something that is comforting to have available to me.
If you are a highly skilled professional and you meet all the requirements, I strongly recommend applying for the EU Blue Card. The advantages it gives you over the ordinary working visa are immense, especially if you are looking to stay in Germany or the rest of the EU for the long-term.