What to do if you don’t get the Blue Card

The words ‘Blue Card’ seem to have magical connotations these days. If you can say you have one, appointments seem to get fixed faster, documents examined within days and visas issued unexpectedly fast.

The EU Blue Card is a residency permit for highly-educated and skilled workers from non-EU countries. It is certainly a prestigious acquirement and if possible, you should try to qualify for it when you come to Germany to work.

But there are a number of requirements attached to getting it, some of which are difficult to meet. In the end, the Blue Card is ‘just’ a residence permit which allows you to work in Germany and there is a good alternative available. If you are worried you won’t qualify for the Blue Card, let me reassure you: life is also good with a normal residence permit!


The privileges of this small, blue card

The Blue Card was introduced in 2012 as a way to attract highly qualified professionals by offering certain benefits compared to the normal work permit. As with other permits, you need to have a valid work contract in the country in which you apply, and it is limited to the duration of your contract. There are, however, two main ways in which the Blue Card is designed to make your life easier:

First: It is usually faster to get. Attracting many Blue Card holders to work in Germany is in the national interest. You can see that when looking at the time the office for foreign education takes to evaluate university degrees: Two weeks for Blue Card applicants, up to three months for all others. That’s not fair, you might say, and it’s true. Applying for a Blue Card as your national visa usually goes faster in the German consulates across the world, and it sometimes seems to open doors just by introducing yourself as a ‘Blue Card holder’.

Second: You can switch it faster for a permanent residence permit. If you plan to stay in Germany for good (or at least, for quite some time), the Blue Card offers another important advantage: With it, you can apply for a permanent residence permit after 21 or 33 months of working here, depending on your level of German. The permanent residence permit is of unlimited duration, and although it might be revoked under certain circumstances, it allows you to stay in Germany for life. With a ‘normal’ work permit, you can apply for it after five years at the earliest, and you will have to prove you have a particular level of German.


A good alternative: The residence permit for the purpose of gainful employment


If the Blue Card is not an option for you, you may still go for a residence permit for the purpose of gainful employment (formerly ‘work permit’). Depending on the reason you were denied a Blue Card, this will require more effort. It is also far easier to get this residence permit with a recognized university degree than without. But it is a valid and widely used residence permit for Germany, and although the final integration process will be slower, it gives you the same rights as the Blue Card.

And don’t despair: We are here to help you. Contact us if you would like to have assistance with your visa, and we will advise you, help you with all problems and guide you through this (at times) confusing process. Let us know!

Deborah Schmitz, German Jobs Advisor