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GERMANY: EU Blue Card Visa Category for Companies Assigning Personnel to Germany

The EU Blue Card visa category is an interesting option available to companies assigning personnel to Germany.

 The German residence and work permit regulations are complex. Regulations have to be well-understood to maximize the chances for success of international transfers. Even if the German labor market is basically still affected by the so-called ban on recruitment (i.e., the categorical ban on the recruitment of foreign employees), foreign employees can regularly be employed under certain circumstances in practice.

In particular, there are certain advantages to the employment of highly qualified staff in comparison to “normal” staff. There is a considerable accumulated need in Germany for highly qualified employees against the background of intensified global competition for the most qualified labor.

The relatively high former salary threshold for executives and the highly skilled (€86.400 gross until December 31, 2008) had been reduced significantly (to €67.000 gross per year as of January 1, 2012) and was further reduced last year. Effective August 1, 2012, the salary threshold was eliminated for the highly skilled visa category. It was reduced by the implementation of the European Union (EU) Blue Card Directive and the implementation of the EU Blue Card (Blaue Karte EU) visa category in Germany. As of January 1, 2013, the salary threshold now is €46.400 gross for academic persons and is down to €36.192 gross for certain job categories (such as natural scientists, mathematicians, engineers, doctors, or IT consultants) and applicants holding a degree from a German university.

The grant of a residence permit to take up employment under the EU Blue Card visa category is possible without the need for a job market test, which alone cuts the processing time to 4-8 weeks instead of 8-12 weeks for visa categories that can only be granted once a job market test has been carried out. However, the conditions of employment must be at least comparable to those that would be offered for the position to a person from the local (German and EU) job market. It is not yet clear if a local employment contract is required for the EU Blue Card.

The EU Blue Card may be granted as a settlement permit after a certain period of time if the employee has duly contributed to the social security system. This is an advantage for the holder of the permit but not necessarily for the sponsor, because the permit is not linked to employment with a specific company. Nevertheless, the EU Blue Card visa category is a very interesting option available to companies assigning personnel to Germany.

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