How to Apply For Germany Green Card – The EU Blue Card
Although Germany does not have a “Green Card” system, there are possibilities under the EU Blue Card scheme. The EU Blue Card is designed for high-earning individuals from third countries (non-EU countries) and those in fields with employment shortages. Germany has been the country in Europe that has granted the most EU Blue Cards since its inception.
The EU Blue Card permits its holder to stay in the EU for up to four years and provides further benefits regarding becoming a permanent resident in Germany. It is possible to apply for permanent residency after 33 months with an EU Blue Card. Although proficiency or even basic knowledge of the German language is not a requirement to gain an EU Blue Card, displaying B1-level German can accelerate your claim for a permanent residence permit.
To gain an EU Blue Card, applicants need to fulfil the following conditions:
- Possession of a German or an accredited foreign university degree comparable to a German one,
- an offer of a job in Germany that reaches the required earning limits– or
- an offer of employment in an area where workers are being sought in Germany (scientists, mathematicians, engineers, doctors and IT-skilled workers) which has a lower earning requirement.
What differentiates the EU Blue Card from the US Green Card is that the Blue Card is based strictly on the applicant’s employment. Due to this restriction, clients often require advice regarding changing employment while on the EU Blue Card in Germany.
The EU Blue Card also allows for family reunification in Germany, whereby successful applicants can bring their families with them.
If you require further support to assist with the EU Blue Card, please do not hesitate to contact our team directly.
- The EU Blue Card: legal requirements
- The EU Blue Card: change of employer
- The EU Blue Card: salary requirements
Family Reunification in Germany
Family reunification allows those living in Germany to integrate more readily. Family reunification is permitted under specific visas and is also based on the nature of your stay in Germany. Requirements also vary based on which family member the applicant is seeking to reunite with while in Germany.
Generally, third-country nationals, such as US citizens, who come to Germany who seek to act as sponsors for a spouse or registered partner, a child, a parent or another family member will usually need to be in possession of:
- a permanent residence permit,
- an EU long-term residence permit,
- an EU Blue Card (§ 29(1) German Residence Act).
Once one of these requirements has been established, they need to demonstrate that they have sufficient living space for the sponsor and the family member joining them (§ 29 (1) 2 German Residence Act). Further requirements are outlined under § 5(1) German Residence Act, but generally, the applicants need to show that the family can provide for themselves without recourse to German state support.
Otherwise, the persons need to be able to verify their identity and nationality (i.e. possess a passport) and demonstrate no reasons why the interests of Germany may be compromised or jeopardized by bringing them into the country.
Family reunification is also based on the relationship with the person, and different requirements exist, for example, regarding bringing parents or adult children to Germany. Such situations arise where an applicant’s parents or adult children may require further support and in cases where hardship exists if they are not granted that assistance.
If you require further legal assistance in matters of family reunification in Germany, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.
- Family reunification law in Germany
- Family reunification law in Germany: parents with adult children
- Family reunification law in Germany: students
- Spouse reunification in Germany
German Citizenship by Ancestry and Descent
Gaining German citizenship is one way to avoid the complications of requiring job offers and visas while benefitting from everything German and European citizenship offers. For many US citizens, there is a pathway to German citizenship that does not require leaving your home or coming to Germany at all, and that is by ancestry or descent.
Many US citizens have German ancestors and can claim citizenship if that ancestry is in their direct family line (i.e., if their parents and grandparents were German citizens). Determining German citizenship in this manner is a complex process, and even if an individual is theoretically eligible, claiming citizenship remains a challenge for several reasons.
Applicants need to possess specific documents, such as marriage and birth certificates, and be able to provide copies of them when dealing with the German authorities. The required documents vary based on the ancestor and the reason for claiming citizenship (i.e. if that individual was forced to leave Germany and relinquish citizenship due to persecution during the 1930s or 1940s), and locating them can be difficult. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our team is ready to assist.
Our law firm is hugely experienced in German citizenship by descent applications and can oversee the entire process. Determine whether you are eligible for German citizenship by using our German Citizenship Eligibility Check, as there, you will discover whether you are legally eligible for German citizenship. From there, you can contact our team directly to allow us to manage your application and be reassured that you are in safe and competent hands.
- German citizenship by descent and ancestry
- German citizenship by ancestry: eligibility check
- German citizenship for ancestors of the victims of NS persecution
- German citizenship: the benefits
German Citizenship by Residency
Should an individual find a suitable visa and residence permit for Germany, they can begin the process of becoming a German citizen by residency. German citizenship by residency is available to individuals once they have lived in Germany for eight years.
Essentially, the right to become a German citizen is provided under § 10 StAG, whereby the applicant:
- must have an unlimited right of residence in Germany (permanent residence permit),
- has been lawfully and habitually resident in the country for eight years,
- can earn a living for himself and his family without recourse to social assistance or unemployment benefit,
- has sufficient knowledge of German: for adults, language level B1 is required. For those under 16 years of age, language development appropriate to their age,
- has not been convicted of any criminal offence,
- renounces or loses their previous citizenship,
- is committed to the German Constitution and does not support any anti-constitutional efforts or credibly distance themselves from previous support,
- has passed the naturalization test on the German legal and social order.
However, German law is currently developing, whereby dual citizenship should be made more available, allowing US citizens who become German based on residency to maintain their US citizenship. Such changes may also reduce the residency duration requirement.
At the time of writing, these changes have not yet been introduced; however, it is advisable to keep track of these developments if you are interested in eventually claiming German citizenship based on residency.
- Developments in German citizenship law: December 2022
- Dual citizenship law in Germany
- Dual citizenship law: Germany/USA
- German citizenship by residency
The ICT Card – Intra-Corporate Transfer Card
The ICT Card is designed to allow professionals within a company to transfer from a branch outside of the European Union to one within the EU. This visa allows the individual to transfer, as long as they are within the parent company which is different to the requirements of the EU Blue Card.
ICT Cards are designed with specialists and managers in mind, and it allows them three years of residence in the EU. The individual or their company can make the application. Here are some of the requirements to bear in mind when applying for the ICT Card:
- The company’s employee has been employed for a minimum of 6 months,
- The applicant in question is not in the probationary period of their work contract,
- The employee is a non-EU citizen and is being sent to a branch of the company in the EU,
- The company will continue to employ the applicant throughout their stay,
- The employee has a university degree/other proof of the required skillset,
- The contract is for between 90 days and one year (in the case of a trainee) and 90 days and three years (for specialist/manager).
It is to be noted that the ICT Card is not designed for internships. Therefore, the transferee in question must be an employee of the company. The duration of the assignment is also crucial to consider. Applications can be rejected if they do not fulfil the requirements as outlined.
Our immigration specialists advise private individuals and business clients on all aspects of the ICT Card.
- ICT Cards in Germany
- Immigrating to Germany as an IT professional
- International employment assignments in Germany
Permanent Residence Permits in Germany
Under German law it is possible to gain a permanent residence permit whereby the holder can consolidate their residence in Germany and they can live and work in Germany without restrictions.
The general requirements for a German permanent residence permit are outlined under § 9 German Residence Act. This section outlines that a foreigner who has resided legally in Germany for five years with a visa or residence permit can then apply for a permanent residence permit.
If a person holds an EU Blue Card this process can be accelerated to 33 months or even 21 months (based on their German language skills). Foreigners with civil servant status can also benefit from an accelerated right to a permanent residence permit after three years of residing in Germany under § 19c (4) German Residence Act).
Entrepreneurs who successfully navigate the requirements of German business immigration can also benefit from an accelerated right to German permanent residence under § 21 (4) German Residence Act. Graduates of a German Higher Education Institutioncan in some circumstances apply after just two years under § 18c, (1) German Residence Act. Highly qualified specialists also have possibilities regarding gaining permanent residency under § 18c para. 3 German Residence Act).
Often in cases where there is discretion on the part of the authorities, they closely examine whether the individual can provide for themselves without needing recourse to public support systems. Having sufficient living space is another consideration, especially in cases involving potential family reunification in Germany.
At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our lawyers advise on all matters relating to permanent residence permits in Germany. If you require further legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.
Residency by Investment
Investment in Germany can also lead to gaining German residency. Under § 21 German Residence Act, it is possible to achieve a residence permit in Germany for the purpose of self-employment, including developing an investment company. Under this Act, there are possibilities for the following individuals to gain residency in Germany:
- Foreign entrepreneurs who aim to establish a business in Germany
- Foreign entrepreneurs who seek to set up an overseas branch of a pre-existing company
The self-employment criteria under § 21 German Residency Act are fulfilled under the following conditions:
- an economic interest or a regional need applies (to the company in question),
- the activity is expected to have positive effects on the economy and
- personal capital on the part of the foreigner or a loan undertaking is available to realise the business idea.
Once the visa has been obtained, the holder will be able to reside in Germany for a period of three years which can be extended to a longer period from there. The visa holder will, from there, have the option to gain permanent residency in Germany.
Although there is no set minimum figure for the planned investment, those seeking to gain German residency by investment should prepare for an investment of at least €350,000.