During the few last years, the German economy is witnessing a significant growth. The automotive industry, which is the heart of the German machine is leading this phenomena. Volkswagen, the biggest cars producer scored last year the biggest turnover since it was created, although the automotive market was struggling against a purchase crisis. Germany is suffering also these years of a huge lack of highly-skilled engineers. According to the Association of German Engineers, (Verein Deutscher Ingenieure, VDI), it has been reported that there were 76 400 vacant engineering jobs by the end of 2011. The same association declared in 2012 that because of the high average age of engineers working in Germany (50 to 51), there will soon be another huge demand for a new generation of engineers.
The Germans were aware of all this, a project-law is put on the negotiation table in 2009 and it has been subject of a long debate. The result showed up finally in June 2012 and has been applied and put into consideration since August 1st 2012: The European Union Blue Card.
Similar to the Green Card in the USA, the EU Blue Card offers highly educated skilled workers of non-EU-States the opportunity and the right to work and stay in the European Union and contribute to its economy. A foreign national is eligible for a Blue Card EU if he/she holds a German university degree, a foreign but recognized university diploma or a foreign degree comparable to a German degree, or at least a 5-year experience in a related profession and of course an employment contract from a German company for all the cases.
In contrast to the US Green Card, the Blue Card is only granted for a specific job, which generates, since January 2014, an annual gross pay of 37.128€ (and not 36.192€ any more) in case of so-called shortage occupations (scientists, mathematicians, engineers, doctors, and IT specialists). Note that the very normal gross salary of a normal engineer who has studied in Germany with no-outstanding skills in a given field is around 46000-48000€. The law has set this very low threshold to the amount of 37.128€€ only to maximize the number of incoming qualified people, at the expense of the salary and the cost of living.
The advantages of the EU Blue Card are then:
- The greatest advantage is that the so-called, “Arbeitsmarktcheck” (labour market check) will be cancelled. This is a very important point, because this check usually extends the process from the application to the visa stamp in the passport for several weeks.
- The Blue Card has got a maximum period of 4 years. But if the employment relationship lasts less than four years, the Blue Card is granted for the duration of the employment contract plus another additional three months (to give the opportunity to look for a new job).
- About the permanent stay, foreigners who own the EU Blue Card can apply for permanent residence after 33 months. But if they have German language knowledge at level B1 then they can apply earlier after 21 months (19a, passage 6, law of residence).
- Also, owners of the EU blue card can stay out of the EU for up to 12 months without losing the right of staying in Germany or the EU. Moreover, they have the right, after having stayed in Germany for 18 months, to move to another country of the EU.
- Relatives of the owners of the EU blue card can work without delay and without limits in Germany. The spouse in particular is not required to have proof of German language knowledge. Even simple knowledge of the German language is not necessary for marriage partners.
Nevertheless, the future is still unknown with the coming crisis. In fact, the German economy decreased for the first time during the last two trimesters (first and second ones of 2013). The automotive market and the solar energy are facing huge problems inside the EU and are causing a lot of loss to the German companies. On the other hand, in manufacturing the business climate indicator continued to rise. Manufacturers are more satisfied with their current business situation than last month. The improvement in expectations with regard to future business developments continued into the New Year. Optimism is returning. After three successive declines, capacity utilisation rates also rose.
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