Non-EU citizens looking to take up software development roles in Germany need a work permit/visa, called a Blue Card. While individuals can apply for this visa themselves without a sponsor company, the employer will still need to be part of the application process and can assist with paperwork.
Below, we unpack everything employers and prospective employees need to know about the Blue Card.
Checklist for software developers for the Blue Card in Germany
Software developers fall into the skills category in Germany, because they are part of the MINT professions (Mathematics, Information, Natural Sciences and Technology). To qualify for the Blue Card, you must be paid a gross annual salary of at least €43,992.
The application costs €110 (+/- R1,900) to submit. You can submit the application via a lawyer who will oversee the whole process and help with everything needed. The cost of this varies but processing time should be no more than 90 days.
Step #1 If you’re a developer about to accept a job offer to work in Germany, check that you have the following:
- You meet the required salary amounts we’ve mentioned.
- You have a university degree.
- Your country is on the list of nations whose citizens can apply for a German Blue Card.
- A valid passport. This is essential to enter Germany. It’s good practice for it to be more than six months from expiry on your provisional arrival date. If you’re in for a long stay, renew it in your home country before you leave.
- An employment contract from the company. Preferably only signed after getting a second opinion and after working out the tax implications of working abroad.
Step #2: Get an entry visa from your local German consulate
Once you have a job offer, your next step is to apply for a German entry visa for employment purposes from the German embassy or consulate. This visa will allow you to enter Germany, where you can then submit the application for an EU Blue Card at the German Immigration Authority.
Step #3 Get your documents together
Once you have received your entry visa, you’ll need to get all the necessary documentation together. This includes:
- Passport copies
- Your work contract
- An original certification of your university degree
- Proof of degree recognition
- Proof of relevant work experience
- A declaration of the employment relationship completed by the employer. This should state why the company wants to hire you and provide a detailed job description.
- Two passport photos
Note, as a minimum, your employment contract, company letter, degree certificate and CV should be translated into German. You can get this done using a service like lingoking.
Step #4 Head to Germany and Apply for your Blue Card
Once you have all of your documents together, you can head to Germany where you can apply for your Blue Card. To do this, you will need to:
- Make an appointment
- Register your address at the resident’s registration office (within two weeks of arriving in Germany)
- Enrol with a health insurance provider in Germany.
Step #4 Get your Blue Card
Once all of the relevant documentation has been submitted, the German Immigration Authority will issue you with a Blue Card. You can only start working once your application is processed and once you have received your residence card.
Note: If the application is rejected, employers can follow up and push for a second look at the application.
What else does the Blue Card get you?
All Blue Card holders can apply for permanent residence after 33 months, or if they can speak German sufficiently, after just 21 months. Once you become a settled permanent resident of Germany, you can live in the country indefinitely and can change employment as you wish and work in any profession. You can even open up a business.
Spouses and dependent children of a Blue Card holder can come along to Germany and your spouse is allowed to work in Germany in any profession without any salary-specific requirements.
In terms of travel, Blue Card holders can visit other EU countries for up to three months over a six-month period. You can also travel through other EU countries on the way to the EU country that you live and work in.
What if my situation changes?
After 18-months, Blue Card holders can move to another EU country, but have to notify immigration services before leaving. Always double check that the country you wish to move to accepts Blue Card holders. If your employment contract ends early, you will lose your Blue Card, unless you can find a new sponsor within 3-6 months.
Checklist for German companies to help a developer with their German Blue Card
Employers can speed up the process by gathering the applicant’s documentation as soon as possible. This includes submitting:
- Copies of the employees’ passport, CV and degree
- A work contract detailing information about the role, requirements, the duration of the contract, as well as the compensation
- A German invitation letter outlining the terms of employment and why they want to hire you for the role.
Although there are quite a few steps to follow, with the right preparation it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. That said, different people (and companies) have different sets of circumstances. Seek additional professional advice if you have specific questions that weren’t covered here.
If you’re a developer who has applied for a Blue Card and you have any handy tips and tricks, please leave a comment below.