30.01.2019 - A current report from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) shows that the EU Blue Card has become an attractive residence permit for immigrants from third countries. This residence permit has already enabled many highly qualified professionals from abroad to take up employment in Germany. In order to support the rapidly growing influx of migrants, many immigration authorities in Germany's major cities have established service centres for qualified professionals from abroad which are responsible for issuing residence permits – especially for posts in highly qualified employment. The city of Munich, for example, has set up the Service-Center für internationale Fach- und Führungskräfte (Service Center for international qualified professionals and managers) as a department of the Munich immigration authority, which started operating on 1 October 2013. Sabine Ufholz, a member of staff from the Service Center’s division for immigration affairs, has talked to us about her experience issuing the EU Blue Card.
1. How many EU Blue Cards were issued by the Munich immigration authority in 2017? What countries did the applicants originate from (5 largest groups) – and what professions did they work in
The City of Munich issued a total of 2,169 EU Blue Cards in 2017. Some 1,616 of these were for persons in occupations where there is a skills shortage, and 553 EU Blue Cards were issued based on a standard salary. In the same period, extensions were granted for 580 EU Blue cards in occupations facing skills shortages, and 265 in regular occupations.
The 5 largest groups of applicants came from India, China, Russia, the USA and Ukraine. The number one professional field was IT.
2. According to a report, many EU Blue Card holders are already living in Germany when they file their application. What is your experience in Munich?
In our experience in Munich, most EU Blue Card holders file their applications from abroad. Although Munich has several universities whose graduates from third countries are often recruited as highly qualified personnel when they finish, the number of highly qualified professionals coming to Munich from abroad to take up employment here speaks for itself.
In 2017 alone, the Munich Service Center was processing a total of 4,107 visa applications. Of these, 1,061 were EU Blue Cards, 1,393 were applications for family reunions, and 1,615 were applications to take up qualified employment under Section 18 Residence Act (AufenthG) or in order to look for work.
3. How does the procedure for issuing EU Blue Cards work in Munich? What authorities are normally involved in this process?
The applications of highly qualified professionals coming to Germany for the first time undergo preliminary examination at the diplomatic missions abroad. In the case of occupations where there is a skills shortage and with a lower level of remuneration, the Federal Employment Agency (BA – Bundesagentur für Arbeit) is also involved.
Once the visa has been issued and the qualified professional has come to Germany and taken up residency in Munich, the Service Center is responsible for issuing the first EU Blue Card. Clients normally have to make an appointment at the Center, during which they receive the EU Blue Card. They can do this via email or online. In many cases, the clients receive support from a relocation service that arranges appointments at the Center for them in advance. For qualified professionals arriving from third countries who do not require a visa, the Munich immigration authority notifies the Federal Employment Agency here in Munich whenever necessary.
Another authority that is involved – apart from the Federal Employment Agency – is the registration authority, which registers the person’s new home address. This is used to determine which immigration authority is responsible for the person and, in certain cases, which certification authority is responsible for recognising the person's foreign qualification/s or the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education in the event of problems relating to this process.
Munich has a certification authority located within the municipal administration, with which the Service Center for International Qualified Professionals is in close contact and which is therefore able to resolve most cases quickly.
4. What happens to an EU Blue Card holder who loses the job for which the Blue Card has been issued?
If the EU Blue Card holder loses his/her job, the EU Blue Card is limited in time in line with administrative law. This may also have to be approved by the Federal Employment Agency. Following this, a residence permit can be issued for a maximum of six months in order for the person to look for a job, in line with Section 18c Residence Act (AufenthG). During this time, he/she must secure a new job that matches his/her qualification/s- and in most cases he /she is able to do this successfully.
As soon as the qualified professional has been offered a job, he/she drops by the Center with the new contract and is then issued with a fresh employment permit.
5. In order for an EU Blue Card to be issued, special conditions have to be met, such as a minimum salary. What options does an EU Blue Card holder have if he/she ceases to meet the required salary threshold when changing jobs?
In cases such as these, it would still be possible for us (in consultation with the Federal Employment Agency wherever necessary) to examine and make a decision on whether the new post matches the person’s qualification/s and allows a residence permit to be issued in accordance with Section 18(4) Residence Act (AufenthG) in conjunction with the appropriate section of the Employment Ordinance. The applicant does not have to leave the country while this process takes place. Cases are examined on the spot.
At the Service Center in Munich, there are 19 members of staff who process all cases of highly qualified employment. The Center is currently responsible for around 15,000 clients. This not only includes holders of the EU Blue Card, but also highly qualified professionals who are employed in Germany on a residence permit issued in accordance with Section 18(4) Residence Act (AufenthG), as well as the family members of both groups of persons. In addition, we also advise self-employed persons and freelancers, professional athletes, and artists, as well as providing advice in the area of staff exchanges/intercorporate transfers (ICT card). Support is provided in several languages, but mainly in English. For further information about the Service Center, please contact Ms Sabine Ufholz (email: firstname.lastname@example.org ).