I see here lots of questions regarding the Blue Card for Europe and Germany.

I have been researching a lot about the blue card and work permit for the purpose of employment in Germany and so far, I was unable to fully see all differences between the two.

I am an IT Specialist currently working in Germany under a regular residence permit for the purpose of employment, I don't have a degree.

I pretty much would like to change jobs. I know it is possible with the blue card, but with the work permit, that was not very clear for me.

As there are those not so clear differences, my question is: What are all differences between the work permit and the Blue Card for IT Specialists?

My intention here more to clarify the benefits and limitation of the Residence Permit for the Purpose of Employment, because we all probably know the benefits of the blue card.

How to change jobs under the blue card vs How to Change Jobs under the Work Permit.

  • 4
    If you don't have a university degree which is recognized in Germany, you can't get Blue Card anyway.
    – infrared
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 14:04
  • How did you get your visa? Have you applied for the regular work visa from outside? Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 22:46
  • hello @HelloWorldGuy This is an old question but Were you able to get the details that you were looking for ? Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 17:23
  • You have a lot of questions about Germany, but your profile says you're in Austria. Is that out of date?
    – simbabque
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 8:26
  • 1
    @infrared you can also have 5 years of professional experience besides degree: gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_aufenthg/englisch_aufenthg.html — see 19a (1) 1. b) Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 14:09

3 Answers 3


It depends where you live actually. But pretty much this link can be useful somehow:


  • 4
    Residence law is federal (and therefore the same everywhere) and even application doesn't differ much between municipalities.
    – neo
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 21:47
  • @neo But the question still is, if I find a new job, what's the procedure to change employers? Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 10:26
  • 1
    @neo, I am actually accepting the answer, because it makes sense to me, and my understanding is that after 2 years working in Germany, there is no need to ask for another permit. Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 10:41

If one wants to have a residence permit for the purpose of employment (if this is your main purpose of getting the residence permit) in Germany, it could be issued based on 2 paragraphs of the "residence law" (Act on the Residence, Economic Activity and Integration of Foreigners in the Federal Territory, or Aufenthaltsgesetz, please see Act in English or Aufenthaltsgesetz auf Deutsch for details):

  • §19 AufenthG, which describes the residence permit for highly qualified persons and includes the European Blue Card, which is described in §19a AufenthG

  • §18 AufenthG, which describes the "normal" residence permit for the purpose of employment (here and after just "regular residence permit").

There are many differences between these 2 ways of getting the residence permit, and I will try to highlight the most important of them (but I advice you to read the law for more details, cause my highlights probably won't cover all situations):

  • To apply for the Blue Card, you need to be highly qualified, e.g. have a higher education and a high salary (the salary border is less for some categories listed in the requirements for the Blue Card, which is updated every year). In most cases, you will not be checked by the German job center (Bundesagentur für Arbeit)

  • To apply for the regular residence permit there are almost no requirements on the salary (except that it should be enough to fund yourself). In some cases you can get it even without higher education, please see my answer on another question about residence permits. However, in many cases, you will be checked by that job center to prove that you do not create a competition for Germans. For IT specialists this is not a problem, since now there should be a lack of IT staff and more or less no registered unemployed IT people.

  • With the Blue Card, you will get the permanent residence permit in Germany after 21-33 months (depending on your knowledge of German).

  • With the regular residence permit, you will get the permanent residence ("Niederlassungserlaubnis") permit after 5 years. UPDATE valid since 01.03.2020: after 4 years

  • If after some time you will apply for "Daueraufenthalt EU" as a permanent residence permit, former Blue Card holders are allowed to leave Germany for 2 years without losing it (compared to 6 months for "Niederlassungserlaubnis" holders that lived less than 15 years in Germany)

  • If you are a student, and you have a residence permit according to §16 AufenthG, you are not allowed to change the purpose of your stay in Germany until you finish your education. So, you cannot apply for the residence permit for the purpose of employment. However, if you already have another higher education degree, and are just getting second/next higher education degree in Germany, you are allowed to apply for the Blue Card even without getting/finishing your German degree (if you satisfy all Blue Card requirements with your another higher education degree) and without leaving Germany: see page 5 of special notes of the "Federal Ministry of the Interior" (BMI Hochqualifiziertenrichtlinie).

    UPDATE 1: It seems that recent (from 01.08.2017) changes to §16 Abs. 4 may allow changing the residence permit also in case of cancelling the study without getting a degree, if one wants to work in a field where there is a lack of labour force (for example, IT) and his/her qualification is high enough. I.e., one can now try to apply for regular residence permit as well. However, this could very much depend on the particular situation, so I cannot provide any further suggestions on it.

  • Blue Card is issued according to the European law, and it allows you to change the job within EU, so after some time (1-2 years) you can not only change the job, but also the country, and you will also have the right to get the permanent residence permit relatively fast in that new country. The regular residence permit is just for Germany, if you want to change the country within EU, you should check the law of that country and apply for the residence permit there more or less from scratch (and if you satisfy the requirements, you can apply for Blue Card at that country as well).

UPDATE 2: On 01.03.2020 the new law simplifying getting a residence permit for specialists is introduced. However, since it is neither a Blue Card nor "regular Work Permit" from the question, please see my other answer for details: residence permit for IT specialists without a degree

  • How to change Jobs under the Residence Permit / Visa was the question. And for the the regular work permit(not blue card), the only requirement was salary, that's all the Immigration Authorities required from me. Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 8:20
  • 2
    You wrote "I have been researching a lot about the blue card and work permit for the purpose of employment in Germany and so far, I was unable to fully see all differences between the two." My answer exactly explains the differences between these two. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 11:31
  • Hey Andrey, can you provide me any reference to: "However, if you already have another higher education degree, and are just getting second/next higher education degree in Germany, you are allowed to apply for the Blue Card even without getting/finishing your German degree"? I am in the middle of grading for my Master's Thesis and they are not even listening to me. :'/
    – NoorJafri
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 9:03
  • @NoorJafri: thank for the comment, I have updated the broken link in that statement. Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 14:18
  • @AndreySapegin you have no idea, how big a favor you did for me. :)
    – NoorJafri
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 14:45

I just have to add something that it is different if you have a higher education inside Germany. I have masters in Communication and Signal Processing and not recognised as a professional or required/limited career. I work as software developer and I got the 18b not the blue card and still I can apply for permanent residence after 2 years as per the ausländerbehorde.

Internet source confirming this, 1st link

2nd link

Graduates from a German University (§ 18b AufenthG) A non-EU foreigner who graduates from a German University or comparable institution in Germany, may get a permanent residence permit when they have:

held a work permit for at least 2 years after graduation a job that relates to what they studied for (professional qualifications) paid into the federal pension fund (gesetzlichen Rentenversicherung) for at least 24months shown that they can sustain themselves without depending on the government no criminal record at least B1 in German; good knowledge of German had a working permit or had a permit to be self-employed basic knowledge of the legal and social laws and the living conditions in Germany adequate living space.

I hope this helped.

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