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I've already seen the questions Do I need a degree in IT to apply for an EU Blue Card as a software engineer or is any degree enough? and What's my degree worth in Germany?. Both answers state that you'd have to get your degree recognized in order to work as a software engineer in Germany.

However, on DAAD's website, there's a document (page 5) stating that for "IT specialists" and "language teachers", there's no need for any degree at all:

For jobs requiring qualified professional training, approval may be issued for qualified workers with a recognised degree or a foreign university degree equivalent to a German university degree (Section 27 No. 1 Employment Regulation), to IT specialists (Section 27 No. 2 Employment Regulation) or language teachers (Section 26 Employment Regulation).

Also, in the question Blue Card vs Regular Work Permit for IT Specialists, the OP states he already works as an "IT specialist" on a regular work permit in Germany but doesn't have any degree. So I'm quite confused.

One explanation I've come up with is that to apply for a Blue Card you do still need a degree, while to apply for a regular German work permit you don't need a degree. I'm not sure if such an interpretation of the above information makes much sense.

Also, I'm not sure what the term "IT specialist" exactly means. It seems that any software engineer should classify but I can't find the place where an exact definition is given.

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    For most (if not all) IT jobs in Germany, there is no legal requirement for any degree – it is entirely a matter of convincing the employer that you can do the job to their satisfaction, and it is quite common to find people working in various IT jobs without a formal IT qualification. Unless there is an explicit requirement for a degree in order to get a Blue Card (which I cannot answer), you wouldn't need formal proof of a degree, other than to convince your future employer. – user149408 Jun 6 '16 at 20:25
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One explanation I've come up with is that to apply for a Blue Card you do still need a degree, while to apply for a regular German work permit you don't need a degree

This is partly right. A degree is not necessarily needed. However, it still could be that you need to have a degree to apply for any of these 2 types of residence permits.

Historically, in Germany, there was a regular residence permit for workers that is issued according to §18 AufenthG. Then, after the EU introduced the Blue Card, a new paragraph was added to the immigration law: §19a AufenthG.

Also, §19 in general describes the residence permit for highly-qualified persons (who are expected to have higher education), while §18 describes the residence permit for all kinds of workers in general.

So, these paragraphs have different requirements and benefits (and I strongly advise you to dig into both of them). To get a Blue Card, a university degree is mandatory (please see details here, but it could indeed have been updated since 2013). Theoretically, according to §18a, to get a residence permit for workers, 3 years of working experience could be enough (even without a degree), if you were already in Germany before you apply for it. Another option to get a residence permit for workers without having a degree could be an agreement between Germany and another country, or individual permission (§ 18 Abs. 3 AufenthG).

If yo do not have any kind of degree after school, and if there is no special agreement between your country and Germany, it could be more complicated but maybe still possible for you to get a residence permit as a worker. This now slowly becomes too complicated for me to dig into German laws at this point, so please double check the following on your own:

If you apply for the regular residence permit for workers, in most cases, your application will be checked by a kind of job center (Bundesagentur für Arbeit), to check if you do not compete with Germans on the job market. For IT, there is a high demand for workers right now, so such a check should not be a problem, if you have a degree.

And if you do not have a degree, as far as I understand from § 18 Abs. 3 and §42 AufenthG, you can still get the permission after your qualifications are checked, but I'm not sure about it. Probably, for an IT position, you still have chances to get it, if you got a job offer already.

P.S. I'm not a lawyer.

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