How to Get a Blue Card Not Attached to a Specific Employer in Hamburg Germany

David Germain
4 min readJan 12, 2022
Image by jackmac34

With the normal blue card, if you want to switch jobs, you must first submit paperwork to the government, and they must approve it before you can start working at the new job. Otherwise, you’re probably working illegally; and approval can take a month or more. If you had the blue card that was not attached to a specific employer, then you could start working at a new job immediately.

In Hamburg, after two years of contributing to the pension system, blue card holders are eligible for the special version. In my opinion, this option is better.

It gives you more freedom. Previously, while interviewing for jobs, one thing I would keep in mind was, “Is this company aware of the process for hiring a blue card holder?” Larger companies generally had a dedicated HR department and understood it well, but start-ups typically didn’t know; especially if all of the employees were EU member citizens.

This wasn’t a big deal, but them not knowing put everything solely on me; I had to manage the process and their expectations about when I could start. Constantly saying, “I cannot begin to work until my blue card is updated” and “I completed x step; I estimate it will take x longer.”

Not having to do that anymore is great. You’re no longer at a disadvantage compared to other candidates. And it reduces the total stress during job transitions, which is nice.

From my understanding, there is one possible downside to this extra freedom. Since the government isn’t actively verifying that the job fulfills the requirements for the blue card, mainly the salary requirements, mistakes may go unnoticed. In that situation, I’m not really sure what would happen. But now is an appropriate moment to mention: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.

How to Know Which Version I Have?

When you were issued your blue card, there was probably also a green paper titled additional sheet for the residence permit (Zusatzblatt zum Aufenthaltstitel zur Aufenthaltskarte zur Aufenthaltserlaubnis.) In one of the sections it should say whether or not it is restricted to a specific company.

The document below says “Beschäftigung nur erlaubt als” which translates to “Employment only allowed as.” And then lists the job title and company name.

The normal blue card additional document.

In contrast, the document below simply says “Beschäftigung erlaubt” which translates to “Employment allowed.” This one is therefore not tied to a specific job title or company.

The cool blue card additional document.

How to Get the Cool Blue Card?

Assuming you have worked at least 24 months, then the process is pretty easy. And it can be done at any time, even if you aren’t actively searching for a new job.

Step 1: Prepare

You need proof that you contributed into the pension system or whatever. To easily get this information, you can go to this website, the online portal for pension insurance, and request the insurance history document (Versicherungsverlauf.) You will receive a letter in the mail.

Step 2: Submit

The Welcome Center helps professionals with blue cards. You can write an email to them in English. The main thing to say is, “from my understanding, it is possible to get a blue card that is not tied to a specific employer. Attached is my pension proof. Would you be able to help me with this? Thanks”

Step 3: Wait

Normally they reply pretty quickly, but currently with Covid-19, I have experienced wait times of about a month.

Step 4: Collect

Generally, at this point, they will offer you an appointment to update your new blue card. They may ask you to bring some additional documents. When I went, they didn’t ask for the insurance history; I think they were able to check it within their system, but when I originally emailed them, they told me I needed to bring it, so better safe than sorry, I guess. 🤷 Feel free to let me know your experiences in the comments.

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