France and Germany are both highly sought after destinations for higher studies by international students. France has 31 entrants in the QS World University rankings for 2020, 10 of which rank amongst the world’s top 300 while Germany has the honor of having one university ranked among the world’s best in every major city. 13 German universities are ranked among the world’s top 250 and 30 are ranked among the top 500. The numbers are evidence enough that both these countries are established members of the elite higher education club in the world.
France and Germany are both members of the EU as well, an organization that comprises 27 member countries, and was founded to ease the passage of people, goods and information between these nations. This also means that students looking to settle down in these countries after their studies have options available to them that they won’t find anywhere else in the world. This article seeks to provide information regarding the EU Blue Card and other permanent residency options for students looking to stay back in France and Germany after completing their studies.
Residency in Europe – EU Blue Card
An EU Blue Card functions as a residence permit for qualified candidates from non-EU countries to enter and remain in the EU country of their choice to seek employment. The permit will allow you to enter, re-enter and stay in the country that issued your card for as long as it is valid. EU Blue Card holders are treated the same way as citizens of the country where they have settled but they can only look for employment in their chosen fields. The EU Blue Card is one of the primary avenues towards gaining permanent residence in the EU for foreign graduates. The following countries issue EU Blue Cards:
- Czech Republic
The EU Blue Card is highly sought after due to the benefits it provides like long-term validity, freedom of movement within the EU, opportunity to bring your family over and a gateway to eventual permanent residence in the issuing country. This is why many international students aim to qualify for the EU Blue Card after they graduate. However, students should be wary as employers often ask for proof of work experience along with relevant university qualifications. Read Study in Germany after 12
International students cannot apply for an EU Blue Card if they are still under the duration of their student visa. But, if you find a job during your studies that fulfils the eligibility criteria for the EU Blue Card, you can submit your application as soon as you finish your degree. If you don’t find a job during your studies, you can still apply for a residence permit that will allow you to stay back in the country for 12-18 months (depending on your host country’s rules and regulations) that will let you find a job. The eligibility criteria for EU Blue Card for students are:
- Your country should be on the list of eligible countries for the EU Blue Card.
- You must have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an EU university or a recognized institute abroad.
- You must have at least 5 years of work experience in the field relevant to your job application. Work experience can sometimes substitute for university degrees, but in the majority of cases, employers ask for work experience along with relevant qualifications.
- Your work contract or job offer should be for at least one year for a position that requires skilled qualifications or there’s a shortage of EU candidates for the position. Your employer also has to show proof that they advertised the position intensely within the EU for 10 days minimum.
- You must have a salary that is 1.5 times the national average of your host country. For positions that are undergoing a skill shortage, the salary requirement is 1.2 times the national average.
- You must have been paying health insurance costs and relevant social taxes and fees in your host country.
You have to submit the application for the card from within the EU state you want to work in. Depending on your location, you will have to go to the relevant authority to start the process. For example, if you are applying for a card from Germany, you will have to submit your application at the Foreigners Registration Office or Ausländerbehörde. Read Study in France in English
Benefits of EU Blue Card
The following are some of the benefits of the EU Blue Card:
- Long-term Validity – The Blue Card is issued for a period of 4 years at a time, depending upon the duration of your work contract/offer.
- Freedom of Movement – You can freely travel to all EU countries as a tourist for 90 days in a 6-month period. You can also remain out of the country for a year without risking losing your residency permit.
- Family Reunification – An EU Blue Card also allows you to bring your immediate family with you and allows them to work in any occupation with a work permit and they do not have to pass a language proficiency test to join you.
- Permanent Residency – You can apply for a full permanent residency in your EU host state after 33 months. This time limit is reduced to 21 months if you can show B1 level language proficiency in the official language of your host country.
Residency in Europe – Long Term EU Residence Permit
The EU long-term residence permit allows permanent residence to foreign nationals who have lived in an EU country for more than 5 years. An EU residence permit is valid until further notice. In other words, its period of validity is not limited. To apply for an EU residence permit as a foreign national, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- You must have been living in the EU country you are applying to for a period of 5 years.
- You have to demonstrate sufficient financial resources to support yourself and any dependents that might be living with you.
- You need to demonstrate B1 or higher level of language proficiency in the official language of the country you are applying to.
- You must have basic knowledge of the legal and social system of your host country.
- You must have sufficient and legal living accommodations for yourself and any dependents that might be accompanying you.
You need to apply for a long-term EU residence permit at the immigration offices of the country you are residing in and the application process should be done while your current temporary residence permit/visa is still valid. Since there is no interview during the application process for this permit, your chances of success in securing it depend upon the documents you submit during the process. The mandatory documents required during the application process are:
- A valid passport
- One photo according to the Schengen photo rules
- Color copies of the passport pages that show all your personal information along with any stickers or stamps you might have attached within.
- Evidence of your residence within the country for 5 years; the following certificates are applicable:
- A valid registration certificate from when you arrived in the country
- Evidence of residence like utility bills and rental contracts
- Evidence such as pay slips, bank statements, tax returns etc.
- Proof of income in the form of your work contract, bank statements etc
- Proof of accommodation in the form of a rental contract or home ownership documents
- Proof of health insurance
Please note that these are only common requirements for the EU in general. Some member countries may have a few additional requirements that change based on the category of the applicant. Ensure that you have all the correct information and documents ready before you begin the application process.
The long term permit’s validity changes according to the rules of your host country but in the majority of cases, the permit is renewed automatically at the end of each year without you having to fulfil any conditions or requirements.
Note: There is also a variation in the cost of an EU long-term residence permit between the different countries. For example, applicants in the Netherlands need to EUR 171, while Germany only charges a fee of EUR 109.
Residency in Europe – Germany Permanent Settlement Permit
A permanent settlement permit grants you the primary benefit of being able to legally reside within Germany for an extended period of time. The main conditions that you have to fulfill in order to be eligible for this permit are as follows:
- The applicant must have been residing in Germany for a period of 5 years with a legal temporary residence permit.
- The applicant is financially independent and capable of supporting themselves and any dependents.
- The applicant must have paid contributions towards the German statutory pension schemes and paid all taxes for at least 5 years.
- The applicant can demonstrate B1 level or higher proficiency in the German language.
- The applicant must possess a basic understanding of the legal and social systems of the country.
- The applicant has a legal living space for themselves.
These requirements are not strict and there are a number of cases where an exemption can be made. Some of the requirements for exemption are:
- You are in possession of a valid EU Blue Card
- You have completed your higher education from a German university
- You are a highly qualified professional with relevant work experience
You will need to make an appointment with the German Foreigners Registration Office to start the application process. Please note that they do not entertain walk-ins and you must schedule an appointment. The required documents for the application are given below:
1. Germany Settlement Permit application form which includes questions on your identity, time spent in Germany and your occupation etc.
2. Valid passport which you will have to submit to the German authorities while your application is being processed.
3. A photo taken within the last 3 months and adhering to the official guidelines set forth in your application form.
4. Proof of sufficient income which depends on your employment status:
If you are a full time employee
- Work contract
- Statement from your employer confirming you work there
- Pay slips of the last 6 months
- An overview of social security payments
If you are self-employed or a freelancer
- Most recent tax return
- An audit report form a licensed tax consultant
5. Proof of health insurance from either a public or private provider
6. Proof that you are paying into the pension system
7. Proof of a registered address
8. Rental agreement with your landlord or purchase proof of property
9. German language certificate with an exam grade showing B1 level of proficiency or higher
When you submit your application for a permanent residence permit you will also have to sit with an interview with the officials at the registration office. The interview usually lasts 15-20 minutes with the interviewer asking you questions regarding your application and background.
Note: The cost of a permanent residence permit is EUR 135 but there are different prices for self-employed people who need to pay a fee of EUR 200 and highly-qualified people who need to pay a fee of EUR 250.
Residency in Europe – France Permanent Settlement Permit
The options for securing a permanent residence permit for France depends upon whether you are applying for the first time for a resident permit in France or you have renewed a residence permit prior. Based on the above, you have the following options available to you:
Carte de Sejour– Carte de Sejour is a residence permit for people who are entering France under a French long-stay visa and who will have to:
- Validate their visa to serve as a residence permit (VLS TS)
- Or will have to apply for a residence permit within 3 months of their arrival in France
Carte de Resident – Carte de Resident is a permit for spouses of French citizens, parents of a French-born child, expats retiring in France or those who have renewed their carte de sejour for more than 3 years in a row.
EU Blue Card – The EU Blue card is a permit that allows foreign nationals from outside the EU to enter and remain in France to work and explore career opportunities in their chosen fields for a period of up to 3 years with an option to extend the stay further.
You will have to apply for a residence permit while you are still living in France. If your French long stay visa has the words “carte de séjour à solliciter” stamped on it, you will have to apply for a residence permit within 2 months of your arrival in France. If your French visa has the following text stamped on it: “CESEDA R.311-3”, you will need to get in touch with the Office Francais de I‘Immigration et de I‘Integration (OFFI) as soon as you are on French soil.
To apply for a French residence permit, you will need to have the following documents ready for submission along with the application form that your local French authorities will provide:
- Your valid passport with the French long-stay visa stamp
- A copy of all pages of your passport with stamps and stickers
- Birth Certificate produced in your country of origin
- Two photographs that adhere to the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standards
- Proof of residence in the form of utility bills, statement of domicile, rent receipt etc.
- Proof of income
- Proof of medical insurance
- If you have a spouse you will have to submit a copy of your marriage certificate
- You will also have to provide translations of all documents that are not in French
Residency in Europe – FAQs
Q. What are the benefits of an EU Blue Card?
As a holder of the EU Blue card, you will find the following benefits available to you:
1. Equal work and salary conditions to EU citizens
2. Freedom of movement throughout the EU
3. Social rights like access to education, health services etc.
4. Ability to bring your family with you
5. Permanent-residency rights
Q. Can I get permanent residency through the EU Blue Card?
Yes, you can. You must work for a period of 33 months in your host country or for 21 months in case you achieve a B1 level of language proficiency. Also, if you work in a variety of EU member states and gain 5 years of work experience, you will find your chances of securing a permanent residency increase exponentially.