Most Blue Card holders still living in Germany after five years

Fri 28th Jul, 2023

From 2012 to 2022, according to an analysis by the Ausländerzentralregisters (Central Register of Foreigners), nearly 200,000 academic professionals from non-EU countries received a Blue Card for the first time. The Statistical Federal Office (Destatis) reports that 83% of those who obtained this residence permit between 2012 and 2017 continued to live in Germany after five years. In comparison, international students (55%) had a lower retention rate after five years, indicating that Blue Card holders have a higher likelihood of staying in Germany. The Blue Card, also known as the "Blaue Karte EU," was introduced in 2012 to attract academic professionals from non-EU countries.

After five years, the majority of Blue Card holders obtain an unrestricted settlement permit.

Nearly 68,900 individuals received a Blue Card for the first time between 2012 and 2017. Among them, the majority held Indian citizenship (22.4%), followed by individuals with Chinese (8.7%) or Russian (7.5%) citizenship.

After five years, a significant proportion of those who received the Blue Card for the first time obtained a settlement permit (59.9%). Another 11.3% were naturalized, 9.0% continued to hold a Blue Card, and 3.1% had another type of residence permit. However, 16.7% were no longer living in Germany.

Approximately one-fourth of international students have a permanent residence right after ten years.

In comparison to Blue Card holders, international students had a lower retention rate. Approximately 219,600 international students received their first residence permit for study purposes in Germany between 2006 and 2012. The majority of them were Chinese nationals (19.6%), followed by individuals with American (6.9%) and Russian (6.4%) citizenship.

After five years, 55% of former international students continued to live in Germany, and after ten years, the number reduced to 46%. Among those who remained in Germany, individuals with a permanent settlement permit or naturalized citizens constituted the largest group. Therefore, around one-fourth (24.8%) of the original 219,600 students had a permanent right of residence through German citizenship or a settlement permit after ten years. The second-largest group consisted of individuals with a temporary residence permit for employment purposes (5.7%).

Methodological Notes:

The results concerning international students have been revised due to the introduction of a new methodology for longitudinal analyses from the Central Register of Foreigners, as stated in Press Release No. 435 dated October 12, 2022. The new methodology and revised results will be presented in an article in the "WISTA - Wirtschaft und Statistik" journal, Issue 4/2023, in August 2023. The methodological adjustments mainly address how late registrations, applications, and the category "Other" are handled, resulting in higher retention rates for the cohort. For the cohort from 2006 to 2011, the new methodology shows a retention rate of 54% after five years (previously 48%) and 45% after ten years (previously 38%).

The information is based on a special analysis of the Central Register of Foreigners. The Federal Statistical Office receives annual register extracts as of December 31 for statistical processing. Since 2006, longitudinal analyses have been possible based on these annual data extracts. However, intra-year changes between the reference dates cannot be considered in the longitudinal analysis.

Individuals who were registered with a residence permit in the previous year and were removed from the register in the following year are considered naturalized citizens. In some cases, this may include corrections of erroneous data entries, albeit to a minor extent.


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