BlueCard-Holder: Starting a Side-Business?


I have completed a PhD (Dr.-Ing.) in Germany and I am now interested in using some of the skills I have developed to build a small side-business together with German and other colleagues. Unfortunately, I have a BlueCard visa, which specifically forbids self-employment. Nevertheless, I am fully employed at another German company and do not intend to quit this position. Does the BlueCard prevent me from founding a company (UG) to conduct these side activities or does the self-employment restriction only apply, if I wanted to be fully self-employed? If the former is true, then what qualifications must I have to apply for a residence permit? And what are the steps I must take?


Thank you for your inquiry and your interest in setting up a business in Germany. Make it in Germany provides international professionals with information on working and living in Germany. Detailed information on setting up a business is available on “Make it in Germany”.

Please consider the following information on residence requirements:
As a third country national, in order to set up your own business you will need a residence permit allowing you to exercise a self-employed activity (“selbstständige Tätigkeit”). This may be a residence permit according to §21 Immigration Law / “AufenthG” or a permanent settlement permit.

As a holder of the EU Blue Card the following applies to you:

  • The EU Blue Card is tied to a specific employment with a particular employer for the first two years of residence. Any highly-qualified employment can be taken up subsequently to this. Self-employment, however, is not permitted (Source: BAMF)
  • Settlement permit: Anyone holding an EU Blue Card can apply for a settlement permit after just 33 months if they exercised skilled employment during that time. If you have an EU Blue Card and also have sufficient command of the German language, i.e. at least Level B1, this period is reduced to just 21 months – under two years. More information you will find on „Make it in Germany“. Holding a settlement permit, any kind of employment is permitted.

To clarify if your current / or future residence status allows you to start a business in Germany we recommend you to contact your foreigners’ authority (“Ausländerbehörde”).

For personal advice regarding visa issues or residence permit, you can also contact the “Hotline Working and Living in Germany” under the telephone number +49 30 1815 – 1111.

Reference: Justina Godesberg
Projekt „Make it in Germany“
Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln e.V.
Dezember 2020

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