Turks are second only to Indians in the number of people who have qualified for Germany’s Blue Card program, part of an EU initiative that allows highly skilled workers from non-EU countries to live and work in member states, Deutsche Welle’s Turkish edition (DW Türkçe) reported on Wednesday.
In 2022 India and Turkey emerged as the top two sources of skilled labor migration, initially granted a four-year residence and work permit that can lead to permanent status.
According to Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), the Blue Card is an advantageous means to obtain residence and work permits, offering unlimited rights and simplified family reunification processes.
To qualify for a Blue Card in Germany, an individual must possess a recognized diploma, either from a German institution or validated by relevant authorities within Germany. Income requirements are set at an annual gross salary of at least 58,400 euros, although professions with staff shortages may allow for a lower threshold.
In 2022 the Blue Card saw an influx of 89,000 immigrants in Germany, an increase of 20,000 over the previous year. India led with 26,000 individuals, followed by Turkey with 5,900 and Russian citizens with 5,500.
The EU Blue Card, applicable in 25 of the 27 EU countries –excluding Denmark and Ireland — was designed to fill gaps in fields such as IT, mathematics, health and engineering. Germany has been actively lowering the required income level to attract more qualified labor.
The success of the Blue Card program is obvious in its decade-long history, with 200,000 academics applying for work and residence permits in Germany since 2012. The largest share of entries has come from India, at 22.4 percent, followed by China at 8.7 percent, Russia at 7.5 percent and a notable increase from Turkey in recent years.
The German government’s new regulations to ease arrivals aim to address the country’s shortage of skilled workers, especially critical with the anticipated retirement of a high birth rate generation. Experts estimate that Germany needs to attract 400,000 immigrants annually to close the labor gap.
Turkey’s increasing brain drain, particularly in the medical community, has become a contentious issue.
Critics accuse Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of undermining academic freedom and failing to support scientific endeavors since taking power as a single-party government in 2002.
A recent report by the Turkish Informatics Foundation (TBV) illustrates the trend of top talent leaving the country, while less productive researchers are more likely to return, exacerbating concerns over the country’s ability to maintain its scientific and academic competitiveness on the global stage.