From college graduates to seasoned professionals, many people are choosing to work in Germany for their overflowing opportunities and benefits. The country has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the European Union and is the only country in Europe that supports 99% of small to medium-sized businesses.
The German economy is thriving, indeed, making it an attractive destination to start a career. You can expect fair wages, extensive employees’ rights, and work-life balance. Most German states encourage employees to a Bildungsurlaub, or educational leave, which truly displays the growth mindset of the country.
With all these advantages and more, it’s not surprising if you intend to work and live in Germany soon. You can start reviewing the requirements to avail work visa in Germany below.
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Do I need a work visa in Germany?
If you’re a citizen of EU/EEA countries, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein, you don’t need a work visa but have to register their residence upon arrival in Germany. If you’re from the USA, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and Israel, you don’t need a work visa, either, but have to apply for a residence permit at the nearest Foreigners Office.
If you’re from neither of the countries mentioned, you’ll have to apply for both a work visa and a resident permit for work purposes.
What are the requirements to apply for a work visa in Germany?
If you’re from a country that requires a German work visa, bear in mind that you should already have received an offer of employment and meet the eligibility criteria. Afterward, you can prepare for the documentary requirements.
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have adequate qualification (e.g. Bachelor or Master’s degree from a German or recognized foreign university)
- Proof of financial stability for the duration of stay (according to the European Commission, at least 45€ per day)
- Two completed application forms, printed and signed
- Two passport photographs taken in the last three months
- Passport issued within the last 10 years and valid for three more months
- Round-trip flight itinerary
- Proof of qualification (e.g. CV, diplomas, certificates)
- Personal cover letter stating the intended purpose
- Proof of clean criminal record
- Proof of civil status
- Proof of paid visa fees
- Health insurance from a German company
- A signed contract or binding job offer with details on salary and employment description
- Approval of the Federal Employment agency (if applicable)
Having a future employer upon application can streamline the work visa application process, while you must have internationally recognized qualifications when entering Germany as a skilled or professional job-seeker. To check your qualifications, visit the information portal of Germany for foreign qualifications.
Steps on Applying for a Work Visa in Germany
Work visas are a form of long-stay visas, so you’ll be seeking a national visa (D visa for longer periods) than Schengen visas (short visits of up to three months).
Applying for a German work visa has a similar procedure to other German long-stay visas.
To apply from your home country, you can start by following the steps below:
1. Complete the Requirements
Make sure you collect the requirements and documents listed above. Do note that the whole work visa application can be iterative at times, meaning some of the requirements are only completed as you go through the process.
2. Request an appointment with the German embassy
Book an appointment with the German representative bodies in your country that’s responsible for processing visa applications. These may be the German embassy or the German consulate in your country of residence. If you’re unsure where to find a German diplomatic mission, you can find more information on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.
Most consulates have online services, so if you find a German work visa application form similar to this, you can answer in advance, have them printed, and bring them to your appointment. Germany is currently working on biometric procedures that they will introduce gradually per region.
If you plan to bring your family with you later, you can already submit their applications at the same time. However, you must have enough funds for your family’s living costs, and your spouse and family members over 16 must learn a certain level of German beforehand.
3. Attend the Interview
On the day of your appointment, make sure to be on time for the interview. Bring all the necessary documents with you, especially the completed visa application forms. An interview takes around 15 minutes where an officer will review your files and advise you on the processing time.
After you submit your application, make sure to pay the application fee of a total of €75. This fee is not reimbursable in the event that your visa application is unsuccessful. You can pay in local currency at the German mission in your country of residence.
4. Plan your trip to Germany
It may take one to three months for your German work visa to be granted, but once issued, you can begin planning your trip to the country. It is best to bring all your personal documents, such as your birth certificate, school or vocational documents, driver’s license, and marriage certificate, in addition to work-related documents.
At this stage, you have to verify that your health insurance is already valid on your first day of arrival in Germany.
5. Apply for a Residence Permit
Upon your arrival in Germany, your visa will remain valid for six months. At this time, you have to apply for a residence permit that corresponds to your work visa in Germany. Find the nearest Foreigners Authority and register your German address, and depending on your purpose, you will be granted a Temporary Residence Permit for Employment Purposes.
A temporary residence permit is valid and/or extendable, as long as your employment contract and status do not change. After five continuous years of working and obtaining advanced-level German, you can get a Permanent Residence Permit.
For highly skilled professionals, an EU Blue Card is granted instead of a temporary residence permit, as long as they meet certain requirements, such as professional qualifications and the gross annual salary.
I hope that this article on how to apply for a work visa in Germany was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Scholarships Page!