Employment in Germany: how to get a work permit for a foreigner
Germany is a great choice for expats looking for career opportunities. This country offers many job opportunities for foreigners. Find out more about which citizens of which countries need a work permit to work in Germany, what types of work permits are approved, and how the Germany work permit procedure works for foreigners
Germany has the largest number of immigrants in Europe and the second largest number of expats in the world. Currently, more than 10 million foreigners live here. Most often, citizens of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Russia receive a German work visa. Also, many Europeans have settled in the country and there are good reasons for this: Germany has one of the most developed and stable economies in the world, a high standard of living and free education. The country is also a world leader in the automotive industry, financial services, pharmaceuticals and technology.
In addition, the shortage of qualified personnel in Germany is more than 40%, and the average age of its citizens is 47 years. These factors create ideal conditions for professional immigration. While EU citizens enjoy freedom of movement within the Schengen area, representatives of the rest of the world must obtain a work permit to move to Germany.
Read in detail about the types of work permits in Germany and the procedure for issuing the document in our material.
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What types of work permits are approved in Germany?
In Germany, there are different categories of work permits that depend on your qualifications and type of employment:
● General work permit – this type of German work permit can be obtained by foreigners who have found a job in Germany in a position that belongs to the category of those who are in demand (so-called "positivliste"). You do not need to be a highly skilled worker to obtain this type of permit.
Requirements for the worker:
- Official job offer in Germany.
- Vacancy, which is included in the list that is in demand.
- Higher professional education, which is equivalent to German.
- Sufficient command of the German language.
● Highly Skilled Worker Permit – You can apply for this type of work permit if you are a highly skilled worker with significant work experience and relevant skills.
● EU Blue Card – highly qualified workers whose salary will be at least 56,400 euros per year or 43,992 euros per year if you work in scarce jobs can apply for this permit: doctors, engineers, IT specialists, mathematicians and scientists.
● Work permit for freelancers – this type of permit can be issued by foreigners who are freelancers or self-employed persons, subject to the availability of potential clients.
Citizens of which countries need a permit to work in Germany?
● Employees who are citizens of EU countries, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland
If you are a citizen of the EU, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland, you do not need to apply for a visa or a work permit in Germany. The only thing that needs to be done is to register your stay if you plan to stay in Germany for more than three months. To do this, visit your local residence registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) or immigration office (Ausländerbehörde).
● Specialists from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan or South Korea
Citizens of these countries can come to Germany without a visa, find work and apply for a work and residence permit directly at the Ausländerbehörde.
● Citizens of the rest of the world
If you come from a country that does not belong to one of the above categories, the procedure for obtaining a work permit will be a little more complicated, you need:
1. Find a job.
2. Apply for an entry visa for the purpose of employment at the German embassy in the country of residence.
3. Come to Germany and obtain a work and residence permit from the Ausländerbehörde.
You do not need to apply for a work permit in Germany separately from your residence permit. You get these two documents from the German Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde).
Importantly! You cannot enter Germany on a Schengen visa or visa-free visa and apply for a work permit. The procedure for obtaining a document begins with the registration of a work visa in the country of origin. How to get a German work visa we told earlier.
The procedure for obtaining a work permit in Germany
After entering Germany, you must apply for a single work and residence permit to the German immigration authorities (Ausländerbehörde):
● Step 1 – Register your residential address at your local Bürgeramt.
Once you have found accommodation in Germany and moved there, you must contact your local resident registration office (Bürgeramt) and register your address. To do this, make an appointment, prepare the necessary package of documents (lease agreement, confirmation from the landlord that you have moved in at your address, a valid passport), fill out an application and receive a document on registration of the place of residence. It is usually issued on the day the application is submitted.
● Step 2 – Take out a health insurance policy
In order to obtain a work and residence permit in Germany, an expat must provide a valid health insurance policy. You will be able to register with the German public health service after obtaining a residence and work permit in Germany.
● Step 3 – Book an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde
Depending on the region of residence, find the website of the Ausländerbehörde office and follow the instructions for making an appointment. Upon completion of the procedure, you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing the date and time of the meeting, the address and the queue number.
● Step 4 – Prepare the necessary list of documents
Approximate list of documents for obtaining a work permit in Germany:
- valid passport;
- 2 photos;
- application form for obtaining a residence permit, in German - Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels;
- a declaration on labor relations, which is filled out by the employer;
- an employment contract or an offer of employment, which must specify your position, duration of work, as well as the amount of salary;
- certificate of registration of the place of residence;
- housing lease agreement together with written confirmation of the place of residence from the lessor;
- document on education (diploma) - original and copy;
- confirmation of medical insurance;
- resume (Curriculum Vitae);
- bank statements;
- any other documents that the Ausländerbehörde may require.
Importantly! Professional and legal restrictions apply to some specialties in Germany. For example, medical or educational workers must provide proof of qualifications. You can find a detailed list of professions that need to go through the diploma confirmation procedure at the link.
● Step 5 – Apply for a work and residence permit at the Ausländerbehörde.
Once you have collected all the necessary documents, come to the Ausländerbehörde on the appointed day. The procedure for issuing a permit will take several weeks from the moment of application submission. If the waiting period is longer than the validity of your visa, this is not a problem, because the fact that you are waiting for a decision makes your stay in Germany legal.
Therefore, the procedure for obtaining a work permit in Germany consists of several stages and requires the preparation of a certain list of documents. A migration lawyer will help you understand all the intricacies of German legislation. Order a consultation of highly qualified specialists using the link.
After receiving the work permit, you can start working in Germany.
Products from Visit World for a comfortable trip:
Checklist for obtaining a visa and necessary documents in Germany;
Legal advice for business in Germany;
Immigration lawyer services in Germany;
Insurance for foreign students in Germany.
We monitor the accuracy and relevance of our information. Therefore, if you see any error or discrepancy, please write to our hotline.
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