Work visas for Germany

Work visas for Germany
Updated 2021-10-08 07:39

Do you wish to work in Germany? Note that different conditions and regulations apply to European Union and non-European Union nationals regarding visas. Find out more to be fully prepared to move to Germany to work with ease.

EE-EEA nationals

To work in Germany, citizens of the EU-EEA do not need to apply for a work permit. However, there are mandatory administrative procedures to undertake once in the country. 

To start with, it is important to legalise your status in Germany by applying for a residency certificate (Meldebescheinigung) within eight days after arrival. You can apply for your certificate directly at your local German registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) upon presentation of your Anmeldeformular (proof of residence) duly completed, accompanied by a confirmation from your landlord, a copy of your lease and a valid ID.
This certificate is required for any other administrative procedures such as opening a bank account, registering for health insurance or getting a mobile phone contract.

Once the residency certificate is in your possession, the tax and revenue office will automatically send your tax ID number (Steuerindentifikationsnummer) to your postal address within ten days. The next step is to register with the German tax authorities and apply for an electronic tax card (Lohnsteuerkarte). You can get this card from the tax services of your municipality of residence upon presentation of your residency certificate and a valid ID. Your application for your tax card must be filed at the beginning of your employment contract or just before registration with an employment agency. You will need to submit your tax card to your employer as soon as possible after taking office.

The residency permit (different from the residency certificate) has been abolished for EU-EEA citizens but still mandatory for nationals of other countries. 


If you don't wish to pay church tax, leave the field “religion” empty; otherwise, 8% of your gross income will automatically be paid to the church!

In case you change location within Germany, you will have to re-register in your new city. When you leave the country, you will have to give notice of departure at the local resident's registration office. This is an essential and mandatory step, as failing to de-register may result in high fees.

Non-EU-EEA nationals

To live and work in Germany, non-European citizens must be previously accepted for a work position and apply for a residence permit in the form of a visa at the German embassy or consulate in their home country. This is the first step to enter the country legally. Most times, an employment contract or a valid job offer is necessary to get a visa. This contract can be done during a previous tourist visits in the country, or by searching for a job under the “job seeker visa”.  For more information, contact the German embassy or consulate in your country.
Citizens from certain countries such as the USA, Australia or Canada can enter Germany for up to 90 days on a valid passport and may apply for residency from within the country. The list of visa-exempt countries is available on the Federal Foreign Office website. 

Once in Germany, it is mandatory to register your residency at your local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt). Here you can ask for the application forms for the residency permit. The next step is to contact the local immigration office (Ausländeramt), which will issue a temporary residency permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis).

Nationals from outside the EU-EEA acquire the same rights as German or EU-EEA nationals in the German labour market after several years of continuous residence in the country. A settlement permit for an unlimited period (Niederlassungserlaubnis) can then be issued to highly skilled foreign nationals. For more information, contact the German embassy or consulate in your area. Applicants need to have their university degrees recognised in Germany (which can be checked on the Anabin database).

Employland and Make it in Germany are valuable internet platforms available in both German and English, which help international professionals in finding work in Germany. Besides, they help with understanding professional recognition and the bureaucratic procedures before finding work.

Obtaining a German visa and residence for foreign nationals is not a simple process, and it is important to note that according to the European Union regulations, the Federal agency for work (Budesagentur für Arbeit) needs to approve that a specific work position cannot be filled by a German or European citizen. This process includes posting an advertisement by the job seeker that provides for specific requirements for that job and a check in the register for unemployed people in that area that suit the position. An employer determined to get a specific worker, can bypass this procedure by explaining the specific skills that his preferred worker has, by checking the minimum pay requirements, and by posting a narrow advertisement that requires the knowledge that cannot be easily substituted.

Germany offers different job visas, such as:

  • Jobseeker visa, which allows nationals to stay in Germany for up to 6 months, a period in which they can find a job and apply for it directly from Germany. The main requirements for this visa are having a recognised education (in the Anabin database), more than five years of work experience, proof of sufficient funds for this period, and medical insurance. The requirements for this are of course to find a job that is paid sufficiently to enter in the requirements for a blue card visa.
  • Visa for qualified workers and a Blue card visa have mostly similar requirements. The Blue-Card visa is open for non-EU citizens that are highly skilled and earn between €41,808 and €53,600 per year, depending on the profession. The visa for qualified workers requires an accepted high education (in Anabin) and sufficient pay according to the Ausländeramt (the German Immigration offices).
  • Work visa is a visa that does not have a specific high salary limit but requires controls by the Ausländeramt (a procedure done for the visa for qualified workers too), that no German, or European citizen can substitute the foreigner looking for a visa. This procedure, even though seems almost impossible, can be done if the company hiring beforehand posts an advertisement stating the specific requirements, that might, just luckily belong only to the desired candidate in need of a visa. The second issue with this visa is that the procedures are much slower than the other visa applications.
  • There are some other options like visa for volunteering or for freelance, which have their own requirements, information about them is available in the German embassies
  • Another option to get a work visa in Germany is if you already work in a German company in your country. This is called Intra-Corporate Transfer (ICT) and serves as a temporary deployment of staff of companies located outside the European Union to a host entity within the EU. The main requirement for this is obtaining a German visa, information for which are available in your German Diplomatic Mission. One of the most important rules are: Being employed by the company for at least six months; the duration of the transfer must be at least 90 days; the transferees must be employed in the host entity in Germany as managers, specialists or trainees; evidence of professional qualifications, a valid contract of employment, and lastly, an approval from the Federal Employment Agency

 Good to know:

Applications for a residency certificate and a tax card are compulsory for non-EU-EEA citizens. For more information, see the section above “EU-EEA nationals”. Please note that employees at the registration offices may only speak German. Prepare your vocabulary or ask a German speaker to accompany you.

Working Holiday Visa for Germany

Nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand can travel to Germany within the framework of the working holiday visa. The working holiday visa is designed for young people aged between 18 and 30 years old wishing to work, study (not more than three consecutive months) or travel within Germany for a period up to 1 year. Visa requirements, conditions, restrictions, minimum age, length of stay and fees may vary according to your country of origin. In general, it is necessary to be the holder of a valid passport issued in one of the above-mentioned countries, have sufficient financial guarantees to sustain oneself in the country, be in possession of valid return tickets, have a minimum study level and some knowledge of German (except if the purpose of the stay is to take German classes). The application must be filed in a German embassy or consulate abroad. Fees for the visa apply. For more information about the WHV in Germany, contact the German embassy or consulate in your area. 

 Useful links: 

Federal Immigration Office - Work permit
Federal Immigration Office - Work and study in Germany 
Make it in Germany - EU Blue Card 
German Embassy in Ottawa - The Working Holiday Program
German Missions in the USA
Working Holiday Visa (Auswärtiges Amt)

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