Joining my wife in Germany, can I work?

Hi there,

My wife will be starting her PhD university degree in Germany in March.

  • Can I join her on a Family Reunion Visa? We're both non-EU citizens. She has C1 TestDaF but I only have A1.
  • If so, can I become a freelancer (Freiberufler) once I arrive in Germany?
  • If so, I am planning on providing engineering services to a UK-based company. Do I have to charge the company 19% VAT?

Thanks in advance!

A Family Reunion Visa normally allows free access to the labour market (check what yours says, or ask the issuing authority!). But whether you can find a job with that low level of German is questionable - better concentrate on learning the language first!

I understand my German level is poor. Which is one of the reasons why I want to become a freelancer so I can work with English clients abroad.

You can read other discussions on this forum regarding being self-employed. it adds much complexity and, if you are less than fluent in German, cost for professional help. Do not underestimate German buerocracy!

As a spouse of one on a study visa, they can usually work. But if freelancing will be approved is uncertain. Likely they will scrutinize what one intends to do and their qualifications. The other thing is that one needs to put enough money in a blocked German bank account to cover living expense for both – regardless of intent to work or not. Latest required level I know of was 11,207 Euros/person/year. They have no idea if one will succeed and earn money and they don't want people unable to pay their bills.

@TominStuttgart The blocked account requirement seems to not be universal: I had friends who came in a similar constellation - she had a PhH scholarship and he an FRV - and they didn't have to  put down any money. Whether the scholarship made a difference, I don't know, but it was not sufficient for two people, so he needed to work (in lowly paid menial jobs as only choice - and that was a few years ago when the labour market was better for job-seekers).

I have some savings in the bank although I must admit 11.207€ Euros is quite steep.

@danyjr It is just enough for a single person to suvive one year at the poverty line. In reality, you are likely to need more!

I agree but I am planning to work. I'm confident about earning enough, my main concern is whether I will be allowed to work as a Freiberufler.

@danyjr As I said, the formal requirements for self-employment are complex. Do engage a good tax adiser and accountant (at considerable cost) and do not expect the paperwork to be quick or easy!

    I agree but I am planning to work. I'm confident about earning enough, my main concern is whether I will be allowed to work as a Freiberufler.


Simply ask. They will tell you what you might need, if it is allowed. Such things are so individual that nobody here can give you a definite answer even if we had more information.

But of course many jobs have legal requirements as to the qualifications. Then they like to see a business plan. Of course it helps if one has years of experience in a field but the local connctions might be missing. And while some jobs might be doable with limited German, others not. This might not be the work itself but the business end doing marketing, making contracts etc. They don't like to give one a go-ahead if they think it is not really a viable option. One can end up losing more than they make while self-employed.