Do I need a contract? Can I arrive without knowing German? Do you need to have a lot of money to start? Am I going alone or am I going with my whole family? Obtaining the necessary visa to go to Germany will depend on many factors and is different for each case. Many people do not even need to obtain a visa to travel to the country. Here we explain some aspects to start a new life in Germany.
Who needs to obtain a work visa?
Citizens of EU or EFTA countries
If you are an EU citizen with the right to free movement, you will have unlimited access to the German labor market. You will not need a visa or residence permit to enter Germany or to work in this country. You also won’t need them if you are coming from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland (EFTA countries). All you need to enter the country is a valid ID or comparable proof of identity.
Approval of qualifications: This will depend on your profession. The EU Directive for professional qualifications recognition states that professional qualifications are generally recognized as equivalent in the EU Member States.
As an EU citizen, after an uninterrupted and lawful stay of at least five years in another EU country, you will automatically obtain the right of permanent residence in that country. As proof of this, you can obtain a permanent residence card. This can be practical when carrying out administrative procedures or in front of the authorities. In some particular cases, you can even obtain your permanent resident before the five years if you satisfy some requirements such as if you are retired and have worked in Germany for the last year or have lived there for three years in a row, if you have stopped working due to disability and have lived in the country for two years in a row, and others.
Citizens of non-EU and non-EFTA countries
- Citizens of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States can also travel to Germany without a visa and, before starting work, can apply for a residence permit to be allowed to work in the country. Only if you are a citizen of one of the countries mentioned above, you can go directly to the immigration office of your city while in Germany. However, if you want to start working shortly after arriving in the country, it is recommended to apply for the corresponding visa before traveling to Germany.
- Citizens of other third countries must apply for a visa at the competent embassy or consulate before traveling to Germany.
- In order to obtain your EU Blue Card (type of residence permit), you must satisfy several requirements such as:
- Have a university degree. Whether from a German university, or an equivalent.
- Specific job offer from a company in Germany.
- Job must be related to your university qualification.
- Earn a gross annual salary of at least € 56,800 (in the year 2021). In the case of jobs in the fields of mathematics, computer science, natural sciences, engineering, and human medicine, a gross annual salary will be applied in an amount of at least € 44,304 (in the year 2021) and the Federal Employment Agency (BA) must authorize the job offer.
What are the long-stay visa types for working in Germany?
It will vary depending on your particular case:
- Jobseeker: if you wish to go to Germany and look for a job while you are there.
- Employment: if you already have a job offer in Germany.
- Self-Employment: if you wish to work as a freelancer or establish a business in Germany.
- Au Pair: for young adults wishing to learn more about the German culture and language.
- Working Holiday Visa: for the youngsters of the countries that have a Working Holiday Visa agreement with Germany.
What are the requirements to be met to obtain a work visa?
- Your qualification must be approved in Germany or be comparable to a German qualification. If you want to work in a regulated profession, for example in the health field, it will be essential that you obtain authorization to practice in that field.
- If you already have a specific job offer from an employer in Germany, it is important that your approved qualification authorizes you to perform this task. That means you will be able to do a job in related professions.
- Are you over 45 years old and traveling for the first time to work in Germany? In this case, you must obtain a minimum gross annual salary of € 46,860 (in 2021) with the activity you wish to carry out in Germany or demonstrate that you have the corresponding pension plan.
What does the work visa offer?
The visa or residence permit to obtain a qualified job will be issued for a maximum duration of four years. If the employment contract is valid for a shorter period of time, the residence permit will be granted for that shorter period of time. If you have been in possession of a residence permit to work for four years, under certain circumstances you will be able to obtain, upon request, an establishment permit. This permit is a permanent residence title. If you want to travel with your spouse or family, the regulations will vary if they are Citizens of EU or EFTA countries or if they are not.
What are the steps to follow to obtain a work visa?
- Check requirements (which may vary depending on the particular case):
- Job offer in Germany or valid employment contract
- Foreign professional qualification approved or comparable to a corresponding German education
- Depending on the profession, you will need the authorization to practice it (Berufsausübungerlaubnis)
- People over 45 years old applying for a employment visa: reach a minimum gross annual salary of € 46,860 (in 2021)
- Request an appointment at the German embassy and prepare all the necessary documents. The processing time can be consulted at the German Embassy in your country of residence; however, this may vary depending on the country.
- Apply for a visa in the country of residence:
- Bring the necessary documents.
- The fees for a long stay type of visa are € 75. These fees can generally be paid at the German Embassy or German Consulate in your local currency. Keep in mind that these fees will not be reimbursed, in the event that the visa is not granted.
- Once you get your visa, you can start planning your trip and book your plane ticket.
- You will need a valid health insurance from the first day of entry to Germany.
- Once you get to Germany, do not forget to register. Everybody residing in Germany is obliged to register (Wohnsitzanmeldung). To do this, you must go to the cadastral office or the town hall. At the latest, you should go two weeks after your arrival.