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Work in Germany: Getting a German Work Permit

(June 16th, 2016)

Do I need a visa to work in Germany? This article explains who and how you can apply for a German work permit

Do I need a visa to work in Germany? And what conditions apply to me? This is the first question you may ask yourself if you are planning to work in Germany. In a nutshell, it depends on which country you come from and what qualifications you have.  If you are from countries outside of the EU/EFTA, Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the USA, you will need at first a visa to enter Germany. Depending on the purpose of your stay, the visa will be changed into a corresponding residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) at the local foreign nationals’ registration authority. 

Which work permit you should apply for depends on which type of resident permit you are holding. For different purposes of employment there are various residence permits. Before you start the applying procedure you should get it straight, which type of intended employment you are taking up in Germany.

 

How to Get a German Work Permit

 

In overall there are three residence permits for work purposes:

 

1. German Work Permit for General Employment

 

If you have completed non/academic vocational training outside Germany and you are going to take up a general employment in Germany, that is a job that does not require professional qualifications. Then you can take up employment on the basis of the qualification you have obtained abroad, provided there is a shortage of skilled workers in your profession.

For the application you need:

  • A vocational qualification
  • A concrete offer of a contract of Employment in Germany

Required documents:

  • Application form for a residence permit
  • Passport size color photos
  • Valid passport
  • Two copies of your vocational qualification
  • Letter of intent or contract offered to you by a company in Germany containing a detailed description of the employment

Ecovis can help you prepare these documents for the application.

 

2. German Work Permit for Qualified Employment

 

Work permit for college graduates

 

If you are a foreign graduate coming from abroad holding a recognized university degree and sufficient financial funds to support you during your planned stay, you can apply for a six-month residence permit to look for work. You are not permitted, however, to undertake any work while you’re seeking for employment. If you find a job corresponding to your qualifications, you are in principle entitled to a “residence title for the purpose of taking up employment”. However, the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) needs to approve your employment.

If you are a foreign graduate from a German university and want to stay and look for work, you can apply to extend your existing residence permits for up to 18 months. You need simply furnish proof of your university degree, a medical health insurance, and financial support. During this period, you can take any job as a means of supporting yourself. Once you found a job which is in line with your studies, you will receive the necessary residence permit from the foreign national´s registration authority which is responsible for you.

 

EU Blue Card (EU Blaue Karte)

 

With a recognized university degree comparable to German degree, and a job offer with annual gross earning of least 49,600 euros (2016), (the approval of the Federal Employment Agency is not required); Or for those with a background in a STEM subject as well as medical doctors with annual gross earning at least 38,688 euros (2016), you are qualified to apply for the EU Blue Card. In this case, you need the approval of the Federal Employment Agency. This approval is not required if you earned your university degree in Germany.

Benefits of the EU Blue Card:

  • Residence for four years (or duration of employment contract)
  • Permanent residency after 33 months (21 months if you have achieved level B1 in German language proficiency).
  • You can stay outside Germany in non-EU countries for 12 months without the EU Blue card expiring, and move to another EU country (except the UK, Ireland, and Denmark) for the purpose of highly qualified work after 18 months without the need for a visa.
  • Family members can come to Germany and work immediately without restriction or the need to prove German language skills, as well as receive all the other benefits.

 

Settlement Permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis)

 

Those who fit this category can apply for a settlement permit, which allows you to stay in Germany permanently. You need to meet the following general requirement:

  • Held a residence permit for five years.
  • Means to support yourself without public funds.
  • Paid the compulsory or voluntary contributions to statutory pension insurance for at least 60 months.
  • Entitled to exercise gainful employment and have the permits to do so.
  • Sufficient command of German and basic knowledge of the legal and social system and way of life in Germany.
  • You have sufficient living space for yourself and your family.

You don’t have to meet all the requirements above if you fall into one of the following groups:

Graduates of a German higher education institution may be able to get a settlement permit after two years. This is on condition that after completing your studies you held a residence title for the purposes of employment or self-employment, or an EU Blue Card, for at least two years. Moreover, you need to have a job commensurate with your qualifications and to have paid the statutory pension insurance for 24 months.

Required documents:

  • A completed application form
  • A valid passport
  • Recent biometric photos
  • Proof of successful completion of studies at a German university
  • (If necessary) A valid contract of employment
  • (If necessary) Previous employment contract, if the current one is less than 24 months
  • (If necessary) Proof of previous self-employment or freelance activities
  • Proof of pension contributions: proof of the payments of contributions to the statutory pension for at least 24 months; or proof of the payments of contributions to the private pension for at least 24 months
  • (If necessary) Occupational licensing for regulated professions (for example approbation or work permits)
  • (If necessary) German Language Certificate
  • Medical insurance
  • Rent contract
  • Current registration card

 

EU Blue Card holders

 

EU Blue Card holders can apply after working 33 months or just 21 months with a level B1 language certificate.

Required documents:

  • A completed application form
  • A valid passport
  • Recent biometric photos
  • A valid contract of employment with information on salaries
  • (If necessary) Previous employment contract, if the current one is less than 21 or 33 months
  • Proof of pension contributions: proof of the payments of contributions to the statutory pension for the last 21 or 33 months; or proof of the payments of contributions to the private pension for the last 21 or 33 months
  • (If necessary) German Language Certificate
  • Medical insurance
  • Rent contract
  • Current registration card

 

Highly qualified people

 

Highly qualified people (such as researchers with special technical knowledge or teaching personnel or scientific personnel in prominent positions, or specialists and people in senior managerial positions) can apply for a settlement permit right after the arrival in Germany. The most important thing is that you need to have a concrete job offer and the approval from the Federal Employment Agency.

Required documents:

  • A completed application form
  • A valid passport
  • Recent biometric photos
  • (If necessary) A valid visa for entry for the purpose of employment
  • The existing diplomas, degrees
  • A Curriculum Vitae
  • (if necessary) An overview of published scientific papers
  • Proof of the assurance of the livelihoods: A concrete job-offer; Or a previous or current contract of employment with information on salaries
  • (if necessary) Occupational licensing for regulated professions (for example approbation or work permits)
  • An informal job description from the employer
  • Medical insurance
  • Rent contract
  • Current registration card

 

Self-employed people

 

Self-employed people may be able to get a settlement permit after three years. A preconditon for this is that at the time you apply you have a valid residence permit for a self-employed activity.

Required documents:

  • A completed application form
  • A valid passport
  • Recent biometric photos
  • Proof of the business activities:
  • Tax assessment notices for previous fiscal years and if necessary profit determination of the previous year with the confirmation of the tax consultant, provided that there is no income tax assessment notice yet.
  • Business assessment (Betriebswirtschaftliche Auswertung – BWA) or if necessary the confirmation of tax consultant for the current fiscal year
  • Proof of the existing business relationships
  • (If necessary) Proof of created employment
  • (If necessary) Proof of settlement of business salary (Nachweise über Abrechnung des Geschäftsgehalts)
  • A written description of the development of business activities with an outlook of the next three fiscal years
  • Statement of the local commercial authorities or the professional association or the chamber of commerce or chamber of handicrafts or if necessary the authorities responsible for the licensing of occupation (Normally these can be obtained by the responsible Foreigners’ Registration Office.)
  • (If necessary) the current statement from the trade register or the commercial register or current craftsman’s card.
  • Medical insurance
  • Rent contract
  • Current registration card

 

3. German Work Permit for Self-employed Foreigners

 

Self-employed (Gewerbetreibende)

 

If you are planning to set up a manual trade or retail business in Germany, you can apply for a residence permit for self-employed business purposes. You need to satisfy the following requirements:

  • There is commercial interest or regional demand for your products or services.
  • Your business activity is likely to benefit the country economically.
  • Secured financing for your business by way of a bank loan or your own capital.
  • Viable business plan, relevant experience, and show how your business will contribute to innovation and research in Germany.
  • You need to provide proof of adequate provision for old age if you are over 45 years old.

 

Freelancers (Freiberufler)

 

If you want to be self-employed in one of the liberal professions, you can apply for a residence permit for freelance work. However, you have to prove that you have the means to fund your project, to support yourself and a permit to exercise that profession. Also, when you are older than 45 years, you must also provide proof that you have adequate provision for old age.

If your business idea is successful and you are able to make a living for yourself and your family, then you can have your residence permit extended after three years. Furthermore, if you set up a manual trade or retail business, you can apply for a settlement permit after just three years.

For more information, you can contact us at service@ecovis-beijing.com 



Author:
Richard Hoffmann
richard.hoffmann@ecovis.com
Office website

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