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Germany has one of the most robust economies in the world.  In fact, it ranks as the fourth-largest by nominal GDP.  It only lags behind the US, China, and Japan.

To foreigners, this aspect of the developed nation, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, comes as a strong motivator for moving.  Understandably, people outside the country would like to have their chance to work and earn a decent income and lead a better life here.

There are great employment opportunities in Germany, where the highest-paid professions are in the fields of Medicine and Dentistry, Law, Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science.

Depending on your professional background, it is also noteworthy that Germany is home to many great artists, athletes, and inventors.  So it should not be difficult to find yourself a niche you are familiar with while living in this highly industrialized nation with a great work-life balance.

So the question here is focused on how to obtain a German working visa.  

The answers can be straightforward, however, it may also vary according to one’s country of origin and profession.

Work Permit for EU Nationals

Historically, Germany is one of the founders of the EU in 1993.  One of the benefits of being a EU citizen is that you would not need to secure a visa to enter Germany.

Additionally, if you already have a German residence permit, due to the integrated economy, this simultaneously allows you to apply for work and become officially employed (unless explicitly stated in the title otherwise).  A residence visa may also be applied once a member citizen has already entered Germany for work, and not necessarily prior to travel.

This applies to all EU nationals, and is extended as well to the citizens of the US, Israel, Canada, Australia, Japan, Switzerland, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, and the Republic of Korea.

Citizens in this aforementioned category who are interested to apply for work in Germany only need to apply personally at a German Embassy or Consulate and present the following requirements:

  • Valid passport with at least one or two additional copies
  • Two or more passport photographs
  • Furnish a copy of the contract of employment
  • Valid IDs like driver’s license and proof of billing
  • Payment of the visa fee

It is best to keep a copy of all requirements submitted, plus bring along pertinent documents like a letter of intent from the employer, and your educational records.

Having formally applied for a residence visa for work, the German diplomatic office shall contact the immigration department and communicate your intention to seek for a job.  The Federal Employment Agency shall process and, once approved, inform the diplomatic office where you applied, of the status of your visa.

The average span of time for processing a working visa is around eight to twelve weeks.  However, for citizens of the EU and the aforementioned states, the process can be considerably shorter.  Also, in the absence of criminal records or other legal obstructions, the approval of the working visa application shall be swiftly handled.

For non-EU citizens who want to obtain a German work visa, the whole process can be more difficult, and will require some time and patience.  It is quite possible that many interested applicants under this classification might be disapproved on various grounds that will be further discussed.

However, once initially granted permit, candidates are given a three-month period to enter Germany and complete the filing of work permits there.

Reason for Tougher Qualifications for Non-EU Nationals and Foreigners

While Germany has a positive immigration program that is designed to help the country cope with its ageing population, its immigration laws and regulations remain strict.  

There may be an increasing need to fill up specialized positions in various industries throughout the nation, such as in engineering, but employers are required to explain why they want to hire someone living outside Germany instead of a preferential candidate.  So companies cannot just hire anyone quickly as they wish.

Germany is also highly populated with eighty-three million inhabitants, which means that for a non-citizen to land a job there can be very challenging.  

The preference in job hiring is in this order:

  • German citizens
  • EU nationals
  • Foreigners

Therefore, even if a foreigner is well educated and skilled in the field he/she is applying for, it is imperative that this order of job hiring is followed if qualified German or EU candidates are available.  

Since Germany offers a tuition-free university education with a high quality of educational standard, possessing a basic bachelor’s degree might not be enough to clinch a skilled employment.  

You would need a master’s degree to compete, and even that wouldn’t guarantee you to stand out.  Plus, it is very important to learn to speak the language clearly.  Regardless of one’s qualifications or education, German employers would not want to struggle to simply convey simple instructions in the workplace and have to hurdle past the communication barrier.

Requirements for Non-EU Citizens to Obtain a German Working Visa

How To Obtain A German Working Visa? | CareerMetis.com

Requirements for a German working permit depends on the job classification you are applying for, namely: general employment, specialized professional, or as an entrepreneur.

First, you will need to submit filled out the forms personally at the German diplomatic office and pay for the application fee of € 60.

For general employment application purposes, the following documents are needed:

  • Submission of two passport size photographs
  • A valid passport (with a photocopy)
  • Documents to support your vocational qualification (two copies)
  • Two copies of the job contract sent by the German company stating the details of employment

Skilled employment working visa applications refer to those who have vast experiences in their field of expertise.  You must have an outstanding achievement to back this up, special knowledge in your profession, which shall be considered valuable to the Federal Republic of Germany.

Still, despite the immediate qualifications, it is imperative that you must be able to sustain yourself financially, and must prove it with pertinent financial documentation.  

Under this criterion, in addition to the filled out work visa form, skilled employees must submit:

  • Contract of employment from a German employer (with job details and employment description)
  • Passport size photographs (two copies)
  • Passport (with photocopy)
  • Documents supporting your professional experience and specialized skills

How to Apply for Work Permit as an Entrepreneur in Germany

For foreigners to work as an entrepreneur in Germany it is not enough to just present a viable business model.  

First and foremost, it must be a business type in which the German government is in need of, and will unqualifiedly benefit from especially from an economic point of view.  That it must have an impact to society must be proven upon application, such as being able to offer new job opportunities to local inhabitants, or contribute considerably to government income.

If you can prove that your business is sustainable and beneficial, additional documents must be submitted to prove that you have sufficient investment capital to cover for your proposed business model to kick-start your visa application for self-employment in Germany.

Personally, submitting a filled up form for a German work visa, the following needs to be furnished:

  • Two passport size photographs
  • Passport (with 2 photocopies)
  • Documents containing your business model, including your work experience, and investment projections, pertinent proofs to show that it is beneficial and, therefore, meets the basic requirements.
  • Bank deposit or any proof of financial capability necessary for the business

If you are still doubtful about your qualifications, you may further consult Bradford Jacobs and come out with more confident solutions and knowledge of the proper documents to submit for a faster working visa approval.    


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