Work visa for Germany: what do I need to know if I want to work in Germany?


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Germany has developed into an attractive place to work for many foreign workers. In addition to the Recognition Act from 2012, the new Skilled Worker Immigration Act has also been in effect since March 2020. Both laws make it easier for qualified specialists from non-EU countries to access the German labor market. That means applying for a work visa for Germany

If you want to work in Germany as a foreigner, you need a visa, depending on your citizenship. Among the different types of visas you will also find the work visa for Germany, which you have to apply for in the form of a national visa (D visa).

As a foreigner you want to take up a job in Germany and don’t know where to start? Read below a comprehensive overview of how to get a work visa for Germany and the types of visas for Germany.

Work visa for Germany

Why do I need a work visa for Germany?

A so-called work visa type D is a prerequisite to be allowed to take up work as visa requirements foreigners in Germany. After arriving in Germany, you can only apply for a residence permit at the responsible immigration authorities with a work visa.

Facts: You are only entitled to work with a long-term visa (also known as a national visa). With a Schengen visa for short-term stays of up to 90 days in 180 days, you are not allowed to work!

Citizens in which countries need a visa to work?

Not every foreigner who wants to work in Germany needs a work visa before entering Germany. For example, different requirements apply to nationals from EU and EEA countries and Switzerland than to nationals from other third countries. The following section sheds light on the darkness.

1. Working in Germany as an EU citizen

As an EU citizen you have according to the EU free movement of workers Regulation free to choose the right your work within the EU. You do not need a work visa or work permit for this. The regulation also states that as an EU citizen you have the same access to employment in every member state as the nationals of the respective EU member state. 

Even if you have to look for work are you allowed to enter after Germany, to look around locally for a job. You have 6 months to look for a job in Germany. Unless you can show that you are still actively searching and having job prospects. This unrestricted work permit also applies to the EEA countries and Switzerland .

2. Working in Germany as a third-country national

Whether or not you need a work visa for Germany as a foreigner depends on which country you come from. Citizens from the countries listed here are allowed to enter Germany without a work visa in order to apply for a residence permit for work purposes at the responsible immigration office after arriving in Germany :

  • Australia
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Canada
  • Republic of Korea
  • New Zealand
  • USA

Citizens of all other third countries need a work visa before entering Germany.

Facts: Are you having difficulties looking for a job from abroad? In this case, you have the option of applying for a job search visa. The visa enables you to search for a job in Germany for up to six months.

Who is allowed on the German job market?

The labor market access of foreigners who do not come from an EU or EEA country or Switzerland is limited in Germany by the Employment Ordinance. This ordinance regulates the conditions under which foreign employees and foreigners already living in Germany can be admitted to the German labor market. 

Anyone who has a qualified education has a better chance of accessing the German job market than others.

What requirements do I have to meet to apply for a work visa?

In addition to highly qualified specialists , third-country nationals with a university degree or a non-academic professional qualification can also apply for a work visa for Germany.

Does that apply to you?

Then you should meet the following requirements for a work visa:

  • You have a specific job offer
  • Your qualification is equivalent to a German educational qualification
  • Your qualification is recognized in Germany
  • You may have a license to practice a profession

For employees over 45 years of age who are working in Germany for the first time, the following also applies:

  • The minimum annual salary in Germany must be € 45,540 gross
  • Alternatively, proof of retirement benefits can be provided

Work visa Germany: Requirements for academics and skilled workers

Academics with a recognized university degree have had easier access to the labor market via the EU Blue Card (residence permit) since August 1, 2012 . A priority check by the Federal Employment Agency is not required in this case. 

Only the fair working conditions (salary, working hours, vacation entitlement, etc.) will continue to be checked by the Federal Employment Agency. Provided the following points apply :

  • a concrete job offer is available
  • the minimum gross annual salary is € 55,200

The following applies to occupations with a bottleneck, e.g. specialists from the fields of mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology as well as doctors:

  • they earn as much as comparable domestic workers
  • the annual minimum gross salary is € 43,056

Since March 1, 2020, the employment of skilled workers with non-academic qualifications is no longer restricted to occupations with bottlenecks . With a vocational training recognized in Germany, these skilled workers can practice all professions in Germany for which their qualification enables them – without a prior priority examination by the Federal Employment Agency.

Work visa for Germany

What is the EU Blue Card?

The EU Blue Card is a document proving the legal residence of third-country nationals for the purpose of gainful employment. It gives foreigners with an academic or equivalent qualification level the opportunity to take up non-self-employed employment in Germany and makes it easier for you to access the German labor market. 

The EU Blue Card is a temporary residence permit that is issued for a maximum of four years in the case of permanent employment . If the duration of the employment relationship is less than four years, the EU Blue Card is issued for the duration of the employment relationship plus three months.

What is a priority check?

The Federal Employment Agency is legally obliged to carry out a labor market test if foreigners from third countries want to take up employment on the German labor market. In this context, a so-called “priority check” takes place. 

It is checked whether there are privileged applicants for the job available for employment on the labor market. Priority is given to Germans, EU citizens or people who have a settlement or residence permit.

Where do I apply for my work visa?

Do you meet the requirements for a work visa in Germany? Then make an appointment with the responsible German diplomatic mission in your country of residence to apply for a work visa before you travel to Germany. 

This is where you hand in the completed and signed application and all required documents. Only if you have applied for a visa to work in Germany is it possible to issue a residence permit at a later date following the visa. The right application form can be found here.

Facts: If you have already found a job in Germany, your future employer can shorten your entry procedure to Germany using the accelerated specialist procedure . Talk to your new employer about this before you make an appointment with the responsible diplomatic mission.

What does a Germany visa cost to work?

The fee for all national visa types that are issued for a long-term stay in Germany is € 75. You can usually pay this at the German embassy or consulate in your local currency. If the visa decision is negative, the fee will not be reimbursed. Therefore, always make sure that the application is complete!

Work visa for Germany

What documents do I need for a German work visa?

A number of documents and papers are an essential part of your application for a work visa in Germany. Our checklist gives you an overview of all the important documents that you should take with you to your appointment at the embassy or consulate:

Checklist documents for applying for a work visa:

  • completed and signed application forms
  • Two passport photos
  • Valid national passport
  • Proof of residence
  • Health insurance : valid from the date of entry into Germany
  • Travel health insurance from arrival in Germany to the start of work, unless this is included in the health insurance that has already been applied for
  • Employment contract or binding job offer stating the gross annual salary and a detailed description of the job you will be doing in Germany
  • Approval from the Federal Employment Agency (if applicable)
  • resume
  • Proof of qualification : diplomas, certificates, etc.
  • Personal cover letter with precise information on the purpose and duration of the stay
  • Proof of a clean criminal record
  • Proof of paid visa fee
  • Declaration on the correctness of the information

FAQ: Work visa Germany

What is a work visa?

With a type D work visa, as a foreigner requiring a visa, you can take up regular employment in Germany. You can only apply for a residence permit to take up qualified employment in Germany at the responsible immigration authorities if you have a work visa. Please note that with a type C Schengen visa you cannot work in Germany and you cannot apply for a residence permit.

How long does a work visa for Germany take?

A work visa is always issued in the form of a long-term visa for Germany (national visa type D). For a national visa you have to expect a processing time of up to three months. The processing time depends not only on your personal situation but also on the number of current applications.

How do you get a work visa for Germany?

As a third-country citizen who requires a visa, you apply for a work visa in Germany at your German diplomatic mission in your home country before entering the country.

Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany


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