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Visas, Work Permits and Migration

Expanding into a country or hiring a workforce abroad can lead your business to great profits, but unfamiliar laws and regulations can counteract your company’s goals and plans. At Bradford Jacobs, we want to eliminate this complicated part. By using our PEO service, we can arrange all needed visas and permits including the entire application process without your physical presence. German visa, residency and permit regulations require expert guidance as they vary according to the country foreign nationals live in – the European Union, the European Economic Area and other foreign nationals are all affected by these complex regulations.

Our team is trained to research the latest information on Germany visas and work permits – therefore, we created a guide to introduce you to the rules and requirements. By reading this guide you will get familiar with all the requirements so you or your employees can start working in Germany in no time.

What Types of Work Permits are there in Germany?

Eligibility to work in Germany requires a work/residence permit and a work visa, excluding EU and EEA (Liechtenstein, Norway, or Iceland plus Switzerland) citizens. However, they are required to register at their residents’ registration office with a passport or valid ID. Citizens of the following countries can apply for residence permits for work purposes after entering Germany without a visa.

  • United States of America
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • the Republic of Korea

Residents of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, or the USA, need neither a work visa nor job offer prior to entering Germany, but must apply for a residence permit at the Foreigners’ Office on arrival. Residents of other countries must apply for a work visa to enter Germany and commence work. They must also apply for a residence permit for work purposes upon arrival.  However, for those who are not exempt from requiring a visa/permit, here are the main types that can be applied for to enter Germany:

Business visa

This is a short-stay Schengen visa, permitting its holder to enter and remain in Germany up to 90 days within a six-month period unless specified differently on the visa. It is issued for business trips, attending meetings etc. This does allow the applicant to take up employment.

Work permits for non-EU nationals

Non-EU and EEA nationals need a residence title to work in Germany and approval from the Federal Employment Agency (BA). Approval can be granted from the German embassy/consulate in their home country or the local immigration authorities in Germany. After approval, they will get a temporary residence permit for employment purposes. The main types of work/residence permits include:

Temporary residence permit for employment purposes – Having work in Germany entitles employees to a temporary residence permit for employment purposes. They will not be allowed to start work without first obtaining this document after receiving employment approval from the Federal Employment Agency (BA). The duration of the residence permit is determined by the employment contract, e.g., a two-year contract has a two-year residence permit. Permits can be extended for as long as the employment status does not change.

The EU Blue Card – The EU Blue Card is like the temporary residence permit but is available only for a specific group of people such as highly skilled foreign nationals from non-EU countries. EU Blue Card requirements include having a higher education qualification such as a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. Individuals must have a minimum yearly income of €55,200, or €43,056 if working in an occupation with labor shortages, such as mathematics, natural sciences, informatics, technology, or medicine. This card is valid for four years and can lead to permanent residence after 33 months if the employees maintain their jobs.

Permanent residence permit – The permanent residence permit, also known as the ‘settlement permit’, allows holders to stay indefinitely. However, applicants must prove they have worked for at least five years in a job approved by the Federal Employment Agency (BA) and speak and understand advanced-level German.

ICT-Card – The ICT Card (Intra-Corporate Transfer) is a temporary residence permit for managers, specialists or trainees employed in companies based outside the EU, so that these employees can be transferred to subsidiaries within the EU. This transfer may only last up to three years, for trainees only one year.

Single permit directive covering work and residence permit: A single permit authorizes non-EU nationals to work and reside in EU countries through a single application procedure to a single authority. Single permit applies for two categories of foreign nationals:

  • Non-EU nationals intending to enter Germany for work and residence
  • Non-EU nationals, already residing in Germany with access to German jobs

Single permit covers:

  • Single application procedure for working and residing in Germany
  • Rights for non-EU workers, equal to German citizens

How to obtain a German Work Visa?

EU/EEA nationals do not require a work visa to enter Germany. With some exceptions, all non-EU/EEA nationals needing a work visa should already have a job offer/contract. They should apply for a German work visa at the relevant German authority in their country of residence.

For the EU Blue Card – highly qualified foreigners, in particular:

  • Researchers with special technical knowledge
  • Teaching or scientific personnel in prominent positions

For the ICT card – intra-corporate transferees, in particular:

  • Managers
  • Specialists

For all other all work visas and permits – Third-world nationals with a university degree or a non-academic vocational qualification when:

  • There is a shortage of skilled workers in the profession applicants are seeking employment
  • There is a concrete job offer
  • Have education equivalent to a German degree

To prove to the German embassy/consulate in their country of residence that they fulfil the conditions, documentation and a visa interview will be required. Necessary documents include:

  • Two fully completed application forms, printed, and signed
  • Two passport photographs, with strict guidelines
  • Valid national passport
  • Proof of residence: A driver’s license and/or utility bill with name as proof of residence in the territory of the embassy or consulate where application to be submitted
  • Health insurance: Compulsory certificate from German employer, valid from date of employment. If not already included in compulsory health insurance, a separate travel insurance must be presented for the time frame from arrival in Germany until beginning of employment
  • Employment contract/binding job offer detailing gross annual salary and description of employment in Germany
  • Approval by the Federal Employment Agency (If applicable)
  • Updated CV, detailing academic qualifications and job experience
  • Proof of qualifications – diplomas, certificates
  • Personal covering letter explaining exact purpose and duration of stay
  • Proof of a clean criminal record
  • Proof of paid visa fee (€75) for a long-stay German visa
  • Declaration of Accuracy of Information

They must also apply for a residence/work permit for work purposes on arrival in Germany.

The procedure to apply for work and residence permit has been simplified through a European Union directive. Becoming a work permit holder depends mainly on the country of origin and its special agreements with the hosting country, i.e., Germany. Check for details here.

Bradford Jacobs will make sure your employees are onboarded with the correct visa and permits to avoid complications and delays that could prove costly and waste time for your global expansion plans.

How to apply for Work Visa / Work Permit in Germany

Eligibility to work in Germany requires a work/residence permit and a work visa, excluding EU/EEA citizens. However, EU/EEA citizens are required to register at their residents’ registration office.

Application process for Non-EU Nationals needing a work visa:

  • Obtain a job offer in Germany
  • Check if a visa is needed for long-stays
  • Locate where application must be made
  • Collect all of the required documents according to the instructions
  • Make appointment for a visa interview
  • Pay the German employment work visa fee
  • Attend interview
  • Await response on application

Applying for a work/residency permit: Non-European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) residents need a residence title to work in Germany and approval from the Federal Employment Agency (BA). This can be granted from the German embassy/consulate in their home country or local immigration authorities in Germany. After approval, they will obtain a temporary residence permit for employment purposes.

The framework for this process includes:

  • Enter Germany with the correct visa. It is not possible to apply for a residence permit under a tourist, business, medical or cultural visa
  • Register German address
  • Obtain health insurance in Germany for the whole period of the planned stay
  • Open a bank account, which is compulsory for a German residence permit application

Complete the correct application form, depending on type of residence, and schedule appointment at closest immigration center and be prepared to pay fees.