How to Get a German Work Permit


Germany has the largest number of immigrants in Europe and the 4th largest in the world. Currently, it is home to over 10 million nationals from, both, EU and non-EU territories, and not without a reason.

The country has one of the most advanced and stable economies, high level of living, free education, and is the globe leader in automotive, financial services, pharmaceuticals and tech. In addition to this, the skills shortage in Germany is over 40%, and the median age of its citizens is 47.1 years.

All of the above creates ideal circumstances for professional immigration. However, if you want the Germans to roll out the red carpet for you, you must meet certain criteria. While EU citizens enjoy the freedom of movement within the Schengen Area, Non-EU subjects are required to obtain work permits.

There are 3 types of work permits you can obtain in order to legally work in Germany.

Blue Card

Blue Cards get issued by German Authorities for highly skilled workers and workers of  “in demand” professions. Blue Cards EU are transferable (if obtained in another EU-country), valid for the duration of the contract (plus 3 months), maximum valid for 4 years.

The pre-qualifying criteria are:

  • 53,600.00 EUR annual salary. The exception of 41,808.00 EUR applies for doctors, engineers, IT, mathematicians and scientists as of 2019.
  • German or recognised foreign higher education qualification 
  • Employment contract
  • Completed application forms
  • Valid passport (for the duration of visa, starting from the date of application)
  • No criminal record

Application: 

The initial application will be made at local German consulate or embassy (Visa for purpose of work) and completed at the local office in the destination (Ausländerbehörde). The requested paperwork may differ from consulate to consulate.Normally, a pre-booking appointment is required.

You can find more information about the Blue Card EU in our article ‘European Blue Card: Who? How? Why?

Intercompany Transfer (ICT-Card)

Intercompany transfer cards are (a new form of) temporary work permits that can be issued if an employee transfers between locations. In general, transfers are to be going both ways(in and out of the country), therefore not resulting in changes to the job situation within Germany. Permission/notification with the local labour authority needs to be obtained.

The pre-qualifying criteria for normal ICT Card are:

  • The German company must be part of the same foreign company
  • the employee must be employed with the company for minimum of 6 months
  • German or recognised foreign higher education qualification 
  • Employment contract in Germany
  • Salary on par with local employment requirements
  • Approval by German labour authority
  • Minimum 90 days
  • Approval by German labour authority

The pre-qualifying criteria for a short-term ICT Card are:

  • Existing Work permit of another EU-state
  • Maximum 90 days in a 180 days period
  • Notification to the German labour authority

Application: 

The initial application will be made at local German consulate or embassy (Visa for purpose of work) and completed at the local office in the destination (Ausländerbehörde). The requested paperwork may differ from consulate to consulate.Normally, a pre-booking appointment is required.

Work Permit

Work permits get issued to workers with professional education comparable to German professional education. In addition to applying for a visa at the local embassy as per above, a work permit application will have to be completed alongside. The respective job will have to be completed classed as ‘in demand’ jobs (so-called “positivliste”).

The pre-qualifying criteria are:

  • Formal (binding) job offer in Germany
  • Job listed as in demand via listing above
  • Professional education completed and comparable with German qualifications
  • Sufficient German language skills

Application: 

The initial application will be made at local German consulate or embassy (Visa for purpose of work) and completed at the local office in the destination (Ausländerbehörde). The requested paperwork may differ from consulate to consulate.Normally, a pre-booking appointment is required.