Germany Visas and Work Permits 

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Germany Work Permits and Visa Specialists

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:

  1. Two fully completed application forms, printed, and signed
  2. Two passport photographs, with strict guidelines
  3. Valid national passport
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. Employment contract/binding job offer detailing gross annual salary and description of employment in Germany
  7. Approval by the Federal Employment Agency (If applicable)
  8. Updated CV, detailing academic qualifications and job experience
  9. Proof of qualifications – diplomas, certificates
  10. Personal covering letter explaining exact purpose and duration of stay
  11. Proof of a clean criminal record
  12. Proof of paid visa fee (€75) for a long-stay German visa
  13. 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 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

Working Visa / Permit for Germany

Those needing a work visa to enter Germany should already have a job offer or contract. They should apply with a German visa application form, with a copy of their employment contract and certificate for compulsory health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) from their German employer valid from date of employment.

To access the German labor market, they need approval from the Federal Employment Agency (BA). This 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.

European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals do not require work visa/permits to work in Germany, except in some circumstances. Non-EU nationals must have a work visa/permit to be legally entitled to work in the country.

Types of Work/Residence Permits include:

  • Temporary residence permit for employment purposes: Employees will not be allowed to start work without first obtaining this document after obtaining employment approval from the Federal Employment Agency (BA). The duration of the permit is the same as the employment contract. Permits can be extended if the employment status does not change.

  • The EU Blue Card: The EU Blue Card is available only for a specific group, such as highly skilled foreign nationals from non-EU countries. Requirements include having a higher education qualification such as a bachelor’s or a master’s degree with a minimum yearly income of €55,200, or €43,056 if the applicant will be working in an occupation with labor shortages. This card is valid for four years and can lead to permanent residence after 33 months if the employees maintain their jobs, or 21 months if they prove their German language proficiency.

  • Permanent residence permit: Also known as the settlement permit, this 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.

  • Single permit directive covering work and residence permit: Holding a single permit legally authorizes non-EU nationals to work and reside in EU countries through a single application procedure to a single authority.

How much is a German Work Visa/Work Permit?

The fee is €75 for non-EU or EEA nationals who need a German working visa to enter the country for employment, though lower fees may apply depending on country of residence.

German temporary residence/work permit

  • Valid for up to 1 year – €50
  • Valid for more than 1 year – €80
  • For up to 3 additional months – €15
  • Extension for more than 3 additional months – €30
  • Change of residence title, including extension – €40

EU Blue Card

  • The initial application – €100
  • Extension for up to 3 months – €96
  • Extension for more than 3 months – €93
  • Turkish nationals – up to €28

German permanent residence permit fee:

  • The costs depend on the situation, although most applicants will need to pay a fee of €135, there are others:
  • Self-employed persons – €200
  • Highly qualified people – €250

Business Visa Germany

A German business visa is a short-stay Schengen visa permitting its holder to enter and remain in Germany for up to 90 days within a six-month period for temporary work or business trips but does not allow the applicant to take up employment. Corporates and companies that have branches, partners and collaborators in other countries including third-world countries, who often must travel to Germany for business, to attend meetings etc. and are not from one of the 62 countries under the visa-waiver program, must obtain a German business visa. The required documents for the application are:

  1. Declaration of Accuracy of Information
  2. Two identical photographs
  3. Valid national passport
  4. One copy of passport’s data page (A4 size)
  5. Travel visa insurance
  6. Flight itinerary
  7. Proof of accommodation for entire stay
  8. Proof of civil status
  9. Proof of financial status
  10. Company bank statements from the previous three months
  11. Business references
  12. Invitation letter from the business partner in Germany, in English or German
  13. A detailed schedule of business meetings (for stays over 30 days)
  14. Company covering letter with entire itinerary, position, duration of service, the dates and purpose of the trip and if expenses are being covered by the employer or not
  15. Certificate of Incorporation of the company

You can apply for this visa at the German embassy or consulate in home country. There is a visa fee of €80, which each applicant must pay for their visa application to be processed.

German Visa for EU Citizens

Visas for Germany are not required by EU or EEA nationals, regardless of the purpose and/or length of stay, but they must hold a passport or national ID card valid for the duration. However, EU or EEA nationals who plan to live in Germany for an unlimited period must register with the local authorities after three months.

German Visa for USA Citizens

USA citizens do not need a visa when travelling to Germany for up to 90 days within a 180-day period for tourism, transit, or business trips, as well as the other 26 Schengen area member states. However, from 2022 a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) visa waiver is required. 

Those entering for business or tourism but staying longer than 90 days must apply for a residence permit which is called an “electronic residence title” (eAT). This permits US citizens that enter Germany without a visa to remain for a period set by the German immigration authorities.

For more than 90 days, a work visa is required plus an employment contract, work permit and residence permit, but the type will depend on qualifications, skill levels, salary offered and occupation,

The process for the work visa and residence permit starts in the country of residence at a local German Embassy but can be initiated online. An interview is required to take biometrics. The employer will have to submit the application and necessary documents for the work permit, which will be sent to the Embassy where the work visa and residence permit is applied for.

German Visa for Canadian Citizens

Canadians do not need a work visa or job offer to enter Germany. They must apply for a residence permit at the Foreigners’ Office on arrival in Germany. Stays of over 90 days will require applying for a visa in Canada. Non-Canadian citizens arriving from Canada, who wish to stay in Germany or transit through, may require a Schengen visa depending on their citizenship.

German Visa for Chinese Citizens

All Chinese nationals must have a valid visa to enter the Schengen Area, regardless of the duration of their stay and no matter what kind of travel document they have, except if they have a valid residence permit which enables them to stay in the Schengen Area. If Chinese citizens want to find employment, they need to apply for a work visa to enter Germany and commence work. They must also apply for a residence permit for work purposes upon arrival in Germany.

German Visa for UK Citizens

UK Citizens may travel to Germany and the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-period without a visa. However, to stay longer (or to work/study), you will need to meet Germany’s visa entry requirements. 

If UK citizens want to find employment, they need to apply for a work visa to enter Germany and commence work. They must also apply for a residence permit for work purposes upon arrival in Germany.

Work with Bradford Jacobs’ PEO Services

Bradford Jacobs are the global authority on France work visa requirements and the vital link to solving complex visa issues. Mistakes will be costly to your business plans so don’t take the risk. Contact us today for more information.