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Visa: Your ticket to work in Germany

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Do i need a visa to work and live in Germany? And what conditions apply to me? -It’s the first question many people ask themselves. The rules depend on which country you are coming from and what qualifications you have. Here, we explain what you have to know and the main aspects.

Citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

As a citizen of the EU with the right to freedom of movement, you have unrestricted access to the German labour market. You don’t need a visa or a residence permit either to live or work in Germany. The same applies if you come from Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland or Switzerland. All you need to come in Germany is a valid passport or identity card. When you change your current address to one in Germany, you must register your new address in line with the legal requirements on registration that applies in the federal state where you are going to live.



Citizens of other states

You must apply for a visa in your home country before travelling to Germany. You submit your application to the German mission responsible for your place where you live – that is, to an embassy or consulate general. The addresses are listed in the germany local world map here.

You have to consult with the German mission sufficiently ahead of time concerning the documentation that is required for your application. Please make sure to enter Germany with a visa that accurately represents the purpose of your stay in Germany. Then is it possible for the foreign nationals’ registration authority responsible for your place of residence in Germany in a smooth way to process an extension or change of your visa. A visa that has been issued for a short-term staying in Germany cannot be changed to a permanent residency visa.
Nationals of Israel, Australia, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the USA may enter Germany even without any visa and apply for a residence permit giving the right to work before taking up employment. Only nationals of these countries can apply directly to their local foreign nationals’ registration authority after having already entered Germany.

Since 2016 citizens of Albania, KosovoBosnia-Herzegovina,  MacedoniaMontenegro and Serbia have facilitated access to the German labor market. Information on the national language can be found here.




According to the WHO (Global Health Workforce Alliance) a shortage of health professionals exists in 57 countries (PDF, 21KB). Health professionals from these countries may take up employment to the German labour market, as long as they have found a job for themselves. Recruitment and private job placement service of health professionals from these countries are excluded.

Here are 5 opportunities, you get to know, under which terms you can get a visa for employment or for vocational training in Germany:

1. Academics

All type of academics with a recognised university degree or one which is comparable with a German university degree that have a legal right to the EU Blue Card single residence and work permit. To obtain it, you need to prove that you have a job in Germany which have a close similarity to your qualification. The only condition is that you must earn an annual gross income of at least 49,600 euros.




Specialists in the fields of mathematics, life sciences, IT and engineering as well as doctors may be qualified to an EU Blue Card if they earn the same salary as comparable German workers, but no less than 38,700 euros gross income per year. In this case, the BA (Federal Employment Agency) have to approve your employment. This approval is not required if you earned your university degree in Germany.

EU Blue Card holders have a legal right to a permanent residence permit after 33 months. This is a residence permit with lifetime access. If you can prove before this time that your language requirement skills comply with level B1 of the Common European Ref. Framework for Languages (CEFR), you can receive your permanent residence permit after just 21 months.

If you haven’t yet found a job in Germany, you can still come to Germany for up to six months to look for one; the necessary visa for this reason is granted on the basis of your having completed a university degree. The important thing in this case is that you must have enough money to live on for the duration of your stay, since you are not allowed to work during this time. Once you have found a qualified job, you can immediately apply for the necessary EU Blue Card or a Visa in Germany – without at first having to depart the country – and can remain in Germany while your application is pending.




In addition to the EU Blue Card, special regulations apply to certain workers such as scientists, researchers, teachers or management executives.

2. Graduates of German universities

Did you successfully accomplished your studies at a German university? In that case, you are eligible to take up a job in Germany which is in line with your studies. You would obtain the necessary residence permit from the foreign nationals’ registration authority which is liable for you.

Following your studies, if you have not yet found the right job, the foreign nationals’ registration authority can issue you a residence permit for eighteen months for the purpose of seeking employment corresponding to your degree. During this period, you can take any job, just to support yourself.

3. Professionals with foreign vocational qualifications

Do you have completed non-academic vocational training outside Germany? Then you will be able to take up employment on the basis of the credentials you have obtained abroad, provided you meet the following criteria:

  • There is a shortage of experienced workers in your profession. A whitelist of such professions is available here (PDF).
  • You have received an obligatory job offer. A list of vacancies is available here.
  • Your qualification has been recognised as being corresponding to a German qualification. Other information on the recognition of vocational credentials are available here. You will have to apply to recognize your qualifications while you’re still in your home country.

If the assessment authority decides that you need practical experience in order to obtain full recognition (e.g. practical work as part of a process of adapting), you can apply for a limited residence permit for this purpose.




4. Vocational training in Germany

As a third-country national, you are eligible to a residence permit if you wish to undertake vocational training in Germany. The requirements are the approval of the BA (Federal Employment Agency). If you wish to learn a vocation at a vocational academy or similar school, approval of the BA is not required.

After you complete your vocational training, you are permitted to remain in Germany for the period of one year in order to seek for a job corresponding to your vocational training. You can apply for the required residence permit at the liable foreign nationals’ registration authority. During this period you could take any job as a means of supporting yourself. Once you have found the right job to your qualification, you can receive the appropriate residence permit from the foreign nationals’ registration authority.

5. Fees for visas and temporary and permanent residence permits

If you want to apply for a visa or a temporary or permanent residence permit, you will normally have to pay a fee. The amount depends on the place, purpose and duration of your stay.




The fee for visa of any category is sixty euros. As a general rule, you can pay this to the German mission abroad in your local currency.

The highest payable fee for a permanent residence permit is 260 euros, and 140 euros for a temporary residence permit or the EU Blue Card. On the other hand, under certain circumstances you can get a reduction or even be exempted from the fee altogether. For example, the children and spouses of German nationals are exempt from visa fees. Also, if your stay in Germany it is funded by a public scholarship, you do not have to pay any visa fees. You can find out more about this from the German mission abroad within your country (visa fees) or your local foreign nationals’ registration authority (fees for permanent or temporary residence permits).

See Also: English Speaking Jobs in Germany

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