How to get a visa to work in Germany

Have you been thinking about starting your career in Germany but find it difficult to understand what you need to do to get a visa to work in Germany? If yes, this blog post will help you out; we’ll give you an overview of the most important things you need to know about the visa process in Germany so that you can grow your career here.

What you need to know about getting a visa to work in Germany

In 2020, Germany has introduced the Skilled Immigration Act. This law makes it easier for internationals with good education and qualifications to enter and work in Germany. If you have a higher education degree or a professional qualification, the most important thing for you to know next is that the question about the necessary visa depends on what citizen you are.

There are three categories you can fall into:

  • Category 1: Citizens of the EU, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland.
  • Category 2: Citizens of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or the USA.
  • Category 3: Citizens of another country.

If you’re a citizen of the EU, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland (category 1), then we have good news for you: you can just enter and stay within Germany for work without a visa due to the freedom of movement. 

If you’re a citizen of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or the USA (category 2), you can enter Germany without a visa. Once you are in Germany however, you need to apply for a residence permit within the first 90 days of your stay. You need the residence permit to be able to take up employment and stay in Germany. Please note that a recognised professional qualification or higher education is usually a requirement for a residence permit.

If you’re a citizen of any third country that was not mentioned so far (category 3), the case is a little more complicated. You need a visa to enter and work in Germany. If you have a recognised professional qualification or higher education, you have two options:

  • Option 1: Get a binding job offer from a company before coming to Germany. With a job offer and a professional qualification or degree you have good options of getting a work visa, either the work visa for qualified professionals, or the EU Blue Card visa (see below).
  • Option 2: Get to Germany on a jobseeker visa and look for a job from within Germany then.

Let’s take a look at the different options in more detail.

The work visa for qualified professionals

If you have a recognised professional qualification or higher education, you can receive a residence permit that enables you to take up employment in Germany.

For this, you need to hit the following three criteria:

  1. Your professional qualification or higher education needs to be recognised in Germany or at least judged to be equal to a comparable German higher education.
  2. The job you will be taking needs to be related to your profession.
  3. If you’re 45 years old or older and want to work in Germany for the first time, you need to have at least a salary of 46.530€ (as of 2022), or you must provide proof of enough old age pension provisions.

The EU Blue Card

If you have a higher education degree, you can apply for the EU Blue Card visa.

For the EU Blue Card visa, you need to fulfill the following criteria:

  1. German higher education degree or higher education degree that is recognised in Germany or at least judged to be comparable to a German higher education degree.
  2. Have a binding job offer from a company in Germany
  3. The job offer must be appropriate for someone with your qualifications.
  4. The job must be remunerated with a gross salary of at least 56.400€ – or 43.992€ for employees in the fields of mathematics, IT, natural sciences, engineering and human medicine (all numbers as of 2022).

EU Blue Card or regular work visa for qualified professionals?

If you fulfill the requirements, it’s usually beneficial to go for the EU Blue Card because it has some advantages, for example the issue process will usually will be faster, it has better options into permanent residence, and it facilitates family reunification,

However if you don’t fulfill all the requirements for the EU Blue Card, the regular work visa for qualified professionals is a good option for you as well.

Enter Germany for your job-search: The Jobseeker Visa

If you struggle to get a job offer directly from abroad, you can also apply for the jobseeker visa that allows you to enter Germany for the purpose of finding a job. It can be issued for up to 6 months.

For the jobseeker visa you need to hit the following requirements:

  1. Degree or qualification that is recognised in Germany or at least judged to be comparable to a German degree
  2. Secure financial means to pay for your stay in Germany
  3. First German language skills (B1 for people without a higher education degree)

Please note: While we believe that the job seeker visa is a good option, it has been more difficult to get during the Covid-19 pandemic. And now, long waiting lists are common. With that being said, it can still be a good option for you. It has the advantage that employers see that you’re already in Germany and might be more likely to invite you to a job interview.

Conclusion: How to get a visa to work in Germany

As we discussed in this article, the ways of getting a visa to work in Germany are different depending on your citizenship and your level of education. You also need to have proof of recognition of your professional qualification or education.

Lastly, you need to get a job offer from a company. This often sounds easier than said and done but is of course an essential part.

If you want the support of professional career coaches to help you develop a good application strategy and optimize your CV and other documents to start your career in Germany, please contact us.

Luca Planert

Luca Planert

Recruitment Specialist & Career Coach for international and German professionals.

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