BIBB Logo
An offer from the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training

Immigration

If you wish to work in Germany, you might require a visa to enter the country. You may also enter Germany in order to seek professional recognition or to look for a job.

What are my options for entering Germany?

Various options are open to you if you wish to come to Germany from a third country in order to work. If you already have a job offer, you may enter Germany to start employment. However, you may also come to Germany to look for a job or for a recognition measure.

Requirements for entry

You will normally need a visa to enter Germany from a third country. “Make it in Germany”, the main Federal Government site for skilled workers from abroad, explains the entry requirements which you will need to fulfil in individual cases. Links are provided below.

Recognition of your foreign professional or vocational qualification may help with entry and residence. Here are a few examples:

You have already received full recognition and found a job in Germany? Then you can use your visa to enter the country immediately as a recognised skilled worker

You have received a notice certifying partial recognition? Depending on your profession or occupation, you may then enter Germany to undertake a compensation measure or refresher training. Further information is available on the page What happens once a notice has been issued?

Has the competent body in the recognition procedure suggested a skills analysis? Then you may enter Germany for the skills analysis as long as certain requirements are met.

A recognition partnership allows you to enter Germany first and apply for recognition after you arrive in the country. More information is available in the section: How does a recognition partnership work?

Do you wish to work in a non-regulated profession such as electronics technician? If you have at least two years of practical occupational experience, then you may enter Germany to take up employment in this occupation as long as certain requirements are met. No recognition of your vocational qualification will be needed. It may, however, be useful to obtain recognition once you have arrived in Germany.

Advantages of recognition

Special regulations

Are you an IT specialist? In this case, you will not require professional recognition. You may enter the country in order to work even if you have not completed a vocational or higher education qualification as long as you have the necessary professional experience and a relevant job offer.

Are you a driver? You may enter Germany in order to work without needing to obtain recognition. All you will require in order to receive a visa is a relevant driving licence and a contract of employment from Germany.

Western Balkans Regulation: Are you a citizen of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, or Serbia? You may enter Germany for the purpose of employment if you have a relevant job offer. You will not require any formal recognition of your vocational qualification if you wish to work in a non-regulated profession.

Our tip

Start by visiting the “Make it in Germany” website to find out about the options and requirements relating to entry to Germany and residence. The “Working and Living in Germany” hotline provides answers to more questions.

Make it in Germany: Visas and residence

Are you still looking for employment in Germany? You may be able to find your future job on the “Make it in Germany” job exchange.

Make it in Germany: Job exchange


Entry for the purpose of looking for employment

If you have not yet found employment in Germany, you may wish to enter the country with a job search opportunity card. Skilles workers with full recognition receive the opportunity card without any further requirements. The opportunity card also brings advantages to those with partial recognition. All information about the opportunity card is available on “Make it in Germany”. The site also includes a self-check function, which you can use to explore your own personal options.

Make it in Germany: Self-Check opportunity card

Do I need a visa to enter Germany?

Immigration from the EU/EEA/Switzerland

If you are a citizen of the EU/EEA/Switzerland then you do not need a visa. You are able to enter Germany and work here. For entry, you simply need a valid proof of identity. Following entry, you do not need a residence permit for long-term residence. Exception: Swiss citizens need a ‘Swiss residency permit’. These are available from the competent immigration office. The link is available below.

Do you want to work in Germany in a regulated profession? If so, you almost always need recognition of your foreign professional qualification. Are you resident in another EU-country? If so, then you are sometimes permitted work without recognition in Germany. However, before this, you must report the fact you are resident in another EU country to the German competent authority.

Immigration from third countries

Are you a citizen of a third country who wishes to work in Germany in future? You will generally need a visa to enter Germany. You must apply for the visa at a German mission abroad. After entry to Germany, you will need to have the visa converted into a residence permit at the relevant Immigration Office.

You must state the reason why you wish to enter Germany when making your visa application, e.g. for employment, to search for a job or for a recognition measure. More information is available in the section: What are my options for entering Germany?

Special regulation: Citizens of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the USA may enter Germany without a visa. They may apply for a residence permit after arrival in Germany. Important: However, they may only work if this is allowed under the residence permit they have applied for.

All information relating to visas and residence is available on “Make it in Germany”. The site also includes a quick-check function, which enables you to quickly find information about your own visa requirements.

Make it in Germany: Visas and residence

EU Blue Card

You may wish to consider applying for an EU Blue Card if you have a higher education qualification and fulfil certain other requirements. The Blue Card is a European residence permit and thus represents an alternative to national residence permits. Further information on this topic is available on “Make it in Germany”

Make it in Germany: EU Blue Card 

Do I need professional recognition?

If you wish to work in a regulated profession, then you will need to obtain recognition of your foreign professional qualification. Examples of regulated professions are doctor or teacher. In the case of non-regulated professions, recognition may be necessary in some circumstances for entry to Germany from a third country. This depends on aspects such as amount of salary and occupational experience. You can find out whether your occupation is regulated or not by visiting the Recognition Finder.

You may enter Germany from a third country without recognition if certain requirements are met. A recognition partnership, for example, allows you to work in Germany while applying for recognition at the same time.

Important to know: The recognition procedure and the visa procedure are separate processes. You must apply for both procedures.

By the way: Even if recognition is not necessary in your case, it may still bring advantages for your professional future.

How does a recognition partnership work?

A recognition partnership allows you to enter Germany without prior recognition of your professional or vocational qualification. How it works: When you have secured a job in Germany from abroad, you conclude an agreement with your employer. In this agreement, you commit to applying for recognition immediately upon entry to Germany. You may then start your employment at once. Certain tasks are not permitted if the profession is regulated. Your employer will support you with recognition. The employer must also allow any training which is necessary for recognition. Talk to your employer about this option!

You will need to fulfil the following requirements in order to take part in a recognition partnership:

  • You have completed training of at least two years or a degree. 
  • Your qualification is recognised by the state in the country of training. This will be confirmed to you by the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB).
  • You will require German language skills at least at level A2 of the Common European Reference Framework for Languages.
  • You have found an employer.

The aim is to conduct the recognition procedure in Germany and to conclude the process with full recognition after a maximum period of three years.

You can find out whether and how you can get the recognition partnership visa on the “Make it in Germany” website.

Make it in Germany: Visa for recognition partnership