Are you planning to move to Germany and work here? The regulations which apply to residence and taking up employment in your case will depend on the country from which you come and on which qualifications which you have. This section provides the most important information.
Citizens from third countries
Note: This page is currently being revised due to new legal regulations.
Special arrangements for nationals of certain countries
You can travel to Germany and stay longer without a visa if you are a national of one of the following countries (§ 41 para 1 AufenthV):
- New Zealand
- the Republic of Korea or
- the United States of America (USA).
Within three months after arrival and before taking a job you must apply for a residence permit for the purpose of employment at the Immigration Office in the town where you want to live. You will find the addresses of the immigration authorities on the website of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).
Standard rules for nationals from third countries
As a national of another country you must apply to a German diplomatic mission (visa offices of the Embassies and Consulates General) in your home country for a visa before entering Germany. For information on visa requirements and application forms, see the portal of the Federal Foreign Office.
You will find the addresses of the German diplomatic missions on the interactive world map of "Make it in Germany". Ask the German diplomatic mission what documents you need.
Residence permit with access to the labour market
If you want to stay longer in Germany, in addition to the visa, apply for a residence permit at the German diplomatic mission in your country. At first the permit will usually be temporary and granted for a specific purpose of stay, for example for employment, study or training. Once you have a residence permit for employment you will not need an additional work permit. Whether or not you can work in Germany, that is, can get a "residence permit for the purpose of employment", depends on what qualifications you have. For highly qualified workers, scientists and self-employed persons, there are provisions that facilitate immigration. Under certain conditions, persons from third countries without university training can also take up employment in Germany.
Here you can check whether you are allowed to work in Germany.
If you need further information on access to the labour market, please visit the web pages of the International Placement Services (ZAV) of the Federal Employment Agency.
For academics: EU Blue Card
As of August 2012, if you have a German or foreign university degree that is recognized in Germany or is comparable with a German degree, you can get an "EU Blue Card". You can find out whether your university degree is recognized in Germany at the Internet portal of the Central Office for Foreign Education Systems (ZAB) or – if you find no information there – you can apply to the ZAB for an evaluation of your degree (charges apply).
The Blue Card is a four-year temporary work and residence permit. Prerequisites for the Blue Card are:
- a university degree and
- a job in Germany with a minimum annual salary of €55,200 or
- a degree in certain professions in which specialists are in short supply in Germany (so-called shortage occupations), such as scientists, mathematicians, engineers, doctors and IT professionals with a minimum annual salary of €43.056.
You can submit your application for an EU Blue Card to the appropriate immigration office (Ausländerbehörde). If you have a foreign university degree and wish to work in a so-called shortage occupation, the Federal Employment Agency has to first consent to your employment (after assessment of whether the work conditions correspond to the customary local conditions). An EU Blue Card enables you to obtain a settlement permit under simplified requirements after 33 or 21 months, depending on your German language skills. Family members of EU Blue Card holders are allowed to work in Germany without restrictions without having to wait. More information is provided in this flyer (last updated: March 2019, PDF, 250 KB) or on the website of the Saxonian Federal State Ministry of the Interior.
For information for graduates of German universities or persons having completed a course of training in Germany, see www.make-it-in-germany.com.
For specialists with completed vocational education and training: New employment regulation
Since 2013, specialists who completed their non-academic vocational education and training in countries outside the EU may migrate to Germany to work if they meet the following conditions (Employment Regulation – BeschV, new version of 1 July 2013):
- First the foreign specialists need a workplace or a binding offer in Germany.
- You must have completed at least two years of vocational training. The training must be equivalent to a German certificate, that is, it must be recognized. The rules in the federal or state Recognition Act create the necessary conditions for this.
- There is a shortage of specialists in the German labour market with that particular occupation (so-called bottleneck occupation). The respective occupations are listed by the Federal Employment Agency in this positive list (german).
The vocational recognition can already be applied for abroad, with or without a job offer. You can also enter the country if a period of practical work is required for recognition of your vocational certificate, for example, if there are other requirements that have to be met for recognition, such as an adaptation course or preparations for a test, which make this period of practical work necessary.
After all requirements are fulfilled, an assessment is made whether a residence permit can be granted.
Health personnel from those 57 countries in which, according to the findings of the World Health Organisation (WHO), there is likewise a lack of personnel, can only work in Germany if they have found a job themselves. The Ordinance amending the Employment Ordinance of 7 November 2013 rules out the recruitment and private placement of health workers from those countries. The German Federal Employment Agency will make bilateral agreements with the employment services in selected countries. Placement agreements already exist in the health care sector with such countries as the Philippines (March 2013) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (March 2013).
Spousal and family reunion
The decision to move to Germany often affects the whole family. If you are a member of the family of a citizen from a third country, a residence permit may be granted to you if your family member is already in possession of a residence permit. Since September 2013, all those coming to join a member of their family also have full labour market access.
Knowledge of German
You and your family will be better able to navigate everyday life, work and school if you all speak German. You can find more information here.