Getting a Work and Residence Permit in Germany

So you want to live and work here in Berlin, fantastic! Come on down, bring your passport and get right on the job hunt. IF you are from the EU, the EEA (Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein) or Switzerland, that is. Let’s call them Category One Countries.

If you don’t qualify for category one, but do come from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) or the USA, then hey, Category Two ain’t so bad. You are permitted to enter Germany without a visa and then register at the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigners’ Office) in order to apply for a residence permit.

If one of the above applies, it means you’re from one of what we’re going to call the Category Three Countries. Whilst your country may be amazing, unfortunately it is kind of a bummer when it comes to applying for a work and residence permit here because it means that your ‘welcome to Germany’ gift is, you guessed it, a big ribbon-wrapped pile of bureaucracy! It basically means that before you can even set foot in Germany you will need to apply for an initial entry visa at your local German embassy.

It is important to know that to live in Germany, if you are from either a Category Two or Three country, you will need a residence permit, which will then be inextricably linked to your work permit and vice versa. These residence permits come in three forms; for employment, to study, or for family reasons. The type of permit you apply for will dictate your permission to work. For example, if you apply for a temporary residence permit to study then that will be the purpose of your stay and therefore your working permission will be extremely limited.

All residence permits can be extended, given there is no major change to your circumstances and you still meet the conditions, which means that they form the basis for any future, long-term visa applications, so choose wisely.

If you want to live and work here, then you obviously want to apply for a residence permit for the purpose of employment.

Residence Permit for the Purpose of Employment in Germany

A residence permit specifically for the purpose of employment means the length of your residence permit is generally tied to your work contract. If you have a one year contract, your residence permit will be one year. If your contract is extended you can also apply to extend your visa. It is one of the most common residence permits for foreign nationals arriving, but that is not to say it’s easy to get.

In order to even apply you need to have an employment contract and proof of residence in the form of a lease. “Wait, what?!” we hear you moan. And yes, it seems crazy. This is when being from a Category Three country starts to suck. Nationals from Category Two countries can enter Germany without a visa and apply from within the country, allowing time on the ground to find both a job and a place to live. Nationals from Category Three countries, however, cannot.

If you are from a Category Three country, you will need to apply for a visa to enter Germany first. This is separate from the residence permit. You apply for that initial entry visa at the German embassy in your own country, which is a process in itself. If successful the visa will be granted for a set period, most likely 90 days, during which time you must make an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde and get everything you need prepared in order to apply for your residence permit.

Applying For The German Residence Permit

The fact that this residence permit is specifically for the purpose of employment means that it must be approved by the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency) in addition to the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigners Office). Your permit will only be issued once both offices have approved your application.

If your profession requires a license in order to practice then you must be able to present that license or evidence that the license will be issued.

A personal interview by appointment at the Ausländerbehörde is also required as a key part of the application process, as well as having your main residence in the part of Germany in which you are applying.

In order to complete the application process you need:

  • The completed form “Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels“ (Application for issuance of a residence permit)
  • The form “Antrag auf Erlaubnis einer Beschäftigung” (Application for an employment permit) completed by you.
  • The form “Stellenbeschreibung” (Job description) completed by your employer.
  • Your passport
  • A current biometric photo
  • The original of your employment contract
  • Proof of your educational qualifications.
  • Original lease or proof of home ownership
  • Proof of main residence in Berlin
  • Proof of rental cost or expenses for property
  • Proof of adequate health insurance

Residence Permit Fees

  • Initial issuance: 56.00 to 100.00 euros
  • Each extension: 49.00 to 96.00 euros
  • Turkish citizens: maximum of 28.80 euros

Residence Permit Processing Time
The residence permit will generally be issued as an adhesive label in your passport. The average processing time is advised as between 4-6 weeks.

EU Blue Card for Germany

Introduced in Germany in 2012, the EU Blue Card is a residence permit aimed at skilled professionals and those with higher education, making it easier for those with a minimum of a university degree or equivalent to enter the country to gain employment on the basis of that qualification.

The most important aspect of it is that you have a concrete job offer (that meets the required minimum salary) from a company that will in effect sponsor your visa application.

Wow, that was a mouthful. Basically, if you have a university degree you can apply for this.

The requirements that must be met for an application are:

  • Proof of said qualification. If it wasn’t completed in Germany then it must either be recognised or comparable to a German higher education qualification.
  • Proof of a specific job offer or employment contract for at least one year.
  • That the job will provide a minimum salary of 53,600 Euros (2019), or 41,808 Euros in the case of jobs where there is a shortage of applicants.

The EU Blue Card has a number of advantages in comparison to a residence permit with the purpose of employment:

  • It can be granted for a maximum of four years, depending on the length of your work contract.
  • It reduces the length of time you must wait before gaining permanent right of residence. You can apply for a settlement permit after 33 months of employment, or as little as 21 months if you can prove adequate proficiency in the German language.
  • With the card, you are allowed to leave the country federal state for up to one year without the residence title expiring.

In order to complete the actual application process for an EU Blue Card for Germany you will need:

  • The completed form “Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels“ (Application for issuance of a residence permit)
  • The form “Antrag auf Erlaubnis einer Beschäftigung” (Application for an employment permit) completed by you.
  • The form “Stellenbeschreibung” (Job description) completed by your employer.
  • Your passport
  • A current biometric photo
  • Proof of your main residence in Berlin, eg your Anmeldung certificate, or your lease and confirmation of occupancy from your landlord
  • The original of your university qualification
  • The original of your job offer or contract
  • If necessary, your occupation practice permit
  • Proof of health insurance

EU Blue Card Fees

  • Initial issuance: 100 euros
  • Extension up to three months: 96 euros
  • Extension over three months: 93 euros
  • Turkish citizens: maximum: 28.80 euros

EU Blue Card Processing Time
The EU Blue Card is issued as an electronic residence permit and the average processing time is recommended as 8 weeks.

As with all the hoops the Germans like to make you jump through, preparation will be the key to success. Get your documents in order and leave yourself plenty of time. Good luck!

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