Reason for Residence: Employment

working in germany

The topic of this page is about working as an employee in Germany. You will read about the different kinds of possible employment or stages prior to employment in Germany. Prior to working in Germany, you can come in and search for a job.

When will I obtain a residence permit for employment?

Usually, you can obtain a residence permit if the following prerequisites have been met:

  1. the occupation you wish to take up requires a vocational training qualification and you possess this qualification,
  2. you can show that you have a job offer,
  3. when you are an academic that your diploma and school are acknowledged in Germany,
  4. you work under equal conditions as Germans,
  5. no privileged person can fill your position,
  6. the granting of a residence permit for your occupational group is envisaged by legal regulations, and
  7. the Federal Employment Agency approves of your employment unless such is not required.
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How do I show that I have a job offer?

In this stage, employers are commonly referred to as “sponsors”. Right, so you will need a job sponsor. There are two things needed: One will be a job description and the draft of employment contract in writing. Normally, the office expects a form to be filled out. If you want to improve your chances have your employer-to-be hand you a signed contract – signed exclusively by your future employer. N.B. Do not even think of signing that employment contract before it has not been approved by the labor agency. Because, if you should do and you are living in Germany without a permission to work, you might be in for trouble! Following German law, signing that contract makes it binding for you and your employer. An employment contract closed or signed prior to required permission by labor agency is forbidden by law. So why have your employer-to-be sign it? He will bind himself with his signature… (See also "Contracts" on another page of this FAQ!) The second detail, next to labor contract, will be a letter from your employer-to-be showing how he had first tried a privileged person.
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Are they any exemptions to the prior approval of the Federal Labor Agency?

Yes. The most important exception is that your job offer will normally not have negative impact on the German labor market because the work you are to do requires an individual performance, which nobody else – at least not easily – can replace. Typical examples are guest scientists, artist or professional sportsmen in a federal league.

Who qualifies as a skilled worker?

The answer is already so simple that the law provides a definition. §18 III AufenthG differentiates between "skilled workers with vocational training" and "skilled workers with academic training".

Now what qualifies as a "vocational training"?

This is a two-year training in a state-approved profession or a comparable profession.

What qualifies as an academic training?

Candidates having a diploma from a German university or comparable university degree from a foreign school will be considered as having an "academic training". This is just as before the last modernization of immigration law to March 2020. We're referring to the so-called "ANABIN" test. Your school needs to be graded as "H" or "H+".

Do I need to speak any German when I apply? I just started it and this language is surely a tongue twister.

Immigration law does not require any abilities to speak German when applying for a residence permit for employment. The same remains when applying for an extension. The law for your profession might require you to speak German. If this is the case, then this will also be required to prove that your German abilities meet what your professional law requires you to have in order to obtain your residence permit. As an example, a psychologist requires C1 German to work as a psychologist in Germany. If you are trained psychiatrist and want to work in a publishing house as a lector, then you do not require C1.

I heard conflicting information. Do I need an employment contract or a job offer? Do they want to see the wet ink copy?

This is simple to clarify. The law demands a "concrete job offer". This simply means an employment contract either signed by your employer alone (aka job offer) or a contract signed by you two. This contract is to contain all the stipulations of your assignment, payment, vacation, bonuses, etc. It is also very important to have a clear and elaborate job description.

Does the Labor Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) still have to grant the work permit?

As a rule, the Labor Agency is still to be involved to internally grant the work permission. Well, actually nowadays, they do not grant a work permit anymore. This is taken care by your residence permit. The Labor Agency determines the necessity of employment for the German labor market and whether the contract violates mandatory labor law regulations. The general approach is that they want to cut the shortage but make sure that the rules will be followed.

What does the Labor Agency want to know to grant its approval?

Next to the above mentioned details, it tests the requirements of the labor market. As a rule, this authority has to be consulted – unless exceptions exist. In general, the priority is to have more skilled workers enter Germany and keep out unskilled persons.

Aren't there any exceptions when the Labor Agency needs to be involved? Do they always have to be consulted?

Oh yes, there are exceptions. These are typically around:

  • Blue Card for academics,
  • specialists in a company related area,
  • directors of companies,
  • research and development,
  • graduates of German schools abroad,
  • already having a residence permit for employment for more than two years in a row,
  • internships,
  • journalists,
  • "business travelers", i.e. employees for an employer not based in Germany, to close or supervise the implementation of contracts for not more than 90 days per half year (§16 BeschV),
  • employment for international sports festivals,
  • employment around international transportation on tracks or streets,
  • etc.
I just secured the position I have been dreaming of for my whole life. Now I heard that I need a permission to pursue my profession. What do they now want?

Yes, some professions require a permission to pursue. As a rule of the thumb, such professions that are systematically important, deal with danger, create danger will require a special permission to practice at all. This permission comes parallel to a residence permit. Typical examples for professions requiring permission will be:

  • attorneys,
  • certified public accountants,
  • physicians,
  • parachute teachers / jumpers when accompanying persons,
  • etc.
My wife is offered a job in Germany which means I want / have to move with her. Does this mean I will automatically have permission to work there? If not, what is required so I can look for a job there? What is a trailing spouse entitled to in Germany?

Just because your wife has a job this does not at all mean that you get a permission to live and work just here. You need to apply for your behalf! Once you have a residence permit for family reunion, you have no restrictions in your employment or business or freelancing – in as far as immigration is concerned.

How long does it take to get a permit?

That varies from city to city and nationality to nationality and if applied from inside to Germany or abroad. As a rule of the thumb, you have to reckon one month – when inside Germany. When applying form outside Germany, chances are that you will have to practice a lot of patience. If you are eligible for the fast-track proceedings, then you will get your entry visa inside two months.

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