3 approaches to get a job and a work permit in Germany
Meet the requirements to get a job and a work permit in Germany
Germany wants to attract qualified immigrants. Therefore you must meet two basic requirements to get a work permit and take up a job in Germany:
- your qualifications (university degree or vocational training) must be recognized in Germany,
- and you must find a job corresponding to your field and level of qualification.
Other requirements may differ depending on your profession, age, and country of origin*. However, they don’t play a crucial role in understanding the following immigration approaches.
Most international job seekers try to get a job and a work permit in Germany by applying from their home country. But the German immigration system also offers other immigration approaches, which in some cases can significantly increase your chances of landing a job.
Finding a job in Germany from abroad
International job seekers who meet the first requirement – a recognized university degree or vocational training – usually start to look and apply for jobs in Germany from their home country. Once they receive a job offer, they can apply for a work visa and relocate to Germany. This approach works better in some industries, like IT or healthcare than in others. Here are some pros and cons of this approach:
- You don’t have to quit your current job until you have secured a position in Germany.
- You won’t have many expenses, except for the recognition of your degree.
- Many German employers and recruiting agencies won’t consider your application if you are not in Germany or don’t already have a German residence permit.
- Some employers prefer in-person interviews.
- The visa process can take a couple of months if you are not a citizen of one of the privileged countries*, and some employers might not be willing to wait so long for you.
Finding a job with a jobseeker visa
If your job search from abroad is difficult and takes a long time, a jobseeker visa could significantly increase your chances. The jobseeker visa allows you to spend up to 6 months in Germany looking for a job. If you land a job within this period of time, you can quickly get a residence permit and start working. Holding a jobseeker visa makes you much more attractive to German employers since you can start working within weeks, and employing you will cause less administrative work for the employer than hiring someone who is still abroad.
- Holding a jobseeker visa makes you a domestic applicant, at least from an administrative point of view.
- The jobseeker visa status signals to employers that you will be available to start working within weeks.
- You will be available for in-person interviews. This is especially important if you target jobs in small and medium-sized companies.
- After finding a job, you can get your work and residence permit from the local immigration office in Germany. You can continue your stay in Germany and don’t have to return to your home country to apply for a residence permit at the German embassy.
- The jobseeker visa doesn’t allow you to work in Germany, and you will need sufficient funds to cover your expenses during the whole stay.
- If you have completed vocational training, you will need to speak German on level B1 to get a jobseeker visa, even if German language skills are not required for the job.
- If you don’t secure a job within 6 months, you can’t extend your stay and need to leave Germany.
Finding a job during studies or after graduating in Germany
Studying in Germany and getting a German university can also be a good strategy to increase your chances in the German job market. This approach makes sense if you are just starting your career or want to continue your education. The degree will increase your chances significantly, and you will have plenty of time during and after your studies to look for a job.
- Employers prefer German degrees since it’s difficult for most of them to assess the quality of foreign degrees.
- You can build up a network during your studies that will help you find a job.
- You can do internships during your studies. Internships are a common way in Germany to land the first job.
- You can use your stay in Germany to learn German and additionally increase your chances in the job market.
- After finding a job, you can get your work and residence permit from the local immigration office in Germany.
- If you don’t secure a job by the time you graduate, you can get a jobseeker visa for up to 18 months.
- Studying in Germany is less expensive than in many other countries.
- You can work up to 20 hours/week during your studies and at least partially finance your stay in Germany.
- This approach is less suitable if you are well advanced in your career.
- Although you can work up to 20 hours/week during your studies, you will have to invest a significant amount of money.
- It can be challenging to take family members to Germany with you on a student visa.
* Citizens of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or the USA can come to Germany as tourists and apply for a residence permit at a local immigration office. They don’t need to get a work or jobseeker visa at the German embassy in their home country.