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Business, work and life in Germany in English

How to get a stay and work permit in Germany: the EU and the EEA citizens, Blue Card, residence permit, the EU long-term residence permit

To apply for a job in Germany, a person has to have a permit to stay and work in the said country, the issuance of which is regulated by the AufenthG Residence Act in Germany. Obtaining a work permit in Germany depends on which country the person has come from and for what reason. For information on the work visas and labour migration to Germany see a dedicated page of our website. Further on, the page discusses the possibility of officially obtaining a work permit in Germany.


§ Work in Germany for the EU and EEA citizens

Citizens of the countries belonging to the European Union, as well as countries of the European Economic Area are entitled to stay and work any amount of time in Germany without any permit. However, for a long-term stay in the country, they have to register at the local registry office (in German: Einwohnermeldeamt) at the place of their residence. Swiss citizens have to apply to the German Emigration Service for a residence permit.

Citizens of other countries (for some countries special agreements apply) are required to have a national or Schengen visa to enter Germany, and for a long-term stay in the country they need: a German stay permit or residence permit.

§ Obtaining a German stay permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis)

The permit to stay in Germany (a stay permit) is usually issued for 3 years with the possibility of further extension subject to successful integration. It is provided for the following purposes:

The stay permit in its own right does not entitle you to work in Germany or engage in entrepreneurial activity. Labour activity is possible only if it is particularly specified in the stay permit. Such a work permit may be worded as follows: "Erwerbstätigkeit gestattet".

Previously, a permit to stay in Germany was pasted into a foreign passport, now it has the form of a credit card with an electronic chip. It contains detailed information about the person, including their height, eye color, gender, date of birth, etc.

Labour activity is possible only if it is particularly specified in the stay permit.

Difference between Aufenthaltserlaubnis (stay permit or permit to stay) and Niederlassungserlaubnis (residence permit or permit to reside)

For a German long-term stay permit, a person can obtain Aufenthaltserlaubnis (a stay permit) or Niederlassungserlaubnis (a residence permit), the main difference between these two is that the former gives the right to a temporary stay in the country, usually for 3 years, while the latter - for an indefinite stay. Both permits are issued for a specific purpose, usually to grant the right to work in Germany.

§ Obtaining a German residence permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis)

A residence permit is a document giving the right to permanent residence and work in Germany. Some foreigners, under certain conditions, can receive this document immediately; others can be issued it under the following main conditions:

§ Obtaining the EU long-term residence permit (Erlaubnis zum Daueraufenthalt-EU)

A special type of document permitting an indefinite stay in Germany is the European Union permit for a long-term stay/residence. Its difference from a residence permit is that a person can not only stay and work in Germany, it also gives the right to obtain a temporary residence permit in any country of the European Union.

§ Obtaining the EU Blue Card to work in Germany, list of professions 2021

"The EU Blue Card" - is a document permitting residence and work in Germany for a period of 4 years or less, depending on the duration of the employment contract. It is issued to foreigners (including the citizens of Uzbekistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Moldova, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan) who have higher education or a similar qualification that allows them to work in Germany with this qualification. To receive such a Blue Card, the following 2 conditions have to be met:

The Blue Card holder can obtain an unlimited residence permit, provided that s/he:

The spouse of the EU Blue Card holder who has come to Germany is also entitled to work in Germany.

List of professions under the EU 2021 Blue Card

As such, the list of professions the availability of which makes it possible to receive the EU Blue Card does not exist, it is important to have higher education. However, as mentioned above, some professions in Germany are in particular demand and therefore have advantages (reduced wage/ salary limit) when receiving the said Blue Card; they are as follows:

Where and how to get the EU Blue Card?

If a person who wants to get the Blue Card is not yet located in Germany, s/he needs to contact the German representative office in their country and get a work visa (of course, for citizens of some countries, a visa is not required to enter Germany). Then, while in Germany, before the expiry of the visa, they have to apply for the EU Blue Card at the local office for foreign citizens.

Documents required to obtain the EU Blue Card

To obtain the Blue Card, you have to provide the following documents:

§ List of professions in demand and work permit for skilled workers in Germany

Due to the lack of qualified professionals in Germany, in 2013 the procedure to obtain a work permit for specialists without higher education was simplified. To obtain a permit to work in Germany for such specialists, the following conditions have to be met:

Further in Table 1. you will find a list of popular professions in Germany as of the beginning of 2018. A comprehensive analysis of the labour market and professions in demand can be found on the official website of the Federal Employment Agency in Germany. You can also find the current list in the German language on the Federal Employment Agency page.

Table 1. List of industries and groups of professions witnessing a critical shortage of skilled personnel

Name of industry or group of professions Skills level *
Metalworking (2)
Metal constructions/ constructional engineering (1)
Welding, joining technology (1)
Automotive, aerospace and shipbuilding (1)
Supervision of motor vehicles, aerospace vehicles and ships (2)
Mechatronics (1)
Automation (1/2)
Electrical engineering (1)
Installation and maintenance of communication lines (1)
Control in building construction and underground construction (2)
Floor cable routing (1)
Laying tiles, parquet, screed/ underlayment, etc. (1)
Carpenter, glazier, installation of shutters, blinds (1)
Control of construction works (2)
Sanitary engineering (1)
Plumbing, heating, air conditioning (1/2)
The make of refrigeration equipment, air heating, furnaces (1)
Control - plumbing, heating, air conditioning (2)
Software development, programming (2)
Hygiene, patient care/ medical attendance (1/2)
Medical assistants (1)
Emergency medical care (1)
Obstetrics, maternity care (2)
Physiotherapy (2)
Elderly care (1/2)
Orthopedic and rehabilitation equipment (1/2)
Hearing Aid Acoustics (1/2)

* Level of proficiency: (1) - 2-year-long professional education; (2) Technician or skilled workman, 3-year –long education.


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