Business, work and life in Germany in English

How to leave for and get a job in Germany: labour migration, work visas

On this page, you will learn how the way the residents of other countries outside the European Union can leave for Germany to work, how the way to receive the employment visa, and what the terms for immigration, obtaining the work permit, and job placement in the FRG are.

§ Labour migration to Germany

Germany is a country being open for labour migrants – people from different countries of the world work here, both those who have obtained the German citizenship or reside in this country under temporary permit. The people of an immigrant background account for over 20% of the current population in Germany, and half of those are foreigners without the German citizenship. The FRG has a very high level of employment and a strong economic system, therefore, skilled professionals are in constant demand here – for example, as of March 2019, the supply of about 800'000 jobs was registered at the German state labour exchange. The Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) expands opportunities to attract foreign specialists for their work in the country, and while earlier it used to engage only the university diplomas holders, now the persons with vocational education and training, too, have received access to the labour market. Nevertheless, in order to obtain a permit to work in the country, it is required to go through a number of bureaucratic procedures – such as confirmation or recognition of educational qualifications received in another country. Read more about this below on the page.

Germany is open to labour migrants, 20% of the country's inhabitants have an immigrant background.

§ Work visas to Germany

The EU and the EEA citizens can live and work in Germany without any additional permit, while the citizens of some other countries, have to obtain a permit for entry and work in Germany. The list below displays different kinds of German visas, issued for entry in the country in connection with labour activities.

As can be seen from the list above, Germany issues visas for a wide variety of activities. Depending on the purpose, there may be different conditions for obtaining a permit to stay and work in the country.

§ How to get a visa, work permit for Germany

The general procedure for getting a visa to Germany is described on a dedicated page of our website; there you will learn about the opportunity to enter Germany without a visa, as well as visa prices.

To obtain a visa to work in Germany, a foreigner has to contact the Embassy or Consulate General of Germany in their country at the place of residence. There you can get detailed information about German work visas, the procedure of applying for them and the required documents that have to be submitted in order to obtain a permit to work in the country.

Depending on the kind of labour activities and the purpose of visit to Germany, there can be different conditions for receiving the visa and the work permit; the table below displays the major conditions for granting a work permit to migrants.

Basic conditions for obtaining a visa and work permit in Germany, by visa type

The EU Blue Card,
more details on the European Union Blue Card
Employment for people with higher education
  • Higher education available;
  • An employment contract or job offer from a German employer by qualifications;
  • Approval of the given job on the part of the German Federal Employment Agency;
Employment for people with vocational education and training
Free profession/ Independent profession, Entrepreneurship (in German: Freiberufler)
  • The applicant has a sufficient amount of his / her own funds to finance the entrepreneurial activities;
  • The applicant has a sufficient amount of his / her own funds to finance the residence in the country;
  • Permit for this kind of activities;
Visa for job search
  • The applicant has higher education qualifications recognized in Germany;
  • The applicant has a sufficient amount of money to cover his / her living expenses in Germany for the job-search period;
Practical training for international students
  • Studies at a higher education institution recognized in Germany;
  • Available vacancy for practical training in a German firm/company;
  • Approval of the given vacancy for practical internship on the part of the German Federal Employment Agency;
Au-Pair, nannies and housekeepers
Au-Pair program in Germany
  • Elementary knowledge of the German language;
  • Age limit;
  • Available job for a nanny or housekeeper in a German-speaking family;
Qualifications recognition, if the available foreign education is not recognized in Germany
  • The expert finding as to the qualifications recognition requires additional education or testing;
  • The applicant has enough money to cover the living expenses in Germany for the period of study or testing his/ her qualifications for the purpose of their recognition;
  • Availability of the confirmed vacancy for study or trial job for the purpose of qualifications recognition;

Take note of the fact that special terms and conditions are provided for medical doctors, people of art and performing artists as well as for scientists and researchers.

Apart from the terms and conditions as listed in the table, a labour migrant must have a sufficient level of proficiency in the German language for working in Germany; however, it is often the case that the employee’s good command of English would be sufficient for the employer.

So, the major condition for the labour migration to Germany is availability of a job, confirmed by an employer from the FRG. Thus, the next step to be made in the labour migration is to look for a job and to sign a labour contract, or to receive a job offer from a German employer.

§ Search for employers in Germany and concluding an employment contract

The main source of information on the availability of vacant jobs is Germany is the online labour exchange of the Federal Employment Agency. The Agency website is available in the German and English languages, and is convenient for searching. Besides, there are other multiple opportunities to search for a job in the FRG from other countries. On our website page, focused on the search for a job in Germany, you would find over 10 various options of independent job search. In addition, numerous intermediary firms are engaged in the job search activities, some of them have recruiters who speak English, Russian, Polish. Below is a list of links to various job search options.

When looking for a job, be careful, find out in advance how not to become a victim of swindlers and scammers, as well as how not to become a victim of a forced labour and slave labour recruiter.

§ How to get a job in Germany

The chart below defines the main steps to be taken in order to obtain a visa and work permit in Germany for specialists both with and without higher education. The chart, however, does not address the opportunities for having practical training/ doing internship or working as a nanny under the Au-pair program.

Chart 1. How to get employed in Germany: general pattern

How to get employed in Germany: general pattern

§ Permanent residence permit in Germany for labour migrants

Labour migrants, upon their successful integration in the labour market, may obtain a residence permit and even citizenship of Germany. On the dedicated pages of our website you can learn about the conditions, on which the country provides the opportunity to obtain its residence permit and citizenship.

The main conditions are as follows: having lived in Germany for a certain number of years, no criminal record, the ability to provide for themselves financially, sufficient knowledge of the German language and legal and public order in the country.

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