Note: This article was updated on 15th August 2019 with a note under the requirements for an EU Blue Card.
Found a job in Berlin? Here is what you need to be able to live and work here.
So, you are interviewing with a Berlin-based company, got a job offer from one, or are thinking to move to Berlin in the future…
First of all, congrats on your choice!
Secondly, you might want to know what steps you should take to legally live and work in Berlin.
Note: If you only need to go to Berlin for a job interview, you should apply for a Schengen visa first. Check if you need one to enter Germany.
Getting permission to live and work in Germany
There are two types of permits depending on the time of your planned stay.
1) A visa (Visum) allows you to enter the country with a particular purpose and stay/live/work here for a limited time.
2) A residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel/Aufenthaltserlaubnis) is your permission to stay, live, and work in Germany for a longer period of time.
If you are from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you need neither a visa nor a permit for Germany. Your valid ID is enough.
However, most people normally need to obtain a visa first, enter the country with it, and then get a residence permit.
1. VISA (German: Visum)
Get a visa at your local embassy/consulate before coming to Germany.
Exception: Citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea or the US. If you are among them, you don’t need a visa and can obtain a work permit when in Germany. But you still can’t start working without one.
Keep in mind that a regular short-term Schengen visa does not allow you to apply for a German work permit. You need to have a national visa (D visa) for the purpose of employment. It allows you to work in Germany for up to 6 months and move freely within the Schengen area.
Documents for a national visa
• Application form
• Your valid travel passport
• Employment contract signed by your future employer
• Proof that your degree is recognised in Germany
• Proof that your university is recognised in Germany
• Proof of medical insurance
The cost of a national visa
→ The regular fee for a D visa is 75 EUR.
→ If you are a citizen of one of the following countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine, you’ll pay a reduced fee of 35 EUR.
Duration of the visa process
It normally takes up to a few months to obtain a national visa but is different from embassy to embassy. And if you need approval from the Federal Labor Office (Bundesagentur für Arbeit), then the whole process will take a few weeks longer.
A cherry on top: When booking an application appointment, you might discover that all the slots are booked several months in advance. So, make sure you book an appointment at your local embassy/consulate well in advance.
2. RESIDENCE PERMIT (German: Aufenthaltstitel/Aufenthaltserlaubnis)
4-8 before your national visa ends, you can apply for a residence title (Aufenthaltstitel) at a Foreigners’ Office (Ausländerbehörde). You will need to book an appointment online.
If you are located in Berlin, we advise you to book an appointment at Ausländerbehörde well in advance. Start looking for the available slots 6 months prior to the desired appointment date. (FAQs on booking an appointment at the Foreigners’ Office in Berlin)
Blue Card or Residence Permit?
When it comes to getting a residence permit, you have two options, an EU Blue Card or a residence title for the purpose of employment.
Below is the difference between the two.
And here are the requirements for both in 2019:
* You can check if your university is recognised here.
Note: Currently, it’s not possible to obtain a Blue Card without a university degree, even though the German Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz), paragraph §19a, section (2), says otherwise. Unfortunately, there is no decree which regulates or clarifies this exception.
You don’t need anything to start working in Germany:
- EU/EEA country or Switzerland.
You need a residence permit for the purpose of employment only (no visa prior to it):
- Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea or the US.
You need a long-stay visa for the purpose of economic activity AND a residence permit for the purpose of employment:
- All other countries.
Note that the processes described here are somewhat simplified. Please consult the respective official institutions for more detailed instructions before applying for your work permit in Berlin.
Some useful links:
German Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Auswärtiges Amt): https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/einreiseundaufenthalt
Make It In Germany (a portal maintained by Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy): https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/en/
Before you start browsing their database, do a quick check.
If you found a job and want to speed up the process, ask your employer if they can assist you. In the end, they can get in touch with Berlin Partner, an agency that will help them obtain a work permit for you.