How to Get a Work Permit for Germany

Unless you are a citizen of a country of the European Union, European Economic Area or Switzerland, you will need a visa and permit to work in Germany. Citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States of America can enter Germany without a work visa, but will still need to obtain a work permit. Citizens of other countries have to apply and get a work visa before entering Germany. For job-seeking university graduates and highly-qualified workers, specific work permits are available. If you don’t fit one of these profiles, you still might be eligible for a work permit for general employment. If you want to know if you could be eligible for a permit to work in Germany, please keep reading.


Munich, Germany

Permits for general employment

If you have a job offer and meet the general requirements for obtaining a work permit, you could be eligible to receive a work permit. The position that you will take should not be able to be filled by a worker from the European Union, European Economic Area or Switzerland and consent is required from the Federal Employment Agency. The latter does not apply to some types of employment that do not require consent, like scientific researchers and managers.

The permit is usually granted for one year and is extendable as long as your situation remains the same. After five years of working in Germany, you can apply for a permanent residency permit in order to stay in the country indefinitely.

Settlement permit for highly-qualified workers

A highly-qualified person (for example, scientists with specialized knowledge or senior research assistants) can immediately receive a settlement permit for employment in Germany. To be eligible for a settlement permit as a highly skilled worker, you should have a firm job offer. Furthermore, you should also be able to show your livelihood in Germany is guaranteed without public assistance.

Job seeker permit for university graduates

University graduates can obtain a permit to seek employment. However, depending on your situation, restrictions may be in place. Once you find a job, you can apply for an actual work permit.

You have recently graduated from a German university. If you are able to secure your livelihood in Germany, your eligible for a permit that will allow you to look for suitable employment for up to 18 months, without further restrictions.

You have graduated from a foreign university and currently reside abroad. If you are able to secure livelihood in Germany, you will be eligible for a permit that allows you to find a suitable job in Germany. However, you can’t work to sustain livelihood during the period of this permit.

You have graduated from a university abroad and already currently reside in Germany on an employment permit. If you already held a permit allowing employment, you will be eligible for a permit that allows you to find a(nother) job in Germany. However, you can’t work to sustain livelihood during the period of this permit.

You have completed a professional training programme. You can extend your permit for up to one year to look for suitable employment. You are allowed to work during this time.

Applying for a German work or job seeker permit

To apply for a residence permit to work in Germany, contact the German embassy or consulate in your home country or current legal country of residence. If the application has been approved by the Aliens’ Office and the Federal Employment Agency, the Embassy will issue you a permit in the form of a visa, which will include an authorization for you to work in Germany for the amount of time that is stated on your permit.

If you’re joining a relative who is allowed to work in Germany, you will also be allowed to work. However, in most cases, citizens from countries outside of the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland can only work in Germany if the position cannot be filled by a citizen from the aforementioned countries or if they are highly skilled or highly qualified.


    1. Expatible

      Hi Brett,

      First step I’d take would be getting at least a Bachelor’s degree in a sector within engineering, preferably in the country you would like to move to.
      Try to make as many contacts in the sector as possible, do an internship and keep your LinkedIn updated.
      You can find job listings for engineering jobs in Germany on various websites. Good luck!


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