Friday, August 21, 2009

Working in Germany

If you are already studying in Germany or if you intend to, then this post is not relevant for you. You might want to look here for information. This post is intended for those who aspire to come to Germany only for work.

Note: I personally have never been in Germany on a dependent visa and since I studied here (and so did most of my friends), I have even less information about coming to Germany directly for work.So I am digging around for info from friends and acquaintances and will keep updating this post as and when I learn more. In the meanwhile, leave your questions as comments.

Without beating about the bush, if you are not a member of the EU or a developed country, then coming to Germany to work is a indeed an ambitious task. The easy ways include studying in Germany and/or coming to Germany on intra-company projects.

It is obviously not impossible but there are road blocks you should be prepared for. The first stumbling block is obviously the work permit or arbeitserlaubnis. Usually a non-EU member can apply for a work permit, if and only if he/she already has a residence permit i.e. one should have a valid address and visa to be here, in the first place. This already poses difficulties because to have a valid address in Germany, you should either have studied here or should have a family member supporting you. So coming to Germany in search of a job is a bad idea. Better would be to have a job offer or atleast prospects before getting here (even in that case, I doubt if getting a visa would be easy).

Once you have a job contract, the company may apply for a work permit on your behalf (in case of large companies like Bosch) or you do it personally, in case of the smaller ones. An important step in this application process is the list of reasons that should be submitted by the company to the Arbeitsamt or Employment office to prove that you are important for the job and that the expertise you bring in to the company cannot be found ''locally''. Naturally, the decision of the Arbeitsamt is made easier if you have a strong resume (usually the processing, say for PhD holders is much faster than for those with a bachelors degree).

Once there is an acceptance from the Arbeitsamt, the international office or Ausländerbehörde will give you the work permit. Usually this is given for a maximum of 2 years and is bound to the company. This means that you should apply again for a new permit if you change companies (this is not very difficult given that the new job is not really different from the previous one). At the end of 2 years, the employer should issue a letter saying you are still employed with them and on submission of this letter, your work permit will be extended by another 2 years. Also, your residence permit will now be bound to the work permit since it will be listed as a means of your living.

The other difficulty is the foreign language. Students have the time for learning the language, culture and other required niceties; all their mistakes are made amidst other students and are condoned and in fact its a fun way to learn things. This luxury is unfortunately not available to one while being employed in a company. Although many companies have some form of training to make everyone comfortable with a multi-cultural environment, one has to carefully tread in the first few months while still sticking to deadlines and other responsibilities - definitely not a mean task !

For people who come here on a dependent visa, the rules are different. . One cannot work for a period of 2 years after which one is eligible for an ''open work permit'' that gives one the possibility of taking any form of employment. Exceptions are made in some cases and there are people who are allowed to work under certain conditions in the first 2 years.

For researchers, permission from the Arbeitsamt is not needed and hence getting a permit is considerably easier.

Finally, I have one word of caution for those who approach consultants and want to get to Germany by hook or by crook - DON'T ! I have absolutely no sympathy with consultants and even less for those who attempt to come here on a false pretext and/or false certificates/information. You have made your choice and I have made mine and since they do not overlap, please do not look up to me for help in this case; you will not get any.


  1. This is even new news for me that there exist some work visa like H1B for Germany.

  2. @Sk

    yeah, I know 2 people who have done that. I am just trying to find out exactly how.

  3. It's definitely not an easy process, but this post has some great advice. I'm here on a one year language study permit (they don't call it a visa), am marrying a German next year and we've been advised to start on the paperwork at least 6 months in advance - yikes! I have a Thai friend who is having difficulty even getting a language study visa.


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