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Germany Immigration Information Work Permit

EU/EEA countries

Citizens of EU/EEA countries (European Union, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) don't need a work permit to hold a job, be self-employed or create a business in Germany.

However, employment of nationals of some new EU members is controlled, as Germany will apply a 'transition period' limiting employment. The countries are: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia (citizens of the two remaining new members, i.e. Cyprus and Malta, have no such a restriction due to the small size of their countries). Consequently, the citizens of the eight countries above still need a work permit! The duration of this transition period is not yet fixed and can last up to 7 years, although it is likely to be shorter. Nationals of these countries can be self-employed or create a business in Germany.

Non-EEA countries

All non-EU/EAA nationals need both a work and a residency permit. These are applied for at the same time, as they are interdependent. The permit type required depends on the planned activity and whether you ask for a temporary or long-term work permit.

For Swiss nationals there is a special agreement between Germany and Switzerland that makes the application for a work permit straightforward, but Swiss citizens still need to follow the regular visa application process.

How it works

In order to hire a non-EEA citizen, especially long-term, a company must demonstrate that there is not a suitably qualified EEA candidate interested in the position. It is not impossible to satisfy these conditions, but some smaller firms are simply not willing to make the effort as they are typically not short of candidates and the approval process itself can take 4-6 months.

The company wishing to employ you should first publish the position at ANPE (Agence nationale pour l'emploi), the national agency for employment. If no suitably qualified French residents apply, the application dossier (including your candidature and company's undertaking to employ you) will be submitted to the DDTEFP (Direction départementale du travail, de l'emploi et de la formation professionnelle), the Department Directorate of Work, Employment and Training.

To make a decision, the DDTEFP will examine the application, taking into account your qualification, your experience and the employment situation in Germany. If the decision is positive, the DDTEFP will inform your company as well as the prefecture and OMI (Office des migrations internationals). At this point the process

of your 'introduction' to Germany will start. This includes a medical examination either in your country or Germany, the issue of the relevant visa (if applicable) and the issue of a temporary residency permit. If the decision is negative, the DDTEFP will inform your company about the decision and its reasons. For some professions this process is much easier, such as for scientific or information technology experts!

If you have a temporary resident permit that does not give you the right to work (visitors, students), you can apply for a change of status. This is usually easier than starting from scratch. Apply directly at your local prefecture (services des étrangers). The prefecture will forward your application to the DDTEFP, which will examine the regularity and conditions of your stay in Germany and your profile and employment situation in the sector you have qualifications for.

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