Studying and working in Germany
Blohm und Voss
© Liesa Johannssen/photothek.net
Access to the German labour market
Foreign nationals other than European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals may reside in Germany for the purpose of taking up gainful employment if they have the required residence permit. To work in Germany they must in principle have a residence permit that explicitly authorizes them to do so. Australian, Israeli, Japanese, Canadian, South Korean, New Zealand and US citizens may obtain such a residence permit from the relevant foreigners authority also after their arrival in Germany. It is important to note, however, that they may not commence their intended employment until they have the permit. All other foreign nationals must apply for a work visa from their local German mission before coming to Germany.
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Ever since the 1973 ban on recruiting foreign workers, access to the German labour market for third‑country nationals has been subject to strict regulation (Ordinance on the admission of foreigners for the purpose of taking up gainful employment). Access is in principle limited to certain occupational groups and normally requires the approval of the employment authorities.
More information on recruitment regulations is available on the the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) website: www.zuwanderung.de
For unskilled and low‑skilled workers a recruitment ban is still in place and access to the labour market remains very limited.
Highly‑qualified foreign nationals such as university graduates, however, may emigrate to and obtain long‑term resident status in Germany.
As from 1 August 2012 foreign nationals with a recognized university degree or a degree comparable to a German degree will, under the EU Blue Card system, have easier access to the labour market. To obtain the Blue Card, they must furnish proof of their qualifications as well as a concrete job offer that would provide annual gross earnings of at least 44,800 euros. In these cases the approval of the Federal Employment Agency is not required.
In the case of highly qualified foreign nationals with a background in mathematics, the natural sciences or technology as well as medical doctors, the EU Blue Card facilities and arrangements also apply, provided they are offered the same salaries as comparable German employees and their annual gross earnings would be at least 34,944 euros. In these cases the approval of the Federal Employment Agency is required.
The rules on easier access to the labour market also apply to academics, highly qualified professionals, executives, senior employees, specialists and similar groups.
Would‑be immigrants can use the Federal Employment Agency’s online Migration Check programme to obtain quick information on labour market access.
Following the expiry of the relevant transitional arrangements, as of 1 May 2011 nationals of the following EU member states will enjoy full freedom of movement for workers: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Accordingly, only nationals of EU member states Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia still require work permits in Germany. They should apply for such “EU work permits” to their local German employment agency.
More information is available on the Federal Employment Agency's website:www.arbeitsagentur.de “Working in Germany”
Training in Germany
Third‑country nationals may also be granted residence permits for in‑company training in Germany. This requires the approval of the Federal Employment Agency, however. Before granting approval, the Federal Employment Agency checks whether the training place has been advertized nationwide also to German nationals or privileged foreign nationals.
Graduates of German schools abroad wanting to take up an in‑company training place in a state-recognized or similarly regulated training occupation may be granted a residence permit without prior approval by the Federal Employment Agency.
Seeking employment in Germany
As from 1 August 2012 graduates with a German or other recognized university degree or a foreign degree comparable to a German degree will be eligible to enter Germany to seek employment. Holders of a jobseeker’s visa may stay in Germany for up to six months to seek employment. To obtain a jobseeker’s visa, applicants must furnish proof of their university degree and that they can support themselves for the planned duration of their stay. While seeking employment, jobseekers are not permitted to work, whether on a self‑employed basis or otherwise.
Local employment office
The Federal Employment Agency’s Central Placement Office (ZAV) is responsible for advising and placing jobseekers from abroad. It cooperates with partners all over the world and is also a long‑standing partner for a range of networks active in the EU labour market.
The European Employment Service (EURES) facilitates mobility on the European labour market by providing information, guidance and placement services for both jobseekers and employers. EURES is a cooperation network involving the European Commission and the Public Employment Services of the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) member states as well as Switzerland. EURES advisers working within national Public Employment Services offer information and advice about placement opportunities as well as living and working conditions in Germany. They have access to job vacancy information and work closely with their contacts in Germany.
Studying and working in Germany
If you have any inquiries about studying and working in Germany, please contact the Federal Employment Agency’s Central Placement Office (ZAV) helpline at +49 228 713 1313. General information about living and working in Germany, including matters such as recognition of qualifications, employment prospects and social insurance, is available at the following websites:
Last updated 23.07.2012