Glückwunsch ! You have decided to move to Germany for work purposes. As the world’s fourth-largest economy, Germany is extremely welcoming to qualified non-Germans. Since March 2020, the Skilled immigration Act has enforced new rules for the immigration of non-European skilled workers, offering more opportunities for qualified professionals to work in Germany.
Nonetheless, you will still need to apply for a work visa or permit in order to legally stay and work in your new place of residence. The application process depends on your situation and country of origin.
Let’s find out more

 Who needs to apply for a German work permit?

Depending on your country of origin, the emergency of your work situation and how long you intend on staying in Germany, you will either need to apply for a work visa, a residence permit for qualified employment or nothing at all !

  • If you are a European national, a citizen of the European Economic Area (Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway) or from Switzerland, you have the right to work in Germany without any other documentation than your valid id papers. However you will still need to register at the local Civil Registry (Einwohnermeldeamt) when you arrive in the country.
  • If you are an American, Australian, Canadian, Israeli, Japanese, New Zealand or South Korean citizen, you do not need an entry visa to enter Germany for stays under 90 days. However, if you intend to work there, you do need to apply for a work visa, a residence permit for qualified employment or a job seeker visa.
  • Citizens of other countries need a work-and-residence visa before entering the country.

What are the main requirements to obtain a work visa in Germany ?

Your work visa will be issued depending on Germany’s economic and labour needs.
The decision will be based on:

  • your qualifications: if you have received higher education or qualified vocational training. Foreign university degrees or vocational qualifications must be officially recognised in Germany.
  •  if you already have a binding job offer from a company in Germany. Your recognised qualifications need to match those required by the position you are going to take, entailing that you could be employed in related positions if the situation demanded it.
  • the viability of your business plan if you are self-employed.
  • your financial means

Your language skills will also be taken into account.

What type of German work permit or visa must you apply for? 

  • For American, Australian, Canadian, Israeli, Japanese, New Zealand or South Korean citizens, there are different possibilities depending on your situation:
    • If you have already found a job in Germany and urgently need to start upon your arrival, you need to apply for a work visa for qualified employment before leaving your home country as you will only be allowed to start working in Germany once your work permit is issued.
    • If you want to find a position once you are already in the country, you can enter Germany without a visa. You will then have 90 days to find a binding job offer matching your professional qualifications and apply for a residence permit for qualified employment.
    • You can also apply for a visa for jobseekers before entering Germany. This visa grants you the right to stay in the country for 6 months in order to find a job.
  • For citizens of other countries, you will need your German work visa for qualified employment before travelling to Germany. A binding job offer and recognised foreign university degrees or vocational qualifications are necessary to hope to obtain one. You can also apply for a visa for jobseekers.

What documents are required with my German work visa application ? 

As you are applying for a German national visa for work purposes, you will need to provide specific work related documents. You will hand them in during a previously booked appointment with your local German embassy, mission or consulate.

Hereinafter a list of the basic mandatory documents needed to obtain a German work visa, it is strongly recommended that you add 2 copies of each original document:

Germany work visa requirements

You can book an appointment for “residence permit” online with the relevant German mission directly. Please apply well in advance but no more than 3 months prior to departure.

Anyone can apply for a German work visa - including those who are self-employed or wish to seek a job when they arrive in the country, but you must already have a job contract or a letter of intent, have strong academic or technical qualifications, or are skilled in a field in which German authorities state there is a shortage of workers. When making your visa application you will need to present:

  • valid passport – issued within the past 10 years, providing a minimum of 2 blank pages.
  • two completed German work visa application forms
  • Declaration of accurancy of information
  • two passport color photographs,
  • proof of residence in the country from which you are making your application. Residence permit , e.g. Visa, Green Card
  • Proof of address, e.g. valid driver’s license, utility bill, lease
  • Copy of your employment contract or letter of intent from your future employer in Germany, including details about salary and working hours as well as full address of the employer
  • OR - For self-employment: Copy of all information regarding the company and financing (e.g. location offer, business plan, credit and financial information, business contacts in Germany)
  • Detailed job description from your future employer
  • Proof of qualification or university degree, original and copy, AND if applicable:
    • official translation into German or English. Please note: German law requires the foreign university degree to be fully recognized in Germany for the following employment:
    • Skilled work/qualified employment for graduates of foreign universities (§ 18 IV German Residence Act) - Blue Card (§ 19a German Residence Act)* -
    • Jobseeker (§ 18c German Residence Act) If this applies to your case, proof that your foreign university degree is recognized in Germany must be submitted along with your visa application. Please follow the instructions on the ANABIN website in order to print out this confirmation. If your degree certificate does not state your subject, additional documents such as transcripts are required
  • Proof of housing in Germany incl. full address (e.g. rental agreement, hotel reservation or invitation letter in case of private accommodation with name, full address and passport copy of the inviting person)
  • Proof of travel health insurance for the first 90 days of your stay with a minimum coverage of 30000€

How much does a German work permit cost ?

The visa fees are 75€ which can be paid in cash, credit card or demand draft depending on where you are applying from. They are not refundable even if your application is denied.

How long does it take to obtain a German work visa ?

Once your application has been registered, the processing time to issue your German work visa can take from1 to 3 months. You should also take into account the delay to obtain an appointment to hand in your application and documents.


How else can AXA help?

The AXA Schengen insurance policy meets the requirements of the European Union for obtaining a Schengen visa. The maximum duration of the insurance contract is limited to 180 consecutive days for Low Cost Insurance and Europe Travel. You can check our warranties here.