How to Get Work Permit in Germany

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Germany is Europe's largest economy, a key member of the European Union and an innovator in science, technology, green issues and others. For foreign nationals, there has never been a better time than now to obtain a work permit in Germany. With the change in the immigration laws in 2005, Germany has tried to make it easier for foreigners to work in the country. If you fit one of the following criteria, you are eligible to apply for and, in theory, obtain a work permit in Germany.

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Getting a Work Permit in Germany

  • Determine whether you fit the basic criteria for qualification: You must be employed on the same terms as any German employee; no German or European nationals are available to fill the position; you have a university degree or equivalent; and the German company must be registered with German labor authorities.

  • Apply for a Permanent Resident permit with the German embassy of your country. If you live in the United States, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand or Switzerland, you may apply for both residence and work permits while you are visiting Germany.

  • Wait for approval from the German Immigration Office if you've taken this route.

  • Start a business in Germany if you are interested in obtaining a work permit through self-employment.

  • Invest 1 million euro and create 10 new German jobs. After your business has been established for three years, you and your family could receive unlimited residence permits, allowing you to enter and leave the country any time you wish.

  • Study in Germany. Students may study up to nine months in Germany. You can work 90 full days or 180 half days. After graduation, foreign students may work in a field related to their degree for a year.

  • Marry a German national. Typically, spouses of German nationals are granted the right to work freely. Their children can live and work in Germany up to the age of 16. If they are older than 16 and want to stay in Germany, they must be able to speak German and have the ability to integrate into German society.

  • Live and work in Germany if you are Japanese, Australian or a New Zealander. These countries have work permit agreements with Germany. This provision allows you to live in Germany for a year and has a work allowance of 90 days per holiday job.

  • Apply for a work permit in Germany if you fit any of the outlined criteria. See Resources for information about applying for a work permit.

  • Work and live in Germany if you are an employee of a European Economic Area company without any additional permits. People who are nationals of a European Union member country qualify for this.

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