Is a foreign national allowed to work in Germany?

Usually, immigrants have access to the German labour market only when no suitable German or privileged foreign national is available anywhere in Germany for the job in question. This means that nationals of countries that are not part of the European Economic Area need a residence permit which explicitly authorises them to work in Germany.

For unskilled and low-skilled workers, access to the labour market in Germany is still very limited.

However, well-qualified foreign nationals, such as university graduates, may come to Germany as legal immigrants. They can receive a long-term resident status here.

EU Blue Card System

On 1st August 2012 the EU Blue Card system started in Germany. People with a recognised university degree or a degree comparable to a German degree have easier access to the German labour market. To get the Blue Card, they must give proof of their qualifications and a concrete job offer. The job offer has to provide annual gross earnings of at least 46,400 euros. Then the approval of the Federal Employment Agency is not necessary. The EU Blue Card facilities and arrangements also apply for highly qualified foreign nationals with a background in mathematics, IT, the natural sciences or technology, as well as medical doctors. The requirement is that they are offered the same salaries compared to German employees and their annual gross earnings would be at least 39.624 euros. But here the approval of the Federal Employment Agency is necessary. Self-employed people can get a residence permit if their planned business project with its financial basis and economic impact is assessed as being in Germany’s economic interest or meeting a specific regional need.
Foreigners who want to work in Germany or who are staying in Germany because of work need a permit to stay. This is necessary for foreigners who are not citizens of a member state of the European Union (EU) or of the European economic area (EWR) or a citizen of Switzerland.
For foreigners who are citizens of the EU, these rules do not apply. Only citizens of Romania or Bulgaria need a permit for working as non EU- citizens. The necessary work permit for the EU (Arbeitsgenehmigung EU) can be applied for at the responsible federal agency for labour.

Employment in Germany can be gained by non- EU- citizens only when their title of residence allows this. Basically, the title for residence (visa) needs to be applied for before entering Germany. This can be done at the responsible German embassy. Citizens of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the USA can get the title of residence after entry into Germany. The start of work must be after receipt of the title of residence.

The entry of citizens of non- EU- countries to the employment market in Germany is limited through the statutory order (occupation order). Only some specific groups of professionals have the right of entering the German labour market. Normally, the permission of the working management is necessary. For less qualified workers, the possibilities of working here are rare. For skilled workers, for example, well qualified skilled workers, there is the legal possibility of immigration and a great prospect concerning a longer stay in Germany.

From the 1st August 2012 there has been an easier access to the German labour market for university graduates who have an approved university degree or one that is similar to a German one. The basis, therefore, was made through the regulations of the residence law concerning the EU blue card. Proof of qualifications is therefore necessary. These are the proof of a concrete work offer with an annual gross salary of € 50.800. In those cases, the permission of the federal labor department is not necessary. For skilled workers from the sectors: mathematics, informatics, science and technology as well as for doctors there are some advantages and the rules of the EU blue card are also right, as long as they earn as much as Germans in the same job, but they must earn a minimum of € 39.624. An important fact here is that the federal agency for labour needs to give its permission for working.

There is a simpler rule concerning the entry to the German labour market for scientists, highly qualified managers, leading employees and specialists.

Work permit check

The work permit check is a quick check concerning the possibilities for the labour market.

Traineeship in Germany

Citizens of non EU-states can acquire the right to stay in Germany while doing their traineeship. In this case, the permission of the federal agency of Germany is necessary. Before giving permission, the labour managing department checks if there are nationwide German or preferred applicants. Graduates of German schools in foreign countries, who want to get a traineeship in an accredited or similarly ruled employment, can get the residence permit without the permission of the federal agency of labour.

Visa for seeking a job in Germany

University graduates with a German or other recognised university degree, or a foreign degree comparable to a German degree, are allowed to enter Germany and seek a job once here. They get a jobseeker’s visa for their job search and are allowed to stay in Germany for up to six months to find employment. They need to prove that they have enough money to live on during their time here. While trying to find a job, they may not work at all, because the job-seeking visa does not permit them to work, whether on a self-employed basis or otherwise.