Do you want to find a job in Germany? You’re going to need a German job seeker visa. It can be a daunting task, but with this article you will be well-prepared on your journey to becoming a gainfully employed resident of one of the most attractive countries in Europe – Germany.
Germany is a highly attractive country for workers, and it’s not difficult to see why. There are several reasons one may want to pursue work in Germany – it has some of the fewest work hours in the world, yet consistently ranks among the world’s most productive countries. There is also a very generous requirement of 20 paid vacation days per year, plus up to 13 public holidays. Unfortunately, obtaining permission to work there is not always easy for job seekers. In fact, it can be quite difficult, depending on your skillset. Any foreigners who wish to work in Germany need a German job seeker visa (Aufenthaltserlaubnis zur Arbeitsplatzsuche für qualifizierte Fachkräfte).
What is a German job seeker visa?
A German job seeker visa is basically your permission to look for a job in Germany. In most cases, people from countries outside the European Union will only be allowed to work in Germany if the position cannot be filled by someone from the EU, or if the person in question is highly skilled and qualified. Germany is trying to get a law in force. The new law aims to attract foreign skilled vocational workers with German language skills, including those from outside the European Union, and promises them eased visa procedures and reduced red tape. This law has been passed by the German cabinet but waiting approval from the parliament.
Germany is trying very hard to attract professionals in the sciences and academics, so people with skills are given preferential treatment. The German job seeker visa is a temporary residence permit. It grants you permission to search for a job for up to six months, but you’re not allowed to work. When you find a job, you’ll be required to apply for a German work visa, which is different.
Do I need a German job seeker visa?
If you are already a citizen in the European Union or the European Economic Area, then congratulations – you don’t need a job seeker visa. If you are a citizen of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, or the United States, you also do not need a visa to search for work. You do, however, need a residence permit.
Are you eligible?
It takes a lot of work just to apply for the job seeker visa. You must be at least 18, and have a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in one of the following fields – science, engineering, technical, or mathematics. It must be from a recognised university. The university and qualification must be H+ according to the Anabin University List. If your degree does not rank high enough, you can ask the German Central office for Foreign Education to evaluate your degree. This could take up to three months and costs EUR 200.
You must also have at least five years of work experience relevant to that education. It takes many years to even be eligible for the job seeker visa. Clearly, you’re in it for the long haul.
They also require you to be proficiently able to speak German. You must demonstrate good communication skills. You can try taking an A2 or A1 class to help your chances of obtaining the German job seeker visa.
Documents You Need
Keep in mind you need three sets of each of these documents. You need the original, plus two copies. Each document must be signed.
- Two completed and signed visa application forms (see below).
- Passport which has been valid for at least 12 months.
- A motivation letter (somewhat like a cover letter) which states the following: why you are seeking a job in Germany, your strategy to find a job, how much time you expect it to take, and what you will do if your job search fails.
- Documents which prove your education and qualifications.
- Your Curriculum Vitae describing your education and relevant employment history.
- Proof that you can support yourself while you are in Germany, even though you won’t be working. Specifically, you need to have at least EUR 720 per month of your stay. This will generally be a bank statement.
- Proof of travel, health, and accident insurance.
- Proof or your personal status (such as birth certificate and marriage certificate).
- Two recent biometric passport pictures. They must have a grey or white background, and your teeth can’t be showing.
- Proof that you have somewhere to stay while you are in Germany.
- Declaration of accuracy of information.
Though not required, there are several other documents which would be helpful for you to have in your application arsenal. Things such as letters of recommendation from former co-workers and bosses (signed) and language certifications to show you can speak entry-level German.
If gathering these documents seems like a daunting task, you can follow our handy checklist.
To apply for a German residence permit, contact your country’s German embassy. The work permit application is available in several languages.
You’ll need to schedule an appointment via the embassy’s website, and make sure you have all required documents, and copies, on hand. Do NOT be late. If you are late, even by a few minutes, it is likely your appointment will be cancelled. Think of this as something like a job interview. You want to make a good impression. Be punctual and dress nicely.
During your interview, you will be asked questions about why you want to obtain a German job seeker visa. They will ask you questions like:
- Why do you want to work in Germany?
- What are your plans for searching for a job?
- Can you speak German?
- What do you know about Germany?
They will also ask you questions you would have answered in your documentation, such as if you can support yourself, if you’re married, your prior job experience, etc. If you express an ability to speak German, they will also likely test your German by speaking with you in that language.
After your interview, they will take copies of your fingerprints. The interview could take four hours or more, so plan your day accordingly.
How much does a German job seeker visa cost?
The fee to apply for the visa is EUR 75. Make sure you have this on hand so you can pay during your appointment. The fees can change and you should refer to the Embassy website at your home destination.
How long does it take?
It can take up to three months or more for your visa application to be processed, though generally it will only take three to four weeks You will be expected to conduct an interview at your country’s embassy during the application period.
What if my application is denied?
If your application is denied, you will not be able to look for work in Germany right now. Look for the reason your visa was denied and try to fix that problem if you can. You can apply again when you have solved the issue.
What if I can’t find work?
Unfortunately, there are no extensions for the German job seeker visa. You must go back to your own country if you’re not able to find a job within six months.
It certainly seems daunting at first to know if you are going to be able to apply for a German job seeker visa or not. If you can persevere though, you will be able to live and work in Germany, a much sought-after job market. Though it seems daunting, after you gather up and copy the required documents, the worst part is over. Your new German job seeker visa will be well worth the trouble.