Arriving in Germany in five steps

1. Check out your chances

Since different regulations apply to citizens of different countries and to graduates with different degrees, it is worth starting with the Quick Check on the “Make it in Germany” site. EU citizens are entitled to come and look for work in Germany, while citizens of the USA, Canada and some other countries may stay for 90 days without a visa. Nationals of other states need a visa to enter Germany.

The Make it in Germany site has detailed information about specialist trades in particularly high demand (currently doctors, nurses, engineers, electricians and IT specialists, among others).

2. Getting your qualifications recognised

Again, national differences apply in this area. Thanks to the EU Professional Recognition Directive, qualifications obtained in different EU states are generally recognised as being equivalent. Exceptions apply to the so-called regulated professions, for example in the fields of health, legal advice, teaching qualifications and engineering. All citizens of non-EU countries must have their qualifications officially recognised. For more information on recognition, click here.

3. Finding a job

Vacancies are advertised on Make it in Germany’s job board and the Federal Employment Agency’s job search engine (Bundesagentur für Arbeit); other job sites include Stepstone, Indeed and Monster. Businesses also advertise vacancies on their careers pages. A profile on LinkedIn or Xing is always a big help, both for Job searches and for presenting your own career history. The Alumniportal Deutschland is also suitable for this.

Applications should include a covering letter, CV with photo, certificates and references.

4. Applying for a residence permit

EU citizens and people from Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland are automatically entitled to work in Germany. People from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the USA can come to Germany without a visa and remain in the country for up to three months. Before starting a job, they must apply for a residence permit locally. (German only)

All other persons require a visa. Visa applications are to be made at the Germany embassy in the individual’s home country as soon as an employment contract has been secured. Those holding a degree recognised in Germany can obtain a six- month visa in advance in order to search for a job.

5. Accommodation and health insurance

Health insurance is mandatory in Germany from the first day of residence. Make it in Germany lists recommended insurance schemes, describes how to open a bank account and provides information on finding accommodation, German language and integration courses and (where applicable) family reunions.

Author: Marlene Thiele

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August 2020

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