Visa and Work Permit for Germany – What you need to know

Germany not only offers attractive career opportunities to locals, but also exerts a magical attraction on people from third countries. Worldwide, Germany is considered the fourth largest economy. Many well-known companies are based in Germany and offer great opportunities to employees. Especially in times of a shortage of skilled workers, many German companies are desperately looking for qualified employees who can contribute to their company.

A residence title with a work permit gives you the opportunity to pursue a career in Germany. In this article you will learn about the requirements for the issuance of such a work permit and what needs to be taken into account.

Work permit, residence permit and work visa

While the term “work permit” was common in the past, it is no longer officially used today. With the Immigration Act of 2005, the independent work permit was replaced by the residence permit, on which a note is made for permission to take up employment. A total of five residence titles are distinguished:

  • The residence permit
  • The EU Blue Card
  • The permanent EU residence permit
  • The settlement permit
  • The visa

Therefore, there are different residence titles that allow you to work in Germany.

The EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card, which can be applied for in Germany since 2012, is intended to promote the permanent immigration of university graduates. The Blue Card is an option for you if you have completed a university degree that is recognized in Germany. In this case, you can qualify for the EU Blue Card, which has the status of a temporary residence title. This is limited to a maximum of four years. If the employment is temporary, the applicant will receive the Blue Card for the duration of the employment plus three additional months.

To qualify for an EU Blue Card, you need a concrete job offer that corresponds to the field of your university degree and where the minimum annual gross salary is 56,400 euros (2022). For bottleneck occupations in the fields of computer science, mathematics, medicine, natural sciences and technology, the minimum annual salary required is 43,992 euros (2022). The Federal Employment Agency checks whether fair working conditions such as vacation entitlement and regulated working hours are available and whether the salary is appropriate.

The Settlement Permit

The permanent residence permit also known as the settlement permit is an unlimited residence title that entitles you to pursue any gainful employment in Germany. You can apply for this title after five years of legal residence in Germany. If you have a German spouse or if you are in possession of the EU Blue Card, the permanent residence permit can also be acquired after a shorter period of time.

The Permanent EU Residence Permit

Similar regulations apply to the permanent EU residence permit as to the settlement permit. This title can only be acquired after five years spent legally in Germany. With this title it is also possible for you to move on to other EU countries (Schengen countries with the exception of Denmark and Ireland). This is not the case with the settlement permit.

Do I need a visa to work in Germany?

Whether you need a visa or only a residence title with a work permit to take up a professional activity in Germany depends on the country in which you have your residence. If you are a citizen of:

  • Israel,
  • Australia,
  • the USA,
  • Japan,
  • Canada,
  • New Zealand,
  • the United Kingdom, or
  • Korea

you can also enter Germany without a visa and apply for a residence title before taking up gainful employment. Nationals of all other third countries require a work visa before entering Germany, which they must apply for at the responsible consulate or embassy.

Regarding the visa, a distinction is made between the work visa and the job-search visa with regard to taking up gainful employment in Germany.

The Work Visa

To obtain a work visa, you must be a highly qualified professional. This group of people includes research or teaching staff, internal employees such as managers or specialists. Furthermore, you can get a visa if there is a shortage of skilled workers in your profession.

The work visa is also linked to a specific job offer and requires an education that is identical to the qualification level of German employees. You may be required to have a license to practice your profession.

For employees older than 45, a minimum gross salary of 46,530 euros (2022) or proof of an alternative pension plan is required.

The Job Seeker Visa

If you have completed a recognized training program or a course of study, you have the option of applying for a job seeker visa at the consulate or embassy. With this visa, you can stay in Germany for a period of up to six months to look for a job. At the embassy, you have to prove your qualifications and explain how you will finance your stay in the host country. You are not allowed to take up employment during this time. The exception is a trial job, which must be limited to 10 hours per week.

  Read more about the job seeker visa and the requirements here.

How do I apply for a national work visa?

If your home country is one of the countries for which a visa is required to enter Germany, you must apply for a national work visa at the responsible consulate in your home country in order to enter Germany and work here. Note that the processing of this visa can take up to three months and is associated with costs in the amount of 75 euros. After entering Germany, you can start your employment with the work visa.

When applying, you must prove, among other things, that you have a concrete job offer and that the Federal Employment Agency agrees. You may also need proof of professional recognition and professional licensing. Your livelihood must also be secured, and your criminal record must be clean.

How do I apply for residence permit?

If you do not need to apply for a work visa in your home country, you must apply for a residence title with work permit in Germany. The Foreigners’ Authority is directly responsible for this. The Foreigners’ Authority obtains (if necessary) the approval from the Employment Agency. The processing costs about 100 euros and can take four to six weeks.

What other requirements for work visa and work permit do I have to pay attention to?

A blocked account is required both for the application for a residence permit and for the visa for job seekers. This blocked account serves as proof that you can support yourself in Germany. You must present this proof to the German embassy or consulate as well as later to the Foreigners’ Authority.

If you apply for a work visa, you have to prove your qualifications and degrees as well as either the employment contract or a binding job offer. This job offer must contain a detailed job description. The annual gross salary must also be listed.

In addition, sufficient insurance coverage in the form of health insurance is required. If you are not yet in possession of insurance coverage when you enter Germany, you should take care of a travel health insurance. This insurance remains valid until you start working.

Find out more about these requirements:

If you would like to know more about the blocked account or health insurance, we recommend you check out these dedicated pages on our website:

What is the role of the Federal Employment Agency?

In certain cases, the Federal Employment Agency must give its consent to the issuance of a work visa or the entry of a work permit. Time-limited admissions are granted, for example, to academic professions, IT specialists, executives, or other specialists. Unlimited permits are granted to professions in the healthcare sector. The prerequisite here, however, is that the employees have undergone training or education whose content is comparable to German education.

The approval of the Employment Agency is also required for occupations for which no qualification has to be proven. This procedure is intended to ensure that employees in these areas are not exploited. These occupational groups include au pairs, domestic help, and occupations in the showman, culture, and entertainment industries. Seasonal employees also belong to these occupational groups.

Can family members join me?

If you are in possession of a residence title yourself, you can also bring your spouse and your children to Germany. In order for the family reunification to be successful, some requirements must be met here as well:

  • You are in possession of a valid residence title.
  • You have a living space in Germany with enough room for your partner and children to move in with you.
  • You also have sufficient insurance coverage for your family.
  • You have the financial means to provide for your family.
  • Your partner has already reached the age of majority.
  • Your partner can prove that he/she has a basic knowledge of German.


You have a qualified education or a university degree and would like to settle in Germany to practice your profession? Depending on the country-specific regulations, you may be eligible for a work visa (via your consulate) or another residence title with a work permit.

The applications are bound to a number of documents and requirements, which you should familiarize yourself with. However, taking this step is always worthwhile, as Germany promises attractive career opportunities in numerous industries.

Are you preparing to work in Germany?

Explore everything you need for a smooth transition to working in Germany. From health insurance, to learning German, to bank account advice, we at Fintiba are very dedicated to help you on your journey on building a career in Germany!

Last update: September 1, 2023