How to Get a Work Permit in Germany (Requirements and Procedure)

How to Get a Work Permit in Germany (Requirements and Procedure)

Work Permit in Germany | Ever wondered how immigrants get to survive in a country they are new in? Are you a German immigrant or planning to immigrate to Germany and need information on how to obtain a work permit in Germany?

Then you are at the right place. German employment permits are now issued together with their residence permit. Holding a German residence permit allows you to start working in Germany unless your residence title says otherwise.

You will be in great danger if you are ever caught working without a permit card, in fact, not just you but your employer as well, and in this case, you are vulnerable as no insurance company can cover you in a case of an accident that demands insurance cover because you have already violated the constitution of the country and by all indications have become an illegal worker. This is due to the fact that no document whatsoever can be used in place of a work permit.

Acquiring a work permit for Germany depends vehemently on your nationality. If you are a citizen of an EU member state, you needn’t apply for one. There are, however, temporary exceptions for citizens of Croatia. They have to get an EU work permit from the Federal Employment Agency. Citizens of other states usually need to apply for a work permit for Germany from abroad, together with their visas. Thus, applying from within Germany is only possible for expatriates from a few selected countries like Canada or the US.

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Once you kick off the process, the German diplomatic mission will contact the immigration department (Ausländerbehörde) in Germany. In turn, this office gets in touch with the Federal Employment Agency.

The agency can then approve your application, issue the permit, and submit it to the Ausländerbehörde. From there, it is passed on to the diplomatic mission where you have originally applied for your visa.

If you are interested in possessing a German work permit, then visit the nearest German embassy.


  • You must apply in person
  • Present a valid passport and at least one copy
  • Supply several passport photographs
  • Make the necessary payment/fee
  • Provide additional documents (e.g. a certificate of good conduct, a job contract, diplomas, references, etc.).
  • In order to obtain a work permit, you first need to get your residence permit. Students do not need work permits; however, there is a strict yearly limit of 90 days of work.

EU citizens

  • EU citizens do not need a permit to work in Germany, provided they have a valid passport or national ID card and comply with German employment laws and regulations.

Two main exceptions to the rule are Romania and Bulgaria, from which workers coming to Germany currently require work permits. However, this will no longer be necessary when their EU memberships are normalized from January 1st, 2014.

  • In Germany, EU citizens have equal rights in terms of pay, working conditions, access to housing, vocational training, social security, and trade union membership. Families and immediate dependents are entitled to join you and have similar rights. There are some restrictions on some public sector employment (e.g. Police) and there are variances for teachers and health professionals between different Lander (German states).

Non-EU citizens

  • Work permits for non-EU citizens are attached to the type of resident permit they hold. There are various residence permits that are issued for the purpose of taking up employment (as an employee or self-employed work). Which residence permit applies to you and which preconditions need to be fulfilled essentially depends on the type of intended employment. Here it is distinguished between employment that does not require any professional qualifications, qualified employment, highly qualified employees, and self-employed work.

Non-qualified Employment

  • It is generally not possible to receive a residence permit for the purpose of taking up employment that does not require professional qualifications. These are only issued under exceptional circumstances if this has been allowed for in intergovernmental agreements or is permitted by legal ordinance.

Qualified Employment

  • It is permitted to employ professionally qualified foreigners in the case of specific vocations. These occupational groups are determined by legal ordinance. Whether you get a work permit for qualified employment depends on the type of job you’re looking into and the current regulations for giving out permits.

Highly Qualified Employment

  • Highly qualified persons can, in special cases, receive an unlimited settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) right from the outset. The prerequisites for this are, among others, that they have a concrete job offer and that the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency) has given their approval. People regarded in particular to be highly qualified persons are scientists with special expert knowledge, teachers, and scientific workers with specialist functions. This group also includes specialists and people in senior managerial positions who receive a salary that is above a stipulated minimum value (double the contribution assessment ceiling for statutory health insurance, which is around €4,000).

Self-employed Work

  • A residence permit can be issued for carrying out self-employed work. This presupposes that certain prerequisites are fulfilled that, in particular, ensure that the work has a positive effect on the German economy. These prerequisites are generally deemed to be fulfilled with a minimum investment sum of 1 million euros and the creation of ten jobs. If the investment sum or the number of jobs is less than these values, the prerequisites are examined in terms of the viability of the business idea, the amount of invested capital, the business experience of the foreigner, and involves, among others, trade authorities and associations. Foreigners who are older than 45 years only receive a residence permit if they have a suitable retirement pension.
  • The residence permit is initially issued for a maximum of 3 years. If the planned business endeavor has been successfully realized in this time, a settlement permit can already be issued after three years regardless of the usual prerequisites.

Working illegally

  • Given the difficulties of getting work permits, many people consider working illegally. However, finding illegal work in Germany is difficult and not recommended. Illegal workers are under constant threat of deportation and are often exploited by employers. An employer cannot even be forced to pay for work done by someone working illegally.
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