If you want to work in Germany as a Non EU-Expat, you’re probably going to need a work visa. The German visa system involves quite a lot of paperwork and there are different visa types and ways to apply for a work visa. But don’t panic – assembling your visa application doesn’t have to be that difficult with our visa guide!
Moving to work in Germany and reinventing your life in a foreign country alone or even bringing your family members isn’t easy. There’s a lot to keep track of: housing, cell phone, finding new friends, learning the layout of your new city. But perhaps the trickiest part is putting together your visa application to get a work visa.
As a Non-EU or Non-EEA nationals you require a work for working in Germany. If you plan to stay in Germany for longer than 12 months you have to get some form of residence permit like the EU Blue Card.
Learn how to get your visa and what you need to know about your move to Germany with our fact sheet.
Who Needs a German Work Visa?
Citizens of the following countries can apply for their residence permit to work or study in Germany without a visa:
United States of America
Republic of Korea
Citizens from other countries than the ones listed above do need a visa for working or studying in Germany.
What is the difference between work visa and work permit?
Both are permissions for work purposes in Germany. Which one you need depends on the country you are originating from.
people from EU and EEA countries, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the USA
can be applied for after arrival
an employment offer isn't necessary
people from all other countries
must have visa before coming to Germany
must already have a job offer in Germany
need to get a residence permit once you get to Germany
What type of visa do I need?
EU, EEA and Swiss nationals do not need a visa to work or study in Germany. For everyone else, there are essentially three main types of visa:
Transit visa: for stopovers at German airports
Schengen visa: for short stays of up to 90 days in a 180-day period
National visa: for stays of 3-12 months
If you want to work or study in Germany and have not yet applied for a residence permit, you will need a national visa. If you are unsure what you need, the German government has created a handy online tool to help.
All visa applications require a processing fee. These vary based on the region, as well as which kind of visa you’ll need. Try to bring at least EUR 100 in cash, though many also accept credit and debit cards.
For all three of these circumstances, you’ll need to visit your local Ausländerbehörde or, immigration office. Before you proceed, check the website of the office in your city for more valuable information, like opening times, necessary forms and more.
Staying longer than 12 month in Germany:
If you want to stay and work longer than 12 month in Germany you have to get a residence permit. You can apply for the residence permit at your local immigration office.
The EU Blue Card for example is a residence permit for foreign nationals of non-EU countries who are highly skilled in a profession and want to work in Germany.
How do I get my work visa?
Germans are known for their love of paperwork. You need to assemble a lot of different documents to prepare your visa application. There is always a chance that the government worker handling your case might ask for your information; don’t be discouraged!
Bring extra copies of everything and if you have additional documents not listed below that might help, for example, a reference letter from a past employer or an extra copy of your resume, don’t hesitate to bring them along.
Choose the reason you give for requesting a visa carefully. Visas can only be converted into a residence permit for the same purpose. Your local German mission can advise on this.
Visa application requirements are extensive – check out ottonova’s detailed work visa guide and special expat tariffs.
How do I get a work visa if I already have a job offer?
Congratulations, if you have a job offer it is the simplest way to get your work visa for Germany! If you’ve already gone through the interview process, finalized your offer and received a signed working contract, you’re almost done. All that’s left to do is visit the Kreisverwaltungsreferat, the German regional administration office, and get your work visa accepted and approved.
What documents do I need?
Your employment contract from your employer
A copy of your CV
A copy of your passport
Your diploma and university transcripts
A completed work visa application, signed by your future employer
Once you have assembled these documents, look online to make an appointment. These can fill up months in advance, so if you can’t find an appointment soon enough, you must go in person.
How do I get a work visa if I am still looking for a German job?
Not everyone is fortunate enough to arrive in Germany with a job offer in hand. Luckily, the German government understands this, and offers a German work visa for jobseekers.
This visa is valid for up to six months, during which time you can check out the job market and find jobs you can apply for. Be aware that once you receive an offer and get the job, you need to apply for a work permit to in Germany for that specific offer.
What requirements do you have to meet for your work visa?
Bachelor’s degree from a German university, or the equivalent for a foreign university
At least five years of work experience in your field
Financial means to cover your expenses while in Germany (i.e. bank statements)
If this matches your profile, you can apply for a visa to work in Germany. To do so, you must put together the following documents for your visa application:
A valid passport
2 biometric passport photos
A cover letter detailing your goal in Germany, your strategy for finding a job in Germany, and alternative plans in case you do not receive an offer
A copy of your diploma
Your college transcripts
Any additional professional certificates
A rental agreement for proof of accommodations in Germany
Financial statements to cover your expenses in Germany (i.e. bank statement)
Relevant documents from your home country, including birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc
Proof of health insurance in Germany
Prepare two copies of each document, and bring both sets with you to your appointment at the government office. For some professions, like nurses, medical doctors, pharmacists or teachers, more documents may be required.
With this visa, you can now begin your job search in Germany!
Tips for getting a job in Germany
If you are looking for a job in Germany you can look on the large job platforms but there are also a lot of specializes job websites for a certain profession or sector like IT, start-up or Non-profit organizations. Of course you can also look directly on the websites of companies that interest you or hire a recruiting agency that will assist you with finding a job.
Where to look for a job in Germany?
1. Job websites such as:
2. Apply directly on company websites
3. Find special job platforms for your profession
4. Sign on for a recruitement agency
What documents do I need to apply for a job in Germany?
copies of your educational certificates
samples of your work
You want to know more about how to find a job in Germany?
How do I get my work visa in Germany if I'm a freelancer?
If you’re a practicing freelancer and would like to continue your work, there’s also a German work visa for you. You’ll need to assemble the right paperwork to start putting together your visa application. It’s a long list, but each document is very important to ensure that your application is accepted. Here’s what you’ll need:
What documents do I need for a visa as a freelancer?
Your completed visa application form (link)
A copy of your passport
Two up-to-date biometric passport photographs
A cover letter
A portfolio showcasing your previous work
A business plan for your freelance work
Letters of intent from your clients (explaining their commitment to hire you once you arrive in Germany)
Proof of financial stability (this can include recent bank statements, a pension plan, current paychecks)
Diplomas and transcripts from colleges and universities
Recommendation letters from previous clients or employers
Proof of health insurance (private is the best option for freelancers – learn more here)
Payment for your visa application fee (90 EUR)
What type of health insurance is right for me?
Expats should at least consider private health insurance. Private policies often cost much less than public insurance or private insurance in other countries. Also private health insurance in Germany offers wide-ranging benefits, especially if you do not plan to stay in Germany longer or permanently.
Definitely! ottonova is a fully licensed German health insurance and fulfills all regulatory requirements, unlike other providers such as Mawista, Cigna or Allianz Worldwide Care.
We are regulated in § 257 SGB V, which is necessary for your visa applications. This also includes the Expat tariff.
ottonova is fully regulated by the BaFin and therefore fulfilling the requirements (§ 257 7Abs. 2a Satz 1 SGB V and the § 61 Abs. 5 SGB XI) for you to be able to apply for a visa with your ottonova insurance, which also includes our Expat tariff of course.
If you are eligible for private health insurance and you are in Germany on a visa or a limited permit, we can offer you the Expat Tariff up to five years.
We can help you write your cancellation letter for your current insurer and send it to you by email. You simply need to add your insurance number and signature and then send it to your insurer. We are unfortunately not allowed to contact your current insurer directly.
HIER SCHREIBTIsabel Sigmund
As a senior sales agent and PKV expert, Isabel answers all questions about health insurance every day. She has lived abroad for 2 years as an expat herself and knows what she is talking about.