3 kinds of German work visas and how to get them

For freelancers, expats with a job offer in hand, or newly arrived jobseekers, you’re going to need a German work visa. Don’t panic – assembling your visa application doesn’t have to be that difficult!

Header Visa Germany B

Reinventing your life in a foreign country isn’t easy and 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 your German work visa.

Germans are known for their love of paperwork. For all three of these situations, you’ll need to assemble a lot of different documents to prepare your visa application. There’s 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 a 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!

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 for the immigration office in your city for more valuable information, like opening times, necessary forms and more.

Getting your German work visa if you already have a job offer

Congratulations, this is the simplest way! 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.

For this process, you’ll need the following documents for your visa application:

  • 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 (find this on the website for your local immigration office)

Once you’ve 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’ll have to go in person.

Getting your German work visa if you’re looking for jobs

Not everyone is fortunate enough to arrive in Germany with a job offer in hand. Luckily, the German government understands this, and offers a special 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 apply. Be aware that once you find a job and receive an offer, you’ll need to apply for a work permit for that specific offer.

To qualify, you’ll need to meet these requirements:

  • 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)

  • Health insurance for your time in Germany

Worker Visa Germany B

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If this matches your profile, you can 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
  • Your CV
  • 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!

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Getting your German work visa if you’re a freelancer

Freelancer Visa Germany B

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:

  • Your completed visa application form (link)
  • A copy of your passport
  • Two up-to-date biometric passport photographs
  • Your CV
  • 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)

Best of luck getting your German work visa! If you have any questions, get in touch with your local immigration office – they’ll be able to help you with specific cases.