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D-Visas: Residence Permits for General Employment

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For both skilled workers and academic professionals there are a variety of opportunities to obtain employment in Germany. Access to the labour market for unskilled and low-skilled workers remains limited.

The decision on whether access is granted is taken on a discretionary basis by the Federal Employment Agency (“Bundesagentur für Arbeit”) as provided for by the Residence Act (“Aufenthaltsgesetz”) and the Employment Ordinance (“Beschäftigungsverordnung”). Decisions are based on the economic needs of the Federal Republic of Germany. Access is sometimes limited to particular nationalities or occupational Groups.

Visa-free travel

British citizens may apply for their residence permits with the local immigration office (“Ausländerbehörde”) after arrival in Germany and without having obtained a visa prior to travelling to Germany. Please note that you need to register your new residence (“Anmeldung”) with the authorities (“Meldebehörde”) within 2 weeks of having moved in and apply for your residence permit with the local immigration office (“Ausländerbehörde”) within the first 90 days of stay in Germany. This privilege is also extended to citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Korea (Republic) and the United States of America. It is important to note that you may only take up employment once you have been issued a residence permit explicitly authorising such employment. British and other citizens privileged as above may also choose to apply for a visa prior to travel, effectively permitting employment from the first day of visa validity.

All other nationalities require a visa prior to travel to Germany.

General information

The information in this section is geared at a wide scope of individual and different cases and therefore provided as a guideline only. We may require additional information and documents. Some categories of visas under the general employment heading may only be open to certain nationalities; some categories require the applicant to hold an academic degree or a recognised vocational qualification.

Your prospective employer can facilitate visa processing by applying for pre-approval from the Federal Employment Agency (information for your employer is available here - in German).

If your visa category for academic professionals requires you to hold a German, a recognised or a comparable foreign academic degree and if you hold a foreign degree, please check whether both your degree and the awarding academic institution are listed as comparable in the official Anabin database. If either is not listed please have the degree formally assessed through a “Statement of Comparability for Foreign Higher Education Qualifications” issued by the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB).

If your visa category for non-academic professionals requires that you hold a vocational qualification please ensure that it has been formally recognised by the competent German authority.

Some regulated professions such as medical doctors, nurses, teachers, architects, auditors, tax advisors and more require a formal license to practise their profession in Germany. Please consult the database on recognition in regulated professions.

Should you be 45 years of age or older and on an annual salary of less than EUR 46.860 (2021 threshold) we may need to sight evidence that you already made adequate retirement provisions.

How to apply for your visa:

1. Complete the online application form, print the form including the barcodes twice and sign both copies (application forms are required for each applicant separately; all children require separate forms).

2. Compile your supporting documentation:

  • 2 printouts of the online application form including barcodes (as under #1)
  • Valid passport signed by the holder, issued within the last 10 years and valid for at least 3 months beyond the validity of the visa applied for. The passport needs to have at least 2 subsequent blank pages.
  • 2 photocopies of the passport biodata page
  • Current UK residence permit (BRP)/ visa (foreign residents only).
  • 2 photocopies of the permit/ visa
  • 2 fully biometric passport photos, 35 x 45 mm, no older than three months. Digitally altered passport photos cannot be accepted.
    Please ensure that your photo adheres to German biometric requirements and is taken in front of a white/bright background.
  • Employer’s declaration (“Erklärung zum Beschäftigungsverhältnis”) - to be completed by your employer (download form here) in 2 copies
  • Confirmation of pre-approval (“Vorabzustimmung”) by the Federal Employment Agency (“Bundesagentur für Arbeit”) (if available), original and one photocopy.
  • Academic/ professional curriculum vitae – in 2 copies.
  • Only in case an academic degree is required - We will need to sight the original degree certificate or a copy either notarised by a notary public or certified by the issuing academic institution. Please provide a translation if not in German, English or French.
  • plus 2 photocopies of the original and translation
  • Print-outs from the official database - showing that both the qualification as well as the academic institution are listed as comparable - in 2 copies
  • OR “Statement of Comparability for Foreign Higher Education Qualifications”, issued by the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) in original
  • plus 2 photocopies of the ZAB statement.
  • Only in case a vocational qualification is required - We will need to sight the original qualification or a copy either notarised by a notary public or certified by the issuing vocational institution. Please provide a translation if not in German, English or French.
  • plus 2 photocopies of the original and translation
  • Recognition notice regarding your professional qualification in original
  • plus 2 photocopies of the notice.
  • Prepaid, self-addressed Royal Mail Special Delivery return envelope (up to 500g) in order to return your passport after processing.
  • Visa fees apply
  • Processing time: For some visa categories, we will require approval by other German government agencies, such as the Federal Employment Agency (“Bundesagentur für Arbeit”) or the local immigration office (“Ausländerbehörde”). If you have previously lived in Germany this will add to processing times, as the immigration office may need to look into your previous immigration record. Once a decision on your application has been taken, we will contact you.
  • In this visa category, based on previous experience most applications will usually be processed within 2 months. This also applies to accompanying family members.

  • Although we will provide you with a file number, please understand that we cannot respond to questions regarding the status of your visa application. Should we have any questions or should we require additional documentation to process your application, we will contact you.

3. Book an appointment to apply for your visa.

Where to book your appointment/ apply for your visa:

Should you hold a confirmation of pre-approval (“Vorabzustimmung”) by the Federal Employment Agency (“Bundesagentur für Arbeit”) naming both you and your prospective employer you need to apply for your visa with a Visa Application Centre run by our external service provider, TLScontact. Visa applications for family members accompanying you will also be accepted by TLScontact.

TLScontact operates from both London and Edinburgh with two distinct jurisdictions and your place of residence determines which Visa Application Centre you will need to contact to apply for your visa. Please refer to our consular district map for details.

If you do not hold any confirmation by the Federal Employment Agency (“Bundesagentur für Arbeit”) please apply directly with the German Mission having jurisdiction for your place of residence.

Additional information

Accompanying spouses of applicants in the general employment category are not generally exempt from the usual requirement regarding basic German language proficiency. Some exemptions apply.

If your application is successful, you will be issued a limited validity entry visa - similar to a UK entry clearance. Once you have arrived in Germany please register your new residence with the local authorities (“Meldebehörde”) within 2 weeks of having moved in and apply for your Electronic Residence Permit with your local immigration office (“Ausländerbehörde”).

Further information on living and working in Germany is available here.

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