Work Visas

Work visas are residence permits for the purpose work, which allow the person holding them to work under certain limitations. One could apply for work visas as an employee, for starting a business or as a freelancer. We have compiled some useful information for you in the following articles.

Employment Visa

Who will it suit?
An employment visa is meant for experienced professionals, who received a job offer from a Berlin based employer. This visa is easier to get if you are a professional from fields in which there is a shortage of in Germany and usually requires the agreement of the German Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit), a process which usually takes 10 days to 3 weeks. There are various ways of applying for this visa, and various parameters and topics to note during the process of application, in order to increase your chances of having your application approved. If you just got a job offer for Germany and are not sure whether it will work out with visa-wise, please feel free to contact us .

What do I get?
In case your visa application gets approved, you will get a visa for 1-3 years, depending on the length of your employment contract. Your work permit will probably be limited to a specific position at a specific company according to your visa application. If you wish to change jobs in your first 2-3 years of your residency in Germany with a work visa, you will have to go through the same process again.

I found a job – how do I apply for an employment visa?
Before applying, it is recommended to consult a professional in order to evaluate the chances of your application being approved, as not all work visa applications get approved, and since it could get tricky in some cases. If your application is not approved – you might receive a deportation notice from Germany and will be able to return to Germany and try again according to the immigration laws that are valid for people with your nationality.

Blue Card

What is a Blue Card?
The Blue Card is the European immigration system for highly qualified labour from abroad. We can look at it as an improved employment visa. According to this system, one can get a Blue Card if certain conditions regarding salary and education are met (see below).
In our opinion, Blue Cards are great. However, if you have already lived in Berlin for a certain amount of time, maybe there are better visa solutions for you.

What will the Blue Card give me?
As stated above, the Blue Card is a sub-type of an employment visa, given for 1-4 years, depending on the length of your employment contract. This means, that you get the Blue Card in order to work as an employee in Germany. Since a Blue Card is a work visa, one can lose it if they are in between jobs for a period longer than 6 months.
Blue Card holders could also get their permanent residency faster in comparison to other work immigrants: you could apply for it after 21 months of working, in case that you speak German in a B1 level, or after 33 months of working in Germany, in case that you speak German in an A1 level. In comparison, as an employment visa holder, you could apply for permanent residency only after 60 months (5 years) of working.
In addition, in some cases the Blue Card allows a higher level of mobility between jobs: in certain cases, your application will not have to go through the employment agency, which means that you might be able to get your work permit faster. This regulation will allow you to change jobs easier than on an employment visa.

How can I know if I may apply?
There are two criteria that will determine if you could get a Blue Card: salary and education.
Salary: As stated above, your annual salary should meet a certain threshold, which changes every year, for your Blue Card application. For 2019, Your annual salary must meet the threshold of 53.600 Euros. If you are working in a shortage profession (such as software development, for example), your annual salary must meet the threshold of 41.808 Euros.
Recognized Education: In order to be eligible for a Blue Card, you must also prove that your education is recognized in Germany and equivalent to a German academic degree. You can use the official database, Anabin.
Please note that both your university (H+ rating), and your program must be listed on the official database.

My education is not properly listed on Anabin. What does it mean?
Recognized education, which is equivalent to a German academic degree, is one of the most basic requirements for a Blue Card. If your education is not listed on Anabin, you can try having it recognized in Germany. The process tends to be long and sometimes tedious, but if you succeed, you could enjoy all benefits of the Blue Card (as long as you meet the salary requirements).

Will my family members also get a Blue Card?
No. Your first-degree family members (spouse and children) can apply for family reunification visas.

Visa for Entrepreneurial Activity

Who will it suit?
The Entrepreneur visa is suitable for people who want to start a company in Berlin, or for people who already have a profitable company in Berlin.

How do I get this application done?
In order to apply for this visa, you will need to first have an open and set-up company with limited liability (GmbH), which is officially registered in Berlin. In order to have your business idea reviewed and your application processed, you will be required to present documents related to your company, including a detailed business plan.

Is the visa issued on the spot?
Your application will be sent to the Chamber of Commerce or to the Senate Administration for Economics of Berlin for further processing, during which the public and economic interest of your business idea and company activity to the state of Berlin will be reviewed and examined. The average processing time is 3-6 months.

Is there a simpler way of getting a residence permit, which will allow self-employment?
People often think they need an Entrepreneur visa, when in fact, they could be able to do the same things with a freelancer visa. We recommend you consult with a professional, in order to find the most suitable solution for you.

Freelancer/Freelance Artist Visa

Who will it suit?
The freelancer visa is suitable for experienced professionals, who can make a living working in their profession as freelancers in Berlin. This sounds simple but is a bit complicated: according to the German Income Tax Law, independent work is only counted as freelancing if it is done in specific fields: so, for example, one may freelance as a graphic designer or as a German teacher, but not as a renovation or bike repair service, and not as a hairdresser. If you would like to work in a trade, which is not defined as freelancing, you might experience challenges in your application process.
Apart from that, the freelance visa is a work visa, which means, that it is issued in order to allow work immigrants to live in Germany. Therefore, freelance visa applications will always be reviewed under the criteria for work visas. This is true both for the initial application as well as for visa extensions.

What's the difference between a freelancer visa and a freelance artist visa?
This is also a bit confusing. Basically, the freelance visa and the freelance artist visa is the same visa. This means, that one must meet the same requirements in order to have them both issued and extended. The only difference is in the length of the process: while artists usually receive their visa on the spot, the applications of other professionals who want to work as freelancers will be examined by another authority, usually the Chamber of Commerce or the Senate Administration of Berlin. This process can take around 3-6 months.

My application got sent to the Chamber of Commerce or to the Senate Administration of Berlin for further processing. What does it mean?
According to the work regulations of the Foreigners´ Registration Office in Berlin, the case worker can send a freelance visa application to the Senate Administration for Economics or to the Chamber of Commerce if the application is too complicated for them to understand and process. Additionally, the regulations also state that in case the applicant would like to work in fields other than art, their application can be sent in for further processing. So, it usually does not say anything about the quality of your application, since it is mainly about your field.
However, the case worker can also decide to send in your application for further processing if your field is artistic or creative. This usually means that you made your application too complicated, and that it is not easy for them to understand what you want to do. In order to avoid those situations, we recommend to consult with a professional.
During the time in which your application is pending, you will get an extension on your residency in Berlin (in German: Fiktionsbescheinigung), which will allow you to work according to the terms of your previous visa.

What do I get?
If your visa application will get approved, you will get a residence permit for 1-3 years. Throughout that time, you will have to work as a freelancer in your field, according to your application.

How can I know if my application is good enough?
Despite the rumours that say that this visa is easy to get, it holds various complexities which derive from the variety of the applications and circumstances. Therefore, it is very recommended to consult a professional, who can make sure that your application is telling your story accurately.

Additional Working Visas

We would like to present four additional types of work visas: a working holiday visa, an internship visa, a job seeking visa for qualified professionals and a job seeking visa for Graduates of German universities. Here is a short description of these visas.

Working Holiday Visa:
Working Holiday visas are work visas given according to agreements between countries. Germany holds Working Holiday Visa agreements with several countries. The agreements vary in their work restrictions, so that you could have a working holiday visa which allows you to do whatever you want, whereas your friend can have a working holiday visa which allows them to work only for 6 months. Those visas are given for one year and cannot be extended, except for the Youth Mobility Visa for Canadian citizens.

Internship Visa:
This visa is issued for a maximal period of six months, in order to allow you to take part in an internship in your field. In order to get it, you will need to show an acceptance letter to the internship along with other requirements, such as ensuring your livelihood in Germany.

Job Seeking Visa for Qualified Professionals:
This visa is issued for a period of six months in order to allow you to seek for a job in your field. In order to get this visa, you will need to prove that you are in fact professionals in a certain field, for which there is a need for employees in Germany. Additionally, this visa is only given to people who hold recognized education from a recognized university abroad.

Job Seeking Visa for Graduates of German Universities:
This visa is issued for a period of up to 18 months, during which you will be allowed to work with no restrictions or limitations. At the end of this visa, you will need to find a job in the field that you have studied in Germany. In order to get the visa, you will need to prove that you've finished your studies in a German university.

Do you have any questions?
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