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How to Get a Germany Work Visa & Work Permit: Requirements & Procedure

In this article, we consider the different types of German visas available for skilled workers and the steps required to apply for them. Note that this information is for non-EU/common market applicants. Citizens of the EU/common market have an automatic right to live and work in Germany.

As the European Union’s most significant and robust economy, Germany has a strong demand for highly skilled and qualified workers from overseas. This, combined with the excellent quality of life, attracts many foreign workers to live in Germany, meaning German work visas are one of the most famous ones globally. 

Generally, German work visas require that the applicant have secured a job and employer sponsorship. However, a recent law change is introducing a new visa that will allow workers to enter the country more easily without an existing job offer and sponsor

Key Takeaways

  • Despite a reputation for bureaucracy, due to strong demand in Germany for skilled workers (particularly in IT, software development, engineering and manufacturing), Germany has a relatively efficient work visa processing system.
  • There are a range of work visas available for those interested in moving to Germany, including the EU Blue Card and the Skilled Worker Visa. While most require employer sponsorship, as of 2023, this is about to change.
  • When applying for a Germany work visa, make sure to follow all the required steps to ensure that the correct visa is received in a timely fashion.  

What are the different types of German work visas?

The essential forms of German work visa are the following:

  • EU Blue Card: a work visa for highly skilled non-EU citizens with a university degree or equivalent qualifications and a job offer from a German employer. EU Blue Card holders can live and work in Germany for up to four years, with the possibility of renewal for another four years.
  • Skilled Worker Visa: an alternate work visa for skilled workers who have a job offer from a German employer and are in a qualified profession but don’t otherwise meet the requirements of the EU Blue Card. It allows the holder to live and work in Germany for their work contract.
  • Jobseeker Visa: a temporary (six months) visa for non-EU citizens who are seeking employment in Germany. This is not technically a work visa, as it does not permit the individual to work, but it does allow the individual to enter the country and search for work with the hopes of acquiring a work visa.
  • ICT Card: This work visa, standard throughout the EU, is for intra-company transferees, namely senior managers, specialists, and some trainees. These individuals can be transferred by their multinational company to a German branch/subsidiary and, on this visa, can live and work in Germany for up to three years.

  • EU Permanent Residence Permit: a long-term residence permit for non-EU citizens who have lived in Germany for 5+ years. It allows the holder to live and work in Germany indefinitely and provides access to certain social benefits, as well as the right to bring their family members to Germany.

  • Apprenticeship Visa: a work visa for individuals entering Germany to complete an apprenticeship. Holders can live and work in Germany for the duration of the apprenticeship.

What is the procedure for applying for a work visa in Germany?

Generally speaking, the German work visa and residence permit will be received simultaneously (similar to the ‘Single Permit’ approach in other EU countries, such as the Slovenia work visa and Slovakia work visa). To apply for a work visa in Germany, generally, you should take the following steps:

  • Search for a qualifying job: for most German work visas, you must secure a job offer from a German employer. The employer must also obtain a valid work permit from the German Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit), specific to that job, before the employee can apply for a visa.
  • Prepare and collect the required documents: the next step is to assemble all the required documents for the application. This will usually include a passport, resume, educational certificates or proof of qualifications, criminal record checks, and other documents specific to the type of visa.
  • Hand in the application: the application should be submitted to the German Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s country of residence. The applicant must also pay the visa fee and may need to schedule an appointment for a visa interview.

  • Receive a decision: the German Embassy or Consulate will review the application and decide on the visa when all documents are in order. This process can take several weeks to months.

  • Pick up the visa: If approved, the applicant must collect it from the relevant German mission. They will also have to register at the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) within a few days of arriving in Germany.

  • Register on arrival: once employees arrive in Germany, they must immediately register their residential address with their local authority (Anmeldung). 

Travel Abroad on the Steps to Get a Germany Work Visa

Germany work visas — tick all the boxes

Unlike some other European destinations, labor shortages mean that German authorities generally support work visas (for a point of contrast, check out the process for Switzerland work visas for non-EU foreign nationals). 

Nevertheless, with various visas available allowing work, it is important to choose the right work visa and complete all the necessary prerequisites to receive one. Many individuals and companies find getting help from a specialist international employment company beneficial. International Professional Employer Organizations (international PEOs) can be a good option for guiding businesses and employees through the process. For more information, check out our guide to Germany’s PEO services. 

Processing times vary depending on the visa type and occupation, but the average is around six weeks from the time your application is received. To ensure your work visa application is processed quickly, applicants must ensure all required documentation is in order before submission. This helps to reduce unnecessary delays in processing and results in a quicker outcome for you.


It's hard to say. Work visas can often be processed in a few weeks if all documents are in order. However, a recent surge in visa processing workload means that it is sometimes taking several months to process visas at the moment. 

In general, German work visas require a sponsor, with the employer-sponsor demonstrating that the position cannot be filled by a German or EU national, that the job is at the required salary level, and that the employee has the required qualifications and skills. 

Temporary jobseeker visas allow individuals to enter the country to search for work for up to 6 months. However, they cannot begin work until the work visa with sponsorship is acquired.