How to do business in NRW: Coming to Germany

Visa for Employees

The Residence Permit for the Purpose of Taking Up Employment

Employees who are from non-EU countries and who are employed in a new subsidiary company in Germany require a residence permit for the purpose of taking up employment (Aufenthaltserlaubnis für abhängige Beschäftigung) in Germany.

The residence permit for the purpose of taking up employment contains both: the permit to stay and the permit to work in Germany. Foreign nationals do not have to apply separately for a work permit. The residence permit for the purpose of taking up employment contains a statement as to whether and to what extent work will be permitted.

As with a residence permit for self-employment, a residence permit is issued to employees for up to three years. As a rule, the residence permit can be extended without any problems. After five years a permanent settlement permit is issued in most cases.

For information on how to apply for a residence permit, please refer to:

Regulations for Employees from EU Member States

Generally, citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland may enter, stay, and work in Germany without any visa. They only have to register at the local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt), e.g., if they change their residence to Germany.

Approval from the Federal Employment Agency

(A residence permit for the purpose of taking up employment is issued by the local German immigration office (Ausländerbehörde).

As a rule, the residence permit is only issued for certain professional groups, e.g.

  • Academics
  • IT professionals
  • Managerial employees
  • Employees with specialist knowledge

and additionally, only if:

  • It is possible to demonstrate a specific offer of employment, and
  • The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) has issued its approval.

The Federal Employment Agency issues its approval if no suitable German employee or employees from other EU member states are available (so-called "priority check") and the foreign employees are hired at the same terms and conditions of employment as comparable German employees (especially in terms of wages and working hours).

Exceptions

There are important exceptions to these rulings.

1. Certain professional groups have a right to a residence permit without requiring the approval of the Federal Employment Agency. These include, among others:

  • Employed managing directors
  • Managerial employees
  • Scientific research personnel

2. The so called EU Blue Card (Blaue Karte EU) may be granted by the local immigration office to certain highly qualified employees without or with only a limited approval of the Federal Employment Agency. Please read more in the EU Blue Card - Residence Permit for Highly Qualified Employees section.

3. The Federal Employment Agency issues its approval without any priority check inter alia for internal specialists with company specific knowledge whose work is required in the German subsidiary. Still, the foreign employee must be hired at the same terms and conditions of employment as comparable German employees.

4. Exceptions also apply to citizens from the following countries:

  • Australia, New Zealand
  • Japan, South Korea
  • United States, Canada
  • Israel

Nationals from these countries do not need to belong to a specific professional group in order to obtain a corresponding residence permit. However, it might still be necessary to obtain an approval including a priority check from the Federal Employment Agency.

Please note that in any case a residence permit issued by the local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) must still be obtained.

EU Blue Card - Residence Permit for Highly Qualified Employees

The so called EU Blue Card (Blaue Karte EU) allows highly qualified non-EU citizens to be fast-tracked to employment in Germany.

Foreigners may apply for this special kind of residence permit if they hold a German university degree (or a proven comparable qualification) and demonstrate a job contract with an annual gross salary of at least EUR 50,800 (2017). The local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) does not need to involve the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) before issuing the EU Blue Card.

The annual gross salary level is lower (EUR 39,624 in 2017) in professions with a particular skill shortage (e.g. medical doctors, science and engineering professionals as well as information and communications technology professionals). Here, an approval of the Federal Employment Agency is required. However, the Federal Employment Agency does not carry out a priority check in these cases, but only checks if foreign employees are hired at the same terms and conditions of employment as comparable German employees.

Once a German EU Blue Card has been obtained, a permanent settlement permit can be granted within 33 months - or after 21 months if the foreign citizen has attained a certain German language skill level.

Exceptions for Employees Temporarily Posted to Germany

There are different regulations allowing non-EU-based companies to temporarily send employees to Germany without having to receive the approval of the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit).

For example, the approval requirement is not needed for certain occupational groups posted for up to a total of three months within a twelve month period (the three month period does not have to be consecutive).

Please note: The employer must notify the Federal Employment Agency about the planned activity, even if no residence permit is requried.