So you are thinking about starting the next chapter of your life? Do you need some time to figure out if Germany is really the place for you and also weigh in your career options? Job seeker visa Germany are then words that might ring sweet to your ears.
Citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway have it easy; they can come here with just an id card, few bags and a pinch of motivation to start the adventure here.
For the rest of us, it’s not that easy however. Options are limited to find a job in Germany. Although it is possible to find a job remotely and then move to Germany, chances of success are much higher if you can meet potential employers here directly.
Enter the German job seeker visa, a permit that allows you to enter the country to find the job of your dreams.
I know that finding jobs can be tough and now on top of all the struggles, you need to deal with German bureaucracy. It’s not fun, but fear not for I am right here to talk you through all the steps necessary to get you a job seeker visa in Germany.
What is a job seeker visa for Germany?
The legal basis about the German job seeker visa can be found here under section 18c. The full name for it is “Temporary residence permit for qualified skilled workers seeking employment”.
This permit allows the holder to stay in Germany for up to 6 months to look for employment. The natural “conclusion” of this permit is then to switch to a more standard employment visa or an EU blue card, once you have found a job here.
Where to start: job seeker visa Germany requirements
You need to tick a few boxes to increase your chances to obtain the job seeker visa for Germany.
A recognized diploma or recognized qualifications
Holders of bachelor or master’s degree are eligible to apply for a job seeker visa in Germany, but is your degree recognized here? There is this handy online tool made by the German government to assess that exactly.
You can check the online portal to see if your degree is recognized here. If your degree has been rated H+, your chances increase substantially.> If you are unable to find detailed information about your diploma, you can also turn to the central office for foreign education. They will assess your degree and provide a statement that it is comparable to local German degrees in your field for a small fee.
On that note; If you have graduated from a German university, you are eligible to apply for a different kind of residence permit which allow you to find a job related to your field up to 18 months from your graduation. You can more information about that here.
Some professions in Germany are protected by a certain status (often crafting jobs), and only those with the right qualification can obtain the right license to work those jobs. For other non-regulated professions, you may still need to you have your qualifications recognized, just for the purpose of being issued a visa.
More information about how to do that here.
Although, the official guidelines don’t mention it, eligibility is also based on your experience in your particular field of study. This is because Germany wants to welcome workers with high chances of employment. These naturally increase with a bit of experience. For occupations with a big shortage of workers, experience becomes therefore a little less important.
Proof of livelihood and health insurance coverage
As for any other permit, Germany will let people in on the basis that they can support themselves during the job hunting process. So in short, you need to have enough money for that six months period (currently, at least 720€/month for that whole period), as well as appropriate health insurance.
Most job seekers use the so-called expat health insurance in Germany (or incoming insurance) for their initial visa application. It’s a policy specifically designed to get approval from German authorities.
This should put a smile on your face. Knowing German is actually not a requirement! But it certainly helps to show efforts to learn it. Consider even taking a basic A2 or A1 class to boost your chances.
What documents should i bring?
Your job seeker visa application Germany starts with gathering all the requireddocuments. This may vary from consulate to consulate, so do check again, but in general:
- A valid passport
- A completed application form which you can find here.
- Biometric photo
- An updated CV
- University degree + statement that it is recognized in Germany
- Health insurance certificate, travel insurance is also accepted. Ask your provider for that.
- Bank statements, salary slips, or other proof of income showing that you would be able to cover your expenses during your stay here
- Proof of available accommodation in Germany if you are abroad, or an Meldebescheinigung if you are in Germany already.
- A motivation letter. This document details what your exact plan is to find a job in Germany. More info on that here.
Make sure to collect every document and make copies. You are required to bring originals, but they will keep the copies in some cases.
Booking an appointment
If you are in Berlin
Once you have gathered all the documents, make sure to make an appointment online here.
I do not recommend risking for walk-in appointment, as they only give out limited slots every day -which means you have to be at the foreigners office mad early. I’m talking 3-4 AM to be one of the first one to get there, so when the gate is open at 6 AM you could get one of the waiting numbers. After collecting the ‘number’ you have to wait until 7 where they officially open their doors to enter the building and wait for your number to be called.
Bring all the documents and copies, your biometric photo, and the €56 application fee which you can pay in cash or using EC (bank card, not credit card). Turkish citizens can apply for the visa at no cost.
If you are abroad:
Book an appointment with your local German mission. You can find your local one here.
How to find a job in Germany once you arrived
Obtaining a job seeker visa is a great opportunity but it only gives you a limited time to achieve your goal. I’ve rounded up tips & resources about finding a job in Berlin which applies to the rest of Germany as well for the most part.
It should save you some time and give you a head start on your mission.
Can I work with a German job seeker visa?
As stated here by the immigration office, only skilled workers with vocational training or academic education may work up to 10h/week for the purpose of trial employment, in which you are qualified. This basically means that you cannot take on a small part-time job (not related to your qualifications) to sustain yourself during your time in Germany. Job seeking visa is purely intended for you to seek and apply for jobs you qualify for. Once you have a job offer, you should be able to change your job seeker visa to a work permit.
What is a good time to start the application when i’m already in Germany?
If you have entered the country already and you are using this as a way to extend your Initial 3 months visa, ideally, allow around 4 to 6 weeks before your current visa runs out to book for an appointment online.
How can i write a compelling motivation letter?
The motivation letter is very important and shouldn’t be underestimated. It should lay the plans for your job search, the action points and the scope of it. Ideally, it should also demonstrate how you can develop a solid situation/career in the future as well. It should also give detail on what your alternative plans are, in case your search doesn’t work out. This is probably to make sure you can go home if you aren’t successful.
Are there any experiences about applications i can read about?
How long do i have to wait to hear about my case?
Expect 3 to 4 weeks after submitting your application to hear from your local German mission.
How i can get help or guidance?
You can of course decide to talk to immigration specialists. For more general questions, you can also call a dedicated hotline setup by in cooperation with many different German administrations. They can answer your questions in English. More info about this hotline this way.
You can also turn to this Facebook group: Problems and Challenges with Ausländerbehorde and Einbürgerungsamt (Berlin). It may not replace professional advice, but it’s a good starting point to get real-world advice from people in the same situation as you.
- If you have any doubt at all, don’t hesitate to call your local German mission to clear them up. They’d rather give you info on the phone than discovering you misunderstood something during your appointment.
- Contact your health insurance provider and ask them to give you a confirmation letter that you are insured.
- Print out bank statement over a few months as proof of income or sufficient fund during your stay.’
- On the day of your appointment, dress appropriately and be on time. It’s a pretty grim place and I know no one is keen to be hanging out there, but it’s better to be early and have enough time to ask around and find where you have to be.
- Hand in all your documents and explain your situation. If you have all the documents needed, they would then ask you to go downstairs to pay the application fee at the machine. After the payment, you would get the job seeking permit stamped into your passport.
- This permit can not be extended and is primarily intended for foreign graduates to seek employment in Germany. However, if you currently have a residence permit which allows you to work here (employment or freelance), you can change it to job seeker visa.
I hope this short intro to the whole Germany job seeker visa topic helped to clear the path ahead of you. Don’t hesitate to share your experiences in the comments. or ask anything. Good luck to you!