Skilled Worker Visa Germany

Highly qualified non-EU nationals can come to Germany for paid employment as skilled workers, provided they meet the requirements. However, they must first obtain a Skilled Worker visa to enter Germany.

If you have hired a foreign national or are about to hire one, your foreign employee might qualify for this visa. We can help you and your employee navigate this immigration process. Call us at 0333 305 9375 or contact us online for immediate assistance.

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    Moving to Germany as a Skilled Worker - Overview

    Foreign nationals from countries outside the EU/EEA can obtain a Skilled Worker residence permit, allowing them to live and work in Germany. Due to a shortage of skilled workers, Germany introduced the Skilled Immigration Act (FEG) in March 2020, providing an accelerated procedure for qualified international skilled workers to work in Germany.

    To qualify for this, the foreign employee must meet the following requirements:

    • Their qualification must be equivalent to a German professional training.
    • They must have a valid employment offer from a German company.
    • They must have a professional licence if they work in a regulated profession, such as a healthcare practitioner.

    Skilled Worker visa applicants who are 45 years or older must have employment offers with a salary of at least 55% of the annual pension assessment ceiling or prove that they have adequate pension provisions.

    The persisting labour shortages in Germany led to a review of the Skilled Immigration Act in July 2023 as part of Germany’s immigration law reforms. The new Skilled Immigration Act relaxed the rules for qualified professionals, making it easier for non-EU nationals to come to Germany.

    • It lowered the salary threshold for an EU Blue Card to 45.3% of the annual assessment ceiling for bottleneck professions (currently €39,682.80) and 50% for other occupations.
    • It expanded the list of shortage occupations beyond engineering, human medicine, IT, mathematics, and science.
    • It allows professionals with at least three years of experience (comparable to trained professionals) in the ICT sector to obtain a Skilled Worker visa even without professional training.
    • It allows non-EU nationals with recognised qualifications to enter Germany to seek employment for six months.

    The first phase of the new Skilled Immigration Act came into effect in November 2023.

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    Do I Need a Visa to Work in Germany?

    You may need a visa to work in Germany if you’re not an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen. Non-EU nationals need to obtain a visa granting them entry into Germany before they can apply for a Skilled Worker residence permit.

    To work for a German company, you must first apply for a Skilled Worker visa at the German embassy or consulate in your country of residence. The consulate officials will review your application to ensure you meet all requirements. They’ll typically seek confirmation of your employment offer and qualification recognition from the Federal Employment Agency before approving your request.

    You’ll be given an Entry visa valid for six months if you meet the requirements, and your purpose of entry will be stated on the visa. You’ll change the visa to a residence permit upon arriving in Germany.

    You can come to Germany without a visa if you’re a citizen of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or the United States. You’ll then apply for a German residence title at the foreign office in your region of residence in Germany. However, if you intend to start working immediately after you arrive in Germany (before obtaining a German residence title), you must obtain a visa that permits you to work.

    Qualifications Required to be a Skilled Worker

    For immigration purposes, Germany differentiates skilled workers from other forms of employment. Skilled workers are non-EU nationals who have qualifying training and practical experience to fill the shortage of skilled workers in Germany. There are three categories of skilled workers:

    • Skilled workers with academic training: Those with a degree from a German/ recognised foreign university or a foreign university degree comparable to a German degree.
    • Skilled workers with professional/vocational training: Those who have undergone at least two years of professional training in Germany or vocational training abroad equivalent to qualified German vocational training.
    • Skilled workers without formal training who have relevant practical knowledge: Those with neither academic nor vocational training who have at least three years of practical experience comparable to professional training. This category applies to IT professionals.

    A German employment contract is required for all three categories to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa. If your professional training does not meet the requirements for a Skilled Worker visa, you can get a visa to undergo further training in Germany.

    The general eligibility requirements for obtaining a Skilled Worker visa as a foreign national (employee) are:

    • Your foreign qualification has been officially recognised.
    • You have a valid employment offer from a German establishment – your employer must complete the “Declaration regarding a contract of employment.”
    • You have received a professional practice permit, or you have official assurance that you’ll receive one upon arriving in Germany (for those in regulated professions such as healthcare or legal practice).
    • You meet the language proficiency requirements.
    • You meet other requirements for an Entry visa to Germany.

    You can also obtain an Entry visa to search for jobs in Germany for up to six months if the appropriate authority has recognised your foreign degree. The German mission will only process your visa application if you have obtained a certificate of recognition of your foreign qualification. If you work in a regulated profession, you must have obtained written permission to practice to qualify for this. You must also have at least B1 proficiency in the German language.

    You must meet all these requirements and have complete supporting documents to prove your eligibility before applying.

    Options for Skilled Workers with Foreign University Degrees

    The regulation for skilled workers with foreign university degrees in Germany depends on their country of origin and occupational field. The requirements are different for regulated and non-regulated professions. Most occupations in engineering, education and teaching, medicine, and legal practice are regulated.

    Foreigners seeking employment in a regulated profession with a foreign university degree must have their degree recognised by the appropriate recognition body. The official recognition of your qualification is a prerequisite to obtaining a licence to practise your profession in Germany.

    You can find the relevant recognition body for your field and region and recognition counselling centres using the “Recognition Finder” tool on Germany’s official recognition portal. Only apply for a recognition procedure after the counselling. You’ll be issued a recognition certificate if your qualification receives a “full equivalence” rating from the recognition procedure.

    You do not need qualification recognition to practice a non-regulated profession in Germany. However, you must prove that your foreign degree is comparable to a German qualification. To do this, you must apply for a Certificate of Evaluation from the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB).

    The recognition procedure is mandatory for non-EU nationals with vocational training in regulated and non-regulated professions. While recognition is not compulsory for EU/EEA/Swiss nationals in non-regulated occupations, recognising your qualification generally makes job search and salary negotiations easier. It allows employers to identify your skills and knowledge immediately.

    Documents Required for a Skilled Worker Visa Germany

    You must submit the following supporting documentation when applying for a German Skilled Worker visa.

    • Two completed Skilled Worker visa application forms.
    • A passport or travel document with a minimum validity period of six months from the time of visa application and having at least two blank pages.
    • Two recent biometric passport photos.
    • Two copies of the biometric data pages of your passport.
    • Completed and signed declarations pursuant to section 54 of the Residence Act.
    • Proof of a valid job offer in Germany – “A Declaration regarding a contract of employment” completed and signed by your German employer.
    • Recognition certificate or comparability statement.
    • Proof of sufficient financial resources to support yourself.
    • Proof of adequate health insurance coverage.
    • Proof of accommodation in Germany.

    You must submit original copies of all required documents and two photocopies each. Your original documents will be returned to you at the end of the procedure. The German Consulate-General may request additional supporting documents if they deem it necessary.

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      How to Apply for a Skilled Worker Visa in Germany

      The steps to applying for a German Skilled Worker visa are as follows.

      1. Check the entry requirements: Check if you’re eligible for a Skilled Worker visa and the specific requirements for your occupation and nationality. You can do this using the “Quick Check” tool on Germany’s skilled worker portal. Your German employer may be able to apply for the fast-track procedure for skilled workers on your behalf.
      2. Apply for recognition/statement of comparability: Your qualifications must be equivalent or comparable to a German qualification to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa. You must apply for a recognition or comparability statement from the competent authorities.
      3. Make an appointment with the German embassy: Once you have your qualifications recognised and a German work contract, you can book a visa appointment with the German diplomatic mission in your country of residence. Gather all other visa requirements and supporting documents while waiting for your appointment.
      4. Apply for an Entry visa: You’ll submit your Skilled Worker visa application form, employment contract, recognition certificate, and other visa requirements during your appointment. You’ll also be required to pay a visa application fee of €75.
      5. Enter Germany: You can travel to Germany once you obtain your visa. Sufficient health insurance coverage is mandatory for entering Germany.
      6. Apply for a residence permit: You can start work immediately after you enter Germany. However, you must change your visa to a residence permit while it’s still valid. You’ll obtain a residence permit from the Foreigners Authority in your region.

      Skilled Worker Visa Processing Time

      The German commissioner processes visa applications within four to twelve weeks, depending on the number of applications they receive at a per time.

      However, you must also factor in the time it’ll take to have your qualifications recognised by the German competent authorities. The entire skilled worker application process, from recognition request to visa approval, can take six months to one year.

      Skilled Worker Visa Application Fee

      The standard German visa application fee is €75, converted to the local currency of your country of residence. You’ll pay the fee during your visa interview at the German consulate.

      However, there are other fees you may need to pay while processing your skilled worker residence permit. They include:

      • Recognition fee – up to €600
      • Qualifications comparability statement – €200
      • Residence permit – €100

      You may incur additional expenses for certifications and translations.

      EU Blue Card

      The EU Blue Card is a special residence permit for highly qualified foreign nationals coming to Germany for eligible employment. With the new requirements, obtaining an EU Blue Card is now open to a larger group of people. To qualify for an EU Blue Card,

      • You must have a German degree or a foreign university degree equivalent/comparable to a German degree.
      • You must have a German job offer that matches your professional qualifications. The work contract must be valid for at least six months.
      • You must earn a minimum salary of €43,800 if it’s a regular profession.
      • You must earn at least €39,682.80 (as of 2023) if you work in a bottleneck profession or are a new entrant to the labour market.
      • If you’re an IT specialist and do not have professional training, you must have at least three years of comparable experience in the sector.
      • If you are just starting out in your career, you are also eligible for the EU Blue Card, provided you have obtained a university degree within the last three years. In addition, your job in Germany must pay you a minimum salary of 45.3% of the annual pension insurance contribution assessment limit.

      The EU Blue Card is valid for a maximum period of four years. You can apply for a German settlement permit after holding an EU Blue Card for 36 months, provided you have at least an A1 level of German proficiency.

      Our expert lawyers works with employers and their employees to obtain a German skilled worker visa. Contact us today. Contact Us

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        Residence Permit for Skilled Workers in Germany

        If you do not qualify for an EU Blue Card, you can get a Skilled Worker residence permit for qualified professionals. It is a temporary residence title that allows you to live and work in Germany as a skilled worker.

        The residence permit is usually given for a validity period corresponding to the duration of your employment offer. However, you can extend it to a maximum of four years. You’re eligible for a settlement permit after holding a four-year Skilled Worker residence permit.

        To qualify for a Skilled Worker residence permit, you must meet the requirements for a Work visa to grant you entry into Germany.

        How can Total Law help?

        Obtaining a German Skilled Worker visa involves a long and attention-demanding process. The procurement of the required documents, the administrative procedures, and the large number of regulations associated with German immigration law can make the whole process draining. Ensuring your foreign employee gets the visa quickly and moves to Germany might be crucial to your business operations.

        It’s often best to seek professional assistance to reduce stress and avoid mistakes. Our goal at Total Law is to provide you with all the support and legal guidance you need. Our highly driven legal team will provide you with all the information and advice on the requirements for obtaining the Skilled Worker visa for/as a foreign employee. We will also ascertain your eligibility, initiate the recognition procedure, gather supporting documents, and ensure an error-free application.

        In addition, we will also work with you, if you are the applicant, to ensure your family members can join you in Germany as your dependants. Whatever your concerns are, our German immigration lawyers will always be available to answer any questions you might have regarding the German Skilled Worker visa.

        You can reach us anytime online, over the phone, or in person for expert guidance. Call us at 0333 305 9375 or contact us online for immediate assistance.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  The skilled worker visa requires a job offer. If you don’t have one, you can apply for a Job Seeker visa to enter Germany and seek employment if the relevant authorities have recognised your qualifications.

                  You can bring your nuclear family members (spouse and minor children) to Germany, provided you can prove that you can support them. Your spouse must also have at least an A1 language proficiency in German

                  You can apply for permanent residency in Germany after holding a Skilled Worker visa/residence permit for four years.

                  Your residence permit loses its relevance if you lose your job. If that happens, you must find a new job immediately and apply for a new residence permit.