Visas: Germany

Click here to download our infographic with information on obtaining a work visa for Germany.

There are three categories of work permits: general employment, job seeker and self-employed. Which residence permit applies to you and which preconditions need to be fulfilled essentially depends on the type of intended employment.

Australian Citizens can generally apply for a residence permit after entering Germany at the local immigration authority, without applying for a visa beforehand. Please note that until the work permit has been issued you will not be able to work. If you want to start working immediately after your arrival in Germany, you should apply for a visa about 8-10 weeks prior to the intended departure.


Those looking for a job in Germany without having an employment contract.

  • Graduates with a German or other recognised University degree or a foreign degree comparable to a German degree will be eligible to enter Germany to seek employment.
  • Holders of a jobseeker's visa may stay in Germany for up to six months to seek employment.
  • To obtain a jobseeker's visa applicants must provide proof of their university degree and proof of financial means for the intended duration of stay.
  • While seeking employment jobseekers are not permitted to work, neither employed nor self-employed.


For those who want to come to Germany to set up a business.

  • A residence permit can be issued for carrying out self-employed work. This presupposes that certain prerequisites are fulfilled that, in particular, ensure that the work has a positive effect on the German economy.
  • If you want to come to Germany to set up a business, you can apply for a residence permit for self-employed business purposes.
  • It is valid for three years and can be extended if the business is successful.
  • To work on a self-employed basis your proposed business must:
    • Have a beneficial economic impact
    • Fulfill the needs of the Federal Republic of Germany or specific regional or local needs
    • Be fully covered by your own capital or bank loan for which there is a written confirmation
  • To ensure the sustainability of your business project, the following criteria will also be taken into consideration:
    • Viability of your business plan
    • Your relevant business experience
    • Amount to be invested in Germany
    • Impact of your business project on employment
      and skills
    • Contribution of your project to innovation and


For foreigners working under an employment contract in Germany.

It is permitted to employ professionally qualified foreigners in the case of specific vocations. These occupational groups are determined by legal ordinance.

  • Acceptance of foreign nationals in the general employment category is based on the economic needs of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • The two basic conditions are:
    • Vocational qualification
    • A concrete offer of a contract of employment
  • The permit is usually granted for one year and is extendable as long as your situation remains the same.
  • After five years of working in Germany, you can apply for a settlement permit in order to stay in the country indefinitely.

This is intended as a guide only. To find the most up to do date information, you will need to check in with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade before applying for a visa. Advance always recommends reaching out to a qualified immigration attorney for legal advice about your specific situation.