If you are considering countries for possible relocation, Germany has to be on the list. It has one of the more liberal immigration policies till date and growing international population. Already, 1 in 4 German residents have an immigrant background. Read on.
There are 4 main paths to getting residency in Germany at the moment. Unfortunately, Germany does not grant visas for casual work and unskilled/semi-skilled labor. Their liberal immigration policy is still mainly open to skilled professionals.
According to the "Skilled Immigration Act", A skilled professional is defined as a person with a tertiary education degree or a vocational training qualification following a training course lasting at least 2 years.
Irrespective of whether you have a university degree or a vocational qualification, you're first required to have your foreign qualification officially recognized by the relevant authority in Germany.
Germany is looking to attract professional and skilled migrants who will be able to supply the much needed specialist skills to contribute to an advanced and industrialized society. Generally speaking, to be eligible, one needs to...
- be educated to degree level or possess a certificate in a recognized trade
- ideally speak German to B2 level OR
- be able to convincingly prove that you can run and sustain your own small business or gain sufficient revenue through selling your services as a freelancer
Now let's look at the immigration options available. If your're in a hurry, here's the summary:
- EU Blue Card
- Standard Residence Permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis)
- Freelancer / Self Employment Visa
- Job Seeker Visa
Let's consider each one.
Option 1: The EU Blue Card
The Blue Card is a pan-European scheme which offers a fast track route to permanent residency for those who tick the necessary boxes. Criteria are similar (but not the same) in all countries which participate in this scheme.
Every country in the EU except for the UK, Ireland and Denmark offers a Blue Card as a route to migration.
In Germany visa requirements for the EU Blue Card are as follows:
- Be qualified to tertiary degree level (minimum bachelors)
- Have either a job offer or a signed employment contract, conditional upon being granted a work permit
- A salary of at least €53,600 (as at 2019)
This is relaxed to a minimum of €41,808 for professions where there are recognized worker shortages, such as IT professionals, scientists, doctors, mathematicians and engineers. However, this requires prior approval by the Employment Agency before a Blue Card is granted.
The benefit a Blue Card gives you is that after 33 months you are granted permanent residency (subject to a number of additional criteria being met). This shortens to 21 months if you can prove that you speak German at CEFR's B1 level at least.
Option 2: Residence Permit
If a Blue Card isn't possible, you have the possibility of obtaining just a residence permit instead. Different criteria for this apply, depending on the job you will be doing and the varying scarcity of eligible workers to fill the role in question.
Generally speaking though, to get residence status, you still need to have a recognized degree and a suitable job offer from an employer. The German Federal Agency for Employment determines suitability on a case-by-case basis.
Depending on the role, the employer might need to prove to the German Federal Agency for Employment that he/she has taken reasonable steps to find a suitable German/EU citizen as a candidate for the role.
The German Federal Agency for Employment publishes twice a year a whitelist of non-academic occupations for which there is a severe worker shortage. Employers who wish to hire qualified 3rd country national applicants for these occupations are not subjected to the same criteria.
Option 3: Freelancer/Self Employment Visa
Perhaps you’re not so keen on finding a job in the regular job market and you’re focused on moving to Germany for economic or lifestyle reasons. To pay the bills, maybe you’re looking instead to freelance or perhaps run a small business.
To obtain a residence visa (Aufenthaltstitel) by this means, you normally have to apply from your home country. To be honest, I think Nigerians would struggle to get this so I won't spend much time explaining how it works.
Option 4: The Job Seeker Visa
Unlike the EU Blue Card or a Standard Residence Permit issued on grounds of gainful employment, the Job Seeker Visa allows candidates to enter and reside in Germany for 6 months without a job secured, for the very purpose of looking for work.
Who does this visa benefit?
- Nationalities which can’t enter Germany for 90 days visa-free.
- Qualified, experienced job seekers in skills shortage professions, who stand a good chance of finding work within 6 months
- German speakers (not because it’s a must have...but simply because it will greatly increase your chances of getting interviews)
- Those who have the financial means to stay in Germany for a 6 month period while looking for work
For whom will this not work?
- Unqualified/unskilled workers seeking casual work
- Inexperienced recent graduates looking for their first job after finishing their studies
- Anyone who is not in a skills shortage profession and speaks zero German
So there you have it! Those are the 4 main in-routes for skilled migrants into the German workforce.