Vocational Training (“Ausbildung”)

You can apply for a residence permit to start a qualified vocational training programme in Germany if an organisation or institute in Germany accepts you as a trainee. Qualified vocational training is a training programme which is recognised by the state (or a comparable regulated vocational training) which continues for at least two years. You will find a list of all available qualified vocational training programmes at bibb.de.

In principle, you need the following documents:

  • A training contract or a concrete offer for a spot in a training programme
  • Proof of a secure livelihood
  • Proof of sufficient proficiency in German (At least B1)

Before you can take part in dual vocational training programme, in principle, your trainee position must be also approved by the Federal Employment Agency. Whether you receive a residence permit for dual vocational training depends on other candidates who may be interested in the respective position: when there is another applicant from Germany or the EU or a person with a humanitarian residence permit, they will be preferred for the position. Otherwise, you will be permitted to start the programme. The Federal Employment Agency conducts the labour market priority examination (“Vorrangprüfung”) for each case and decides based on the results.

To learn more about vocational training programmes in Germany, read our chapters „Dual Vocational Traing“ and „School-based Vocational Training“.

Residence permits granted for vocational training are usually valid for one to two years and may be extended if you were unable to complete your training programme during that period. Furthermore, you are permitted to work an additional 10 hours per week in another job during your vocational training.

After completing your training, you can apply for a residence permit for job seekers in order to stay in Germany. You can learn more about the residence permit for job seekers in the section "Job hunting".

 

Study

You can apply for a residence permit when a German university, higher education institution ("Hochschule") or a "Studienkolleg" or another preparatory programme (e.g. a compulsory language course) admits you as a student. In principle, you need the following documents:

  • An enrollment certificate or alike
  • Proof of a secure livelihood
  • Health insurance
  • Proof of proficiency in German (only if your language skills have not already been checked by the university or "Studienkolleg")

The residence permits granted for the purpose of education are usually valid for one to two years. If you are unable to complete your studies within this period, your residence permit will often be extended. During your studies, you can work a total of 120 full days per year.

It is also possible to obtain a residence permit in order to apply to a university. In this case, you will need to present your university entrance qualifications instead of an enrollment certificate. A university entrance qualification is a school-leaving qualification which allows you to enter a university. The residence permits granted to university applicants are usually valid for nine months. Keep in mind that you are not permitted to work during this time.

You can learn more about student visa on germany-visa.org.

If you would like to stay in Germany after completing your studies, you can apply for a residence permit for job seekers. You can read more about the residence permit for job seekers in sections "Job hunting" and "Employment for skilled workers" below. 

Job hunting

You can apply for a residence permit if you are a skilled worker who wants to find a qualified job in Germany. "Skilled workers "are those with a qualified vocational training or an academic degree recognised in Germany. The term "qualified job "refers to the occupations for which one requires qualified vocational training or university degree.

To qualify for this type of residence permit, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You have completed a vocational training recognised in Germany or hold a degree recognised in Germany.
  • You can prove you have sufficient knowledge of the German language for your work.
  • You are capable of fending for yourself financially during the entire job-hunting period.

Residence permit for seeking employment is valid for six months during which you can search for a suitable job. While job hunting, you can work for potential employers for a maximum of 10 hours per week on a trial basis.

Once you have found a suitable job, you must apply for a residence permit for employment. After obtaining this residence permit, you can start to work in Germany. 

Please note: If you cannot find a suitable job within the designated six months, you have to leave Germany and wait for another six months before you can apply for a residence permit for job hunting at the German Embassy again. 

Searching for a vocational training programme

If you have a high school diploma which permits you to enter university in your home country, you can apply for a residence permit to search for vocational training.

To obtain a residence permit which allows you to seek vocational training in Germany, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You have a university entrance qualification from your home country, i.e. a high school diploma which allows you to enter university in your home country.
  • You can prove your knowledge of the German language (B2).
  • You can fend for yourself financially while searching for a spot in a vocational training programme.
  • You are younger than 25 years.

Residence permit for seeking vocational training is valid for six months during which you can look for a suitable training programme. Meanwhile, you are not allowed to work.

Measures for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications

You can obtain a residence permit to carry out measures which will lead to the recognition of your foreign professional qualification. To do this, you must first submit the proof of the vocational qualifications you have obtained abroad to a competent German authority. If the responsible body decides that further qualification is required for the recognition of your vocational qualification, given you can prove sufficient German language skills (A2), you can go through additional training in Germany. Under certain conditions, you may also work during your qualifying training.

You will find a competent body for the recognition of your degree on anerkennung-in-deutschland.de. You can also seek advice in advance. Under "Beratung im Ausland" ("Consultation abroad") you will find local addresses of the appropriate offices in some countries. Alternatively, you can use the contact form of make-it-in-Germany or the helpline "Arbeiten und Wohnen in Deutschland" at +49 30 1815 1111. The staff speak German and English and are available Monday-Friday, from 8 am to 4 pm CET. Please note that calling abroad usually costs money.

Employment for skilled workers

You can apply for a residence permit for Germany if you are a skilled worker who wants to work in Germany and you already have an offer for a qualified job in a company. "Skilled workers "are those with a qualified vocational training or an academic degree recognised in Germany. The term "qualified job "refers to the occupations for which one requires qualified vocational training or university degree.

To obtain this residence permit, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have completed vocational training or hold an academic degree recognised in Germany.
  • You have an employment contract or a solid job offer inside Germany.
  • You must be able to prove your German language proficiency (B1).
  • In principle, the Federal Employment Agency must give its consent.
  • If you are over the age of 45, you must also have an adequate retirement provision or proof that you are earning no less than the minimum salary set by the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Currently, the designated minimum salary amounts to € 3685 gross per month for West Germany and € 3382.50 gross per month for East Germany (as of 2019).

You can learn more about work visa on germany-visa.org.

The work permit for employment is often granted for four years. In case your employment contract has a shorter duration, the residence permit will be adjusted accordingly. If you lose your job, your residence permit will usually lose validity. If that is the case, you must quickly find a new job and apply for a new residence permit.

EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is somewhat similar to the American Green Card. Being granted an EU Blue Card usually means that you are entitled to stay in Germany, at least for an initial four years. You can receive an EU Blue Card if you:

  • have a German university degree or an equivalent qualification and
  • can prove that you have a job offer or a job position in Germany with a minimum annual salary of € 49,600 (or € 38,688 for the occupations in demand ("Mangelberufe").

Further information regarding the EU Blue Card is available at the websites of the BAMF and the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection.

Self-employment

If you wish to works as a self-employed professional in Germany, you can, under certain conditions, apply for a residence permit for the purpose of self-employment. In order to come to Germany and start a business, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Your business idea must have a positive effect on the German economy.
  • The required funds must be secured.
  • You must have already gained experience in the relevant field.

You can find out more by visiting germany-visa.org. For more detailed information, you can also refer to the German embassy in your home country or the Immigration Office in the city/district where you would like to locate your company.

Please note: If you have studied in Germany or have a residence permit as a researcher or scientist and would like to become self-employed, you can obtain a residence permit for self-employment only if your planned occupation is related to your studies or previous activities as a scientist. This is the only prerequisite you need to fulfil to obtain a residence permit for self-employment.

Research Work

If you want to come to Germany to work in a state-recognised research institution, you can apply for and obtain a residence permit for the duration of your research, if:

  • you have a hosting agreement from a research organisation recognised by the BAMF.
  • the respective research project is actually carried out.
  • your specific expertise or skills are verifiable.
  • your livelihood is secured.

In principle, the research organisation must also guarantee (in writing) to cover any costs that may incur as a result of your possible unauthorised stay or deportation.

Check germany-visa.org for more information in English.

Family Reunion

You can apply for and obtain a residence permit if a close family member of yours holds German nationality (and lives in Germany) or in case a close relative of yours have been issued a German residence permit (and lives in Germany). Close family members, in this case, include spouses, unmarried minor children, the parents of unmarried minor children with German citizenship and the parents of minor unmarried children who have a German residence permit.

If your family member is not a German citizen, you must, in principle, meet the following conditions to reunite with him/her in Germany:

  • Your family member must have (at least) a residence permit in Germany.
  • Your family member must have sufficient living space.
  • Your livelihood must be secured.
  • In principle, you need to prove you have a basic knowledge of the german language.

Check germany-visa.org for more information in English.

For the refugees to reunite with their families, there are fewer pre-conditions. To learn more about them, please read the "Family Reunification" chapter.

Where can I apply for a visa or residence permit?

If you require a visa to enter Germany, you must apply for it at the German Embassy or Consulate in your home country (or a neighboring country) and present the required documents there. After entering Germany, you must register your address and apply for a residence permit at the relevant Immigration Office within three months. To do so, you must submit the necessary documents and, in principle, a confirmation of registration (“Meldebestätigung”) and a rental agreement. The authorities will check your papers and decide if you should be granted a residence permit. Please note that the processing of your visa application may take several months.

You can learn more about visa application process on germany-visa.org.

If you do not require a visa to enter Germany, please register with the Immigration Office at your new place of residence upon arrival and present the required documents there.