First of all: where are you from?

Your answer to this question will determine how easily you will enter Germany:

  • Case 1: If you are an EEA (the EU + Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) or Swiss citizen, stop reading this article. You can enter Germany, work and live there without a visa or a residence permit. Go, go, go!
  • Case 2: If you are a citizen of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the USA, you can enter without visa. You can apply directly for a residence permit once you arrive in Germany.
  • Case 3: If you are a national from another country, you must apply for a visa from your local German embassy or consulate before moving.

Check out your chances to supercharge your career in Germany here.

What is the entry process if your country of origin in in case 3?

In your mind, is a picture worth a thousand words?

If it is, you’ll enjoy  the primer video on Make it in Germany. You can find further information here explaining all the different paths to enter Germany according to your situation.

If you enter Germany to take up employment as a qualified professional, the entry process will be as follows:

  • Make an appointment at the German embassy of your current country.
  •  Around 8 weeks later, you’ll have your appointment to apply for a visa.
  • After a few days to several weeks — depending on your situation — the embassy may grant a visa (if not, you can apply again) valid for 1 to 3 months.
  • From there, the doors are open for Germany! Quickly make an appointment with foreign nationals’ registration authority or the Welcome Centre to ask for the list of documents required to apply for a residence permit (generally a valid entry visa, passport, proof of financial means, no grounds for expulsion).
  • You can apply for one of the three relevant residence permits:
  • Section 18: Residence Permit with the Purpose of Taking up Skilled Employment;
  • Section 19: settlement permit for highly qualified foreigners;
  • Section 19a: EU Blue Card [↙].

The visa application form is available online in 8 languages on Make it in Germany.

EU Blue Card, “was ist das”?

The EU Blue Card [↙] is a European scheme aimed to facilitate the entry of highly qualified foreigners. Compared to other European countries, Germany has in particular highlighted this tool in its migration policy. As a graduate from a recognised university or if you have a degree equivalent to a German one, you are eligible for the EU Blue Card.

There are only two conditions to get the EU Blue Card in Germany:

  • You need to prove that the job you got is equivalent to your qualifications;
  • Your minimum annual gross salary must reach at least 50,800 euros.

If you are a specialist from IT, mathematics, engineering and life sciences, you apply for an EU Blue Card from a lower wage level of 39,624 euros, with the approval of the Federal Employment Agency (BA). This is not required if you are a graduate from a German university.

The EU Blue Card will allow you to get a settlement permit (with no time limit) after 33 months. You can get your settlement permit even faster (21 months) if you can prove that your language skills comply with level B1 of the Common European Reference Framework for Languages (CEFR).

If you are not eligible for the EU Blue Card, other options exist to get a residence permit

You can still apply for a “Residence Title with the Purpose of Taking up Employment” (Section 18 of the Residence Act). The Federal Employment Agency will compare your qualifications with your job to approve (or not) your application. Ask your German contact (see section “Contacts” bellow) for more information.

If you are a graduate from a German university, you can take up a job in Germany which is in line with your studies. Contact the Foreign nationals’ registration authority to get your residence permit.

If you are a graduate of vocational training courses, you can get a residence permit if you meet the following criteria:

  • You work in a profession where there is a shortage of skilled workers. Consult the whitelist of such professions here.
  • You have received a binding job offer.
  • Your qualification has been recognised as being equivalent to a German qualification. Further information on the recognition of vocational credentials is available here. You must apply to have your qualifications recognised while you’re still in your home country. The authority responsible for qualification recognition can conclude that you need further training to get full recognition. In this case, you might be granted a residence permit for up to 18 months (Section 17a of the Residence Act) to acquire the lacking competences. While doing this training, you can take up employment in line with your professional profile without any time restrictions.

The state Baden-Württemberg settled the point-based model project for foreign skilled professionals (PuMa) from non-EU-countries. Its aim is to give the chance to work in a profession which is not on the whitelist of the Federal Employment Agency. Visit the PuMa website to learn more about this initiative.

Living permanently in Germany

“Oh, Deutschland, ich liebe dich!”

After a while, you might want to settle in Germany on a long-term basis. To do so, you must ask for a settlement permit. It will give you more advantages, such as the unrestricted right to live and work in Germany.

To apply for this settlement permit, you generally need to meet these requirements:

  • You have held a Residence permit for 5 years.
  • You have the means to support yourself without public funds.
  • You have paid the compulsory or voluntary contributions to statutory pension insurance for at least 60 months.
  • You are entitled to exercise gainful employment and have the permits to do so.
  • You have a sufficient command of German and basic knowledge of the legal and social system and way of life in Germany
  • You have sufficient living space for yourself and their family.

Once you have verified that you meet all these requirements, just make an appointment with the foreign nationals’ registration authority. They will tell you the documents you need to show.

Once again, don’t panic if you don’t meet these requirements! You can still be entitled a settlement permit:

  • If you are an EU Blue Card holder. You can apply after 33 months if you have exercised skilled employment during that time. This duration is reduced to 21 months if you have a good command of German (level B1). Click here to check the necessary documents to submit.
  • If you are a graduate from a German university. You can apply after 2 years if you have held a residence title for the purposes of employment or self-employment, or an EU Blue Card for two years after you had completed your studies. You also need to have a job corresponding with your level of studies and to have paid the statutory pension insurance for 24 months. Click here to check the necessary documents to submit.
  • You are a very highly qualified immigrant (researcher with specific knowledge, prominent teacher or scientist). You don’t need to satisfy a minimum period of residence before applying for a settlement permit. You just need to prove that you have a binding job offer. Click here to check the documents you will need to submit.

How much will you pay?

  • The visa costs 60 euros in your local currency.
  • The residence permit or EU Blue Card costs up to 140 euros.
  • The settlement permit generally costs up to 260 euros, depending on the type of activity you exercise.


  • Find your global, local, German contact here.
  • In Germany, get help from the Foreign nationals’ registration authority or the Welcome Centre in the town you live in. Find yours here.

To get more information

Here you find the most important information needed to answer your questions about Entering Germany. If you know other tips or want to share your experience, do not hesitate to contact us. You could even send your testimony which could be published on our website! Thanks for your contribution to the Leon community!