The hardest thing about moving abroad is the Bureaucracy that comes with it. here is a simple guide to what visa you need, and the process by which to get it... equipped with all the links so you can focus on the fun things and not the paperwork.
Please be advised that nothing in this blog constitutes legal advice. It is merely a first overview meant to help get you started in your research. If you have particular concerns that you wish to have addressed, please contact a lawyer directly so that your specific circumstances can be evaluated.
Doing an internship or working in Germany is a great way to immerse yourself in a new culture and gain international professional experience. It’s easy to see why Berlin has become a hot-spot for expats from all over the world. Socially, it’s a great place to meet people, the cost of living is lower than other European capitals and Berlin has a buzzing startup scene. The perfect combination of work and play.
What about getting a German Visa? It is actually a simple process and very easy to do as an International Citizen. It’s a matter of filling out a few forms and getting some passport pictures taken.
If you have a job or internship lined up you will be applying for a work visa which is called ‘residence permit to take up employment’ or a ‘residence permit to take an internship’ in Germany. Plan for the entire process to take a few months. If you don’t have much time to prepare, don’t stress, it can be fast-tracked and completed when you arrive in Germany. The visa is usually valid for the duration of your contract and is easy to renew when needed. After 5 years you can even apply for a settlement permit or EU right of residence.
Your employer does the first step
The first step is to finalize your contract with your new job offer. Then your employer sends your freshly signed contract (or letter of intent) to the Federal Employment Agency who approves it and sends it back to the employer. This means you have clearance to officially apply for your German visa.
What documents do I need?
Work contract (and approval from Federal Employment Agency)
Passport and 2 passport-sized photos
Visa application form
Job description form
Anmeldung (City registration)
Statement of funds
Getting your German Visa in the US
If you want to get your German residence permit in your home country before traveling to Germany, you must do so in person at the German embassy in your country or at any German consulate in the country. Make your appointment and make sure to bring all your documents to it. Be sure to book well in advance to your arrival or start date in Germany, as appointments are once you are there, it takes about 10-15 minutes for your documents to be reviewed and approved, the standard processing time to receive your visa is between 10-15 working days.
Getting the German Visa in Germany
Book your visa appointment in advance. It’s important to have the appointment booked on a date before you start working or your contract starts. If you don’t manage to get an appointment, it’s still possible to go to the foreign office (Ausländerbehörde) in person and do the visa on the day.
If you don’t have an appointment arrive before the official opening time for an ‘on-the-spot’ appointment (termin). You will probably need to line up for some time so bring a book or something to keep you entertained while you wait. Once you are inside and have all the correct paperwork they will create the visa in about 15 minutes. A tip is to bring cash because the payment machine to pay for the visa does not take card.
Check out the foreigner’s office website for more detailed information (don’t worry there’s an English version).
The good news is that many Startups and established Companies are bursting with many international people which means you will meet expats from all over the world.