Want to work in Berlin, looking forward to a new job and now wondering whether you can just live and work here or whether you need a residence permit? We explain what all expatriate workers should pay attention to when applying.
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Not everyone who wants to live and work in Berlin needs a residence permit. Do you come from another EU country or a European Economic Area (EEA) country, i.e. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland? Then the right to freedom of movement applies to you. You are free to live and work wherever you want within the EU. Of course you have to register in your new country and city. Here[link to registration text], we explain how to register in Berlin.
Residence permits for people from outside the European Economic and Monetary Union
Come from a country outside the EU, so-called third countries? Then you have to apply for a visa before entering Germany. The visa is then converted into a residence permit after you arrive. To clarify whether you are allowed to work in Germany before you enter, your future employer should consult with the Federal Employment Agency in advance about whether you are entitled to work in Germany.
If there is nothing to prevent you from commencing work, you can enter Germany with your visa and then must have it converted into a residence permit, including a work permit, at the Berlin Immigration Office within two months of your arrival.
Special regulations on residence permits and work permits
Anyone from the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain, Israel or the Republic of Korea who wants to come to Germany can enter without the need for a visa. However, if you want to work here, you must apply for a residence permit including a work permit at the competent immigration authority no later than 90 days after your entry – in Berlin, the Landesamt für Einwanderung (LEA) is the competent authority. Only when you get a work permit are you entitled to commencing work.
For this reason, it is worthwhile to apply for the necessary documents at the German embassy in your home country prior to entering Germany. This way you can start your professional life as soon as you arrive.
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The EU Blue Card has been available in Germany and other EU countries since 2012. It was introduced to enable skilled workers in particularly sought-after professions to easily enter employment in Germany and the EU. Non-EU citizens from third countries can apply for the EU Blue Card if the following requirements are met:
Those who apply for an EU Blue Card usually receive permanent residence permits for themselves and their families more quickly.
A residence permit is always linked to a specific purpose for your stay
Your residence permit is always linked to a specific purpose for your stay. German law allows the following purposes:
If your residence permit does not serve the purpose of gainful employment or education, then you are not allowed to work in Berlin. You must apply for a work permit separately.
What are the requirements for the issuance of a work permit?
If you come from a third country, to get a work permit in Germany, certain requirements have to be met:
Where can I apply for a residence permit?
Are you already in Germany and want to have your visa converted into a residence permit? Then you need to contact the Berlin Immigration Office (Landesamt für Einwanderung – LEA). Whether you want to work in Germany as an academic or as a skilled worker with vocational education, on the website of the Berlin Immigration Office you will find the relevant information in both German and English, depending on the purpose of your residence permit.
How can I apply for a residence permit?
Basically, it’s best to make an appointment before arriving in Germany, as the lead times are long – as is the case with many authorities in Berlin [link to Registration article]. In general, it takes about eight weeks for a residence permit to be approved. So it’s worth making an appointment in good time. If you want to extend your residence permit, you should make an appointment about four to six weeks in advance.
Requirements for the issuance of a residence permit in Berlin for skilled workers with vocational education
To get your residence permit, you must meet the following requirements:
Here you can find out which documents you need to bring with you here.
Requirements for the issuance of a residence permit in Berlin for professionals with academic educational background
Are you an academic who wants to apply for a residence permit in Berlin for the purpose of gainful employment? Then you must meet these requirements:
Here you can find out which documents you have to present at your appointment here.
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Your first to-do in Berlin:
Opening a bank account
Welcome to Berlin!
Getting started with your bank account and basic features.
Due to legal reasons, you cannot open your account online if your nationality is Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Cyprian another country outside the European Union. Please book an appointment at one of our branches.
All other citizens can proceed with the online process.
You have to be a resident of the Federal Republic of Germany to apply for an account online.
The legally required identification is done via eID or video identification in cooperation with our partner S-Markt & Mehrwert GmbH & Co. KG.