7 min read

How to Get a Residence Permit to Work in Germany

Global mobility


Jemima Owen-Jones


February 13, 2024

Last Update

June 27, 2024

Table of Contents

1. Determine your worker’s eligibility

2. Ensure you meet visa requirements

3. Book an appointment at a German embassy

4. Register and set up in Germany

5. File the blue card application

How Deel helps you navigate the visa process with ease

Key takeaways
  1. To relocate foreign talent to Germany, it’s best to apply for an EU blue card for skilled workers.
  2. You have to obtain a work entry visa from the candidate’s nearest embassy before they can move to the country and file for a residence permit.
  3. Using HR and immigration services like Deel can help you simplify and streamline the complex German visa process.

When relocating employees to Germany, employers often need to procure a residence permit. A popular option for skilled workers is the EU blue card—there are currently over 70,000 registered holders in the country.

There are two main routes to consider—one is managing the blue card application process in-house, and the other is outsourcing to an immigration service provider like Deel.

Using a service provider is a good option if you don’t have the tools and resources to support a visa application. However, many employers also opt for Deel because they prefer to rely on expert guidance to expedite the process.

If you choose the hands-on approach, here are the essential steps to the EU blue card application.

1. Determine your worker’s eligibility

Start by seeing whether your candidate already has the right to live and work in Germany. There are visa exemptions for the following categories:

  • Citizens of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland

  • Displaced ethnic groups with German ancestry

  • Immediate family members of residents

Although EU citizens can enter Germany without a visa or permit, they must register if they plan to stay beyond three months. Note that our article covers the registration process in step three.

Non-EU nationals are eligible for a German residence permit if they fall into one of these categories:

  • Skilled workers with vocational training or an academic degree

  • Scientists for teaching and research purposes

  • IT specialists

  • Corporate transfers

  • Au pairs with basic knowledge of the German language

  • Students on an internship

  • Seasonal employees

  • Volunteer workers

  • Freelancers and self-employed people

If you’re looking to relocate a skilled worker, the EU blue card is a good choice. Registered holders find it easier to apply for family reunification and permanent residency. They also have the flexibility to work in any EU member state—essential if you may require them to work in other European countries.

However, the blue card isn’t the only option for foreign workers. If they’ve previously been sponsored by another German employee on an Art 18B ABS 1 or Art 19C work permit, they are now free on the labor market. 

In this case, you need approval from the German authorities to update their documents to indicate you’ve become the new employer.

💡Deel can help you check your candidate’s eligibility and guide you through the visa process. 

Our employer of record (EOR) status allows us to hire workers on your behalf. We consider the following German work-related permits on a case-by-case basis:

  • Art 18B Abs 1

  • Art 19C

Deel can always support the EU blue card. 

Learn more about how Deel can handle the German work visa process for EU blue card applicants here.

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2. Ensure you meet visa requirements

The EU places strict conditions on who can apply for blue cards. Review the rules before you begin the application process to see whether you need to amend your work contract.

Your job offer must:

  • Cover a period of employment longer than six months

  • Offer a minimum gross salary of €43,800 ($48,300 USD)

When roles are in high demand, what the EU refers to as a “bottleneck” profession, they may qualify for a lower minimum salary of €39,682.80 ($438,000). You can find the complete list on the federal website.

💡 As an EOR, Deel can hire candidates on your behalf and assume all liability for compliance during the visa process and beyond.

Note that many immigration services, including Deel, can’t provide visa support for roles with a lower minimum salary.

3. Book an appointment at a German embassy

Applicants from non-EU countries have to apply for an entry visa unless they’re from one of the following countries:

  • Australia

  • Canada

  • Israel

  • Japan

  • New Zealand

  • South Korea

  • The UK

  • The USA

In some cases, applicants may have to wait up to six months. You could consider a fast-track process to expedite this step if you face time pressure.

Have your employee book an appointment in their home country’s German embassy (or the closest one if that’s not possible). They’ll receive a list of all the required documents for the meeting, which usually includes:

  • The signed and completed visa entry form

  • A valid passport

  • Three biometric photos

  • An up-to-date resume

  • A cover letter explaining the purpose of the stay

  • A signed work contract

  • A signed employer’s declaration

  • The job description

  • Evidence of health insurance

  • Copies of qualifications

  • Proof any academic certificates are recognized in Germany

  • Any professional permits

Before they attend the appointment, candidates can complete the long-stay application form online via the federal website portal

The embassy needs proof that any foreign qualifications meet German standards. You can check whether your worker’s academic certificates are recognized on the Anabin database. If they aren’t listed, you need to apply for a Statement of Comparability (also called a ZAB).

Your worker must also have valid health insurance that not only lasts the duration of their stay in Germany but also applies to the entire Schengen zone. Consider enrolling them in your company’s plan to ensure they’re covered. You can use Deel’s benefits tool to see what you need to include to remain compliant and competitive.

You can have the employee pay the application fee of €75 ($83) for the entry visa at the embassy appointment.

Once you’ve applied, the application processing time usually takes three to four weeks. Your candidate can travel to Germany as soon as they’ve collected the visa.

💡 Deel’s experienced in-house team can manage visa and registration processes to ensure they go smoothly. We tackle everything from paperwork and embassy appointments to verifying work contracts.

Your candidates and their dependents can track their progress on the Deel dashboard to alleviate their anxiety about potential delays and unforeseen obstacles.

If you have any questions during the process, your dedicated case manager is always on hand to give you the information you need.

4. Register and set up in Germany

Upon the worker’s arrival, they have 15 days to register their address at one of Germany’s Bürgeramt citizens’ offices. They should bring their ID, visa, and a certificate from the person who’s leasing them their property.

To book an appointment, ring the nearest Bürgeramt. You may need a German speaker to translate both the call and the registration, as offices don’t typically offer multilingual services.

While offices may have long waiting times, the appointment itself only lasts around 15 minutes. The official will complete the registration form and stamp it. Unlike the other meetings, there’s no fee for this service.

Your worker will also automatically receive their Tax ID number within three weeks. Using this number, they can apply for the EU blue card and open a German bank account.

If your employee is using travel insurance, they should apply for public or private health insurance now. Medical coverage is mandatory in Germany.

💡 Enrolling employees on your company health insurance plan? Deel helps you easily manage benefits across different jurisdictions. We help you source comprehensive packages at competitive rates while maintaining compliance with local laws.

5. File the blue card application

By this point in the process, you’ve made all the necessary preparations to start the permit application via the online government portal. Be aware that due to current backlogs, you may have to wait until 10 weeks before your visa expiry to apply.

Prepare the following documents to attach to the form:

  • A valid passport

  • A copy of the signed work contract

  • A signed declaration of employment

  • Copies of the recognized qualifications

  • The certificate of registration

  • A copy of the lease agreement

  • Proof of health insurance

  • Recent bank statements

Before you can submit the forms, you have to pay application fees of €100 ($110) via transfer.

Once approved, the German government will organize an appointment at an immigration office to collect biometric data. Your worker should bring their ID and a recent passport-sized photo of themselves.

Afterward, your employee will receive the blue card by post within six to ten weeks. If they haven’t received the card before their entry visa expires, the application form can serve as proof of their legal right to remain in Germany.

💡 Deel’s HR platform provides a centralized place for you and workers to manage documents. New hires can upload documents for our experts to verify. You have total oversight so you can check everything’s ready before focusing on formally welcoming another member to your team.

Deel simplifies relocations for global teams by providing comprehensive visa and immigration support. 

With our services, you can:

  • Check candidates meet visa criteria before drafting contracts 

  • Use Deel to sponsor distributed teams as an EOR

  • Manage crucial documents like contracts and forms

  • Receive notifications and alerts about potential compliance issues

  • Conduct thorough background checks

  • Administer and manage benefits like health insurance and retirement funds

  • Run global payroll

If you’re interested in using Deel to fast-track your employee relocations, learn more about our visa and immigration services, or book a 30-minute chat with our team.

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