Relocating to another country is never an easy job. Depending on your circumstances, it can be even harder: moving your family, finding work and accommodation, learning the language, among other challenges. The situation exacerbates even further if you’re not a citizen of an EU member state or a few other countries where you have that opportunity to fast-track your residence and work permit. In this article, we’ll look at all kinds of situations you can encounter while looking for ways to relocate to Germany.
Things you’ll learn:
- Why you should relocate
- How to apply for a visa and work permit
- How to prove your education is valid
- What to do if you don’t have a degree
- What to do if you don’t know German
- How to find accommodation
Why you should relocate
While the cost of living in Germany will vary from city to city, it’s still one of the most affordable countries in Europe. Besides, the German infrastructure, healthcare, and general living standard are beyond exceptional.
The IT industry in Germany is booming. The statistics show that for 2019, the IT industry generated a revenue of roughly €93,6 bln. The salary reports for specialists working in IT show the average annual gross income at €62,278, which makes it roughly €5,190 per month. The average household expenditure balances off around €859 per month with 36% of that sum allocated to housing, maintenance, and energy. By doing some simple mathematics, you’ll arrive at a number roughly corresponding to €4,300, which seems like a fine deal.
The standard of living in Germany is way above average compared to other European countries, and prices/cost of living is way less than, say, in London.
How to apply for a visa and work permit
The first and foremost important step in relocating to Germany finding a job, landing that long-hoped-for job offer, then getting a work permit and visa, which will allow you to work and live in the country. Chances are your future employer will provide some sort of assistance with getting your paperwork done. If you are getting a job offer through Hirebacker, we’ll help you with all questions related to your and your family’s visa.
However, it’s a good idea to understand what options are available and where you exactly fit in.
Your options will greatly depend on your current citizenship:
- If you are a citizen of an EU member state, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland, or Switzerland
You don’t need a work permit to work or a visa to live in Germany.
- If you are a citizen of the United States, Canada, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, or the Republic of Korea
You don’t need an entry visa to enter the country. However, if you’re staying longer than 90 days, you’re required to get a residence permit. You can apply for both residence and work permit before you even find a job.
- If you are a non-EU citizen
You have several options. Typically, you’ll apply for a work permit along with your travel visa. If you’re a citizen of the US and Canada, you can apply for a work permit within Germany; however, if you’re a citizen of any other non-EU countries, it’s better to do that when you’re still in your country.
There are several types of residence and work permits that you should be aware of and choose the most applicable to your situation and circumstances:
Specialist professional residence permit
If you have a degree, professional experience and documentation to prove it, as well as a contract of employment and enough money to support your stay, then you can apply for a specialist professional residence permit.
EU Blue Card
Alternatively, and this is the option we recommend to undertake, you can apply for the EU Blue Card.
In order to qualify for an application, you need to have a degree from a recognized university, which is comparable to a German degree, and earn at least 53,600 EUR.
However, if your gross annual salary is less than 53,600 EUR but more than 41,808 EUR and you work in the field of mathematics, natural sciences, Information Technology, or employed as a physician, as well as hold a degree from a recognized university, you’re still eligible to apply for the EU Blue Card.
If you find a job through Hirebacker, we’ll apply for the EU Blue Card on your behalf and will get the paperwork done at no cost to you.
These are the advantages of obtaining the EU Blue Card rather than a residence permit with the purpose of employment:
- Blue Card allows you to reside in the country for four years (or the duration of the contract).
- You can apply for permanent residency after 33 months as compared to five years under the general employment visa or 21 months if you successfully pass the B1 German language exam.
- Your spouse can come after you and apply for the EU Blue Card with the possibility to work in Germany.
How to prove your education is valid
Not all universities are recognized in Germany. To check if your educational institution is recognized, you’ll need to search for it in the “anabin” database and make sure it ranks H+. And if it does, you can print all the supporting documents about its status from the same website.
However, if you don’t find your university in the database or it has an H- rank, you can send a request to ZAB to either recognize your education institution or re-reconsider its current ranking. Hirebacker will also help you with the above procedure if need be.
You can learn more about the procedure at the KMK website.
What to do if you don’t have a degree
If you don’t have a degree, moving into Germany will be very difficult if not impossible.
There’s a provision in the law on the EU Blue Card that if you have five years of professional experience instead of higher education, you can try to apply for the Card, but in reality, no one has ever succeeded in obtaining it without a degree.
However, if you’re a citizen of any of the EU member states, you can move into Germany without a degree since you don’t have to apply for a work permit.
What to do if you don’t know German
If you’re working in tech, chances are you’ll be able to score a very good job without speaking the language.
Nevertheless, we still recommend to sign up for German classes as soon as you arrive in the country (or do them online before moving in).
Speaking the local language is extremely important to start feeling at home as soon as possible, socialize with your German colleagues, and familiarize yourself with the country and its cultural heritage.
How to find accommodation
Once your paperwork is underway, it’s time to think about the place to live. If your future employer doesn’t provide or help with accommodation, you’ll have to look for it on your own.
Renting a flat in Germany has its own set of quirky peculiarities that you have to be aware of even before you move into the country.
Since it’s easier to look for a long-term rental when you’re already in Germany, it’s best to book in advance some sort of temporary housing with Airbnb and Windu before you find something more permanent and affordable.
There are several options for long-term rentals as well, and these are — shared flats, apartments with no furniture (and no kitchen) and completely furnished flats. Since most of the landlords would expect to have an interview with a potential tenant, it’s best to apply for flats when you’re already in the country. Take a German friend with you to translate any questions you might have and the other party’s responses; more importantly — always show up on time.
These are a few suggestions where you can look for your next rental:
Apartments across Germany
As soon as you arrive in Germany, you’ll have to register with the local authorities: register your address and get a tax ID. This step should not be taken lightly or disregarded because you’re required to do so by law within 14 days after moving into your new flat. The registration is handled by Bürgeramt or citizen office. If you’re not sure where to find one or how to book an appointment, type in google search “your city + anmeldung,” where anmeldung stands for address registration. If you’re about to live in Berlin, you can do so by following this link.
The documents that you are expected to bring with you include a copy of your passport and visa, as well as a letter from your landlord giving his explicit consent that they allow their flat to be registered under your name for anmeldung.
In the next few articles, we’ll cover other important aspects of living in Germany, such as obtaining the EU Blue Card, driving and getting your driver’s license, understanding local taxes and insurance policies, renting a flat, and integrating into German society.