Table of Contents
- What is a German Job Seeker Visa?
- What are the Advantages of a German Job Seeker Visa?
- Job Seeker Visa in Germany Requirements
- What Does the Job Seeker Visa Application Process Look Like?
- Job Seeker Visa FAQs
- In Conclusion
According to a Bertelsmann Stiftung study, Germany’s labor market is on the decline. More skilled professionals are required as a significant number of the workforce with vocational training will be leaving as they approach retirement.
The study further states that 260,000 immigrants will be required in Germany to boost up the labor force supply for the economy to remain sustainable. 146,000 of these immigrants will be from third countries (those outside the EU and EEA - European Economic Area, and other countries like New Zealand, Israel, Canada, USA, Australia, South Korea and Japan) (see image below)Image Source
This demand necessitated the need for a law that made it easier for workers in third countries to move to Germany.
In comes the 2020 Skilled Immigration Act. Under this law, you don’t need to have a specific job offer. You can get a permit just to look for a job in Germany.
In this article, we will explore the job seeker visa. We will answer questions like:
- What is a job seeker visa?
- What are the advantages that come with a job seeker visa?
- What do you need in order to acquire a job seeker visa?
- What does the job seeker visa application process look like?
- FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) by people looking to get the job seeker visa.
What is a German Job Seeker Visa?
The Job Seeker Visa allows skilled professionals to stay in Germany for 180 days (6 months) while looking for a job. With the visa, you can only work for a maximum of 10 hours a week. This allows you to have a taste of the German work culture and test whether you and your prospective employer are a good fit.
It’s important to note that you need to have the visa with you before getting into Germany. In case you get a job within the 6 months, then you need to apply for an employment visa. In case you are unsuccessful in your job search, then you need to return to your home country.
What are the Advantages of a German Job Seeker Visa?
Well, apart from an opportunity to look for a job, what other benefits come with a job seeker visa?
A Gateway to Permanent Residency
Suppose you are looking to settle in Germany. The job seeker visa sets you on the path to permanent residency. In case you secure a job within the 6 months that your job seeker allows you to stay in Germany, you can apply for an employment visa without having to return to your home country. Later on, you can apply for an EU Blue card and even permanent residency (after 21 to 33 months if you have an EU Blue card or 5 years,which allows you to bring your immediate family members to Germany.
You Don’t Need to Already Have a Job Offer
Unlike in other countries where you need to have a job offer or prospective employer before applying for a temporary visa, the job seeker visa allows you to come to Germany even with no job prospects. You then have 6 months to secure employment.
You Have an Opportunity to Begin the Job Search Earlier
It is advisable to use the job seeker visa as a later step in your job search, and only use the visa when you need to be in Germany - for example, where a job requires you to be in a particular city. If you have identified a potential employer or position that you can easily fill, you can then register for the job seeker visa as you apply for the job. It will show the willingness to relocate, giving you an extra point, having met other qualifications and are a strong candidate.
Ample Time to Interact With Germany, Its People and Its Culture
With the job seeker visa, you are able to explore Germany as a country - its work and business culture, language and other aspects. This way, you get to decide whether you would like to continue to live there should you get a job during the 6 months your job seeker visa allows.
You Could Improve your German Language Skills
One of the requirements during the job seeker visa application process is proficiency in German (B1 Level). You could use your spare time, if your visa is successful, to improve your German Language skills. This would not only increase your job prospects, but also make it easier to settle in should you get a job. You will be able to communicate in German and even learn aspects of German culture.
Job Seeker Visa in Germany Requirements
So, what do you need in order to apply for a job seeker visa in Germany? We will look at:
- your eligibility as an individual,
- and the documents you need to have.
To be eligible to apply for a job seeker visa, you need:
- To be a skilled/qualified professional.
- To prove that you have enough funds to cater for your living expenses for your 6 month stay in Germany (5200 EUR to 6000 EUR is a reasonable estimate). You, however need more funds to live in a more expensive city.
- To possess German language skills appropriate for the position you desire to work in (at least level B1)
- To have travel or medical insurance for the 6 months you will stay in Germany or until you can obtain an employment visa.
- To have a place to live in Germany.
Let’s further explore what it means to be a skilled professional in Germany, and the issues around the recognition of your educational qualifications.
Who is a skilled professional?
In the light of the new 2020 Skilled Immigration Act, a skilled professional:
- holds a tertiary degree (bachelor/masters) officially recognized in Germany or
- has a vocational training qualification (after a minimum of 2 years of training) officially recognized in Germany
Recognition in Germany
‘Recognition’ means being granted the ‘permission’ to use a regulated job title like ‘Engineer’ in Germany. Recognition highly depends on your home country and where you got your education.
To get recognition in Germany, you need to follow the requirements and procedures stipulated by the Anerkennung in Deutschland, an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Depending on whether you are a ‘skilled worker’ or ‘professional’, you need to answer a set of questions to determine whether you need recognition. In the event that you do, you will be required to submit some documents to an authority in the city or place you are hoping to work in.
Your result could be a recognition, partial recognition, or no recognition at all.
- Recognition- your professional qualification is equivalent to the German qualifications in your field of specialty.
- Partial Recognition- only a part of your professional qualification is equivalent to the German qualifications in your field of specialty.
- No Recognition- your professional qualification significantly differs from the German qualifications in your field of specialty.
Education Qualifications in Germany
To look for work in a regulated field, for example, engineering, law, health or teaching in a state school, your education qualifications need to be officially recognized in Germany. You may also need to meet certain regulations if you are in business, depending on your craft or training.
The official authority responsible for the recognition of academic qualifications is the Central Office for Foreign Education (Zenteralstelle für auländisches Bildungswesen - ZAB). Third country citizens must have their educational qualifications validated either through a Statement of Comparability for Foreign Higher Education Qualifications or a Recognition Certificate. A Recognition Certificate compares your higher education qualifications to a German degree equivalent.
ZAB issues a ‘short version’ of the Statement of Compatibility, which you can attach to your job as you seek employment. You can also use the ‘longer version’ should you need to provide more information.
The Anabin Database
Alternatively, you can use the Anabin database, which is run by ZAB. On the site, you can ‘open the country selection’ and enter the name of your University. Check the ‘status’ column. If your institution has a status of ‘H+’, then it is recognized in your home country as a university and regarded as one too in Germany.
On the Anabin Database, other statuses include H- and H+/-
- H- means that the institution is neither recognized in its home country nor in Germany. There is therefore no suitable classification in Germany for the institution.
- H +/- means that there are no conclusions that can be made about the institution. This could be as a result of the courses offered at the institution not being accredited, or could be of a higher or lower level.
A H +/- means that you need to have the particular degree examined by ZAB. Checking the institution type might also be helpful (for example state university, private university in the accreditation process / "Interim Authority", or accredited private university).
Now that we have covered the basics you need to prove that you are an eligible job seeker visa candidate, let us look at the required documents during your application:
- A valid passport - it should have been acquired within the last decade and needs to be valid for at least 12 months after your 6 month stay in Germany. This is because, in case your job search is unsuccessful, you will need to go back to your home country.
The passport also needs to have a minimum of 2 blank pages where the job seeker visa will be printed (in case you are successful). You need to affix 2 undamaged pictures to your passport. Sometimes, a previous passport may be required. In addition, the bearer needs to have signed the passport.
- A copy of the data in your passport’s pages.This needs to be in A4 size.
- 3 passport/biometric pictures. The photos, for example, should not be over 6 months old, you need to be looking straight at the camera, and your clothes should not match the background.
- A cover letter (also known as a motivation letter explaining why you want to visit Germany, how you plan to go about looking for a job, long-term career plans, and other options you would consider should your current employment prospects fail. The cover letter needs to be written by the applicant and signed. You need to translate the letter to German, but some embassies may accept English versions as well.
- A detailed resume/curriculum vitae in German format. It should contain information about your education and employment history. You might need to translate the CV to German, but some embassies may accept English versions as well.
- Proof of your academic qualifications from a German or non-German educational institution.
- Certificates of previous work experience.
- Proof of accommodation - where you will stay in Germany during your visit. This means that you need to have an address which is officially registered.
This may be difficult to find considering that the reason you are applying for a job seeker visa in the first place is that you need a job, and most accommodation options need you to show a work contract.
A sublet therefore becomes the best option for you. You can find sublet options on Facebook groups, for example. A hotel accommodation (3 weeks) or an Airbnb which you pay for 28 days in advance could also suffice. You might want to confirm with the German embassy in your country first, though.
In the event that a friend or relative is hosting you, you need to present a formal obligation letter (Verpflichtungserklärung) at least for the first month.
- Financial proof that you will be able to cater for your living expenses while in Germany. This can be shown via a bank statement, blocked bank account, or a formal obligation letter.
For a blocked account you need to transfer a minimum of 10,332 Euros. It is named ‘blocked’ as the money is only accessible after you have successfully acquired your job seeker visa and have arrived in Germany.
A formal obligation letter , also known as a ‘declaration of commitment’ is signed by a friend, relative or even a business who is a legal German resident. This applies to a business registered as a legal entity in Germany too. The person/business (known as a financial sponsor) commits to cover your living, accommodation, medical and return costs for your stay in Germany.
- Proof of personal status in your home country. This can be shown via a birth or marriage certificate or other relevant documents like residence permits if you are not a citizen of the country you are currently living in.
- Proof of health or travel insurance. You need to print your insurance’s coverage letter which has the dates of your coverage. You might want to go with insurance options that are easy to cancel, in case you don’t get the visa, or need to cancel it after 6 months, after getting a job in Germany and no longer needing the insurance.
- A German Language Certificate - you need to submit a German Language Certificate that shows your proficiency in the language. The minimum required proficiency level is B1.
- A letter of recommendation - while this is not mandatory, it is a good way for your former employer/colleagues to vouch for your character. A signed and dated letter is even better.
- If you have previously visited Germany, you might need to bring copies of your previous visas, or other visa types.
- It’s important to note that additional documents may be requested, especially for more regulated professions.
What Does the Job Seeker Visa Application Process Look Like?
In this section, we take you through the job seeker visa application process. It is only prudent to ensure that you are eligible and have put together all the documents discussed in the previous sections.
The following image summarizes the process for you:
Complete the Job Seeker Visa Application Form
To obtain the application form, you need to visit the German Embassy office or Consulate in your country. Alternatively, you can download it from the German Embassy website in your home country and fill it. You can then print 2 copies and sign each.
Carry the filled and signed form with you to the German Embassy Office in your country during your appointment. In some countries, you can submit the application form and required documents online.
Remember to include all the documents we discussed above, otherwise, your application will be automatically rejected. Ensure that you go through the provided checklist on the embassy’s website to ensure that you attach all required documents.
Book an Appointment for a Visa Interview
After filling in your application form, signing and attaching the required documents, you need to book an appointment for your visa interview. The appointment should be booked at least 3 months in advance, so the earlier the better.
Attend the Visa Interview
Once an interview date is set, remember to carry all the required documents, even if you have already submitted them online. Since it’s a formal interview, you need to look presentable, just like you would for a job interview.
The interview is relatively short, about 10 minutes. There is nothing to worry about, as you are likely to respond to questions concerning your motivation to move to Germany, or clarify various aspects of your application.
Be punctual for your appointment. Lateness could result in your appointment being cancelled.
Pay the Fees
On submitting your application, you are required to pay a visa processing fee that amounts to 75 EUR. Local currency is used for payment, and the conversion rate is determined by the current exchange rate, at the date of your payment. Confirm the payment options available at the respective German Consulate.
On making the payment, a receipt is issued. You need to show the receipt when you go to collect your visa, if successful. The fee is non-refundable, even where the visa application is unsuccessful.
Your application will be further reviewed by German relevant authorities. It takes 2 to 4 weeks for your visa to be processed.
Visa Processing Feedback
In case your application is successful, you will be notified when to collect your visa from the German Embassy in your home country.
Job Seeker Visa FAQs
Can I Extend my Job Seeker Visa?
Generally, visas are single use. If you are able to secure a job within the 6 months your job seeker visa allows you to stay in Germany, then you need to apply for an employment visa. Otherwise, you must go back to your home country as the job seeker visa is not extendable.
Can I study on a Job Seeker Visa?
The short version answer is no. However, upon admission into a university while on your job seeker visa, you need to convert it into a student residence permit. The only downside is that you need to go back to your home country to apply for the student visa.
What is the Age Limit for a German Job Seeker Visa?
While there is no specified age limit to apply for the German Job Seeker Visa. However, it is advisable not to apply if you are around or above 67, since that is the official retirement age in Germany. It will be extremely difficult to find an employer who is willing to employ you at 67.
What are the Accommodation Options for a Job Seeker Visa?
You need to have an officially registered address. You have several options here: hosting by a friend or relative, a sublet (you can find sublet options on Facebook groups, for example), student accommodation (which should be your cheapest choice), hotel accommodation (3 weeks) or an airbnb which you pay for 28 days in advance. You might want to confirm with the German embassy in your country first, though. Join local tenant groups as they will give you insights on the accommodation options too, and how to deal with disputes with your landlord should they occur
We have covered several aspects of the German job seeker visa, from defining it, looking at the advantages of acquiring one, the eligibility criteria, required documents, the application process and some frequently asked questions by the visa applicants.
We hope we were able to satisfy your curiosity on this topic. While all caution has been taken to ensure that we deliver accurate information, any oversights or points of clarification can be made via the official sites we have linked to throughout the article. Alternatively, write me (Agnes) a message .