Any citizen of an EU country, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland can enter Germany and work there freely without a visa.
Citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand or the USA can enter Germany without a visa and stay for up to three months. If you want to take up employment then you must first apply for a residence permit.Citizens of any other countries need a visa to enter and work in Germany. You will need an offer of employment before applying for a work visa. Visas can be applied for through your country’s German embassy.
The Employment Immigration Act, which will make it easier for non-EU citizens with professional qualifications to access the German labour market, should come into force from March 2020.
The right to work in Germany alone does not guarantee getting work.
Make It In Germany is the official portal for skilled immigrant workers seeking information. It includes job listings and a Quick Check section to check your chances of continuing your career in Germany.
The Federal Employment Agency’s Central Foreign & Specialist Placement Service (Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung, ZAV) provides help and advice for skilled workers from abroad once they have arrived in Germany. The ZAV can be contacted in German or English, by phone on +49 228 713 1313 or by email on email@example.com.
Once employed, you automatically pay social insurance in Germany which takes care of healthcare, unemployment insurance, and nursing or old age care. Your level of contributions will depend on your income. You can also take out private health insurance.
You will automatically be enrolled in a company pension scheme, which will require you to retire no later than 67. You may also take out a private pension scheme.
The average monthly net salary in Germany after tax is €2,246.68. The general minimum wage is €9.19 per hour. Against this, a three-bedroom apartment outside a city centre will cost around €1,020 to rent per month. Basic utilities and internet in a medium-sized apartment will cost around €250 per month.
Germany has strict limits on working hours. You may not work more than eight hours per day or 48 hours per week. The average working week (Monday to Saturday) is between 36 and 40 hours. Generally, only workers in the service industry can work on Sundays.
Overtime must not average out to more than 48 hours per week over a six-month period, and is generally compensated by time off in lieu. Overtime expectations will be specified in your employment contract.
Full-time employees are entitled to a minimum of 24 paid vacation days per year, as well as public holidays.
Once your right to work in Germany is established then you can visit any recruitment agency near to where you are living.
There are more than 150 agencies in the country. You can find them under “Arbeitsvermittlung” in the German Yellow Pages (Gelbe Seiten). It will be best to arrange an appointment by telephone or email before you visit.
On-spec applications are acceptable in Germany. They should be addressed to specific relevant personnel and written in German. You will need to prove your eligibility to work in the country.
Many job advertisements will state what you need to submit along with your application. Key phrases are “übliche Bewerbungsunterlagen” (usual application documents) or “aussagekräftige Bewerbung” (full application), both of which mean the employer will want:
• A covering letter. Germans are not shy about listing their credentials: relevant qualifications should be emphasised here. If you are replying to an advertisement that was written in English, then you can apply in English. Otherwise, only apply in German.
• A CV. This should list: personal data; work experience (starting with current position, then previous jobs); any training you have received; and education (higher, further, basic). Languages and IT skills are also useful to list. You should sign the CV as well as the covering letter. Omitting this detail is a legitimate reason for turning you down.
Your CV should also include:
• A photograph. Photographs are technically not compulsory, but omitting one is another legitimate reason for turning you down. Use a professional or passport-quality photograph.
• Copies (not originals) of any relevant certificates and testimonials. If you have just finished university or a college programme then include a copy of your diploma or certificate.
Employers may not discriminate against you on the basis of ethnic origin, gender, religion/ideology, disability, age or sexual orientation.
Because so many Germans speak excellent English, there is little demand for native English speakers who do not have any other kind of qualification.
To work as a skilled worker or artisan in Germany, your qualifications must be recognised as equivalent to German qualifications by a trade association or chamber of crafts. Most other industries will accept your home country’s qualification levels, however you might need to check the correspondences before you apply.
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