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Residence/Work Permit for Germany

How to Obtain a German Residence and Work Permit

U.S. Citizen Services in Germany

US citizens in possession of a valid US passport do not need a visa for airport transit, tourist or business trips for stays up to 90 days.

This does not necessarily apply to US residents who hold an Alien Registration Card (green card). They need to check the relevant visa requirements with the authorities of the country of their nationality.

All persons who wish to stay in Germany for more than 90 days are required to obtain a residence permit.

If you intend to stay longer than 90 days, you are required to register at the local Standesamt – Einwohnermeldeamt (Registration Office) within one week of arrival.

Citizens of the United States of America may apply for their residence permit after entering Germany without a visa. Alternatively they can apply for a residence permit prior to entry at the German Embassy in Washington or at a German Consulate (currently located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York or San Francisco). Inquiries may be made at the German Embassy at http://www.germany.info

Studying in Germany

All persons who wish to study at a high school, college or university in Germany are required to obtain a residence permit. Citizens of the United States of America may apply for their residence permit after entering Germany without a visa. Alternatively they can apply for a residence permit prior to entry at the German Embassy in Washington or at a German Consulate (currently located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York or San Francisco). Inquiries may be made at the German Embassy at http://www.germany.info

Employment in Germany

All persons who wish to seek gainful employment in Germany are required to obtain a residence permit in the form of a visa. The residence permit ("Aufenthaltserlaubnis") only allows you to take up gainful employment (employee or self-employment) if the residence permit expressly entitles you to do this. Alternatively they can apply for a residence permit prior to entry at the German Embassy in Washington or at a German Consulate (currently located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York or San Francisco). Inquiries may be made at the German Embassy at http://www.germany.info

Once in Germany, the following procedure generally applies for job seekers:

Once you have an offer of employment and have registered your residence,

  1. go to the Ausländerbehörde (Immigration Office).
    • Check with your local Einwohnermeldeamt or Rathaus for the exact address and office hours of the Ausländerbehörde in your city.
  2. They will check whether the general legal prerequisites are fulfilled for issuing an "Aufenthaltserlaubnis". If these are fulfilled,
    • the immigration authorities request approval from the "Bundesagentur für Arbeit" (Federal Employment Agency) for taking up employment in a particular job for which you are applying.
    • Approval is only given if the job cannot be filled by a German, EU citizen or other applicants given preferential treatment (e.g. third-country nationals who have been living in Germany for a longer period of time). This is known as the Priority Principle ("Vorrangprinzip"). After a specific period of time has lapsed, it is possible for the U.S. citizen applicant to have the same access to the labor market as German and EU citizens.

Detailed information on the various residence categories is available at Bundesministerium des Innern under: Residence Permits

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