Residency permits to work in Germany

If you are coming to work to Germany and thinking on staying for a long term stay here, it is important to know what kinds of residency permits are available to you and which ones you qualify for.

In general there are 3 types of residency permits that you can get that would allow you stay in Germany for different periods of time.

The Temporary Residence Permit or Limited Residence Permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) is generally given for shorter stays, between 1 and 2 years. However, there is the possibility of extension given that the situation has not changed and the requirements are fulfilled. This permit can be considered as the basis for other more permanent permits. The most common reasons for a person to get an Aufenthaltserlaubnis can be for employment, studying or marriage purposes.

Be aware that student residency permits have strict rules when it comes to work. There is a limited number of hours a year that you are allowed to work with this permit and generally it is not enough to have a steady income and live from that. After all, it is a permit for studying.

When it comes to employment, in many cases you will qualify for the Aufenthaltserlaubnis. The requirements are mostly covered by the employer during the hiring process. They might need a proof of your German proficiency or in some cases they must also prove that the job position could not be filled by other German citizens, EU citizens, or Priority workers. Employers offering jobs in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) do not go through this process. Only then, the Federal Employment Agency will extend an approval and with that, you can apply for the residency permit. This also applies if you are coming to Germany for an internship or Praktikum.

The period of your permit will depend on some factors, mainly by your contract. If your contract is for 1 years, then the permit is for 1 years. Even if your contract is permanent, you will get a permit for 2 years or until your passport expires. Then you will have to renew your passport and renew your permit.

The Blue Card. This residency permit is given to skilled professionals who meet special requirements:

  • A German recognised foreign university diploma or comparable foreign higher educational qualification
  • An annual gross salary of 52,000 Euro (as of 2018). Exception: A lower salary threshold of 40,560 Euro is applied for to scientists, mathematicians and engineers, as well as to doctors and IT specialists.

The Blue card is restricted to a maximum of four years when first issued, must have a valid passport during this period or if the employment contract is shorter than four years, the residence title is issued for a period that is limited to the term of the employment contract, plus three months.

Another benefit of the Blue Card is that it extends the residency benefit to spouses and children.

Lastly the Permanent Residence Permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) allows you to stay in Germany for as long as you want. With this permit you can work in Germany as well as travel in and out of the country whenever you need. So how do you get one? Well, it depends on which residency permit you have.

If you have an Aufenthaltserlaubnis:

  • Prove that you worked for at least 5 years and it was approved by the Federal Employment Agency.

If you have a Blue Card:

  • You qualify after 33 months to get the permanent residence,
  • OR after 21 months if you have B1 level of the German language,
  • OR by renewing after 4 years of working with the Blue Card and maintaining your jobs.

What happens if I change jobs?

As with any normal job, it can happen that you get a better offer at another company or your contract came to an end and you need to change employers. In any case you must find out what the correct procedure is by calling or making a trip to the Ausländerbehörde. From a personal experience, I found out that:

  • If you change employers within the first two years of your Aufenthaltserlaubnis, you must report it to the Ausländerbehörde and the new employer must get the approval by the Federal Employment Agency and treat it as a new case. If you change jobs after 2 years, you only need to renew your permit and notify the Ausländerbehörde.
  • If you qualify for the exception of lower salary threshold for a Blue Card, make sure you explicitly ask for the validation. Sometimes they assume it is not a STEM job your are applying for.
  • Try to have your passport as new as possible, otherwise you will have to renew your permits at the same time and go through the entire bureaucratic process and pay all the fees again.


What are your experiences with obtaining a residency permit in Germany?