Residence and work permit

Residence and work permit

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Do I need a residence permit?

If you are not an EU national or a citizen of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you will need a residence permit to permanently stay in Germany. There are different residence permits for long-term stays:

  • Residence Permit - limited period of time. This permit is issued for various purposes, e.g. when starting vocational training or a job, for family members joining a current resident, or for humanitarian reasons.
  • Settlement Permit - no time limit. With this permit you are allowed to engage in any kind of employment (including freelance), there are no time or geographical limitations, and no incidental provisions. To obtain a settlement permit, you must first have had a residence permit.
  • Permanent EU residence Permit - no time limit. Again, you are allowed to engage in any kind of employment (including freelance), similar to the settlement permit. Additionally, you are entitled to mobility within the European Union. A previous stay in Germany is a condition of the permit.
  • EU Blue Card - limited period of time. This permit is a limited residence permit for highly skilled individuals who intend to work in Germany. Another prerequisite of the Blue Card is that the individual will be paid a minimum salary.

If you already have a job offer, you can apply for a residence permit in your home Country.

Do I need a work permit?

EU citizens have the unlimited freedom of movement for workers – they therefore do not need a work permit. The same goes for nationals of the following countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, who receive the same treatment as EU nationals. Swiss citizens do not need a work permit, either.

Citizens of so-called third countries who want to settle and work in Germany need a residence permit as well as the permission of the German Federal Employment Agency.  You may only receive a residence permit, if you have a concrete job offer. The permit must specifically state that you are allowed to take up employment. Please note, that you are not allowed to work until you have a residence permit stating that you have the permission to be employed.