Visas For Members

The easiest visa to get for your first year in Germany (if you're young)

Shelley Pascual
Shelley Pascual - [email protected]
The easiest visa to get for your first year in Germany (if you're young)
Photo: DPA

For citizens of select non-EU countries, such as Canada, Japan and Israel, taking part in Germany’s Working Holiday programme is a relatively easy way to get one’s foot in the door in the country.


The programme gives people between the ages of 18 and 30 the chance to gain insight into the culture and daily life of Germany, according to the Federal Foreign Office.

Under the visa, young people can stay up to 12 months in Germany and take on employment to finance their stay. You don't need to have a job set up before you arrive, giving you the freedom to work odd jobs when you get here.

In order to be granted the visa, applicants must be able to show sufficient funds for their first few months in the country - about €250 per month.

The other catch is that it's pretty restricted - the programme only exists with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Israel, Chile and Brazil.

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There are moreover specific rules pertaining to the application procedure for the visa, such as where the visa application can be submitted.

Having applied for Germany’s Youth Mobility Visa back in 2012 in my hometown, Toronto, I remember the process being rather simple as I filled all the eligibility requirements at the time: I was 25 years old and I wasn’t accompanied by dependent family members.

Canadians have an exception with regards to the age of applicants seeking to take part in the programme; the maximum age for Canadians at the time of application is 35 rather than 30.

After my appointment with the German embassy in which I submitted all the necessary documentation, it surprisingly took only about two weeks for everything to be processed.

Among the key list of things I had to show in order to get my hands on the visa were: coverage of health insurance for the full year, proof of sufficient funds for my first few months and my return flight, and a brief letter detailing why I intended on spending a year in Germany.

The reciprocal Youth Mobility agreement between Canada and Germany is beneficial not only for Canadians looking to do internships in the country or who simply wish to explore Germany for a year, but also for “young professionals who wish to obtain further training under a contract of employment,” according to German Missions in Canada.

I stated that I intended to come to Germany for a year for “cultural discovery purposes.” Though in hindsight, I'd say the visa helped me get my foot in the door to living and working in the country for a longer period of time.

This is because after the programme was up, I was able to apply for another German residence permit and extend my stay for a further year. Since I had found steady employment as an English teacher and was earning regular income by the time my Youth Mobility Visa came to an end, obtaining the new permit wasn't terribly hard to do.

SEE ALSO: Why you should consider becoming an English teacher in Germany

The rules have changed since I made the move across the pond; now Canadians also have the option to apply for the Youth Mobility Visa within a 90-day span upon entering Germany as a tourist.

Passport holders from Australia, Israel, Japan and New Zealand may similarly either apply for this visa in Germany or any relevant German mission abroad. For citizens of these countries who live in Berlin, a personal interview is required.

The Federal Foreign Office notes though that citizens of the above-mentioned countries may not start working until they have this permit in hand.

Nationals of Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Brazil and Chile must apply for the visa at their local German mission before coming to Germany.

For more information on the necessary documentation, fees and duration of the application process with regards to Germany's Working Holiday programme, go to the German Missions Abroad website here.

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