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EXPLAINED: How non-EU nationals can apply for a job seeking visa in Germany

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EXPLAINED: How non-EU nationals can apply for a job seeking visa in Germany
Archive photo shows a job seeker at a job fair in Berlin in 2017. Photo: DPA

Many visas to Germany require you to already have a job or a study offer lined up. But what if you're still on the hunt for employment? This visa allows you to stay in Germany for longer to carry out your search.


Like most things in Germany, any step forward at integrating (or simply legally residing) takes a healthy dose of bureaucracy. When applying for a residence or work visa, it is important to make sure that you apply for the correct one. 

READ ALSO: How non-EU nationals can get a residency permit to live in Germany

Among many other work and residency permits, Germany offers a “job seeking visa,” which is essentially a residence visa that allows you to stay in Germany legally while looking for work. Other categories of visa require that you already have a job locked down, so this outlier is rather special. 


There are rather strict requirements, however, for this visa. Here is a breakdown of those who are eligible:

What types of job seeking visas are there and how long are they valid?

If you are a skilled worker who has already completed university or vocational training, and speak enough German for your field these requirements, you may be eligible for a six-month job seeking visa. In most circumstances, German proficiency at a B1 level will suffice.

This applies both to those who are new arrivals in Germany or as well as those who have lived in Germany with legal residence status (as described in Article 16e of the German residence act). 

It is also important to note that if you completed your studies outside of Germany, your degree may need to first be officially recognized. To see if your degree has already gone through the validation process in Germany, check the online database at the Central Office for Foreign Education Affairs (Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen, ZAB).

If you have studied in Germany and have been awarded a degree, you may be eligible for an 18-month-long visa. This applies to most anyone who has completed a Masters program at a German university, as well as some who have completed Bachelors studies.

For most graduates who are intimidated about job perspectives, especially in pandemic times, this year-and-a-half visa is a saving grace. Foreign graduates from German universities can also apply for a settlement permit for permanent residence after having worked in Germany for two years upon their graduation. 

An Aufenthaltstitel, or residency permit, for Germany. Photo: DPA

If you have conducted research in Germany under a temporary residence visa, then you may be granted a twelve-month-visa

As with most other visas, the fee is €100 for most foreigners, and requires many important documents, including but not limited to: proof of health insurance and proof of education and/or vocational training. 

It is important to note that this type of visa generally does not cover family members. 

How can I apply?

Note that people from United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea or Israel are only eligible to apply for the visa after entering Germany on a regular 90-day tourist stay.

However, those from all other non-EU countries can apply up to 90 days in advance of their intended stay in Germany through their local consulate or embassy.


Immigration offices throughout Germany, and especially in Berlin, are infamous for their anxiety-ridden waiting rooms filled with people queuing for a last-minute appointment or to take the spot of some poor fellow who missed his. 

To avoid this, try to sign up for an appointment as soon as possible. Seriously, the earlier, the better. Make sure to double check to assure you have the right paperwork and to familiarize yourself with full eligibility requirements.





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Anonymous 2020/12/02 21:00
Is the B1 proficiency required for all fields? I am finishing a PhD in the USA (US citizen) in biomedical research and plan to look for a job in Germany when I finish. My german is probably about A2 now.

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