Why Work in Germany?
Germany currently requires IT specialists, as the technology sector is growing in value every year. Currently, it is the second-biggest industrial employer in Germany, but many posts are still not filled due to a staff shortage. Germany is the home of many small- to medium-sized enterprises and is a hub for start-up companies. Coming to Germany ensures you will have various options for finding a suitable role in an innovative company.
Although Berlin is known as a centre for innovation and start-ups, other areas such as Munich, Hamburg, Cologne and Düsseldorf are also considered hotspots focusing on innovation and sustainability. Frankfurt is a financial centre in Europe, while Stuttgart remains one of the leading cities for the auto industry.
Many of these companies have English as their language within the office due to the increasing internationalisation of such businesses. Therefore, lacking German language skills should not hold you back from applying for positions.
Germany is also home to many quality universities and further education centres for those seeking to obtain even greater qualifications in their field.
The EU Blue Card
The EU Blue Card is available to IT professionals who receive a solid job offer in advance and have a university degree. There are many benefits of the EU Blue Card, as it allows the holder to live and work in Germany for up to 4 years or the duration of the employment contract plus an extra three months. It also allows its holder to apply for family reunification with their spouse or registered partner, children under 18, and adult children and parents in specific circumstances.
However, one of the critical benefits of the EU Blue Card is that it can accelerate the road to permanent German Residency. With an EU Blue Card, it is possible to apply for a permanent residence permit after 21 months if the holder can demonstrate a B1 level of German or after 33 months without the German standard.
The EU Blue Card can be applied in Germany at the applicant’s local Ausländerbehörde (immigration office) in their home country. However, citizens from countries such as the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, Israel, South Korea, and New Zealand can arrive in Germany visa-free and, upon getting a job in Germany, can then make the application.
The EU Blue Card is available for those who earn the required amount each year, which changes yearly. Currently (in 2022), the figure is € 56,400 per year. However, in areas of IT where there are shortages, it can be obtained by those earning €43,992 a year. As this figure changes each year, it is essential to remain aware of and up-to-date with the salary requirements for the EU Blue Card.
At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, we advise on all aspects of the EU Blue Card, from the application process to family reunification and when changing employers with it. Remember that as a residence permit, it is closely linked to your employment status, and therefore applicants should obtain legal advice before making big decisions on changing jobs.
Our service and advice will be tailored to your status as an IT professional, and we will ensure that you are aware of all the legal necessities.
There are other visa options, including for those deemed to be “highly-skilled professionals”. They can gain a residence permit for qualified employment, which is available under § 18a and 18b (1) AufenthG. This option can be used in cases where you have gained your skills during an apprenticeship or where the job position does not meet the EU Blue Card requirements.
It should be noted that when making applications, the authorities will strongly consider whether applicants can integrate and earn their living independently. For this purpose, they will consider previous stays in Germany, German language skills, training and work experience. Furthermore, having a concrete job offer is vital.
This visa is primarily for scientists with exceptional technical knowledge, research assistants and teachers.
The ICT Card
An option available for non-EU IT specialists based in multinational corporations is the ICT Card. The ICT Card allows its holder to stay in Europe for up to three years, in the case of managers or specialists, or one year as a trainee.
Unlike the EU Blue Card, the ICT Card is linked to that specific company. It also permits the holder to work across borders while holding the Mobile ICT Card.
The individual or their company can make the application, and our business immigration team supports both parties. To apply, the IT professional needs to have been employed for a minimum of 6 months, they cannot be in the probationary period of their work contract, the employee needs a university degree/other proof of the required skill set, and it cannot be for internship purposes.
The Skilled Immigration Act: Options for IT Professionals
Several of the options above refer to those with university degrees; however, it is not strictly necessary for IT professionals looking to come to Germany to hold one. Under the Skilled Immigration Act, it is possible for applicants with vocational training or a higher education degree comparable to their equivalents in Germany to gain a visa. Therefore, it ensures that candidates do not arbitrarily require university qualifications for roles where such qualifications are not necessary.
In IT, qualifications themselves are not always required as applicants without formal qualifications but with extensive professional experience in the industry of at least three years (gained within the last seven years) may acquire a visa. However, they need to earn a minimum annual salary of €49,680.
The German government introduced the Skilled Immigration Act to deal with the shortages of specialists in areas such as IT. It ensures that German and other EU workers aren’t prioritised over non-EU applicants. Therefore, the employer does not need to fulfil the obligations of a resident labour market test; thus, hiring non-EU workers is more straightforward.
It should be noted that applicants over 45 must show that they have an employment contract and sufficient pension requirements or earn a sufficient wage to future-proof themselves.
Self-Employment Visa in Germany
Germany also encourages entrepreneurs and founders from third countries to establish themselves. The visa for self-employment is available under § 21 German Residency Act whereby self-employed persons can reside in Germany for three years as long as the self-employment meets three requirements:
- It must meet an economic interest or regional need,
- It has a positive impact on the economy,
- The financing must be secured by equity capital or a loan commitment.
When determining whether a project will meet these requirements, German authorities examine it from a variety of angles. One of the essential steps is to prepare a suitable business plan, and outline the amount of money to be invested in Germany, the businesses’ impact on employment, and its contribution to innovation and research.
The German authorities will also examine your business experience when applying.
At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, we have assisted clients worldwide in matters involving the German self-employment visa. Furthermore, as a full-service law firm, we can be relied upon to advise on all legal matters relating to running a business in Germany.
The Job Seeker Visa for IT Professionals
If you do not have a concrete job offer in Germany, but would still like to come to Germany to examine the options, the Job Seeker Visa is available. This visa allows its holder to go to Germany for six months to look for suitable employment. Should the holder find a role within that time, they will be awarded a work visa or residence permit to stay longer in Germany.
Applicants must be eligible for the visa, which is not open to everyone. Applicants need to hold a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from either a German university or an equivalent from another country. They also require five years of experience in their area of study. Furthermore, they should be able to show proof of enough funds to finance their time in Germany and have travel and medical insurance for Germany.
The required documents can vary between roles and depending on the individual’s country of origin. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our lawyers will guide you through the process.
German Citizenship based on Residency
Should you successfully move to Germany and decide to make a home there for a lengthy period, the possibilities of German citizenship can open up for you. With German citizenship, there is the opportunity to vote in all German elections, enjoy the benefits of European Union citizenship, and have their future in Germany fully secured. Your Residency in Germany will not be linked to your job, and it can provide further opportunities for your family.
Our lawyers oversee German citizenship by residency applications, and expert legal guidance ensures that the process is accelerated where possible.
It should be noted that Germany is currently reconsidering its laws on German citizenship to shorten time-frames and make dual citizenship more available, especially for applicants from non-EU countries (“third countries”). Our lawyers will advise you on these developments as they happen. If you come to Germany now to take up a position, these changes will likely occur during your time in the country.
However, currently, German citizenship by Residency is available under § 10 StAG, which outlines the following conditions:
A person can apply if they:
- Have an unlimited right of residence in Germany,
- Have been lawfully and habitually resident in the country for eight years,
- Can earn a living for himself and his family without recourse to social assistance or unemployment benefit,
- Have sufficient knowledge of German: for adults, language level B1 is required; for those under 16 years of age, language development appropriate to their age,
- Have not been convicted of any criminal offence,
- Renounce or lose their previous citizenship (this condition can vary based on the applicant’s current citizenship and other factors),
- They are committed to the German Constitution and do not support any anti-constitutional efforts or credibly distance themselves from previous support,
- Have passed the naturalisation test on the German legal and social order.
Once the applicant has these factors in their favour and is looking to get German citizenship by Residency, they must apply for it by correctly filling out the necessary paperwork. Don’t hesitate to contact our lawyers directly if you experience any difficulties or require further advice, assistance or support in this application.
Legal Support from Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte
At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, we are a full-service law firm with offices and conference rooms around Germany. We are ready to advise you on all options regarding moving to Germany as an IT professional. We provide all services in English and German.