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Offshore Employees in German Territorial Sea: Residence Permits

Offshore employees in Germany experience a challenging but rewarding working environment. Their work is invaluable to building offshore wind farms and other essential activities. However, following recent court decisions, questions surrounding the applicable residence permits for non-EU citizens in this area have been answered.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our immigration law team is ready to work with individuals and companies involved with offshore work in German territorial water to provide all the legal counsel and support they need in this area. Working with Schlun & Elseven, our clients can expect comprehensive service from a full-service law firm. As experts in German immigration and residence permit law, our lawyers can be relied upon to oversee residence permit applications, represent our clients’ interests in legal disputes and ensure that they are fully legally compliant.

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The Decision of the German Courts: Offshore Employees in German Territorial Sea

The issue of visa requirements for non-EU citizens arose in a case concerning Ukrainian offshore employees working on constructing an offshore wind farm in German territorial waters. The workplace received a visit from the German federal police, and during this search, it was found that those offshore employees did not have the required Schengen Visa or employment visa to work in Germany. The police asked these employees to leave the country, as they did not have the official permissions required to work in Germany.

The matter made its way to the Federal Administrative Court, following court decisions in the Administrative Court of Schleswig. At the federal level, it was determined that non-EU offshore workers need a category “C” Schengen Visa if they are to work in German territorial waters. Such a Schengen Visa is not needed if the vessel carries goods or persons in transit. The Federal Administrative Court disagreed with the view that work assignments in German territorial waters are comparable to a stay in transit.

Some of the plaintiffs had Schengen Visas issued from other EU countries (namely, the Netherlands and Lithuania); however, this was not sufficient according to the Federal Administrative Court. The offshore employees instead required a Category “C” German Schengen Visa. Such a visa grants its holder a right of residence and the right to engage in such employment.

Residence Permit and Visa Applications with Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our team of immigration experts will oversee the required applications for Schengen Visas in Germany and will advise regarding other visas suitable for professionals in this area. The Schengen Visa has many options from the Single-Entry Visa that only allows the person to enter the Schengen Zone once within the required time period to the Multi-Entry Visa which allows the person to regularly enter the Schengen Zone during a 180-day period (as long as the maximum time they spend there are 90 days).

Our team will not only oversee applications but can also be relied upon in cases where an extension of the Visa is required. In case of legal disputes, our lawyers are ready to utilise their considerable experience and knowledge when representing our clients.

Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte is a full-service law firm with offices and conference rooms all over Germany. As a full-service law firm we can oversee the entirety of a company’s legal requirements from German contract law to their business immigration needs. We provide all services in English and German. If you require the assistance of our dedicated immigration law team, please do not hesitate to contact us by using our contact details below.

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Practice Group: German Immigration Law

Practice Group:
German Immigration Law

Aykut Elseven

Lawyer | Managing Partner

Jens Schmidt


Sandra Zimmerling


Daniel Schewior


Samir Muratovic


Nicole Eggert


Martin Halfmann