Whether you quit your job and find another one or get fired, you must know which consequences it has on your work permit and if you can switch positions at all. German immigration law has clear rules regarding residence permits for employment. These include the work residence permit and the EU Blue Card. Holders of settlement permits don’t have to worry; their rights are almost equal to German citizens.
If you have lived and worked in Germany for over two years, the process of changing the employer is straightforward, and you don’t need prior approval. However, if you have worked for less than that, you must receive consent from an immigration office in order to change a job and, subsequently, the work permit.
Non-EU citizens working in Germany typically possess one of the work permits: a residence permit for employment or an EU Blue Card. Both of them are tied to the company or profession of the holder.
This means that the person may only work for this one employer for which the employment was permitted. Consequently, before changing a job, an employee needs prior approval from the immigration office.
Can you change the employer on the work permit in Germany?
Foreigners working and living in Germany with a residence permit for employment or EU Blue Cards can change their job during their work engagement in the country. To do this, they need to get a new job first and only after notify the immigration office.
However, there are some rules that apply depending if you have a residence permit for employment or EU Blue Card and how long you have been working in Germany.
Generally, you don’t need to change your EU Blue Card and get approval from the immigration office when changing a job if you have been working for at least two years. The same applies if you have been staying in Germany for at least three years without interruption with the residence title.
In addition, your employment shouldn’t have a temporary character, for example, when professionals get hired only for a particular time and reason.
Moreover, if you only change a job title or role but stay with the same employer, you don’t need to make any changes to your permit.
The name of your current company is in your visa
If you are living and working in Germany with a regular work visa and not the EU Blue Card, your visa most likely states the name of your current employer. In this case, you will need to get a new visa when changing jobs.
This can only be done after you get a job contract from a new company. Once you have it, notify the immigration office that you need a new work visa and submit all required documents. The immigration authorities will tell you what is necessary.
What do you need to change your work permit when changing jobs in Germany? Requirements are the same whether you have a residence permit for work purposes or EU Blue Card. You need to meet only several requirements:
- Have a valid residence permit for employment or an EU Blue Card
- Have a primary residence in the city you apply in
- Have a new job offer (contract)
To change your work permit, you should write an email to the immigration office of your city and state your current situation. They will make an appointment for you.
Documents you need to change your work permit
To apply for a change of work residence permit or EU Blue Card, you must have the following:
- Filled in form “Declaration of Employment Relationship Job Description” – “Erklärung zum Beschäftigungsverhältnis Stellenbeschreibung”
- Copy of the new employment contract
- Proof of the main residence in the city you apply – “Anmeldung” (address registration) or your rental agreement (not always mandatory)
- Free if you only need to change your work permit or EU Blue Card.
- 96 EUR if you need to renew it.
If you are considering changing your purpose of staying, hence, the residence permit, read this article about changing visas in Germany.
EU Blue Card and job change
EU Blue Card is one of the most popular ways to live and work in Germany. It’s s issued for a maximum of four years or according to the dates in your employment contract. You receive the residence permit and a Zusatzblatt (an additional piece of paper in Green color), which states your employer’s name and your job title.
After two years of being employed in one company, an EU Blue Card holder cab change employers freely. However, the new employment contract must meet general EU Blue Card requirements (see more below).
Consequently, whether you can change a job on the EU Blue Card depends on how long you have been working in Germany:
- Have worked in Germany with EU Blue Card for at least 2 years – you don’t need to inform the German immigration office about your job change.
- Changing jobs in less than 2 years of holding an EU Blue Card – you must get approval from the German immigration office and, eventually new EU Blue Card.
If your employer is in another EU country
In case you change a job where your new company is located abroad, in particular, where EU Blue Cards are used, you can only do it after 18 months of being employed in Germany without interruption.
In addition, they must notify the local immigration services of the new country about the move within one month of arrival.
If you quit your job hoping to find a new one, keep in mind that your EU Blue Card will only remain valid for three months following the termination date. The same rule applies if you get fired in Germany.
In both cases, you must inform the immigration office about what has happened.
Read our guide on what to do in case you lose a job while living on EU Blue Card in Germany.
How to change a job on a working visa in Germany
EU Blue Card
To change your EU Blue Card, you need to wait until you receive a new job offer, including the signed contract. After that, you can make an appointment or send an email to the immigration office in your local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde).
If you have been employed in Germany on the EU Blue card for under 2 years, the following must be considered:
- You need a permit from your local German authorities
- You must have a job contract from your new employer
- Your new job title must be similar to the one mentioned on your EU Blue Card (Zusatzblatt)
- You must meet the requirements for the EU Blue Card, e.g., the minimum salary
Authorities will prove your application and issue a new EU Blue Card if you meet the requirements.
Criteria for a new EU Blue Card are as follows:
- A new job provides a minimum gross annual salary of 58,400 EUR or 45,552 EUR for shortage occupations (2023).
- The position matches your qualifications, e.g., a university degree.
Things to keep in mind when changing employer in Germany
Before changing jobs in Germany, ensure you end your previous employment correctly. Some things from this list also apply when you get fired.
Terminate your job in the right way
The termination of employment is always the final step. Be aware that once you give the notice, it cannot be revoked. Therefore, you must have a new job already when quitting your current position in Germany.
After that, you can terminate your job in the following steps:
1. Check your new work contract
In the first step of the job termination process, you should, surprisingly, check your new employment contract. If something is unclear, talk to your new employer, and you can also suggest changes. Make sure you read and understand any clauses it entails.
2. Inform your current employer
Next, if you terminate your job on your behalf instead of being fired, you must inform your current employer about your intention to quit and pursue something else. Do it as soon as possible but only after getting a new job.
3. Write a notice
When you have a new job, you should quit the current one. Never terminate the employment before you have another signed contract.
Many people find it more challenging to apply for a job when they are unemployed rather than when still employed.
Before you write a notice, check out the current employment contract for specific termination dates. Deadlines may vary depending on the agreement and employment relationship.
In any case, you must give notice of termination in writing. The best way is to send the termination letter by registered mail to the HR department or give it in person. Besides, you must keep regulated in Germany notice period.
The period in Germany depends on how long you have worked in the company.
- Termination during the probation (0 to 6 months) – notice period 2 weeks; you can quit on any day of the month
- Termination after the probation (from 7 months onwards) – notice period 4 weeks; you can leave only on the 15th or at the end of the month
Read more about termination and probation period in Germany.
4. Get a job reference (Arbeitszeugnis)
Getting a job reference is another step in quitting a job in Germany. According to the law, every employee has the right to get this document. It includes a reasonable assessment of skills and performance.
Even if you have already found a new job, it’s worth requesting a reference from your previous employer.
5. Transfer your tasks to the follower
As soon as your employer finds someone to replace you, you should make a handover of your tasks and responsibilities. Here is the checklist of things you might need to transfer to your follower:
- Work processes
- Process descriptions
- Operating instructions
- Templates & forms
- Filing cabinets & checklists
- Contacts & phone lists
6. Check vacation days
In Germany, it’s mandatory to spend all vacation days that you are eligible for by the law (at least 4 weeks per year). If you haven’t used it all, you can request these days as monetary reimbursement.
Alternatively, the employer might shorten your notice period on the number of vacation days left. That way, you can stop working earlier.
Read this guide on how to quit a job in Germany in a right way.