A Job Seeker visa is a D-type visa for an extended stay in Germany (6 months) to find a job. In recent years, this visa has become a popular way among non-EU/EEA citizens to enter Germany. The introduction of new rules and changes in immigration law made a Job Seeker visa even more accessible for international workers.
The changes in a Job Seeker visa and the introduction of new rules (German Skilled Immigration Act) came into force on March 2, making it easier for new categories of skilled non-EU nationals with vocational or non-academic training to live and work in Germany.
Getting a Job Seeker visa is the best option when it comes to looking for a job in Germany. You can travel to Germany and meet your prospective employer personally. In this article, we describe all changes which were made to the rules for the Germany Job Seeker visa and how you can benefit from them.
Also read this article on how to get a Germany Job Seeker visa in 2023.
Germany Job Seeker visa and its changes
Changes were made in several aspects of the Job Seeker visa and in general Immigration laws of Germany. Overall, adjustments are favorable for foreign nationals; the German labor market is more accessible now.
Therefore, changes were also made to increase the numbers of the workforce from abroad, as many positions remain vacant due to a lack of skills and workers. Hence, the government wants to find a solution to this situation.
Firstly, a broader category of people is eligible to apply for a Job Seeker visa. Before, only candidates with a university degree could access this visa. Now, people with vocational qualifications can also apply for and receive a Job Seeker visa.
The new immigration law regarding skilled non-EU nationals says that qualified professionals can apply for a Job Seeker visa). It defines qualified professionals as someone with:
- A tertiary education degree (university degree), or
- A vocational training qualification. Training must last for a minimum of two years
Candidates who wish to work in Germany must first have their foreign qualifications recognized by the relevant authority in Germany.
Another change was made regarding permission to work. Job Seeker visa holders are allowed to work during their stay in Germany. They can dedicate a maximum of 10 hours per week. These hours can be used for a regular part-time job or as a probation period in the company.
The job can also be unrelated to your qualifications unless it doesn’t require any special skills and certificates. You can take occasional jobs until you receive an offer for full-time employment accordingly to your qualifications.
After that, the Job Seeker visa can be converted into a work residence permit within Germany.
Here is the summary of this change:
- You can engage in an occupation related to your profession that is not necessarily your field of expertise.
- You can also work in jobs where a university degree isn’t compulsory
- You can work in other professions which are related to your qualification, for which a vocational, non-academic qualification is usually required.
Another change was made in the allowed professions which foreigners can perform. Before that, one could get a job only in an occupation with a shortage of skilled workers.
Now, foreign candidates can be employed in all occupations. This change applies to qualified professionals with vocational qualifications, e.g., non-academic training. At the same time, there are no restrictions for people with a university degree.
Relaxed rules and procedures
With the new rules, the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für die Arbeit) will not carry out priority checks on whether there are other applicants for a job.
Now, the main requirement for a work permit is an employment contract. The Federal Employment Agency will only verify your work conditions. They should be equal to what is offered to German employees.
Moreover, new rules expand the fields of employment for foreign workers, permitting them to be employed in all occupations related to their profession but which are not directly related to their study field. This applies to highly qualified professionals and holders of vocational skills.
That way, you can work in all fields and industries and not only in the area where you studied for.
Read more about German Job Seeker Visa and how to get it in 2023.
Opportunities for training and studies
Now non-EU students younger than 25, with a B2 level of German and who can financially support themselves, can seek a training place with Job Seeker Visa in Germany.
However, there are some criteria they need to fulfill:
- They must have a school-leaving diploma from a German school abroad or a school-leaving certificate which grants access to higher education.
- They must have enough financial means – about 600-700 EUR per month
After you find a suitable training place, you can apply for a residence permit within Germany. Keep in mind that most apprenticeships in Germany start in August, September, or October. Therefore, you should arrive in Germany six months before the start or even earlier.
With a residence permit for vocational training, foreigners can also attend German language courses, either general or occupation-related.
You can travel to Germany for training and skill development
Candidates who need to get their qualifications recognized in Germany and consequently complete additional courses/pass exams can come to Germany and stay here for up to 18 months.
This visa will be granted to someone who doesn’t pass a recognition procedure and needs to gain more credits in Germany.
Unfortunately, it often happens with medical diplomas from developing non-EU countries due to the significant difference in education.
The main requirement for this visa is that you have at least A2 German language skills, and the certificate must be according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Goethe, TestDaf, telc, etc.)
The visa is extendable for another six months and allows you to apply for a residence permit for training, study, or work by the end of its validity.
What is a Germany Job Seeker visa?
A Job Seeker visa is a perfect opportunity for non-EU/EEA citizens to come to Germany and search for a job. It’s much easier to find a job when a candidate is already in the country than they would apply from abroad.
With this visa, foreign candidates can stay in Germany for up to 6 months and search for a job. However, not everyone can afford six months of “vacation” in Germany.
You need to have around 5,500 EUR in the banking account. In Germany, you can work up to 10 hours per week to cover at least some of your expenses.
How to get a job in Germany on a Job Seeker visa?
Before coming to Germany and spending money here, applicants must understand their chances of getting a job here. Do your research, and start applying already from the country of residence.
The best chances to receive a job in Germany with a high degree can be found in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-based (STEM) professions. These professions include, above all:
- Electrical Engineer
- Mechanical Engineer
- Industrial Engineer
- Electronics Engineer
- Civil Engineer
- Data Engineer
- Software Engineer
- Biomedical Engineer
- Computer Programmer
- Web Developer
- Petroleum Engineer
- Medical Scientist
- Data Scientist
- Life Scientist
For people with vocational qualifications, areas like medicine, senior care, manufacturing, hospitality, and gastronomy workers offer the best opportunities.
Almost all jobs in Germany can be found on online job boards (Jobbörsen) or the company’s websites under careers. If the company’s language is German, job postings will be described in German, and if English, accordingly in English.
Most popular websites for all types of jobs:
Other helpful resources:
Where to find English-speaking jobs in Germany?
- English jobs
- The Local
- Toplanguage jobs – English-speaking jobs in Germany (and other languages)
- The Local.de
- Germany StartUp Jobs.com
- Berlin Top Jobs.com
After you find a desirable job, you can apply for a residence permit. There are two permits available, EU Blue Card and an employment residence permit (Germany Employment visa).
To apply for the EU Blue Card, your gross annual salary should be more than 45,552 EUR for STEM professionals and 58,400 EUR for all others (2023).
How to apply for a Job Seeker visa?
So you are determined that a Job Seeker visa is a way to Germany in your case? Then the next step is to submit an application. Firstly you should check whether you meet the criteria:
- Proof of academic degree or vocational qualifications
- Qualifications must be recognized in Germany and be equivalent to a German degree or certificate
- Applicants with vocational training must provide evidence of German language skills (min. level B1)
Here is a complete list of requirements and documents you must need for a visa application in the nearest German embassy.
- Bachelor’s degree diploma from a recognized university or vocational qualification certificate (min. duration of 2 years)
- Sufficient funds in your banking account
*853 EUR per month or 5,118 EUR in total for academics and 600-700 EUR per month or 3,600-4,200 EUR for vocational specialists
- German language certificate level B1 for candidates without a university degree
- A valid passport (issued in the last ten years and valid for at least 12 months after your scheduled return)
- A copy of your passport
- 3 biometric passport photos
- A cover letter explaining the purpose of your visit, how you want to find employment, and your alternative career plans if you can’t find a Job
- Certificates of previous professional experience, if available
- Detailed CV
- Proof of accommodations in Germany for the entire stay
- Proof of personal status in your home country, such as birth certificate, marriage certificate, and others
- Proof health insurance
- 75 EUR or 80 EUR for the visa fee
1. University degree
A candidate must possess a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, which is recognized in Germany. Therefore, you have to get recognition before the visa application. This can be done through the Anabin database or the office for foreign education – ZAB.
Additional documents, such as transcripts, are required if your degree certificate doesn’t provide information on your course of study. Bring your original diploma and copy for the visa application.
2. Vocational training certificate
A candidate without a university degree must prove a completed vocational training for at least 2 years. It also has to be recognized in Germany. Apply for recognition before visa application via ZAB.
3. German language certificate – *only applies to candidates with vocational training
You should have at least a level B1 of German language proficiency. This can be done by providing several language certificates: Goethe, Telc, TestDAF, and DSH.
4. Proof of sufficient financial means
You must have enough funds for the entire six months in Germany. Although Job Seeker visa holders are allowed to work 10 hours per week, it’s not enough to sustain them.
The proof can be made in different ways:
- Bank statement
- “Verpflichtungserklärung” – Letter of commitment/declaration by a sponsor living in Germany
- Blocked bank account
Processing time for a Germany Job Seeker visa is 4 to 6 weeks, but it can take as long as 12 weeks.