Living & Working in Germany - Work Permit FAQ

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Residence & Work Permit

Residence & Work Permit

Q. How can I obtain a German residence permit?

U.S. citizens in possession of a valid U.S. passport do not need a visa for airport transit, tourist or business trips for stays up to 90 days. All persons who wish to stay in Germany for more than 90 days are required to obtain a residence permit.

If you intend to stay longer than 90 days, you are required to register at the local Standesamt – Einwohnermeldeamt (Registration Office) within one week of arrival.

Citizens of the United States of America may apply for their residence permit after entering Germany without a visa. Alternatively they can apply for a residence permit prior to entry at the German Embassy in Washington or at a German Consulate (currently located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York or San Francisco). Inquiries can be made at the German Embassy at


Q. How can I obtain a work permit for Germany?

All persons who wish to seek gainful employment in Germany are required to obtain a residence permit in the form of a visa. The residence permit ("Aufenthaltserlaubnis") only allows you to take up gainful employment (employee or self-employment) if the residence permit expressly entitles you to do this.

Once in Germany, the following procedure generally applies for job seekers:

Once you have an offer of employment and have registered your residence, you need to go to the Ausländerbehörde (Immigration Office). Check with your local Einwohnermeldeamt or Rathaus for the exact address and office hours of the Ausländerbehörde in your city.

The Ausländerbehörde will check whether the general legal prerequisites are fulfilled for issuing an "Aufenthaltserlaubnis".

If these are fulfilled, the immigration authorities request approval from the "Bundesagentur für Arbeit" (Federal Employment Agency) for taking up employment in a particular job for which you are applying.


Q. Do I qualify for taking up employment in Germany?

A work permit is only given if the job cannot be filled by a German, EU citizen or other applicants given preferential treatment (e.g. third-country nationals who have been living in Germany for a longer period of time). This is known as the Priority Principle ("Vorrangprinzip"). After a specific period of time has lapsed, it is possible for the U.S. citizen applicant to have the same access to the labor market as German and EU citizens.


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