Being Europe’s first and the world’s fourth largest economy, with the second to lowest unemployment rate in Europe, Germany sounds like the land of plenty. 

But a thriving economy is not the only thing that’s great about this place. The country is home to forests, mountains, rivers, lakes and coasts. It has characteristic villages, dynamic cities and world famous festivals. Plus they have great beer, sausages and bread. 

And still, that’s not all. Studying in Germany is free and this privilege is not just for locals to enjoy. Because the Germans believe that studying is a right everyone should be able to claim, foreigners can enjoy free education in Germany too. 

After graduating, non-EU citizens usually get an 18-month extension on their residence permit to give them a chance to find a job. And with about 20% of the German population having a migration background it is clear that plenty of them succeed. 

Many different sectors in Germany are flourishing and although there are a lot of vacancies for English speaking employees, learning the German language and about German culture will definitely give you a head start on other suitable candidates when looking for a job. 

Germany is part of the EU so people with citizenship of countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) can move, live and work freely in Germany.

Here are some of the ways to live in Germany if you are a citizen of a non-EEA country:

Work visas

  • If you have a recognized university degree or professional experience as well as a work contract or binding job offer, you may be eligible for an "EU Blue Card".   The Blue Card is a four-year temporary work and residence permit.  This also gives you free movement within the Schengen area and enables your family to join you.   If you do not have a work contract or job offer, you can register on the EU Blue Card Network, where European employers can view your details and connect with you around job opportunities.  This is also where you apply for the EU Blue Card.
  • If your occupation is one where there is a shortage in the German Labour market and you have a job offer then you may be eligible for a work visa.  To see the list of occupations that are in demand click here.

Freelancer Visa “Freiberufler”

  • If you are self employed and wish to live and work in Germany, you can apply for a Freelancer or Self Employment visa.  Although there is not a exact revenue specified that you need to prove, the estimated amount is a minimum of €800 per month.  
  • If you are over 45 you need to show a pension plan and a monthly pension of 1,188.92 euros after the age of 67 or guarantees an asset amount of 175,068 euros.

Self-employed Visa “Gewerbetreibende”

  •  If you wish to set up a manual trade or retail business you can get a residency visa if:
    • there is an economic interest or a regional need
    • the activity is expected to have positive effects on the economy and
    • you have sufficient personal capital or a loan to realise the business idea.
    • If you are over 45 you need to show a pension plan and a monthly pension of 1,188.92 euros after the age of 67 or guarantees an asset amount of 175,068 euros.

Through your family

  • If your spouse is a citizen or permanent resident of Germany, you are probably eligible for residency.  Please note that your status of spouse needs to be legally recognised in this country.
  • See the citizenship section below for more information on residency or citizenship based on your descent.

Working Holiday Visa

  • If you are a citizen of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan and Uruguay aged between 18 and 30 may apply for a 12 month German working holiday visa.  Citizens of Canada between 18 and 35 years of age may apply as well,  You need to show that you have €750.

Study visa

The German government have a fantastic website here to take you through all of your options to study in Germany.

Here are some of the ways to become a citizen of Germany:

  • If your mother was a citizen of Germany when you were born on or after 1 January 1975, you are probably also a citizen of Germany.
  • If your father was a citizen of Germany when you were born, you are probably also a citizen of Germany.
  • If you were born on or after 1 January 2000,  you can attain German citizenship by being born in Germany even though neither of your parents is German. There are conditions that have to be met around how long your parents have lived in Germany.
  • Once you have lived in Germany for eight years - less in some circumstances - you can apply for citizenship.  As part of the application you need to pass a German language skills test and a naturalisation test.
  • Germany also offers citizenship for the descendants of those persecuted on political, racial or religious grounds during the Nazi dictatorship, as well as, in many cases, their descendants.

The passport for Germany allows you to travel to 162 countries without a visa.

Its global rank is 3.

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