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Steps you need to take to move to Germany as an EU or non-EU citizen, available pathways for immigrants, and FAQs

Germany is one of the biggest economies in the world. When you also factor in the universal healthcare system, affordable education, and work opportunities, it’s easy to see why so many dream of moving to Germany.

But, for most, moving to Germany isn’t as easy as packing up and leaving – there’s also the small detail of getting a visa.

How to Move to Germany?

The most direct way to move to Germany is as a skilled worker. You must be qualified in one of the in-demand professions, have a job offer from a German employer, and apply for a work visa. If you are a freelancer, you have to prove that there is a demand in Germany for your services before being granted a visa. Professions that are considered in demand in Germany, according to the German Federal Government are: 

Experts (with at least three years of university studies or equivalent qualification)Qualified professionals (with at least two years of vocational training or another equivalent qualification)Specialists (with a university degree or equivalent or a Meister or technician)
Software developmentCable installation and maintenanceCatering services
Technical computer scienceElderly careCivil engineering
IT application consultingSanitary, air conditioning, and heating technologySupervising drywall construction, insulation, carpentry, glazing, etc
LawyersCanal and tunnel constructionDriving instructors
Internal medicineWell construction
Neurologists, psychiatrists, and physiotherapists

To be completely certain whether you qualify to move to Germany, you should seek the assistance of certified German legal experts at Schlun and Elseven Rechtsanwälte.

They offer complete support during the entire process and will represent your case with the relevant authorities. Having represented successfully numerous applicants, including doctors, engineers, IT specialists and managers, they possess the necessary experience to help you with moving to Germany. Contact them now!

How Hard Is It to Move to Germany?

If you are non-EU, the difficulty of moving to Germany depends largely on your nationality, the industry in which you work, and whether you speak German. It is easier if you speak German (at least on a basic level), as it helps you access the work market. It is also easier to immigrate to Germany if you are a skilled worker in one of the in-demand professions (such as software development, IT, medicine, law, engineering, elderly care, construction, etc.). 

When it comes to nationality, the immigration process is simplified for citizens of the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Andorra, New Zealand, San Marino, Israel, Japan, and South Korea. If you are from one of these countries, you can obtain a residence permit after entering Germany, which means you can be in Germany while you job-hunt or look for accommodation.

Moving to Germany as an EU Citizen

If you are from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you have it pretty easy if you want to move to Germany. As long as you can find a place to live, you can simply pack up and go! You can work in any profession you want, and technically, you don’t even need a work offer or contract. If you have a job, the position does not need to fulfill the in-demand or salary criteria. All you have to do is register at the local registration office if you plan to stay in Germany for longer than three months. 

Remember, after Brexit UK citizens who want to move to Germany are also considered non-EU citizens.

To get legal advice regarding the best way for you to move to Germany we recommend you get in touch with a law representative at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte.

Moving to Germany as a Non-EU Citizen

In simple steps, the process of immigrating to Germany as a non-EU citizen is as follows:

  1. Find and apply for a job. You can find a job online through the JOBBÖRSE (Job Board) of the German Federal Employment Agency, or the EURES portal, which contains job postings from across Europe. 
  2. Apply for a work visa and work permit. Once you have a work contract, your employer has to apply for a work permit on your behalf. You must get a work visa from the German embassy in your country.
  3. Register for German health insurance. After you get to Germany, you must register for health insurance as it is compulsory for all German citizens and residents.
  4. Obtain a German residence permit. You apply for the residence permit at the Immigration/Foreigner’s Office (Ausländerbehörde).
  5. Start working. Once you have your residence permit, you can start to work. Within five years, you will become eligible for settlement as a permanent resident in Germany

To get the necessary assistance with moving to Germany, we recommend you get in touch with a German legal representative such as SE Legal.

Should I Move to Germany?

You should move to Germany if you want to live in a stable, growing economy, with work prospects, social security benefits, and universal healthcare. As one of the biggest economies in the world, Germany is a top destination for expats. But, the high tax rate, the bureaucracy, and the polite but reserved behavior of Germans may put some off. 

Here is a list of the pros and cons of moving to Germany:

Universal healthcare. Everyone in Germany is required by law to have health insurance. The national health insurance scheme is funded by monthly contributions by all and covers 90% of German residents. The remainder is insured privately.High taxes. You can face up to 40% deductions on your salary from taxes. But you do see the benefits of your taxes in free healthcare and other social benefits. 
Relatively low costs of living. When compared to other expat destinations, such as the US or UK, the living costs in Germany are relatively low. On average, the living costs are around €800/month.Germans can seem reserved and unfriendly (but they are not).  In the beginning, you may find it hard to blend in with the locals. According to a study conducted by InterNations, Germany ranked 60/65 for “ease of settling in” as a foreigner.That’s not to say that Germans are an unfriendly group. They will be polite to you, of course, but you might not be able to call them a friend immediately. 
Paid time off and ethical working environments. People in Germany are known for their work ethic, which is a result of their personalities (fair, direct, efficient).You are entitled to 20 paid days off work per year, in addition to all the national holidays.You will be away from your family, friends, and culture. You may face a cultural shock when you first move to Germany, especially if you come from a place where people are more open and approachable to the people around them, like coworkers.
Freedom of travelling in Europe. Because Germany is part of the EU, a German residence permit will allow you visa-free travel throughout Europe for up to 90 days.Bureaucracy. Germans are famous for their bureaucracy. Moving anywhere means that you will have a ton of paperwork and technicalities to deal with, but you will find that this is especially true when it comes to Germans.On the other hand, this means that are very fair and good at following the rules.
Efficient public transportation. Depending on which part of Germany you live in, you will have easy access to busses, trains, trams, and even ferries. German public transport is generally punctual, reliable, and efficient.
Insurance, insurance, insurance. Germans like to be insured for everything (legal insurance, personal liability insurance, renter’s insurance, etc.), which makes for a very secure way of living, as you won’t be met with unexpected costs which can affect your financial stability.
Excellent and affordable educational system. Germany’s education system is one of the best, both at pre-university and university-level.Public universities and school are (mostly) free of cost.
Germany is known to be very peaceful and quiet. There are low crime rates, the law is rightfully enforced, and Germans tend to have a culture of being mindful not to disturb others.

As with any country you might move to (and probably the country you live in right now), there are good and bad things. No place will be completely perfect and what is “good” and “bad” is entirely subjective. Many stereotypes about German people’s behavior are just that – stereotypes. You will likely encounter friendly and non-friendly people in Germany, same as everywhere else.

Germany has been ranked as the seventh-happiest country in the world, according to the 2021 World Happiness Report survey. So, people seem content with their lives there, and whether or not you will be happy with your decision to move to Germany depends on how well you can adapt to the culture and lifestyle.

Can I Move to Germany Without a Job?

If you are a non-EU national, you cannot live in Germany longer than three months, unless you are working or studying. However, if you meet the requirements, you can apply for a job-seeker visa which allows you to stay in Germany for up to six months as you look for employment. Legal representatives at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte can assist you with this process. Contact them now to book a consultation!

If you live in Germany longer than three months, without the appropriate visa, you will be deported when discovered. This will affect any future chances of immigrating to Germany. You may also have to pay a fine or face other legal penalties.

The only instance when you can move to Germany without working or intending to work is if you are married to a German citizen or permanent resident and they have the financial means to support you as a dependent. 

How Much Does It Cost to Move to Germany?

You can expect your move to Germany to cost well over €3,000 ($3,400). Factors that increase the cost include where in Germany you will live (rent) and from where you will travel (flight costs). You will need the following:

Work visa€75
Residence permit€50 – €110
Travel health insurance€30 – €90 to cover the first three months
One way plane ticket €200 – €600
First three months’ rent and deposit €1,500 – €5,000 (depending on where you will live)
Costs of living for the first month€1,000 ($1,300)

Things to Know Before Moving to Germany

Here are some of the main things to know before your move to Germany:

  • You will have access to German public health insurance. 90% of the German population are enrolled under public (statutory) healthcare, which provides free medical treatment in public hospitals in Germany. The public health scheme is funded by monthly contributions, deducted from your income.
  • You should decide which items to bring with you. Relocating to a whole new country is a chore on its own without the hassle relocating your personal things. Some expats prefer to sell most of their belongings, while others choose to keep them in storage and bring them over after settling in Germany.
  • You should learn a little German. Even though you may find a job which you can do in English, you should learn German if you want to integrate better. Knowing the language will make everything easier for you, starting from documents for your residence permit application, to health insurance, to interacting with coworkers, neighbors, to stopping by a local market.
  • There are “quiet times”, which are regulated by law. This means, after 10 PM and until 6 AM, you cannot disturb your neighbors by loud noises, be it music, a washing machine, vacuuming, or house repairs. On Sundays and public holidays, the quiet times last all day. Some apartment building may even have their own additional quiet hours, from 1 PM to 3 PM.
  • Germans have insurance for everything. Health insurance is a given, but you’ll find a large portion of Germans also have liability insurance (for damages you may cause to someone else), legal insurance (if you are ever in a legal dispute), and even pet liability insurance – to just name a few.
  • You have to learn to follow all the rules. Germans are known for being very fair and rule-abiding. So, respect the lines at stores, recycling rules, traffic rules, quiet times, and any and all signs – otherwise, you will get a stink eye and maybe be called out.

Moving to Germany from USA

Moving to Germany from the UK

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