VisaGuide » Moving to » Germany » from USA
Steps you need to take to move to Germany from USA, available pathways for Americans, and FAQs

Over 11 million immigrants are living in Germany, according to the 2020 report of the German Federal Office of Statistics – more than 110,000 of them are Americans.

But, why is Germany such a popular country to move to, and how to move to Germany from the US? The short answers are “universal healthcare, free education, strong economy, and the high quality of life,” and “by applying for a residence permit.” Read on for the long answer.

Do I Need a Visa to Move to Germany From The US?

As a US citizen, you do not need a long-stay visa to enter Germany. But, if you plan to stay longer than three months, you must apply for a residence permit in the first few days of your arrival. Remember that you can stay in Germany visa-free for up to three months, and only for tourist reasons. If you want to work, you always need to apply for authorization.

To get legal advice about moving to Germany from the United States we recommend you get in touch with a law representative at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte.

Also read: Moving to Germany from the UK

German Residence Permits for US Citizens

After arriving in Germany, you will receive a temporary residence permit valid for one to four years. Here are the most common temporary residence permits, depending on the reason you are moving:

Residence permit for studyingAllows you to study in Germany for the duration of your course
Allows you to work part-time
Residence permit for employmentAllows you to work for a German employer. Usually issued to skilled workers, who have a university degree, and taking a position that is considered “in shortage.”You can renew it as long as you still have a work contract.
Residence permit for family reunificationAllows you to live with your partner who is a German citizen or resident.
Allows you to work in Germany.
Residence permit for freelancing or self-employmentAllows you to move to Germany to set up a business or do freelance work. You must prove that there is a market for your services in the part of Germany where you are moving to.
EU Blue CardIssued to highly skilled workers in Germany, with a salary of at least €56,800/year. If your position is “in-demand,” the minimum salary requirement is €44,304/year. This residence permit is issued for four years and allows you to become permanently settled after 33 months of residence.

If you are unsure which one of these options would be the most suitable for you to pursue, you can always consult a German legal expert at Schlun & 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 the application for one of the residence permits in Germany. Contact them now!

Permanent Settlement Permit

Once you have lived in Germany for at least four years, you can become a settled resident. The German settlement permit will grant you the right to live in Germany indefinitely. In addition, once you are a settled resident, you can change jobs without applying for a new permit, you won’t have to apply for permit renewal every couple of years, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of German citizens without having to forfeit your American citizenship.

Legal representatives at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte are able to assist you during the process of obtaining a german permanent residence permit.

How Can US Citizens Apply for a German Residence Permit?

You can apply for a residence permit at the Foreigner’s Authority after you arrive in Germany. However, suppose you are moving for employment and want to work immediately after arrival. In that case, you can get your residence permit from a German mission in the US before you travel. Here’s a rundown of your two options:

If you are applying from the United StatesIf you are applying in Germany
When?Apply at least one month before you plan to travel.Apply in the first three months of your arrival.
Where?At the German embassy or consulate responsible for your state or jurisdiction.At the local Ausländerbehörde (Immigration/Foreigner’s Authority).
How?If you are in the US when you apply, set up an appointment with the German Embassy and submit the documents in person. The embassy/consulate forwards the documents to the Ausländerbehörde in Germany.Set an appointment, collect your documents, and submit your residence permit application directly at the local Ausländerbehörde.
Processing timeOne to three months.Two to three weeks.
Cost €75 for the permit.$35 to mail your passport back.€100

The legal advisors at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte offer complete support during the entire process and will represent your case with the relevant authorities. They specialize in German immigration law and possess the necessary experience to help you immigrate to Germany. Contact them now!

Things to Know When Moving to Germany From The US

After arriving in Germany, here are the main things you need to do:

Find accommodation

If you have not already done so, you must find a place to live as soon as you can. Like in the US, most people look for apartment listings online, which means you need to spend some time browsing.

Although opting for a real estate agency may seem preferable, it may be too expensive. 

You must get your accommodation settled immediately since you need to register your address before applying for a residence permit.

Something else to remember is that you may have to pay three months’ rent as a security deposit when you first move in.

Register at the Resident’s Registration Office

Next, you should register at the local Resident’s Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt). You must do this within one week of your arrival since you need the registration certificate you receive when applying for the residence permit.

You will usually receive your registration certificate on the same day, but you must schedule an appointment with your local Einwohnermeldeamt first.

Get Health Insurance

Germany has universal healthcare, so after moving there, you must be properly insured. If you are employed in Germany, your employer will normally enroll you in a health insurance scheme. Most German citizens and residents are enrolled under the public (statutory) insurance scheme, but workers with high incomes and freelancers are allowed to purchase private insurance.

See how the German health insurance system works.

Set up a Bank Account

You need a German bank account to easily access your money, receive your salary, make payments, etc. It is best to open an account in one of the more popular banks in Germany, as they have more experience with expats. To open a German bank account, you must have a certificate of registration.

Although it is not essential to have a German bank account (you can keep your international bank account), it is easier for daily transactions.

When you show up for your residence permit application, you should have proof of having opened a bank account, as well as a document with your bank balance.

Shipping Personal Effects to Germany from the US

The most difficult process of moving to Germany from the US for most expats is shipping their personal belongings overseas. The process is complicated, pricey, and time-consuming. There are several rules you have to follow regarding what you can and what you cannot ship. Additionally, you need to provide a detailed inventory of everything that you are bringing with you. Plus, some items may be subjected to taxes. 

So, to make this process easier, most expats prefer to hire an international moving company and have them deal with the shipping process. However, you have to keep in mind that professional companies can be costly depending on the number of items and where you are located in the US. 

Is It Hard For an American to Move to Germany?

It is not difficult to move to Germany from the US if you have a valid reason, such as a job offer, a letter of acceptance from a German university, or wishing to join your partner. However, generally speaking, everyone outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland needs a solid reason to receive a German residence permit. So, finding a job bartending or working in retail might not be enough to get you a visa.

As an American citizen, you have an advantage because you can enter Germany without a visa for up to three months. This gives you an opportunity to take a prior trip to scout the work market and look for open positions close up. You can also go apartment hunting and familiarize yourself with the culture and the place before you commit to moving.

You can also use this time to decide what to do with your personal belongings. Don’t forget you have the option to sell your things and only bring small and essential items.

Can Americans Move to Germany Without a Job?

You need a job if you want your move to Germany to be as easy as possible. If you do not have a job, your main options are:

  • Getting a job-seeker visa. This visa allows you to stay in Germany for up to six months to find a job. You must have a university education and at least five years of work experience to be eligible for this type of visa. 
  • Applying for a student visa or language course visa. If you are admitted to a German university, you can apply for a student visa and live in Germany for the duration of your studies. After finishing your degree, you can apply for a work permit to keep living in Germany.
  • Freelancing or starting your own business. If you have an occupation that can be freelanced and will have a positive cultural and economic impact on Germany (artist, writer, self-employed doctor, engineer, language teacher, interpreter, etc), you can apply for a freelancer visa. If you want to start your own business, you can apply for a self-employed visa.

Can I Have Dual US and German Citizenship?

You can have dual citizenship only if you were born to a German and an American parent. If you want to become naturalized as a German citizen, then you will have to give up on your US citizenship.

Did you find this page helpful?
Yes No
Scroll to Top