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Work and Business Visas in Germany

With its low unemployment rate, innovative tech and manufacturing sector, government support for business funding, and a diverse and skilled labor force, Germany is a top choice for employment and business expansions.

If you plan to work or launch your business in Germany, you will need the proper visa type that will suit your needs. Check out the available employment and work visas available in Germany, what requirements you need to satisfy, and how to apply for them.

German Work Visa

Germany has one of the lowest unemployment rates globally and is an attractive location to build a career. To obtain a German work visa, you need to have a job offer or employment contract in order to qualify. You do not need a work visa in Germany if you are a citizen of one of the following places: the EU, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Israel, South Korea, Japan, and the USA.

To apply, you will need a signed contract from your future German employer and a certificate of compulsory health insurance (learn more about health insurance in Germany here). Visa processing takes one to three months.

German Business Visa

Germany is home to major corporate companies and top global startups. As a result, many entrepreneurs look to the country to do business.

If you are starting a company, you’ll need to apply for a German business visa. It is a short-stay Schengen visa that permits one to conduct business in Germany from 90 days to a maximum of six months. During this period, you can attend meetings, make deals, sign contracts, and more. The visa takes approximately 10 to 15 days to process.

Visa for self-employment

Freelancing and micro-entrepreneurship are growing globally, and Germany has a high demand for people with particular skills which are offered on short-term basis. If you fall under this category, you can apply for a visa for self-employment. It is a form of resident permit that allows you to stay and work in Germany for at least three years.

If you are planning to start a small business, there must be regional need or economic interest in your product or service. Moreover, you must have the capital on-hand or via a loan to fund your business.

Freelancers would need to provide sufficient funds to finance their projects and have obtained licenses as proof of skills. If you obtained a degree from a German university, you can apply for this visa while searching for employment.


The requirements to apply for a German employment or business visa depend on where you are from and the type of visa you are applying for. You will need the requirements below for all visa types:

  • Two completed, printed, and signed application forms
  • Two recently taken passport photographs
  • Valid passport
  • Cover letter as a statement of purpose
  • Proof of clear criminal record
  • Proof of payment of visa fee
  • Printed and signed declaration of the accuracy of information

Additional requirements for an Employment Visa

  • Proof of residence such as a valid driver’s license or utility bill
  • Health insurance and a compulsory certificate from your German employer
  • Signed employment contract with your gross annual salary and job description
  • Your resume that outlines your academic qualifications and previous job experience
  • Diplomas, certificates, licenses, and other proof of qualification

Additional requirements for a Business Visa

  • Round trip reservation or flight itinerary
  • A travel insurance policy that covers Germany and the whole Schengen territory with a 30,000 Euro coverage
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Proof of financial means such as a bank statement or sponsorship letter
  • Invitation letter from a partner German company, if needed
  • If you have an existing company:
    • Business license
    • Company bank statement
    • Income Tax Return

Additional requirements for a Visa for Self-Employment

  • Proof of residence in Germany
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Business plan for entrepreneurs
  • Proof of financial capability
  • Diplomas, certificates, licenses, and other proof of qualification for freelancers
  • References
  • Resume to outline your entrepreneurial experience

How to Apply for each German visa


  1. Procure a job offer in Germany.
  2. Complete your visa application form.
  3. Prepare needed requirements as outlined above.
  4. Set an appointment at the German embassy, consulate, or visa center in your home country.
  5. Pay the application fee and hold on to the confirmation document.

Business and Self-employment

The process for the business and self-employment visas is almost the same except for the fees. Also, there is an additional requirement* for the self-employment visa.

  1. Fill out your visa application form.
  2. Gather all the required documents.
  3. Schedule an appointment at the German embassy, consulate, or visa center in your home country.
  4. Attend the visa interview.
  5. Pay the application fee and keep the confirmation document.
  6. *Apply for a residence permit once in Germany.

Other types of visas in Germany

  • German job seeker visa – This visa lasts for six months and allows you to stay in Germany to find employment.

INS Global in Germany

INS Global is a leading HR solutions firm. Our goal is to make expansion simple for companies all across the world. As such we have a range of different services we offer our clients such as PEO, which allows you to begin operations in Germany without the need of setting up a separate legal entity, recruitment, payroll administration and many more. Contact us right away and let our consultants help simplify your expansion.

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