Labor and Residency Laws for Foreigners
In most instances, foreigners who want to work or take up an occupation
in the Federal Republic of Germany require the following:
- a residence permit to work as a self-employed person, or
- a residence permit and a work permit to take up employment as a wage or
Various legal rules applying to employees from EU member states or other
countries must be complied with.
Nationals and legal entities from EU member states enjoy unrestricted
freedom of movement in the Federal Republic of Germany and do not require
a work permit.
Although employees from EU member states need a residence permit, they
have a legal right to be issued with one. A certificate for the "residence
permit for members of a member state of the EU" must be issued if,
apart from the entry permit, a certificate of employment or a declaration
of appointment by the employer is available. Self-employed persons receive
a residence permit if they are qualified for the occupation they intend
to work in.
Employees from countries not belonging to the European Union normally
require a residence permit and a work permit to take up an occupation
or work as a paid employee in the Federal Republic of Germany.
The residence permit must be obtained before entering the country
in the form of a visa from the appropriate representative of the Federal
Republic of Germany.
There is no legal right to the issue of a residence permit. If
a positive decision is made, the residence permit is generally issued
for one or two years and can be extended after this period. A residence
permit for an unlimited period is only issued in exceptional cases.
A distinction must be made between a residence permit and the
right to reside. The latter may be issued to foreigners who have
rightfully lived in the country for at least five years and have integrated
into the social life of the Federal Republic of Germany. The right to
reside may not be regionally restricted and runs for an unlimited period.
The following types of individuals:
- Self-employed persons
- Independently employed persons (such as professionals and freelance commercial
- Members of the executive body legally representing the operation of a
legal entity (member of the board of management/director of companies
limited by shares)
- Shareholders and directors with power of representation for other companies
apart from companies limited by shares (general partnership, limited partnership,
- Senior executives to whom a general or full power of attorney (power of
representation) has been issued
do not require a work permit according to the principle of freedom of
With few exceptions, foreign workers generally require a permit from
the Federal Employment Institute in order to be employed or work in the
Federal Republic of Germany. The work permit is issued after a residence
permit has been granted. There is no legal right to a work permit !!!
SOURCE: GERMANY INFO