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A Residence Permit for Employment Purposes is required for non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals to work and reside in Germany. Locally hired employees under this status may renew without restriction.
Applicants on assignment within the same group of companies for up to three years can also obtain a residence permit for employment purposes. The applicant must have been employed by the sending company for a minimum of 1 year.
For companies which qualify for the International Personnel Exchange programme, the residence permit process for assignment is somewhat expedited, as the four-week local labour market search can be waived.
To qualify for the International Personnel Exchange, the assignment must be seen as contributing to the international character and development within the international market of the group of companies. In particular, the German company must also send German employees from the German office to overseas offices.
The Intra-Company Transfer Permit (EU Directive 2014/66) is only applicable to assignees falling into management/specialist or trainee categories sent to Germany for over 90 days from outside the EEA and has a maximum total duration of stay of three years for managers and specialists and one year for trainees. The applicant must have been employed by the sending company for a minimum of six months. If an applicant meets qualifying criteria for this process, he/she may not apply under an alternative route for assignees.
ICT permits under Directive 2014/66 allow mobility within EU member states - i.e. work permission is not required for EU ICT permit holders to work in other member states for less than 90 days and a streamlined Mobile ICT permit application may be applicable if working in other member states for longer than 90 days.
The Blue Card (Blaue Karte) is applicable to highly-skilled employees with a local job offer. and a salary at least two-thirds of the German pension fund contribution ceiling (Beitragsbemessungsgrenze der deutschen Rentenversicherung), which changes slightly every year.
The Blue Card regulation also applies to skilled employees in shortage occupations (‘Mangelberufe’ - scientists, mathematicians, engineers, doctors in human medicine, academic specialists in IT and communication) with an annual salary of at least 52% of the German pension fund contribution ceiling.
For shortage occupations, the labour authorities must check that the employment conditions match the local standards, and the employer must submit an official format job description.
The Van der Elst is a process whereby a third country national who is employed and contracted by a home entity in the EEA country and sent to provide temporary services to another EEA country no longer requires a work permit. However, a visa may be issued for up to one year. A residence permit will only be required if the period of stay is extended beyond the initial visa validity.
Employees sent to Germany on Temporary Assignment for less than 90 days within a 180 day period, to fit, install, maintain or repair machines, equipment, computer programmes, or other technical systems for a client or a branch office of their own company may follow an expedited work authorisation route, also known as a Section 19 Work Permit. This process usually applies where the assignee is being sent to fulfil foreign contractual obligations to a German client company. There must be an existing service agreement or purchase order in place between the employing company and the client. Assignees must remain on foreign payroll and contract. This process does not permit the assignee to bring dependents.
EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who will be working in Germany for longer than three months should register with the town hall. Swiss nationals should also register with their local foreign office and obtain a residence card (Aufenthaltserlaubnis-CH).
In general, applicants with dependent family members or those who have previously held residence permits with employment authorisation for Germany must file for the local foreigners’ office approval prior to the visa application
Nationals of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States can either enter Germany as a tourist and apply for the residence permit in-country, or enter with a D visa obtained at the relevant German consulate with jurisdiction over their place of residence. Note that for the first option, work is not permitted until the application has been submitted and a temporary residence permit obtained. Therefore, in major cities such as Frankfurt, Munich or Dresden, where appointments to apply for residence permits in-country take around six months, it is advisable to enter Germany on a D visa to allow work from the time of entry.
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