German immigration law: Procedure and requirements for issuance of a work visa (national visa) - MTH Rechtsanwälte Köln
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Rechtsanwalt Helmer Tieben
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Tel.: 0221 - 80187670

Immigration law
von: Helmer Tieben

A temporary residence permit for skilled workers according to sections 18a or 18b of the German Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz – AufenthG) is issued for a term of four years. Since a priority check is no longer necessary for this, the procedure has now been greatly simplified. However, residence permits for unskilled jobs are still  difficult to obtain. Since the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) must be involved
in the issuance procedure, this is a lengthy process. The following steps are part of the issuance procedure:

1.)          Appointment with the embassy

If the foreign citizen has a job offer or already has an employment contract with a German company, he or she must make an appointment with the visa office of the German embassy in his or her home country and submit the required evidence and documents to the foreign mission.

The following documents are required as a minimum:

– Valid passport with copies
– 2 application forms
– 3 passport photos
– Signed employment contract with the company based in Germany or concrete job offer
– Qualification certificates of the applicant
– Evidence of sufficient health insurance coverage

Depending on the embassy, additional documents may be requested.

2.)          Federal Office of Administration (Bundesverwaltungsamt)

After receiving the documents, the embassy sends them to the Federal Office of Administration, which stores the data in the visa file and performs certain queries.

3.)          Competent foreign citizens’ authority in Germany

After that, the documents are sent to the foreign citizens’ authority that is competent for the foreign citizen. This is the foreign citizens’ authority within the jurisdiction of which the foreign citizen wishes to take up residence. So this is usually the registered place of business of the foreign citizen's future employer. The foreign citizens’ authority then checks on the basis of the documents whether the Federal Employment Agency is to be involved in the procedure. This is usually necessary. If the Federal Employment Agency has to give its consent, the foreign citizens’
authority will forward the documents to it.

4.)          Involvement of of the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit)

The Federal Employment Agency then reviews whether the foreigner can be admitted to the German labour market. The department responsible for this review at the Federal Employment Agency is the International Placement Service. The International Placement Service can then also involve the local employment agency at the location of the foreign citizen´s future employer in the review, which will then seek suitable German employees for the employer (priority check (Vorrangprüfung)). Please note that the priority check will only take place if the applicant is not a skilled worker (Fachkraft)

If the local employment agency does not find a suitable German employee who could fill the vacant position with priority, the Federal Employment Agency can forward its consent to the foreign citizens’ authority.

5.)          Decision of the foreign citizens’ authority

If the foreign citizens’ authority does not find otherwise, it will, in turn, forward its consent to the embassy.

6.)          Decision of the embassy

The embassy that has the final decision, will then, after a positive review, notify the foreign citizen of its decision. The foreign citizen can then collect the visa from the embassy

7.)          Legal remedies

An appeal can be lodged against the refusal of a visa by means of a remonstration or an action before the administrative court.

Important Note: This article has been prepared by lawyer Helmer Tieben for general information purposes only. Mr. Tieben does not accept any liability to any person or organisation for the use or reliance of the information contained in this article. On any specific matter, kindly contact us by dialing 0221 – 80187670 or sending us an email to

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