1. Find a job
If you want to work in research in Germany, the best thing is to start searching for a job while still in your home country. Whether in universities, research institutes or industry, Germany offers a multitude of research opportunities for qualified people from abroad. On the Internet you’ll find numerous job portals which offer a job search specifically for research and science. The Research in Germany Website has a list of these job portals
2. Financing and subsidies
To work as a researcher in Germany, you must prove that you are able to support yourself here. You are required to have net income of at least 1,890 euros a month in the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein, and 1,610 euros in the federal states of Brandenburg, Berlin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. Under normal circumstances, these income thresholds should not be any problem for international scientists: Many scientific posts in Germany are paid according to collective bargaining agreements and easily comply with the minimum income requirements if worked full-time. On its Web site, the German Association of University Professors and Lecturers (Deutscher Hochschulverband) provides information about scientific staff salaries at public universities and research institutes.
You can also have your stint of research funded by means of a fellowship. This is especially worthwhile if you want to pursue a project in Germany for a specific period of time. Numerous bodies grant financial support for international researchers in all fields. You’ll find a list of these on the Research in Germany Website.
Who does not need a visa
Are you a national of an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland? In that case, you can enter Germany without a visa. Once you have a job, you can start your research straight away.
If you are a citizen of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the USA, you may enter Germany without a visa. You can collect your stay permit from your local foreign nationals' registration authority once you have entered the country.
Who needs a visa
Qualified professionals from all other states need a visa to enter Germany. As a researcher, you should apply for a visa for research purposes (section 20 of the German Residence Act), with which you automatically receive a residence permit. For this, you have to meet the following conditions:
- Have a university degree from Germany or abroad.
- Have signed a work contract or hosting agreement with a recognized research institution.
- Have the means to support yourself in Germany. This condition will be fulfilled if you can provide proof of a signed work contract or confirmation of a research grant.
The residence permit for research purposes is issued for at least one year, unless the research project is shorter.
4. Prospects for the family
Apply for a family visa
As nationals of an EU state, your spouse and children have the same rights to freedom of movement as you and can move here with you without a visa. If you do not come from an EU country but have a scientist’s or researcher’s residence permit, your spouse is also entitled to a residence permit which enables him or her to take up employment in Germany. And of course, you can bring your children with you too.
You’ll find tips about schooling and childcare on this portal. A brochure published by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees provides detailed information about residence rights for international scientists and researchers in Germany.
Career opportunities for spouses
Many universities in Germany will also provide support for your spouse in finding a job. The universities’ “Dual Career Services” and “Welcome Centres” will assist you and your family as you prepare to move to Germany and help you get settled in here. The services they offer also include finding a language course for your spouse, a kindergarten for your children and accommodation in your new home country.
The Dual Career Netzwerk Deutschland (Dual Career Network Germany, DCND) currently comprises around forty universities. You’ll find a list of them here. If the university you wish to apply to does not figure on this list, enquire directly to them to find out what support they provide for families.
Further tips for getting settled in
Before international academics start their research period in Germany they have a lot of questions. The “Research in Germany” portal provides useful tips for your preparation. The rubric “Living in Germany” provides numerous tips that make your arrival in Germany easier. Whether it’s how to register with the residents' registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt), open an account or find accommodation or recreational activities for all the family.
5. Language skills
Speaking German makes daily life easier
As a scientist or researcher, you will not normally need to prove that you speak German, as in international research teams English is frequently spoken. Your spouse is not required to speak German either. Nevertheless, having German skills will of course help you converse with your German colleagues, students, or business and administration employees. Language skills will also help you and your family settle in, make new friends and feel at home.
German language courses
There are all kinds of possibilities all over the world of learning German. Group language courses, online tutorials, vocabulary apps – you'll find a host of useful tips on learning German here on this portal.
Research in Germany
Information on doctoral studies and research in Germany (i.a. German, English, Spanish, French)
Dual Career Netzwerk Deutschland
Do research in Germany with your spouse (German, English)