Working in Germany: the official website
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Prospects after graduation

You have completed a course of studies in Germany? And now, you are thinking about what comes next? Staying in Germany after graduation pays off: Attractive opportunities await if you continue your stay here.

Residence permit while looking for a job 

You can apply for an 18-month residence permit from your local Foreigners’ Authority to look for a job that corresponds to your qualifications (Section 20 para. 3 no. 1 Act on the residence - AufenthG). During these 18 months, you may obtain any kind of employment. Please consider that this type of residence permit cannot be extended. In our section Looking for a job, you will find valuable tips on how to find a job in Germany as well as actual job offers. To obtain a residence permit valid for 18 months, the following conditions have to be fulfilled:

  • Proof of a succesfully completed course of studies (i.e. university degree)
  • Proof of your health insurance coverage
  • Proof of sufficient financial means to cover your costs of living

We recommend that you ask your local Foreigners’ Authority which documents you need to bring with you before submitting your application. Some local Foreigners’ Authorities provide information about this on the Internet too.

Residence permit for the purpose of taking up employment 

As soon as you have a job offer which corresponds to your qualifications, you can choose whether you want to apply for a residence permit for the purpose of taking up employment (Section 18b para. 1 Act on the residence - AufenthG) or an EU Blue Card (Section 18b para. 2 Act on the residence - AufenthG) for the next part of your stay. Various conditions are attached to both these residence permits. Depending on what you are planning to do in the future, either the residence permit for the purpose of taking up employment or the EU Blue Card can be advantageous for you. If you intend subsequently to live and work in another EU state, the EU Blue Card may be more beneficial for you than the residence permit for taking up employment. To be granted this residence permit or the EU Blue Card, you have to fulfil the following requirements: 

  • Proof of a successfully completed course of studies (i.e. university degree)
  • Proof of your health insurance coverage
  • Proof of sufficient financial means to cover your living costs (German work contract) 
  • For EU Blue Card holders: minimum gross annual salary of EUR 55,200 or EUR 43,056 for MINT professions (year 2020)

As the choice of residence permit largely depends on your personal situation, get the advice of your local Foreigners’ Authority when you apply. Even if you just get a job offer for a part-time employment, a residence permit can be granted to you. It is important that the expected salary secures all means of subsistence. The decision depends entirely on the local immigration authority.

Under certain preconditions, and following consideration by the Federal Employment Agency, it is possible to accept a job offer as a qualified professional whilst a person is still studying. This entails a switch to a residence permit to work in a qualified occupation without having to graduate first (Section 16b para. 4 Act on the residence - AufenthG). Your local Foreigners‘ Authority will provide you with more detailed information.

Residence permit for self-employment 

As a graduate of a Germany university, you can run a business or work as an independent professional, for example as an engineer. Find out what options you have in this country under the section Types of new business.

Setting up your own business 
In order to set up your own business in Germany, you need a residence permit allowing you to exercise a self-employed activity (selbstständige Tätigkeit) (Section 21 Act on the residence - AufenthG). You can apply for this to your local Foreigners’ Authority. Find out more about the requirements you need to fulfil under the section Visa for self-employment.

Working as an independent professional
If you want to be self-employed in one of the liberal professions (freie Berufe), apply for a residence permit that will allow you to exercise this kind of activity (Section 21 Act para. 5 on the residence - AufenthG). To do so, you will usually need to supply your CV, your final examination diploma of your studies, a description of the activity you intend to take up and a financial plan. Find out more about the requirements you need to fulfil under the section Visa for freelance business.

We recommend that you ask your local Foreigners’ Authority which additional documents you need to submit. Initially, the residence for self-employment is temporary. If your business idea is successful and you are able to support yourself and your family, there will be no problem about getting your residence permit extended.

Find out more about what advisory and information services are available to you under the section Advisory services.

Residence permit for PhD studies

If you wish to pursue a PhD at a German university or in a research institute, all you have to do is to have your residence permit extended by your local Foreigners’ Authority. To do so, you will need your certificate of matriculation. Furthermore, you need to be able to prove that you have adequate health insurance and that you are able to support yourself financially.
We recommend that you ask your local Foreigners’ Authority which documents you need to bring with you. Some local Foreigners’ Authorities provide information about this on the Internet too.

The Research in Germany portal informs about doctoral studies in Germany and opportunities for funding and financing.

Residence permit for the purpose of vocational training

International students may switch to another type of residence permit before they have completed their studies. Instead of continuing their course of studies, they can start vocational training and receive a residence permit for the purpose of completing qualified vocational training (Section 16b para. 4 Act on the residence - AufenthG). However, this is subject to special conditions and the examination through the Federal Employment Agency (BA). Even after you have completed your studies, you have the opportunity to complete vocational training in Germany and apply for a residence permit for the purpose of vocational training. The decision whether the visa shall be granted to you is the sole responsibility of the Federal Employment Agency (BA).

We recommend that you ask your local Foreigners’ Authority which documents you need to bring with you.

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Please consider that you have to apply for the respective residence permit before your residence permit for the purpose of studying expires.

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