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Placement agencies

Are you thinking about using a placement agency for your immigration process to Germany? Read on to find out what skilled workers from abroad need to keep in mind, and what alternatives are available.

“Make it in Germany” provides you with all the information you need to live and work in Germany – from finding a job and completing the visa process to settling in. Here you can find out everything you need to know to complete the process of entering Germany and taking up employment independently. 

However, if in addition you would like to receive individual and comprehensive support in the placement process, you have two options: you can use public services or private placement agencies. Practical information on both options is provided below:

State-run placement

In Germany, the International Services (ZAV) of the Federal Employment Agency (BA) is the official point of contact for the recruitment of skilled foreign workers. Both skilled workers from abroad and employers in Germany can contact the BA for information and advice. You can use the BA’s contact form to send an enquiry with details of your German language skills and professional qualifications. You will then receive an email with personalised feedback on your chances of working in Germany. If you have suitable qualifications, you will be added to the BA’s pool of applicants.
In selected partner countries, the ZAV also implements various projects and programmes for specific professional sectors. Public placement projects adhere to ethical recruitment standards. 
You will find more information on the Federal Employment Agency website.

Private sector placement 

Private placement agencies are another way of finding a job in Germany and organising the entry process. There is no special certification or licensing requirement for private placement agencies in Germany. The following information will help you assess whether a placement agency is reputable and will provide you with reliable and appropriate services.

Legal principles in Germany

In the Third Book of the Social Code [SGB] (Sections 296 to 299 SGB), the German law sets out a number of requirements for agencies. Section 296 of the Social Code [SGB] stipulates that a written placement contract must be concluded between the recruitment agency and the applicant. This placement contract must include transparent information about the agency’s fees and services. In addition, you only have to pay a fee if the placement results in an employment contract. Payments in advance are not permitted!

Please beware

The German Social Code [SGB] stipulates that fees for simple placement (bringing you together with a company in Germany) may not exceed €2,000 (Section 296 (3) SGB 3). However, additional services such as language courses must often be paid for separately. Always read the contractual services very carefully.

In the case of vocational training placements, unlike employment placements, fees can only be charged to the employer (and not the apprentice). 
According to Section 299 of the Social Code [SGB], German agencies are obliged to provide information in the case of cross-border placements. Recruitment agencies must inform applicants of ten points in writing (in a language they understand) before concluding an employment contract:

  • The employer’s name and address
  • Start and duration of the employment relationship
  • Place(s) of work
  • Job description
  • Working hours
  • Salary information
  • Holiday entitlement
  • Notice periods
  • Information on collective agreements and internal or works agreements 
  • A reference to the advisory services provided by the social partners and government agencies, including contact details.

It is therefore a requirement that you receive this information! 


In addition to the placement fee, there may be other costs, for example, if you take a language course through the agency, or if you receive assistance with entry and visa procedures. You should therefore check carefully whether your employer has pre-financed your language course, for example, and whether you will have to reimburse these costs in Germany. Do not sign any contracts or documents that you do not fully understand. You should also check what specific services are included. Assistance in finding accommodation can also take the form of a link to an accommodation website, for example. Always ask and read the small print (terms and conditions)!

Please beware

Private placement agencies in your home country cannot guarantee or promise that you will actually receive a visa for Germany. Visa applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis – a placement agency has no control over this process!

In addition, the placement agency is not allowed to keep your passport or original work documents. Therefore, it is best to submit copies. Only competent authorities are allowed to retain your documents!

Contract commitments and contractual penalties

Be sure to check your placement and employment contracts for the minimum length of time you must stay with your employer. In some cases, contracts require you to stay with the employer for as long as three years. If you change jobs before then, you may have to repay any costs your employer has covered. This can easily run into several thousand euros. You may also be subject to contractual penalties if you fail to meet certain obligations. You should always check exactly what the risks are – for example, what happens if you fail the language test. If your employer provides your accommodation, you would lose it if you changed jobs. 
It is best to seek professional advice if you have problems with a German placement agency or with your current employment. The “Fair Integration” project, run by the government-funded IQ Portal, provides free advice in a variety of languages – but only after you have arrived in Germany.
You can find detailed information in the FAQ – Placement Agencies provided by the IQ Portal.

Please beware

“Make it in Germany” does not engage in placement! If private recruiters or recruitment agencies advertise under this name or offer paid services, these are not services provided by the Federal Government’s official information portal.

Ethical and fair recruitment

Two key UN agencies – the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – have taken the lead in developing principles for ethical and fair recruitment, which are not, however, binding. These principles state, for example, that skilled workers from abroad should not have to pay recruitment costs for simple placement. Your employer in Germany should pay for these costs (Employer Pays Principle). Commitment and repayment clauses should also be avoided. Other principles of ethical and fair recruitment include transparency of terms and conditions of employment, data protection and access to remedy.
Ideally, you should look for an agency that adheres to the principles of fair recruitment.

The "Fair Recruitment Healthcare Germany" quality seal 

A good way to recognise reputable healthcare recruitment agencies is to look for the official “Fair Recruitment Healthcare Germany” quality seal, which was developed in Germany in 2022. The owner of the quality seal is the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG). It is issued by the Kuratorium Deutsche Altershilfe Wilhelmine-Lübcke-Stiftung e.V. (KDA) and its content is further developed by the German Competence Centre for International Skilled Workers in the Health and Nursing Professions (DKF). The quality seal recognises private recruitment agencies and employers who guarantee a fair, ethical and transparent recruitment process. Examples of these specific requirements include the Employer Pays Principle and transparency during the whole placement process. However, certification is voluntary.

The requirements are based on six guiding principles:

  • Written form for verifiability
  • Placement process free of charge for nursing specialists
  • Limitation of economic risk for nursing specialists
  • Transparency of structures, services and costs
  • Sustainability and participation
  • Overall responsibility

If you are a nursing specialist, would like to come to Germany and have chosen a placement agency in possession of the quality seal, the costs for language acquisition will be assumed by your future employer.

Compliance with the criteria is monitored by the quality association’s office. You can find a list of certified placement agencies on the quality seal website. In addition, the KDA has published the brochure "Information for labour migration to healthcare professions in Germany". This free brochure is currently available in 11 different languages.

Temporary work / loan employment

The area of temporary or agency work is currently severely restricted by the German Skilled Immigration Act [FEG]. Residence titles for employment with a temporary employment agency can only be issued if the residence title does not require approval from the Federal Employment Agency (BA), such as the “big” EU Blue Card under Section 18g (1) of the Residence Act [AufenthG]. According to Section 40 of the Residence Act [AufenthG], residence titles or residence permits subject to approval by the Federal Employment Agency (BA) are denied for foreigners intending to take up employment as a temporary worker (Section 40 (1) No. 2 of the Residence Act [AufenthG]). This means that in these cases, immigration seekers with a work contract with a temporary employment agency will not be able to obtain an appropriate residence permit in Germany. 


✔ Compare different placement agencies and offers (Employer Pays Principle, commitment and repayment clauses, etc.)
✔ Read all written contracts carefully, including the small print. If there is something you do not understand, ask!
✔ Your contract should not only be in German, but also in the lingua franca of your country of origin or in your mother tongue
✔ Seek professional advice if you have any problems or are unsure about anything
✔ Provision of transparent and extensive information by the agency
✔ Easy to contact (email, phone, website) 
✔ Healthcare: the agency has the “Fair Recruitment Healthcare Germany” quality seal

Information on the Web

  1. Federal Employment Agency (BA) Services of the Federal Employment Agency (BA)
  2. Integration through Qualification (IQ) network "Fair integration" advice centres for information on employees' rights in Germany
  3. International Organization for Migration (IOM) IRIS Standard for ethical recruitment
  4. International Labour Organization (ILO) Fair Recruitment Initiative
  5. Kuratorium Deutsche Altershilfe Wilhelmine-Lübke-Stiftung e.V. (KDA)/German Competence Centre for International Skilled Workers in the Health and Nursing Professeions (DKF) "Fair Recruitment Healthcare Germany" quality seal
    1. List of organisations with the "Fair Recruitment Healthcare Germany" quality seal

Do you have any questions?

Let us advise you on your opportunities to work and live in Germany. Our experts will support you with questions regarding job search, visa, recognition and learning German. 

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