03.07.2020 - More and more international qualified professionals are choosing Germany as a place to work and live at. At the end of 2018, 89,831 qualified professionals from third countries had entered Germany . The new Skilled Immigration Act (FEG), which came into force on 1 March 2020, makes it easier for qualified professionals to immigrate to Germany. To advise and accompany international qualified professionals on their way to Germany, there are numerous institutions and structures in Germany and abroad that offer support. The following list provides an overview of central and local points of contact in Germany and abroad responsible for the immigration of skilled professionals. Please note: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, visitor traffic may be restricted in many authorities and counselling centres. Please check the website of the respective office in advance to find out about the currently valid service.
Be well accompanied through the recognition process
As a rule, qualified professionals1 coming from abroad need to have the equivalence of their foreign professional qualification recognised. When applying for a visa, applicants must provide this proof. Persons seeking recognition abroad can find out about the procedure in various ways and apply for the corresponding recognition procedure.
- Service Center for Professional Recognition
Since 1 February 2020, the Service Center for Professional Recognition (ZSBA) has been accompanying qualified professionals from abroad on their way through the recognition procedure until they enter Germany. The ZSBA is not responsible for the individual procedure itself or for the final decision, but it can assist applicants in compiling the necessary documents for the competent recognition office and provide information on regional counselling and qualification services. Those seeking recognition from abroad can contact the ZSBA via the hotline "Working and Living in Germany".
- ProRecognition counselling centres
The ProRecognition counselling centres are located at ten locations in the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHK). Their aim is to function as contact and advice centres for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications in Germany. They are being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) since October 2015. Foreign qualified professionals from Egypt, Algeria, India, Iran, Italy, Poland, and Vietnam can obtain information on the recognition procedure in their home country and receive support in submitting their applications. Since 2020, this service is also offered in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, and Colombia. Interested persons located in these countries can obtain information about the advisory services on the websites of the respective AHK.
- The Network “Integration through Qualification” (Network IQ)
Even in Germany, prospective qualified professionals must ensure to have their foreign professional qualifications recognised. For this purpose, they can make use of the services offered by the Network IQ. The approximately 100 IQ counselling centres focus on supporting people who have acquired their professional qualification abroad. Those seeking advice are accompanied through the recognition procedure and, if necessary, informed about suitable adaptation or compensatory measures. The "Integration through Qualification" support programme offers additional qualifications for many occupations in order to compensate for major differences to a German occupation. Further information on recognition guidance and contact details are available on the website of the Network IQ.
Successfully finding a job in Germany with the help of the ZAV
To be admitted to the German labour market, a binding job offer is often required. Finding a job from abroad can sometimes prove difficult, therefore tips on the job search and assistance in compiling application documents can be valuable. For this purpose, you can rely on the support offered by the International and Specialised Services (ZAV) of the Federal Employment Agency and its virtual Welcome Center (vWC). Contact can be established via the hotline "Working and Living in Germany" as well as via e-mail or chat.
One of the aims of the ZAV in the context of skilled immigration to Germany is to find qualified professionals and trainees worldwide for employers in Germany. The ZAV is also responsible for recruiting qualified professionals from third countries within the framework of placement agreements with foreign employment services. Interested employers can contact the ZAV or their local employer service of the local employment agency.
Preparing for Germany at the Goethe-Institut
The Goethe-Institut is the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany with worldwide operations and promotes, among other things, the German language abroad. The Goethe-Institutes are often one of the first points of contact for people abroad interested in emigrating. Those people do not only have the opportunity to attend German courses and take subsequent language exams but can also find out about daily life in Germany. Many Goethe-Institutes offer information and advice (in person or in the form of seminars) to prepare for everyday and professional life in Germany2. The Goethe-Institut is represented in 97 countries worldwide. Information on opening hours and offers of the respective institution can be found on the website of the Goethe-Institut.
Clarifying visa and residence issues
Qualified professionals from third countries in general require a visa for entering Germany and a residence permit for the subsequent stay. For this reason, it is important to initially enquire at the relevant authorities about the requirements for a visa for Germany.
- German missions abroad
The German missions abroad play a decisive role in the immigration process. The total of 227 German missions abroad consist of 153 embassies, 54 consulates-general and 7 consulates3. Most of the embassies and consulates have a visa office responsible for, amongst others, issuing visas for travel to Germany. A preliminary interview or visa application is usually possible with prior appointment booking. It is important to inform yourself in advance about the area of responsibilities and opening hours of the respective mission abroad on their website. The addresses and websites of the German missions abroad can be found on the "Make it in Germany" world map .
- Foreigners' Offices / Foreigners' Authorities
In Germany, foreigners' offices or foreigners authorities are responsible for all residence law issues in the immigration process, such as the issuing of residence permits or the implementation of the expedited procedure for qualified professionals4 (Section 81a AufenthG -German Residence Act). On arrival in Germany, foreign qualified professionals from third countries must therefore contact the competent authority to apply for the residence permit corresponding to their entry visa. A prior appointment booking is usually required. The contacts of the locally responsible Foreigners’ Authority, which is determined according to the foreign qualified professional’s place of residence, can be found via the Federal Ministry for Migration and Refugees’ WebGIS database .
Getting settled in Germany with the Welcome Center
If those interested in emigrating already know in which region in Germany they would like to work, the Welcome Center of these regions can support them during the entry process. The Welcome Centers serve as advice and information centres for the prospective qualified professionals. For example, they can help new immigrants and their families to clarify questions about settling in Germany. Welcome Centers are located at various locations throughout Germany. The local points of contact of the German Welcome Centers and an overview of their services for foreign qualified professionals can be found on "Make it in Germany".
Further information about working and living in Germany on "Make it in Germany”
Checklists for professionals from abroad
Sources and notes:
(1): The term "qualified professional" covers all foreign persons with a residence permit for the purpose of taking up employment that requires a certain level of qualification; i.e. residence permits for (highly) qualified, self-employed or freelance activities as well as the EU Blue Card.
(2): Find further details on the countries offering advice on immigration to Germany on the website of the Goethe Institute: https://www.goethe.de/en/spr/eng/daz.html
(3): Federal Foreign Office, https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/aamt/auslandsvertretungen/-/229722
(4): According to the Skilled Immigration Act, a "Central Foreigners Authority" is to be established in each federal state to conduct the procedure. If there is no central authority, the locally competent Foreigners Authority can take over this task.