German Visa

AmCham Germany German Visa

German Visa Information

The information on this website has been collected to assist those applying for residence and work permits in Germany. AmCham Germany is not responsible for the accuracy of the information provided on this site. In addition this information cannot provide full assistance for applications for German work visa and residence and work permits.

For a complete list of AmCham Germany members providing immigration and visa services, please visit our Online Services Directory (OSD). Type in the keyword "immigration" and activate all four check boxes for your search.

General Information

Please note that the German system is fundamentally different from that of the US. For example a resident staying in Germany for purposes other than tourism needs to register her/his local address with the local city hall (Rathaus/Einwohnermeldeamt). In addition, she/he needs to apply for a residence permit including the permission to work or for study purposes or family purposes, etc. at the local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde).

US Citizens in Germany

The new German immigration laws valid from the beginning of January 2005 have not facilitated work issues for Americans in Germany. Before Americans can start to work in Germany they need to go through a certain administrative procedure. US citizens can enter Germany without applying for a work visa. US citizens simply need a valid passport to enter Germany.


However, before starting to work in Germany, US citizens need to receive a residence permit including permission to work. According to the new German immigration laws a work permit will no longer be issued by the employment authorities. Permission to work will be issued together with the residence permit for employment purposes in the US citizen's passport (one-stop government). Nevertheless, employment authorities are still involved in the application procedure. The immigration office will only issue a residence permit for employment purposes if the employment office has notified the immigration office about its approval regarding an individual's employment. Thus, the employment office is still responsible for the main decision in the complete application process.


As US citizens need to be in possession of a relevant residence permit including permission to work from day one of employment, it is sensible to start the application process at least 4 to 6 weeks before the intended start of employment. After a positive decision has been made by the employment office the applicant can enter Germany. After the arrival in Germany the US citizen needs to register his/her local address with the local city hall. Afterwards he/she needs to pick up his/her residence permit including permission to work from the immigration office. After having received this permit he/she is allowed to start working in Germany.


A US citizen can receive the necessary residence permit including permission to work according to several sections of the new German immigration laws. For example US citizens belong to the so-called privileged nations. German authorities can issue the necessary permits to citizens of such nations on account of the individual's specific citizenship (if other requirements like university degree, certain salary, etc. are met). For this category the employment office checks the local employment market, i.e. they inspect whether a German or EU citizen could do the job instead of the US applicant. In the light of over five million unemployed people in Germany, the analysis of the local employment market has become more and more important. Should the employment office not find a German or EU citizen for the job, it approves of the employment of the US national.


Another possibility for a US citizen includes the section on an international staff exchange. Other sections of the German immigration laws such as categories for very highly qualified individuals or for managing directors, etc. do not involve the local employment office. Only the local immigration office makes a decision in such application procedures.


Most of the sections of the new German immigration laws require discretional decisions from the authorities, i.e. there is generally no legal claim for receiving the necessary permits. Thus, it is important to properly file applications with complete documentation and according to the correct section of the German immigration laws to minimize the risk of the applications being declined.


Together with US citizens the following nationalities belong to the category of the so-called privileged nations:








New Zealand

San Marino


Katrin Utzinger

Manager, Business Services

+49 69 929104-50

Masha Conquest

Assistant, Membership & Business Services

+49 69 929104-52