According to DAAD, more than 40% of international students remain in Germany after graduation. Germany’s affluent economy and excellent career opportunities are primary incentives for many to settle there. As of 2022, the country has approximately 10 million people of foreign origin. Germany’s residence permit process also contributes to the growing foreign population. It is relatively easy for international students to get a post-study work visa in Germany. But they must meet some legal requirements.
The path to settling in Germany may seem confusing to many. But the prospects of remaining in Germany after graduation are positive. This article will guide you through the steps an international student must take after graduating from a German university.
What is a residence permit in Germany?
A German residence permit (German: Aufenthaltstitel) is a document permitting foreign nationals to live in Germany. It is issued to non-EU or “third-country” nationals. Third countries, known as Drittstaat in German, are those countries that are not members of the European Union.
A residence permit is primarily of two kinds:
- Limited residence permit, known as Aufenthaltserlaubnis, or simply residence permit,
- Unlimited residence permit, known as Niederlassungserlaubnis, or settlement permit
Non-EU students must apply for a residence permit to be able to study or complete an internship in Germany. They can apply via Foreigners’ Authorities. The residence permit is issued on a temporary basis. The document serves specific purposes, such as education, training, or research in Germany.
Post-study work visa in Germany: staying after graduation
It can take a while for international students to find a suitable job after graduation. Students from the EU and Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Iceland have unrestricted access to living and working in Germany.
But students from non-EU countries must get a residence permit. This residence permit allows non-EU students to stay in Germany for up to 18 months. Students must look for a job within these months. This time frame of 18 months begins as soon as the student receives their last exam result. The period of residence permit cannot be extended.
Students must prove they can cover living expenses for this duration. Students must also demonstrate that they are seeking jobs relevant to their qualifications. The DAAD advises against looking for jobs as a waiter, delivery agent, or any work that does not require specialized skills. However, this does not restrict students from taking up any type of job during these 18 months.
Students must remember that the following requirements must be met to obtain the permit.
- Proof of successful completion of education
- Proof of health insurance cover
- Proof of the ability to secure livelihood
Finding a job in Germany after graduation
The residence permit period of 18 months can be exhausted more quickly than expected. Therefore, international students must be proactive in their job search efforts and make the most of their time.
According to Maria-Theresia Jansen, employment adviser from the Federal Employment Agency, a student must start searching for jobs at least four months before the end of their course.
Students must follow an analytical approach to job search, or “Inner Inventory,” as Maria-Theresia Jansen calls it. She advises that students must be able to find answers to four key questions: Who am I?” “What can I do?” “What do I want?” and “What’s possible?”
You should remember these key points as an international student seeking employment in Germany.
- Avoid searching for only those jobs that exactly match your degree. You should consider looking into jobs from relevant fields as well.
- Having a “tunnel vision” with your job search can make the process lengthy and complex.
- Avoid limiting your job search to multinational companies. Germany’s economy is backed by 3.6 million small and medium-sized companies. Applying to these companies can increase your chances of employment.
- It is easier to find vacancies in STEM (Science, Technology, engineering, and mathematics) professions.
International students must be proficient in the German language to widen job opportunities. Many universities offering English-taught programs include the German language in their curriculum. Students can consider joining preparatory or language courses before joining German degree programs to bridge academic, linguistic, and cultural gaps.
Some common channels for finding a job in Germany are:
- University alumni network
- DAAD alumni network
- University career services
- Online job portals
- Job fairs
After finding a job in Germany
Once you receive a job offer, you can get your residence permit converted from study to work purposes. Post-study work visa in Germany for non-EU nationals is of the following two kinds.
- Work permit for qualified professionals, or
- EU Blue Card
A work visa for qualified professionals is issued for a maximum period of four years. If your employment contract is less than four years, then the visa is issued for the duration stated in the contract.
The visa has the following requirements.
- A valid employment contract
- Educational qualifications must be recognized in Germany
- Visa application form
The EU Blue card is another category of work visa issued to non-EU nationals. People who meet the following requirements can receive the EU Blue card.
- Must have a German degree or recognized foreign higher education degree comparable to a German one.
- A valid job offer from a company in Germany
- The job position must be relevant to the educational qualification
- The position must have a gross annual income of at least € 56,400 (as of 2022).
- For positions in the STEM fields, the gross annual salary should be at least € 43,992 (as of 2022).
- Visa application form
The EU Blue card is issued for a period of your work contract or a maximum of four years. Blue Card holders may be given a settlement permit after 33 months. In some cases, the settlement permit is provided after just 21 months. For this, one must be able to prove their German language skills at least level CEFR B1.
The application process for a work visa in Germany has the following steps
- Preparation of required documents
- Requesting an appointment with the German Embassy
- Applying for the visa in the Country of Residence
- Traveling to Germany
- Applying for a residence permit in Germany by contacting the Foreigners’ Authority.
Cost of Visa application
The cost of applying for a visa in the applicant’s country of residence is approximately EUR 75. Additionally, after entering Germany, the cost of applying for a residence permit via the Foreigners’ Authority can be up to EUR 100.
Settlement permit for international students
Holders of work visas in Germany are eligible to receive settlement permits, provided they meet the requirements. International students who have obtained higher education and work in Germany can receive a settlement permit. They must meet the following criteria.
- Must have held a residence permit for employment as a “qualified professional” for at least two years.
- Must be employed in a job that adequately suits educational qualifications.
- Must have made payments toward statutory pension insurance for two years.
- Must have German proficiency of at least CEFR B1 level.
- Must have adequate living space
Understanding the prospects after graduating from a university is a crucial part of planning to study abroad. To know more about studying in Germany, such as the best universities, student insurance, cost of studying, get in touch with Gyanberry. You can book an appointment with our expert counselors today.