Working in the state of Lower Saxony


Several German regions and branches record a lack of qualified workers. According to experts, the number of employed persons will decline around 6 million until 2025. Regardless of economy cycles, the demand for skilled labour turns into a structural problem due to the demographic changes. To counteract this trend and in order to support especially small and medium-sized companies, the Federal Government of Germany has started an initiative to recruit qualified labour not only on a national basis but also from abroad. Our task is to support the labour market integration process of migrants in Lower Saxony. 

To give you a hand in finding a job, the following pages offer information and practical hints about job hunting and the application process.


The ideal application process looks as follows:

  1. First, you have to search for jobs.
  2. After having found an interesting advertisement, you offer your written application to the company.
  3. Ideally, you are invited to an interview in which both you and the company present yourself to each other. At the end of the interview, a date is arranged up to which the employer will let you know about his decision.
  4. If the decision is positive, you can sign your contract, having considered visa and entry regulations.

Here you can find the steps in more detail. We also provide special information for people with a refugee or asylum seeker's status.


How to Find a Job in Germany

There are different possibilities of searching a job, depending on whether you are already in Germany or searching from abroad.

Nowadays, most vacant jobs can be found online. The main board is offered by the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für ArbeitJob Board). The Agency offers regional and national vacancies. Furthermore, you can ask for personal advice at their local office.

But also the local newspaper and subject-related journals have a section which contains job advertisements, both in print and online.

Further possibilities are:

  • Websites of employers: here, the company publishes their vacancies (heading: “Karriere”/”Jobs”/”Stellenangebote”) or you write an individual application
  • Online job listings:
  • Database of the European Union EURES
  • Job Fairs: Information is offered by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and by the Chamber of Trade


Job application

In the job advertisement, companies usually specify whether they application should be submitted by e-mail or per post. Often, a code number is required to coordinate application and advertisement.

The following information should be included into your application:

Cover sheet
A cover sheet is optional. However, it has established recently. It contains the title “Application”, the position intended, a photo and your contact details.

Covering Letter 
It contains information about the reasons why you are applying for the job. Describe why you are interested in the position and why you are the perfect person for it. Often, applicants are asked to name their salary requirement. In electronic applications, the covering letter can be placed in the text box. In postal applications it has its own page.

Listing of your education and working experience. If you do not have a cover sheet, the photo is placed here.

Certificates and Documents
Whilst large companies usually accept applications in English, applications for smaller and medium-sized companies should be translated into German. Translated certificates should also be authenticated. Citizens from non-EU-countries which have to pass the recognition of their graduation already need their translated documents for the validation process (see here). Conveniently, you translate and authenticate your documents already before departure.

In electronic applications you add your documents in the attachment.  Keep the attachment as small as possible. The originals of your documents you can bring to the interview.

Postal applications are collected in an application file (order: cover, covering letter, CV, certificates) and sent to the company (DIN A 4). It is always good to find out the person responsible and address the application directly to him/her.

If you have questions concerning the job advertisement, do not hesitate to call the company. But keep in mind that nobody is happy about being disrupted in his work so do not call only to “call and be known” in the company. Nevertheless, questions will be answered happily. 


The job interview

The interview helps both you and the company to get to know each other. Both sides want to find out whether they have the same interests and if they can work together successfully. Depending on where you apply for a job you should decide your outfit. In some fields it is custom for men to show up in suit and tie, costume or ladies’ suit for women. Since you are promoting yourself, you should absolutely be on time!

In most interviews, you will meet one representative from the management and one member of the personnel department. Most interviews last between one and two hours. First, the members of the company present themselves, afterwards you will be asked to tell something about yourself. Afterwards, the company will pick up several aspects of what you said and/or ask questions about your experiences in different areas. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions about the company, e.g. about prospective areas of responsibilities, about the company culture, but also about holiday entitlements and the handling of overtime.

The challenge of job interviews is to find the appropriate mix of self-assurance and curiosity in order to present yourself as well as possible and make yourself most attractive for the company without appearing artificial or overexcited.

You can ask the company if they pay for your travel expenses.


Visa and entry regulations

Depending on whether you come to Germany to look for work or if you are already living in Germany, different legal bases apply. Here, you will find the most common cases of residence permits for foreign employees (completeness is not guaranteed).

Information for Citizens from the European Union

Due to the rights of free movement within the borders of the European Union, its citizens are allowed to live wherever they like to. All they need is a valid passport or ID card. If they tend to live in Germany permanently, EU citizens have to register at the local registration office within one week of time. They are not restricted in applying for work, therefore they can start working immediately after immigrating.

For citizens from Croatia, temporary regulations apply until June, 30, 2015. Up to this date, they need an (temporary) EU work permit (§ 284 SGB III and § 12b (2) OLT). This permit can be extended into a temporary residence permit EU or into an unrestricted and perpetual working permit EU. For the latter, one has to prove that one has been working in Germany continuously for at least 12 months.


Information for Qualified Labour from Third Countries

Foreign qualified workers coming from third countries need a residence permit to enter and live in Germany. This residence permit can be applied for in the German embassy in one's home country. 

First, one has to apply for a national visa for the purpose of entry. Usually, this has a validity of three months. After entering, a residence permit for the purpose of employment has to be applied (§18 AufenthG).

Highly qualified foreign labour has different possibilities to apply for permits. In some cases, a prior examination by the Federal Employment Agency is necessary. Their agreement is given if they do not answer the request of the foreigners' registration office within two weeks. Otherwise, they tell the foreigners' registration office that the documents submitted are insufficient.

Blue Card (§19a AufenthG)

Since mid-2012, the Blue Card offers the opportunity of living and working in Germany to qualified workers. It is atemporary permit which includes the permission of free movement within the EU. The Blue Card is only valid in combination with an employment.

The Blue Card can be applied for at the responsible German embassy. Requirement for access is a degree from a German university or a foreign degree which is comparable with a German degree. Additionally, a job offer with an annual salary of at least 46,400€ has to be shown. To receive the Blue Card, no examination by the Federal Employment Agency is necessary. Only changes of jobs which take place within the first two years have to be allowed by the agency.

Qualified workers of so-called shortage occupations (e.g. “MINT”, IT) receive the Blue Card already with an annual salary of 36,192€. In this case, an examination by the Federal Employment Agency is necessary. The aim is to ensure the equivalence of salary and working conditions according to the usual conditions.

The time of owning the Blue Card can be added when applying for a permanent residence permit EU (§ 9a AufenthG) in Germany, regardless in which European country the Blue Card was issued.

Spouses, partners and children of owners of the Blue Card are allowed to come to Germany without any verification of their knowledge of the German language. Spouses and partners are allowed to take up employment immediately after their arrival.

After an employment of 33 months, owners of the Blue Card can apply (unrestricted) settlement permit (§9 AufenthG) if they can proof both a knowledge of the German language at the level B1 and knowledge of the German legal and social order. A certificate about the successful participation of the Integrationskurs serves as an affirmation for both requirements.

The period of 33 months may be reduced to 21 months if language skills of B1 can already be proved.

Residence Permit for the Purpose of Gainful Employment

Since August 1, 2012, qualified workers may apply a residence permit for the purpose of employment (§ 18 AufenthG). Hence, they are enabled to look for a job in Germany for the time of six months. Condition is the granted subsistence for this period of time. 


Information for refugees and asylum seekers in Germany

When talking about qualified labour, most people have Spanish engineers, nurses from Poland, and Indian computer scientists in mind. Meanwhile, hardly anybody has the tolerated Iranian teacher or the surgeon who fled from civil war in Syria in mind. Refugees, asylum seekers and tolerated persons are largely hidden in the context of the search for qualified labour. Actually, many of them are well educated and already have completed a training or a degree from university.

Against the on-going shortages of qualified labour in Germany, this is an enormous group of people whose potential is not used. 77,000 asylum applications were made in Germany only in 2012. But as a result of the negative publicity about and the adverse attitude toward refugees in Germany, they have hardly any chance of getting a job. 

In addition, legal and structural barriers make it even more difficult for them to find access to work even though many of them have been living in Germany for several years and know the country and its culture.

IQ Network Lower Saxony will work towards a change which enables qualified refugees, asylum seekers and tolerated to fill the gap of labour shortage. The following information are intended for this group of people but also for employees in Job Centres and Job Agencies who support the reintegration process. 


Am I Allowed to Work in Germany?

Whether you are allowed to work in Germany mainly depends on your residence status and your length of stay in Germany. Your residence permit is written in your passport/your identification paper and probably looks like this:

Passeintrag Aufenthaltserlaubnis

Source: Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (ed.); Flüchtlinge – Ein Leitfaden zu Arbeitsmarktzugang und –förderung

If you have a resident permit, your chances to work here are very good. However, a residence permit is always linked to a specific purpose. Depending on what purpose your permit is linked to you may start working with or without request for an employment permit.

Asylum seekers whose applications are still in progress usually receive a temporary residence permit. If you have the residence permit for more than a year, you may apply for an employment permit. If the aliens’ registration office agrees to your request, you can start working.

Under certain circumstances, also people with a tolerance may start working in Germany. Those who have been tolerated for four years can be admitted employment. People who have been tolerated for at least one year have to apply an employment permit at the aliens’ registration office. Young tolerated may start an apprenticeship after one year of tolerance if the apprenticeship leads to a vocational qualification.

A detailed collection of residence and labour permits you may find in the following table:

Residence Permit

Labour Market Access

Temporary residence permit for less than 1 year

No – prohibited, §61, Abs. 1 AsylVfG

Temporary residence permit for more than 1 year

Yes – permission on request, §61 Abs. 2 AsylVfG

Tolerance, pre-stay less than 1 year

No – prohibited, §10 Abs. 1 BeschVerfV

Tolerance, pre-stay more than 1 year

Yes – permission on request, §10 Abs. 1 BeschVerfV; Note: Apprenticeship permitted, § 10 Abs. 2 Nr. 1 BeschVerfV

Tolerance, pre-stay more than 4 years

Yes – employment permitted, § 1ß Abs. 2 Nr. 1 BeschVerfV

Tolerance without permission

No – prohibited, § 11 BeschVerfV

AE § 23 Abs. 1 AufenthG

AE § 23 a AufenthG

AE § 25 Abs. 3 AufenthG

AE § 25 Abs. 4 Satz 1 AufenthG

AE § 25 Abs. 4 Satz 2 AufenthG

AE § 25 Abs. 5 AufentG


Yes – Permission on request or employment permitted; self-employment can be permitted on request

AE § 25 a AufenthG

Yes – employment permitted, self-employment can be permitted on request

AE § 25 Abs. 1 und 2 AufenthG

AE § 104 a, b AufenthG (Bleiberecht)

Yes – employment permitted

Source: Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (ed.); Flüchtlinge – Ein Leitfaden zu Arbeitsmarktzugang und –förderung (2013)


Am I Allowed to Make Up My Own Business in Germany?

Again, it depends on your residence permit and on the length of your stay. Asylum seekers and tolerated are generally not allowed to make up their own business. Those who have a residence permit are usually allowed to make up their own business but in most cases, the approval of the aliens’ registration office is necessary.


Which Authority is Responsible if I Want to Work?

In Germany, job seekers are supported by Job Centres and Employment Agencies. Depending on the type of financial service you receive for living, one or the other is responsible for your case. If you receive services from the social welfare department, you have to go to the Employment Agency. If your services are paid by the Job Centre, you will have to contact the employees in the Job Centre.

A detailed collection of information you may find in the following table:

Residence Permit



Temporary residence permit, § 55 AsylVfG

Welfare Office

Job Agency

Tolerance, § 60 a AufenthG

Welfare Office

Job Agency

AE § 23 Abs. 1 AufenthG

Job Centre

Job Centre

AE § 23 a AufenthG for more than six months

Job Centre

Job Centre

AE § 25 Abs. 1-3 AufenthG

Job Centre

Job Centre

AE §25 Abs. 4 Satz 1 AufenthG

Welfare Office

Job Agency

AE § 25 Abs. 4 Satz 2 AufenthG if valid for six months or less and if the owner has been entitled before issuance according to § 1 Abs. 1 AsylblG

Welfare Office

Job Agency

AE § 25 Abs. 4 Satz 2 AufenthG if valid for more than six months or if the owner has not been entitled before issuance according to §1 Abs. 1 AsylblG

Job Centre

Job Centre

AE § 25 Abs. 5 AufenthG

Welfare Office

Job Agency

AE § 25a AufenthG

Job Centre

Job Centre

AE § 104 a, b AufenthG (Bleiberecht/Altfallregelung)

Job Centre

Job Centre

Source: Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (ed.); Flüchtlinge – Ein Leitfaden zu Arbeitsmarktzugang und –förderung (2013)



Working in Germany Official website by the German government to attract professionals from abroad

Welcome to Germany Official website by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees