Emerald Technology Oct 13, 2022 3:14:45 PM 9 min read

How to hire foreign nationals in Germany

Employers who are looking to hire foreign nationals in Germany must be aware of certain rules and regulations. In this article we will give you an overview of the different legal requirements for employing foreign nationals in Germany.

Employing foreign nationals in Germany

Employment laws, visas and resident permits are not always easy to understand for those who are new to the country. This blog will provide you with all the information you need to hire employees from abroad.

Setting up an entity.

This is probably the first step to take, when hiring an employee or freelancer. You must ensure your company has been registered as a legal entity in Germany before hiring any foreign workers, in order for them to obtain a work permit or residence permit. You should also check whether any specific requirements apply for special types of businesses such as start-ups, partnerships, and sole traders because these may have specific regulations regarding their setup which may differ from those applicable when it comes down to registering as a limited company.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of foreign nationals who want to live and work in Germany. While it is important for companies to hire talented non-EU citizens, it is also essential for them to understand their legal obligations when doing so.

To help you navigate the process of hiring foreign nationals, this guide will provide an overview of what you need to know about hiring non-EU citizens as well as some information on how you can get started with your own employee recruitment program.

Whether you’re hiring a foreign national as an employee or self-employed worker, there are certain legal requirements that must be met. These include:

  • The worker must have a residence permit for at least one year.

    This applies to all temporary workers, even if they’re employed by your company on an unlimited basis. An employment contract with the employee must also be signed in accordance with German law.
  • Employees receive more rights than self-employed workers. 

    Therefore, employees cannot be fired without notice and they also enjoy other benefits such as sick pay and holiday pay that are not guaranteed by the law for self-employed workers (although these benefits can normally be negotiated between employer and employee).

What is a valid work and residence permit?

A valid work and residence permit is required of all foreign nationals who want to work in Germany. This permit is issued by the local immigration authority, which can be found on a city’s website. The permit is valid for up to 3 years and must be renewed before it expires. It can also be extended if necessary or renewed as an indefinite residence title after a certain period of time has passed.


When must a foreign national apply for a visa to enter Germany?

Foreign nationals who want to enter Germany for the first time for a stay longer than 3 months requires a visa.

Visas are also required if you plan on staying in Germany as a student or if you want to move there with your partner.

If you have been staying in Germany for more than 3 months without a valid residence permit, it is possible that border police will refuse to allow you into the country again once they find out about this situation at the next border check.


How does the recruitment process differ for foreign nationals?

When hiring foreign nationals, you must apply for a visa, a work permit and a residence permit. The requirements differ depending on the type of position that they will fill. The person who will be filling the position must also have a work contract with a company. If an employee is not an EU citizen or Swiss citizen in Germany, he or she must also obtain a work contract from the social insurance office.

There are different types of visas that allow people from other countries to enter Germany:

  • A Schengen visa allows them to stay in all EU countries for up-to-90 days within any 180-day period
  • A national visa allows them to stay in one country only
  • An intra-company transfer visa allows people who want to come into Germany for business purposes but not as part of an assignment at another company
  • A student residence permit allows students studying at universities and other institutions of higher education


What are the differences in the application process for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals and third-country nationals?

The application process for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals is different from third-country nationals. The following list contains general information about the application process for both groups of applicants:

  • Application procedure for EU/EEA nationals:

Applicants who are citizens of an EU member state, Liechtenstein, Iceland or Norway have the same rights as Germans when it comes to finding a job in Germany. They don’t require prior approval by the German labour market office.

Applicants can send their application- including all required documents- directly to their future employer via mail or fax. It is not necessary to obtain a certificate of eligibility from the Federal Employment Agency unless they plan on working in one of five professions (pilots and flight attendants; medical practitioners; lawyers; pharmacists; accountants.)


What are the requirements for contacts and documents needed by social welfare authorities and tax office when employing foreign nationals?

In Germany, the employment contract must clearly state the employees’ position in the company. This means that it should be clear who is hiring and who is being hired, as well as what tasks they will perform.

The contract must also include information on salary and benefits, the working hours the employee is expected to work (including holiday and other leave), their period of employment and any other information that may be relevant to their role within your company.


Does an employer have any obligations to fulfil once a foreign national has started work?

Once a foreign national has started work, the employer must register the employee with the local employment office. In addition, it must provide the employee with a written statement of employment that includes all details relating to working hours and salary as well as information about other benefits such as sick pay and holiday entitlements.

Employers in Germany are legally required to carry out social security contributions for their employees at source, but they do not have to take over these contributions themselves unless they wish to make them tax-deductible. This means that once your foreign employee has begun working for you, your business many be exempt from paying further taxes if he/she is included on one of your company’s payrolls. However, this exemption does not apply if:

  • You hire someone via an intermediary company
  • You employ someone who lives outside Germany


Want to start hiring your workers in Germany? Don't go at it alone, engage with Emerald Technology as your Global Partner to start growing your remote team now. 

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