EU residency/workpermit rules

Are you allowed to work in another EU country if you have a permanent residence permit in another EU country?

Let’s look at this example:
You are a non-EU national, meaning your passport has been issued in a country outside the European Union and you have a permanent residency status in Italy. You now want to work in Germany.

In order to be able to work in Germany you need a residency permit issued by the German embassy. The fact that you have a permanent residency permit for Italy is irrelevant for German purposes. You can also not apply for one whilst you might be in Germany. You have to apply for it in Italy or another country outside Germany.

(If you are a citizen of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway you have the same freedom of movement as EU nationals. If you are a citizen of Australia, Canada, Israel, Korea (Republic), Japan, New Zealand or the United States of America, you can apply for your residence and work permit after arriving in Germany.
But: if you already have a job offer, you should make sure that your employer will have a work permit ready for when you are to start work. If you want to start work immediately after your arrival in Germany, you should apply from abroad.)

If you are married to a German or EU national you should be able to obtain a residency permit as your partner ‘supports’ your application. Your partner should also move to Germany for work. But you still need to file your application at an embassy outside Germany

If you and your partner are both non-EU nationals, the normal requirements apply, i.e. you need to apply for a residency permit. The fact you have a residency permit in another EU country has no effect.

If you have a Schengen visa you can travel freely throughout the EU, but only work in the country for which you hold a residency (work) permit.

Which non-EU nationals can apply for a residency permit then?

There are three different categories of residency permits:

1. General employment

A residency permit in the general employment category is based on the economic needs of the Federal Republic of Germany. The two basic requirements are:

  • A vocational qualification
  • A concrete offer of a contract of employment

2. Specialist professional

The Federal Republic of Germany is interested in attracting specialist professionals to work and live in Germany. This applies particularly to:

  • Graduates with special professional knowledge and experience
  • University teachers with outstanding career profiles
  • Experienced managers with an offer of a job carrying a salary of not less than 86.400 Euros per year

On top of that applicants should fulfill the following criteria:

  • Ability to integrate into German society (i.e. be able to speak German)
  • Sufficent funds to maintain themselves without claiming benefits
  • A concrete offer of a contract of employment

3. Self-employed

To work on a self-employed basis your proposed business must:

  • Fulfill the needs of the Federal Republic of Germany or fulfill specific regional or local needs
  • Have a beneficial economic impact
  • Be fully covered by your own capital or bank loan for which there is a written confirmation

Requirements 1 and 2 will generally be fulfilled if your investment is worth 1 million Euros or more and creates 10 new jobs. To ensure the sustainability of your business project, the following criteria will also be taken into consideration:

  • Viability of your business plan
  • Your relevant business experience
  • Amount to be invested in Germany
  • Impact of your business project on employment and skills
  • Contribution of your project to innovation and research

Please note that these rules are also broadly applicable to most other EU countries.

For more information contact the German embassy in your country. (Or the embassy of the EU country you want to work in)

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