If you don’t have a job lined up but still want to move to Germany, the Job Seeker Visa (JSV) for might seem like an attractive option.
Recent changes in German immigration law have opened up the Germany Job Seeker Visa to workers in non-academic fields, so it’s becoming a viable plan for a growing number of people.
However, it’s important to know that it is NOT a suitable option for everyone.
The application process requires you to jump through various hoops, and to meet a number of criteria. Perhaps unsurprising, given Germany’s reputation for stringent bureaucracy!
So, if you’re someone with no chance of obtaining a JSV, you should know this before you spend valuable time and money applying for one.
Germany Job Seeker Visa: A great opportunity, if you meet the requirements
A note on Germany’s new immigration laws: In March 2020, Germany implemented new laws around immigration. As such, you may find conflicting information elsewhere online. The facts here are current as of September 2020.
Candidates who should NOT apply for the JSV
In this article we’ll discuss which kinds of people should avoid applying, and explain how to improve your prospects if you’re one of these people.
In broad terms, those who should not apply for a Germany Job Seeker Visa fall into the following categories. Don’t make the mistake of applying if you’re one of these:
- People with no German language skills
- People seeking unqualified casual work in non-academic fields
- People looking to immediately bring their family with them
- People without the funds to support themselves
- People without the correct mindset to intelligently network and actively seek work
If none of the above applies to you, then congratulations! The JSV might just be the option you’re looking for.
Check out our detailed guide to the exact requirements and how to apply.
Also, please note that due to COVID-19, some German diplomatic missions are not processing JSVs at this time. Check your local embassy or consultate for the actual status, as this is constantly changing.
If any of the above does describe you, read on to learn more.
What are the rules for German language requirements?
Under the old laws (prior to March of 2020), the German Job Seeker Visa was only open to applicants with higher education qualifications. These applicants were not required to be competent with the German language (and are still not required to be).
However, the new rules also allow applicants from non-academic fields.
And these applicants must have at least intermediate level German language skills in order to qualify for the Job Seeker Visa.
“Intermediate”, in this instance, should be taken to mean at least B1 level. But quite honestly there is no upward ceiling on the ‘right’ level of German language expertise.
Knowing the language is a skill that will keep on giving throughout your stay in Germany.
Language skills will also be priceless when it comes to finding work.
This is because vocational jobs tend to involve more conversing with German-speaking colleagues and customers. Not to mention whoever you’re trying to impress in an interview!
Some ability to speak German, even if you’re not fluent, will give potential employers confidence. It shows that you’re willing to learn, and that you should eventually be able to communicate effectively in the workplace.
If you need to improve your German language skills, check out our guide on where to get started to Learn Basic German for Free.
This doesn’t apply if you have an academic degree
If you have a higher education qualification (equivalent to a bachelor’s degree or higher) you can apply for a German Job Seeker Visa without needing intermediate German language skills.
However, bear in mind that application is only the first hurdle.
Once you’re here in Germany, you’ll still have to find a permanent job relevant to your field of studies within six months. This is no easy task, and German language skills will be a huge boost to your prospects here.
Less than 5% of jobs in Germany are advertised in English.
Yes, you may get lucky and find work for a multinational corporation. Or you may be working in IT, which makes it a little easier. But with so much competition for English speaking jobs, you’ll need to be an exceptional candidate to get an interview.
So, while intermediate German proficiency isn’t a requirement in this instance, it’s still highly recommended.
You need formal skills if you’re not a graduate
While it’s true that you no longer need a degree to apply for the German Job Seeker Visa, you still need relevant qualifications and experience in your chosen field of work, or your application will be rejected.
If you’re looking to do unskilled casual work, or if you don’t have a vocational qualification in your field of work, then you will not qualify to apply.
While Germany is making bold moves to open up the Job Seeker Visa to as many people as possible, it is keen to keep the door closed to unskilled migrants.
As such, the application process requires you to submit a copy of your CV (or résumé for American readers), along with evidence of your vocational training. So there’s really nowhere to hide if you don’t have the relevant qualifications or job prospects.
If you lack the skills to realistically find gainful, permanent employment in a non-casual job, this Visa is not for you.
Can you bring your spouse and family?
Here at Live Work Germany, we often get asked if the Germany Job Seeker Visa allows you to bring your family with you.
The simple answer here is “no”.
A JSV is a fixed-term visa which cannot be renewed upon expiry. Therefore it does not offer the opportunity to bring your spouse or dependent children with you. This goes for any other dependents too.
Ultimately, the visa only permits you to live in Germany, and only with the express intention of looking for work.
However, if you do want your family to move to Germany with you, this could still be achievable eventually.
To explain: You can still apply for a Job Seeker Visa for just yourself. Then, if you find employment here and are granted a German residence permit, you’ll be able to work on the subsequent immigration of your family from there.
This is usually doable in most cases – although obviously a huge number of other stipulations apply to any immigration process, and we can’t go into detail on that here.
Of course, this option does mean spending six months in Germany looking for work and away from your family. Which is understandably not a move that everyone is willing or able to make.
What is considered to be sufficient funds?
You need to be able to support yourself financially for the duration of your visa stay.
Not only this, but you need to be able to prove that you have these funds in advance in order to make a successful application.
The German government sets a minimum threshold of €4,320 for JSV applicants.
If you can’t prove that you have at least this much money in your account, your application will not be successful.
In reality, you may need significantly more money than this, as the €4,320 figure is a bare minimum that will only provide a very basic standard of living.
Having a positive job seeking mindset
This may seem like a less tangible requirement than the things we’ve covered above.
But it’s arguably the most important factor.
Remember, even if your application is successful, you’ll still need to actually find a job. Not only that, but you’ll need to do it in a foreign country within a tight six month timeframe.
Therefore it’s essential that you have the right mindset to take your job search seriously.
You’ll need to be proactive, you’ll need to network extensively, and you’ll need to work hard and be willing to make compromises.
You can learn all about essential mindset must-haves and get more information on the German Job Seeker Visa application process with our dedicated article on this topic.
The Job Seeker Visa is a fantastic option for those looking to find work in Germany and don’t have a job offer lined up yet.
But only if you meet the criteria.
If you especially fall into more than one of the categories we discussed above, then don’t waste your time (or money) on an application that’s doomed to fail.
Instead, ask yourself what you can do to meet the requirements, work to make that happen, and only apply once you’re certain that you’re a suitable candidate for this Visa.