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Top tips to easily relocate developers to Germany

06 June 2023, by Marcelle van Niekerk

For skilled developers hoping to move to Germany, there are now less hurdles in your way thanks to recent changes to immigration laws in the country. If you’re a German employer hoping to tap into excellent developer talent in other countries, it’s helpful to know upfront what other blockers you might face in relocating developers, and how to address them.

Here are some top tips, with input from German companies that have already gone through the process.

Relocate developers to Germany

Biggest blockers during the relocation process

Despite recent changes in immigration law making it easier for candidates to immigrate to Germany, there’s no doubt that relocation remains an elaborate process and a big life decision for a candidate. If not approached correctly, candidates can easily drop out of the process entirely.

German employers Zattoo and Acrontum often relocate developer talent from abroad. They mentioned the following blockers that you’ll typically encounter when relocating candidates to Germany:

  • Length of time of the visa process: ideally, this takes between 2-4 weeks, but can take much longer.
  • Finding accommodation in popular cities, for example Berlin.
  • If candidates are moving with a spouse, partner or dependents: This can mean that the dependent’s visa takes longer to be issued than the employee’s visa.

“Relocating with children can be a challenge due to difficulties with getting access to childcare, kindergarten, or school, especially if the relocation is happening during the school year,” says Jennifer Kamp, HR Manager at Acrontum.

Tips to address relocation blockers

Here are tips from Zattoo and Acrontum to address the above challenges:

Applying for visas in parallel:

“We advise candidates moving with dependents to ensure that they apply for their visas at the same time — parallel or subsequent appointments on the same day,” says Jennifer. This can help ensure that your new employee receives their visa at a similar time to their dependents, removing any blockers for them to relocate together.

Use resources for the visa resources:

Encourage candidates to make use of detailed guide on the process of moving to Germany, such as:

Gather the needed employer documentation:

For you as the employer, gather all the documentation you’ll need:

The employer is responsible for providing a copy of the signed employment contract as well as a separate Declaration of Employment Relationship document. The employee will need to present both at their visa appointment.

In some cases, a pre-approval for the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) is necessary. The employer can request pre-approval with the completed Declaration of Employment Relationship document. The granted pre-approval should be provided to the candidate for their visa appointment.

Also advise the candidate to gather and complete all necessary forms, translations, medical insurance, etc. before making their visa appointments.

Have candidates check their credentials:

For the visa process, advise candidates to gather any necessary documents (including certified translations) from their university as needed. They can check the Anabin database to make sure their university and degree are recognised in Germany.

Survey your relocated team members:

If you regularly relocate developers, be sure to gather input from your team members on the relocation process once it’s complete:

“Once the process is completed, we ask candidates to fill out a survey on their experience of the process. That gives us a better overview of what can be improved,” says Klaudia Klaput, Talent Acquisition Partner at Zattoo.

Finally, make sure to connect your team members with other employees who have faced similar challenges, who can help in providing crucial information they might’ve missed.

Useful benefits to offer

Besides these steps, here are some of the benefits that could make the biggest difference in a successful relocation process:

Relocation package/relocation bonus:

A relocation package or relocation bonus can help with the financial burden of relocation, and provides an attractive incentive to consider moving countries for a work opportunity.

It also helps to refer relocated team members to a tax expert, who can advise on how to recoup further expenses on their tax returns.

Support employees with finding short-term accommodation. Examples of services that help with this include ImmobilienScout24, HousingAnywhere, Spotahome and tempoFLAT.

Remote working weeks:

For example, Zattoo offers 8 remote working weeks to all employees. Relocated employees can use this to visit their home countries during that time, which can be helpful in making the immigration process easier.

Provide guidance for arrival:

For example, Acrontum provides an “After Your Arrival” Guide for city the candidate is relocating to, which include must-do’s and helpful suggestions. It can includes guidelines for admin such as registering their residence in the city, opening a bank account, becoming familiar with the public transport system, or even finding the best language course.

This can help ensure that your relocated teammates feel welcome and fully prepared to take on the new challenge.

Third party relocation services

It can be time-consuming to navigate every aspect of the relocation process with candidates. There are third party services, for example Localyze and Settly, that can take care of the process on your behalf.

Even if using a third party service, don’t forget to maintain open, personal communication with each candidate during the process. Give your support every step of the way. This can make all the difference to candidates in maintaining their excitement and motivation to complete the process.

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