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Relocating to Germany as a developer just got easier

9 March 2023 , by Simone Markham

Securing a permit to live and work in Germany has just gotten easier for skilled immigrants, such as software engineers. There are many factors involved in relocating to Germany for work, beyond securing a visa.

Here we look at everything you need to know about relocating to Germany and preparing to evaluate a relocation offer.


Emigrating to Germany is now easier for software engineers

A shortage of scarce skills in Germany has led to the government making the immigration system more appealing to non-EU skilled workers. Here are a few of the changes:

You can even relocate to Germany without securing a job first.

An Opportunity Card allows non-EU nationals, selected on a points-based system, to relocate to Germany without confirmed employment. You would need to find employment within one year if you want to continue living in Germany. This is twice as long as the six months the Job Seeker Visa allows you.

There are a variety of industries to choose from, including FinTech, EdTech, eCommerce, food startups and marketing solutions. Explore top companies currently hiring developers in Germany here.

Setting benchmarks for your job search in a foreign country is difficult, but it’s an important step before deciding whether you truly want to relocate.

Nastajia Rawjee, an OfferZen Talent Advisor, advises developers that are interested in relocating for a job to hypothetically put themselves in the position. She encourages them to ask themselves: If I were to receive a job offer to relocate to Germany, would I be able to pack up shop and be able to leave for my new job in the next month or two?

“Actively asking yourself these types of questions is key, and bring them up to potential employers early on in the interview process. This can help you prepare for the potential move within the next few months.”

You don’t want to waste your or a company’s time when you’re unsure about relocating. Rather determine if you really want to and can relocate, as well as what support you’ll require to do so before you engage with companies. It’ll also help focus your job search on the most promising opportunities.

Focused research will help you navigate relocating to Germany

Doing thorough research to set benchmarks on important elements will give you a good idea of what it’ll mean to uproot your life and plant it in another country.

There are multiple things to consider when relocating to a foreign country. Here are some useful resources to begin with:

Below we discuss some of the most important elements you need to consider:

  • Determine what visa and work permit you’ll need to live and work in Germany

If you are from EEA or EU member states, or Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland or the Republic of Korea, you will not require a visa to enter Germany to live and work. Once you enter Germany, you’ll just need to apply for a residence permit. You may apply for this before entering Germany considering you won’t be able to start work until you hold this permit.

It’s best to confirm with a German authority on your particular case.

As a developer from any other country, in addition to your residence permit, you will need to obtain a visa and one of two different types of work permits. These will allow you to enter then live and work in Germany.

Germany Employment Visa

If you meet one of the following categories, you are eligible to apply for a Germany Employment Visa:

  • You are a high-qualified individual; either a researcher with technical expertise or you hold a prominent scientific position;
  • You are transferring with your current employer to their German branch and you hold a specialist or managerial position or;
  • You hold a university degree or professional qualification and:
    • Germany has a shortage of skilled workers in your profession
    • You hold a confirmed employment offer and
    • Your qualification has been recognised as equal to a German degree.

This visa will allow you to enter Germany with the intent to live and work. After obtaining one, you’ll need to obtain a work permit.

The visa’s validity is determined by the length of your employment contract. So if your contract is for 2 years, it will be valid for 2 years. It can be renewed as many times as needed, as long as you maintain your employment status.

Temporary Residence Permit for Employment Purposes

Once you’ve landed in Germany and before you can begin your new job, you need employment approval from German authorities.

The Temporary Residence Permit is usually valid for one year when first granted, but it can depend on the validity of your employment contract. There is an option to extend this permit before it expires.

Germany EU Blue Card

If you have professional experience or hold a qualification, it may be better for you to apply for an EU Blue Card. Here are a few benefits the EU Blue Card offers:

  • It’s valid for the duration of your employment contract plus 3 months.
  • You can apply for permanent residence after 33 months, instead of 5 years if you’re on another permit.
  • You can relocate to a different EU member state after working in Germany for 18 months.

To qualify for this permit as a developer you’ll need:

  • A university degree (recognised by German authorities)
  • Professional training
  • Confirmed employment in Germany
  • To meet a salary threshold of at least €43 992/year
  • German health insurance and
  • A registered German address.

Germany has a shortage of workers in information technology, so it’ll likely be easy for you to secure this permit if you meet the above requirements.

  • Benchmark your monthly cost of living

Understanding your monthly expenses in a city you’ve never been to can be tricky, but it’s the first step in setting a salary expectation that will set you up for success in your relocation.

First, try narrowing down your search to specific cities in Germany. Berlin and Munich are the main cities for developer opportunities, but you could always explore your cost of living in smaller cities or towns if you can secure a hybrid or remote opportunity. Germany also has a great transport system making it easy to commute to and from an office.

Once you have chosen your top city choices, you can use a tool like Numbeo to determine your cost of living. You can also compare your choices to your current city of residence.

Finally, you’ll need to consider the market-related salaries for your skillset in Germany.

  • Research local laws around income taxes and mandatory benefits

To accurately estimate what your monthly income will need to be, you need to know how much of it will go towards income tax. This calculator will give you an idea of how much you’ll need to pay.

To effectively evaluate an offer, you want to understand what you are entitled to in an employment contract in Germany.

Have a look at what benefits you are entitled to in Remote.com’s resource.

Your research will help you effectively evaluate a relocation opportunity to Germany

Using your research on the above elements, you will be able to effectively evaluate an employment offer from a German company.

Being aware of what you are looking for will make it easier to evaluate whether an employment offer will be suitable for you. It’ll help reveal what company support you’ll need in terms of a relocation package, and whether you need any assistance.

Don’t forget to include what support your dependents will require

Nastajia reminds developers to think about what support their dependents will require to relocate:

“Moving a family across the world isn’t easy, and thinking about things such as schools for your kids or a potential job for your partner beforehand is key.”

You need to be upfront about what help you’ll need from your potential employer to relocate and settle in time to begin your new role.

Most companies are willing to offer some kind of support. Prepare questions to fully understand a company’s relocation support.

Questions you could ask in an interview:

  • Do you offer relocation support? If yes, what kind of packages do you offer?
  • I will require support with [speak to what you’ll specifically need support with, such as securing visas for, physically relocating your family and securing initial accommodation]. Is this something you could assist me with?
  • Do you have more insights on the kind of visa and work permit I’ll need to apply for to relocate for this position?
  • Does [company name] employ any external service providers to assist with relocating employees?
  • What kind of healthcare coverage will I have in Germany? Will the company provide health insurance or assist me in obtaining coverage?
  • What kind of support will I have once I arrive in Germany? Will the company provide a contact person or mentor to help me (and my family) [if relevant] settle in?
  • Will I be required to learn German? If yes, will the company provide language training or assistance?
  • What would be your preferred timeline for me to relocate and starting date for this position?

If the hiring manager gives you a short timeline for the above question, you can follow up with:

  • While I believe that the start date is achievable for me to commence my roles and responsibilities within the company, I do not believe that it will be enough time for me (and my family) [if relevant] to pack up here, relocate and settle in Germany. Could we discuss a remote opportunity in the interim, I estimate that I will be able to relocate to Germany by [give a specific date].”

If you’ve developed a solid connection with a company through the interview process, you’ll likely find they’re willing to negotiate terms to make sure you feel fully supported in relocating to Germany. A great relocation package helps companies attract and retain talent. If you’re a great fit for the role and the company is able to assist, it’s in their best interest to help you.

Determine what you’ll require to relocate to Germany through research, and then speak specifically to these elements in interview processes with companies to find the best fit for the next step in your career.

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