Hiring foreign workers in Germany is a common practice for many local employers. 

According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), there are approximately 351,000 people from non-EU countries in Germany with temporary work permits.

This phenomenon can primarily be linked to the country’s significant labor shortages. 

From software developers to construction workers and even hairdressers, Germany is facing a shortage of skilled workforce seemingly everywhere. 

However, before recruiting workers from abroad, employers should inform themselves about immigration laws and regulations. 

In this guide, we outline an overview of the most important steps German employers must take when hiring non-EU professionals. 


5 Steps to Hiring Foreign Workers in Germany


Typically, workers who are from outside the EU (commonly referred to as “third-country” nationals) need a standard work visa or a German Skilled Worker Visa to work in Germany.

As the German government is recognizing the need to address skill shortages, it has introduced rules to streamline the hiring process. 

However, it’s essential to be cautious and ensure you comply with legal regulations. 

Follow the steps below for a smooth hiring process. 


Step 1: Advertise the Position & Find the Right Candidate


Hiring foreign workers in Germany starts with attracting and recruiting candidates. 

If your company is open to hiring migrants, it should convey this message openly. 

You can do this by advertising the open role on VideoWorkers which gives you instant access to the global talent pool.

VideoWorkers not only allows you to post your job ads but also empowers you to actively search for talent and watch candidates’ skill presentation videos. 

This, in turn, speeds up your recruitment process and ensures you select the most suitable candidates for your company’s requirements.

When recruiting from outside the EU, you must consider the following legal requirements:

  • The candidates must hold a degree or vocational qualification related to the position


  • You can only recruit and hire non-EU nationals for professions that have a staff shortage in Germany


Once you’ve found the perfect match, it’s time to consider the legal framework. 


Step 2: Send a Job Offer to the Candidate


You must send a specific job offer to the candidate. Typically, the competent authorities accept the employment contract as proof. 

When drafting the contract, you must ensure that the working conditions outlined are similar to those of domestic employees. 

This is a mandatory requirement in order to get the approval of ZAV, the Central Foreign and Specialist Placement (which is a topic we will cover later on).


Step 3: Inform Your Prospective Employee About the Recognition Procedure 


In most cases, candidates must have their qualifications recognized. During the procedure, the competent authorities evaluate whether the candidate’s professional qualifications align with a German equivalent.

The procedure will be carried out through IHK FOSA (Foreign Skills Approval). IHK FOSA is the central certification authority of the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IHK).

The required documents for the recognition of qualifications are as follows: 


  • Copy of passport


  • Certificate of foreign vocational qualification (certified copy)


  • Documentation indicating relevant occupational experience


  • Other documents (e.g. further training certificates)


  • Intention to pursue employment


The fee for the procedure ranges from 100 to 600 EUR. 

The processing time for the recognition procedure is three to four months. 


Step 4: Get Approval from ZAV


ZAV stands for Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung. The ZAV is a division of the German Federal Employment Agency (BA).

When hiring foreign workers in Germany, you usually need approval from the ZAV.

You will obtain approval on the condition that you meet the following conditions: 

  • You provide your prospective employee with a concrete job offer


  • The employment conditions are similar to those of local workers


  • The worker’s qualifications align with the job requirements


There are two ways to get ZAV approval: before or during the visa application process. 

Getting approval from the ZAV during the visa application process means that the Diplomatic Mission will request it from ZAV directly. 

However, having approval from the ZAV before your future employee applies for a work visa ensures a faster visa processing time.  

Typically, the documents required to get approval from the ZAV are as follows: 


  • Employment contract


  • Professional and educational qualifications 


  • Job description


  • Professional resume 


The processing fee for the ZAV approval is around 400 €. In most cases, it can take up to 6 weeks to get the approval. 


Step 5: Your Future Employee Applies for a Work Visa for Germany


After getting approval from the ZAV, your future employee can apply for a work visa for Germany.

They must submit the visa application to the competent German Diplomatic Mission in their home country.

Please note that a work visa alone does not grant your employees the right to reside in Germany. Instead, it enables them to enter Germany and convert the work visa into a temporary residence permit.

To assist workers with their visa applications, we’ve compiled a short guide. The guide provides details about the required supporting documents, associated fees, and processing times.

To access the guide, click here


Hiring Foreign Workers in Germany: Final Considerations


There are many ways international recruitment can benefit your company, from filling staff gaps to bringing in fresh perspectives.

However, it is crucial for you to gain a good understanding of the visa prerequisites and legal responsibilities linked to hiring foreign workers in Germany. 

By carefully planning and preparing, you can effectively grow your operations and seize the numerous opportunities the global talent pool has to offer.

If you’re ready to hire foreign workers in Germany the easy way, get started with VideoWorkers now. Create your free company account and see for yourself how much it can streamline and simplify your international recruitment process.  

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