Moving To Germany Without A Job – Is It Possible? Moving to Germany without a job seems scary. Could you even survive out there without knowing you had employment upon arrival? How Can I Move to Germany Without A Job?
Happily, the simple answer is YES – it’s definitely possible.
The more realistic answer, however, is that it’s highly dependent on a number of factors: Your ability to learn German quickly, you skillset, and — perhaps most crucially — your own self-confidence and drive.
Also it’s worth mentioning that this is only possible if you’re an EU citizen, or at least hold a passport from a country which doesn’t require a visa to enter Germany as a tourist.
So let’s have a look at the options available to you if you want to move to Germany without a job lined up.
If you’re moving to Germany without a job and you can’t speak German, it’s important to recognise that there are now two factors working against you.
The overwhelming majority of job opportunities are in German, so being able to speak the language fairly confidently is going to increase your chances of finding employment in your line of work.
Fortunately, you can enter Germany with the sole purpose of learning the language. Special visas are granted for learning German, allowing you to legally work in a part-time job for a modest number of hours a week while you learn.
Related Post: 7 Reason Why You Should Migrate to Germany
Upon completing a language course, you are expected to return home to your country of origin. That is, unless you find a job which fulfills the criteria for obtaining a Blue Card or a standard residence permit before your student visa expires.
Otherwise, you could always apply to extend your stay by obtaining a job seeker visa.
The Job-Seeker Visa
Non-EU / EEA nationals may enter Germany for up to 6 months on a job seeker visa.
If you’re moving to Germany from outside the EU and want to utilise the job seeker visa, you’ll need two crucial things:
1) The ability to support yourself financially for the whole duration of your stay in Germany.
2) A degree-level education. Bear in mind that Germany has a relatively high cost of living by international standards.
3) Experience in your field of study/work. There is some debate around exactly how many years of experience. Some German diplomatic missions abroad stipulate 5 years, but that’s not written in stone and should be seen as a guide only.
Of course, a more proactive approach would be to scope out potential employers, or even make some speculative job applications from your home country. Even if you don’t land a job, you could at least arrive with some good leads in your back pocket. If you only have a 6 month window to find a job, hitting the ground running is going to put you one step ahead of your potential competitors.
We cover more detail and strategies around the job seeker visa through our online course.
Freelancing is a great way to become self-sufficient and sidestep the pitfalls of job-hunting in a foreign culture with its own confusing precedents and practices.
Depending on your niche or line of work, freelancing is often the quickest way to earn a living in a new country, and Germany is no exception.
Some examples of popular freelance work in Germany include content writing, copy editing, social media marketing, business consulting, graphic design, photography, web development, virtual personal assistant and translation & interpreting.
Nowadays, with the growth in remote work and virtual teams, the big draw of working as a freelancer is that it’s relatively straightforward to find work outside your country of residence if you’re an expert in a specific field.
Clearly, this isn’t an option for everybody, but the opportunities are literally growing by the month, as more bosses embrace technology and learn to remote manage their teams online.
Freelancing in Germany is a great option if you’re young, single and less likely to require the safety net of German social security. Being self-employed means that you do not have to pay into the state pension or unemployment insurance system. This is especially wise if you’re stay is only going to be short-term, as only those staying for the long haul are likely to see the benefit of social security contributions.
For more details on freelancing and self-employment in Germany and how to obtain a visa, check out our online course which gives the complete lowdown on succeeding with your visa application.
Start Your Own Business
Similar to freelancing, this is another option to become self-sufficient without being at the mercy of the German job market. Bear in mind though, that you will most likely need to sell your product or service to the local market, unless you’re creating a location independent online business.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to starting a business as a newly arrived immigrant is that you will not have access to capital or financing from traditional sources of lending. Banks and other credit institutions will not lend to anybody without a credit history in Germany.
That’s not to say it isn’t possible. There are now so many options, such as peer-to-peer lending sites, or crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Not having access to capital from local banks isn’t the huge obstacle it would have been just 10 years ago.
To start a business in Germany, the first thing to consider is what type of legal form the company should take.
For foreign nationals, the easiest way to start a business as a sole trader (Einzelunternehmer). For this you will need a Gewerbeschein from your local authority, which can cost anything from €10 to €60, depending on the city or municipality where you are registering. The office for this is usually called Gewerbeanmeldung or Gewerbemeldestelle. Google this plus the city and you’ll find it!
One exception to this rule is the so-called free trades (Freie Berufe), which you’re able to practice simply by registering as self-employed with your local Finanzamt. Some of these jobs include architect, doctor, consultant, writer, artist, designer, engineer. This is not an exhaustive list — more details can be found here. Freie Berufe are treated slightly differently for tax purposes.
Starting a limited liability company isn’t as straightforward as it is in more liberal economies. This isn’t an easily recommendable option, as it requires a whopping €25,000 of starting capital! No wonder that the World Bank ranked Germany lower than Uzbekistan, Rwanda and Colombia in the “ease of starting a business” category.
German apprenticeships provide vocational training in a range of industries.
The good news is that Germany is crying out for skilled tradespeople, so the chances of finding a position as an apprentice are pretty good. However, this route requires some language skills: You’ll need to speak and understand enough German to not be a safety risk or liability to your employer, and most apprenticeships involve classroom-based training at a vocational school, where the lessons are given in German.
It’s also worth noting that apprenticeships are aimed at school leavers, so the pace of training may be frustratingly slow for somebody with more work experience. Typically, a German apprenticeship lasts for 3 years, allowing you plenty of time to settle in and get the rest of your life in Germany in order. However, the pay is pretty low and so may not cover your rent and living expenses, especially if you live in a major city.
Can I Claim Welfare While I Am Seeking Work?
No, you can’t.
A new law was ratified by the Bundestag at the beginning of 2020, stating that foreigners cannot claim unemployment benefit until they have resided here for 5 years.
The law was changed to combat “welfare tourism” in Germany, whereby citizens from poorer EU countries would travel to Germany to take advantage of more generous unemployment benefits and use this to send money back home.