After many months of Covid-19, we still feel the impact on global mobility and international hiring. From one day to the next, borders and embassies were closed and even the German authorities worked at a limited capacity. It’s still a frustrating time for both sides of the hiring coin: the talent who was eagerly ready to relocate and the company who wants to fill their tech position as soon as possible.

Since we have been hiring internationally during Corona and supporting our talents who were in the process of relocating, we want to share our own experiences from this unpredictable and uncertain time. We know, first hand, that relocation is still possible to some extent.

In this article we will share our answers and learnings to the five most frequently asked questions regarding hiring talents who currently reside outside of the EU.

Keep in mind that this information is from the beginning of August and is frequently changing – we’ll do our best to update as information changes.

1. How long does it currently take to hire a talent from outside of the EU?

Before Corona, we planned for an average of around 90 days for each relocation. Currently, it is still difficult to estimate the current timeframe of relocating a talent from A to B, since this depends on the current situation in each country.

In countries such as Brazil, India and Mexico, the Corona infection rates are very high and therefore, the embassies are still closed or aren’t accepting new visa applications.

Some embassies have opened already; however, they have a huge backlog of applications and are currently prioritising those who work in health care.

We’ve had some successful relocations during the last few weeks from talents residing in Albania and Mongolia, for example, who were applying for the Blue Card and were able to receive their visa and start working in Germany. The whole process took 12 weeks on average.

What can you do as a company?

  • It’s worth checking the status of the country and embassy frequently – the situation might be changing from one day to the other and the visa requirements and entry regulations might be changing as well. You can check this here.

  • If the talent has already been issued a national visa and wants to fly in to Germany, it’s important to check with the federal police force in Germany if the talent can enter Germany and which additional documentation is needed.

  • Use your time wisely. Prepare everything the talent will need for the processing of their visa and relocation, such as degree recognition, translations and support with housing. Can the talent start working remotely as a freelancer? Please keep in mind that this will require an additional work contract, so check with your tax consultant first.

In a nutshell: Relocation is still possible to some extent, however, patience is required.

2. What can you do as a company if you hired someone, but they are starting remotely?

  • Stay in touch with the talent and see how they feel during the whole situation. In some countries it might still be very difficult and under lockdown. Being present and supportive can mean a lot for that person. For example, you can start meetings with a quick two-word check-in, as Brene Brown, a vulnerability researcher does with her team.

  • Try to include the talent as much as possible into the company culture; set up remote coffees and check-in on a frequent basis – these are good places to start.

  • Make sure you have a good plan on how to onboard developers remotely, you can check out our resource How to onboard developers remotely.

3. What should I keep in mind about quarantine regulations?

So, your new talent is able to come to Germany! That’s great news. There are, however, a few smaller hurdles to overcome before they can officially join you in the office. Below is the current status of restrictions for talents arriving in Germany from outside the EU (as of June 2020), and how you can help.

Who needs to quarantine?

Those who have spent time in a risk area 14 days prior to coming to Germany – whether by land, sea or air – must go directly to their accommodation and stay there for 14 days of quarantine.

Which countries are currently risk areas?

The Federal Government and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) determines which countries are considered risk areas with an increased risk of infection in a list. You can find the continuously updated list of risk areas at the RKI website.

What to do after arrival?

After your talent’s arrival, it’s important to contact the local health office (Gesundheitsamt) without delay and to inform them of their entry into the country. The Gesundheitsamt will supervise compliance with this quarantine. Find your local health office, also at the RKI ‘tools’ section of the website.

Can a Covid-Test exempt from quarantine?

If your talent received a negative molecular corona-test 48 hours before arrival (at the earliest), an official quarantine exemption can be granted. However, the test must have been conducted in a member state of the EU or another country listed by the Robert Koch Institute.

According to RKI, tests can also be performed in Germany after arrival (currently it’s possible to do such tests at Frankfurt andBerlin Tegel airports). The talent should quarantine at home until they receive their results. Afterwards, the talent should present both them and a medical certificate at the local health ministry in order to apply for the exemption. You can find more information at the Bundesministerium für Gesundheit and Zusammen gegen Corona websites.

4. How can I support a talent who recently relocated to Germany during Corona?

During Corona most of us are working remotely. However, for someone who just recently relocated to Germany during these unusual circumstances and is living in a totally new environment, far away from family, this situation might be more challenging.

Here is what you can do:

  • If the person is in quarantine, check if you can provide further support. In case you are still working fully remote, set up coffees and get-to-know meetings with the team. Check out our guide on Engaging Remote Teams for more ideas.

  • Try to give as much information and knowledge on the next steps as possible (city registration, Foreign Agency appointment and other necessary steps) and provide assistance with filling out forms and translations.

5. What is important to keep in mind when a talent needs to extend or change their work permit?

When the Foreign Agencies closed to the public back in March, they also canceled most of the appointments. However, they’re still in operation and issuing confirmations on visa status’ and extensions for probationary certificates. In Berlin, they have made online registration possible for those with canceled appointments or expired Visas — check if this is available in your city by typing “Ausländerbehörde + your city” and you should find what you’re looking for.

We are seeing many immigration offices slowly opening and they’re starting to invite applicants for appointments, starting with the most urgent cases (for example, those with an expired visa).

Here is what you need to know:

  • Citizens whose national visa (D visa) is about to expire should submit an application for an extension to the relevant immigration office. Do this by email and before the visa expires. Until the decision of the immigration office has been made, a probationary certificate called a fiktionsbescheinigung will be given. This means the talent can legally stay in Germany until their appointment. You should, however, always check how the relevant immigration office is handling this situation.

It’s important to make sure that personal details (surname, maiden name, first name, spelling of the names, date of birth, place and district of birth, gender, nationality, passport number), type of title and any file number must be specified.

  • Currently, most of the Foreign Agencies are accepting applications online. In Berlin, for example, it’s possible to send the applications for employer change, as well Blue Card applications online.

  • Plan for extra time. Due to the skilled workers immigration act, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stick a label for the work permit into the passport. Only when collecting the final work permit (usually 4-5 weeks after the appointment at the immigration office) is it possible to take over employment. In some cases there might be exceptions or preliminary certifications, but this needs to be checked with the responsible immigration authority.

To give you an example:

A talent who holds a job seeker’s visa and fulfills all the criteria for the Blue Card can apply for it when having a valid job contract. The application can currently be done online. It’s important to check where the talent is currently registered and submit the application at the responsible Foreign Agency. The employee can only start working when they have the electronic residence card.

In a nutshell:

It’s not so easy to move people from one country to another anymore, so plan for a realistic timeframe as many structures and processes just don’t work at this time.

However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t support our talents. Now is the time where it’s important to listen, check-in on their current situation and feelings, provide as much information and context as possible, and try to find the best solutions for unexpected problems. Through showing your talents that you’re there to support them through difficult situations, you are contributing to their overall happiness and likelihood of engagement.

If you have any further questions, or you are needing support in relocating your Honeypot talents, we have a dedicated Talent Relocation Team who would be happy to help. Reach out at [email protected]


Oliwia Schildt

Oliwia Schildt

Oliwia is a Talent Relocation Manager at Honeypot and her mission is to support tech talents in having a smooth relocation. Before settling in Berlin, she lived in the USA, France, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Poland, and India.