Relocating to Germany: The eight most frequently asked questions during Corona
Developer Careers Oliwia Schildt
We’ve faced and overcome a whole range of challenges presented to us by Covid-19 and finally adjusted to our ‘new normal’. However, what we don’t have to accept as the ‘new normal’ is the inability to relocate abroad. While there are many processes that aren’t working as usual, and there are limitations when applying for visas, there may be more ways around them than you think.
Let’s get some clarity on these changes and take a look at the current status. Here are the eight most frequently asked questions when it comes to relocating to Germany (whether you are still abroad or already here) during Covid-19.
I currently live abroad
You might have just signed your new work contract, applied for your visa and were ready to relocate, but the embassies and borders suddenly closed before you could leave. This is quite frustrating - but there are still some things you can do:
1. I have received a visa, but am having trouble leaving my country. What should I do?
Make sure to observe the current local situation in your home country and check regularly if there are any border or flight updates.
In Germany and other European countries, there are many restrictions placed on those entering. Despite the restrictions, it is still possible to relocate to Germany if you have a valid Visa D and a compelling reason for entering, for example, you are filling an important IT position.
If you do have a Visa D and a compelling reason, here’s what you should do:
- Contact the airlines and federal police force in Germany beforehand and check with them about your travel possibilities.
- Request a letter from your company which clarifies the urgency of your relocation.
- Bear in mind that once you relocate, you will need to stay two weeks in quarantine (when relocating from a Non-EU country).
2. What should I do if I can’t book an embassy appointment?
Most embassies are closed or operating in a limited capacity, so there are few available appointments - or perhaps no appointments at all. Here’s what you can do:
- Regularly check the German embassy website for updates on when they’ll be accepting applications. It seems like some embassies are starting to re-open and are already offering appointments.
- You can use this time to prepare the correct and necessary paperwork for the appointment and application - translated documents and degree recognition being the most important elements.
- Chances are there’s a backlog of applications already, so visa processing time could take a little longer than usual.
It’s frustrating when you’re stuck in limbo and unable to move as you planned. Nevertheless, you can use the time for reading and researching about your new destination, searching for a suitable apartment or even start learning some of the local language — try and get a head start!
I’ve arrived in Germany
It’s challenging starting this new chapter of your life during these uncertain times while being far from family and friends. And now, given the lockdown, you’re worried that bureaucratic processes have become unreliable. Don’t worry, there are still some ways we can figure it all out! :)
3. Can I still do my city registration?
If you just moved to Germany and haven’t had the chance to register yourself to obtain the famous “Anmeldung”, you can still do that! Most of the city registrations are currently only assigning appointments for urgent cases. Since you just relocated and need to get registered in order to receive your Tax ID to get paid, this is most likely considered urgent.
Depending on the city, you can get in contact with the office via email or some are even taking calls. They will give you the next possible appointment. Here is what you should prepare beforehand:
- The confirmation form from your landlord
- The Anmeldung form (this form is different for each city registration, so type into Google: Bürgeramt/city registration + city xy + Anmeldung form in order to find the necessary form. For example, Bürgeramt + Berlin + Anmeldung form)
4. What can I do when my Foreign Agency appointment gets cancelled or my visa expires?
When the Foreign Agencies closed to the public back in March, they also cancelled 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 cancelled appointments or expired Visas — check if this is available in your city.
We are seeing a few Foreign Agencies slowly opening and they’re starting to invite applicants for appointments, starting with the most urgent cases (for example, those with an expired visa).
Meanwhile, here’s what you can do:
- Check for updates from your responsible Foreign Agency to find out how you can proceed.
- You’ll probably need to email your work permit application to the Foreign Agency beforehand.
- After the Foreign Agency checks your documents they will most probably send you an appointment invitation letter or a probationary certificate
Don’t worry if you haven’t received a new appointment after contacting the Foreign Agency. They have a huge backlog of applications and will get back to you as soon as they can offer you an appointment slot. Your visa will remain valid until the appointment (if you sent the necessary documents to the Foreign Agency).
5. What should I do if I came on a Jobseeker’s visa to Germany and found a new job?
That’s great! For obtaining your work permit, you will need to follow the same steps as above, but:
- Keep in mind that you can only submit the documents to the Foreign Agency if you are already registered in that city.
- The processing of the documents might take some time. Depending on the Foreign Agency, it can take one week or up to one month. Make sure you adjust your starting date with your new employer.
6. I want to change my employer. How do I do this?
If you have worked less than two years on your Blue Card or you are obtaining a regular work permit, you will need to inform the Foreign Agency about your job change. Check the information on the homepage of your responsible Foreign Agency to see how they are dealing with applications (most probably through email). This is what you’ll probably have to send them:
- A scan of your passport
- Your job contract and job description from your employer
- The resignation letter from your previous employer
You should receive a confirmation email or letter in the post which will allow you to start your new job.
7. What should I do if I have been laid off?
We are sorry to hear that!
You will have three to six months (depending on the Foreign Agency - please check!) to search for a new job.
You will also need to inform the responsible Foreign Agency immediately about the change of your work status. They might ask you to send them the following as proof:
- Proof of Health Insurance during unemployment
- The resignation letter
- A recent bank statement
Also, feel free to reach out to Honeypot’s Talent Success Team (if you are a developer!) - they’ll be happy to support you finding a new job.
8. What does “Kurzarbeit”mean and does it impact my visa status?
Due to the impact on the economy, businesses registered in German have been afforded the opportunity to apply for Kurzarbeitergeld which means ‘short-time work allowance’.
Eligible companies can apply for the allowance to support them if they have been forced to reduce the working hours of their employees.
Since employees are only paid according to the amount of reduced work, this short-time allowance is intended to cushion the financial hardship of lower wages. Good news for you: Kurzarbeit has no impact on your visa status.
In a nutshell, it might not seem like the easiest time to relocate and settle down in a new city, but it’s still possible to get the crucial bureaucratic things done (And don’t forget: Always wear a mask to appointments!).
If you’re interested in learning more about the relocation process to Germany, watch the recording of our recent webinar: Relocating to Germany in times of Corona.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- How the general relocation process to Germany works
- Best practices for how you can still manage relocation despite the current circumstances
- …and our answers to live questions asked by the attendees
Check it out over at Honeypot Talks!