Visa sponsorship for a job in Germany. What you need to know when it comes to recruiting and relocation

By Jörg Kleis

Is there visa sponsorship?

We know that a very important issue for international jobvapplicants especially from countries like India or Pakistan revolves around the question of visa sponsorship for a job in Germany. After all, having found a company that takes care of you getting here can be a great benefit - and for some even a relief. But, what most job seekers don’t understand is that while this term may have established itself over the years and many keep using it, it conveys the impression that visa sponsorship is a prerequisite to enter the German job market in the first place. That, however, doesn’t reflect realities with German employers. Here is why and what you need to be aware of during recruiting and relocation.

Do you really need visa sponsorship?

As you know we keep sharing our experience and knowledge on clients and coachees who we successfully helped find their job in Germany in Tech & IT. That means coaching based on real people with real jobs who went through real hiring processes. Anyway, to make a long story short, while approximately half of the companies we helped them find jobs with did offer (some kind of) visa sponsorship the other half simply did not. Neither did they advertise it, nor did they consider it when they sent our coachees their job offer. Now, was it a problem for anyone? Of course, not!

Visa sponsorship can mean anything

First of all, visa sponsorship has become a somewhat generic term that everybody interprets differently. Literally speaking it requires some kind of “sponsor” which originally stems from the case of somebody having to officially invite you so you may enter their country. But, that’s already where the inaccuracy begins. Because any job offer from a German company for a job in Germany will essentially mean exactly that - an invitation. So, the fuzz everybody is making about visa sponsorship is not justified, at least if you’re not planning to work in a regulated profession (e.g. law, medicine, pharmacy, teaching), but much rather in tech and IT (e.g. as software developer, data analyst or test engineer).

Here’s what’s really going on: Over the years the term “visa sponsorship” has gotten diverse meanings. It can really mean anything ranging from “we consider applications from outside Europe for onsite positions in Germany” (which is the basics) to “yes, we also take care of everything else in the process of getting you here - your visa, the papers for your family, your flight, your apartment for the first three months, a container to ship your stuff, somebody to walk you through the paperwork when you’re here” and so on and so forth. Really, we’ve seen it all.

Granted, only the big shots ever get the 100% carefree package and it rarely happens. Everyone else gets Economy class, which is okay. After all, what you really care about is a job offer. Because, and here’s the nice thing, with that job offer in your hand you can take care of your visa entirely by yourself. The job offer is what matters. It’s your entrance ticket. In our Personal Coaching we also hook you up with a trusted visa agency partner company of ours that will make it smooth sailing for everyone involved.

Even visa sponsorship and relocation package mean different things

That being said, asking whether companies in Germany hiring professionals, for example and especially in Tech & IT, also offer visa sponsorship conveys the impression that employers here in Germany only go through the effort of hiring you from outside Europe if they also take care of all or some of the things I’ve just mentioned in the previous paragraphs. If the job description says “relocation package” then, at least from our experience, it also means they’ll take care of all necessary correspondence and paperwork with the embassy to get you your visa. However, it doesn’t automatically work the other way round meaning “visa sponsorship”, even if it’s explicitly mentioned, doesn’t have to include a relocation package - and usually it doesn’t.

Here comes the reality about visa sponsorship

So, get your idea straight and touch base with them on the issue during the interview. The truth is that there’s a group of companies that does offer (some kind) of visa sponsorship while the other doesn’t. In any case, both groups can and should still be potential targets of yours for your future job. Here is why: First, as I mentioned already you can pretty much apply for a visa yourself once you have a job offer. Software developers only need the contract, their passport, and a few other documents. Getting a visa for Germany from the German embassy or consulate general may be a bit of a bureaucratic pain in the proverbial behind. But, it’s not rocket science so let’s stop pretending it’s an overwhelming obstacle.

Second, and this is more important, there are German companies that have never gone through the process of hiring somebody from India, Nigeria, Brazil or elsewhere outside Europe to join them. Others again may have done it before, but they are too small to take care of it now. These will want you to lead the process, but will be there to back you up in case you require them to assist you. Others again will offer you some support (e.g. “we’ve already drafted a power of attorney for you to act on our behalf to fast-track the visa process”). Others again will put you through to a visa agency and pay your visa fees. Others again are already in touch with an agency that regularly works with them. The latter especially applies to fast-growing startups which are dependent on you coming to Germany quickly without any complications.

While it may be a priority for you to know if they’ll take care of your visa, it’s not going to be their priority - at least not until they really want you!

You get the picture. Now you see that “visa sponsorship” comes in different shades. All in all, for most companies in Germany hiring somebody who requires a visa to enter the country is still much rather the exception than it is the rule. That is also why it shouldn’t confuse you if you can’t find anything about it in their job ad. Again, just because a company doesn’t offer it, publicly advertise it, mention it in their job description or on their website doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in getting to know you in a personal interview. Those are two pair of shoes. While it may be a priority for you to know whether they’ll take care of your visa, it’s not going to be a priority for them! Yes, the Corona pandemic has forced companies to narrow down their search patterns and restrict access to people who already have a valid work permit. Still, you should keep checking their company websites since policies such as these are known to be constantly in flux. That means: If there’s a demand, if they need you and if they want you you’ll get a job offer. It’s as simple as that.

Last, know what costs will come up

You’ve gotten a job offer? Congratulations! For your upcoming relocation you are looking at approximately 600 EUR for your own visa. If you are coming with your spouse, it’ll be another 300 EUR for them. The fast-track process with the German employment agency is around 450 EUR. Plus, tickets for your flight and extra luggage (which can get a bit pricier than you think since you’ll probably not be able to book the tickets so far in advance). Also, don’t forget you’ll be looking at another 1.000-1.500 EUR for your temporary apartment for the first month from where you’ll start looking for a permanent place. If you are looking for a job in Germany as a software developer check out our free online training video. In any case, we wish you all the best!