Citizens of the European Union, Switzerland and the European Economic Area (EEA) do not require a residence document (Aufenthaltstitel) to enter and stay in Germany. They only need to register with the Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) at their place of residence and will then enjoy employees’ freedom of movement – in other words, they do not require a permit to take up employment.
You can obtain more information about working and living in Germany from the Federal Employment Agency and the European Union.
Researchers from non-EU Countries
If you intend to come to Germany for longer than three months, a so-called scientific visa provides a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) to work as a researcher. The prerequisite for this is that you have concluded a hosting agreement with a recognised research institution (anerkannte Forschungseinrichtung). This entitles you to work on a specific research project or as a teacher. A residence permit for researchers is granted for at least one year, unless the research project is of a shorter duration. The Blue Card for highly qualified personnel is a new development. Graduates and highly skilled workers who can present a contract of employment and proof of a gross annual income of roughly 49.600 euros (38.688 euros in the case of certain shortage occupations) can work in Germany up to four years (with possible extension) with a Blue Card. Holders of a Blue Card can already receive a settlement permit after two to three years.
Will my spouse be allowed to work in Germany?
If your spouse comes to Germany with you, the scientific visa also entitles him or her to work in Germany. For more information on this subject, please download the flyer by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF): Flyer "Research stays in Germany"
If you enter Germany with a national visa, as a rule your partner will require the approval of the Federal Employment Agency to take up employment. He or she will require a residence document that entitles him or her to take up gainful employment (in other words, your partner must also have entered the country with an appropriate visa). Additionally, your partner must present a concrete offer of employment to the Aliens’ Authority (Ausländeramt), which will then be checked and approved by the Employment Agency. This process can take several weeks or even months.
A leaflet published by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) offers useful information about the scientific visa and the relevant requirements: Flyer "Research stays in Germany"