Residence permit and change of employer – what do I have to consider?

There are currently many reasons why foreign citizens in Germany want to change their employer. This includes not only the general economic situation. Also, the decrease in the issuance of work visas by the German embassy and consulates abroad leads to the shortage of foreign professionals in Germany and employers who want to take over the professionals from another employer.

You will find the work permit regulations that apply to you either on the residence permit card or on the green supplementary sheet under “Nebenbestimmungen”.

Here’s what to keep in mind:

When do I not need the consent of the Foreigners’ Registration Office to change employers?

Some residence permits allow employment (i.e. salaried work) without restriction to a particular employer. In that case, no consent is required for the change. This applies for example to

  • Spousal reunification (“gainful employment permitted” – you may be self-employed and employed without restriction)
  • Students (“Employment Permitted” – you may work on an employed basis for any employer; however, there are restrictions on the amount of time you may work).
  • Employees after 2 to 3 years of work permit (“employment permitted”; after two to three years of employment, according to § 9 BeschV, the restriction to one employer no longer applies, and the foreigners authority must permit employment in general; usually you have to apply for this yourself, because the change is not automatically initiated by the foreigners authority; we advise you to do this as early as possible to avoid delays from the foreigners authority if a new job offer is available at short notice)
  • Settlement permit, EU permanent residence permit: the same applies as above for spousal reunification.

Approval of the foreigners authority required for residence permits for employment

If the residence permit was issued for the purpose of employment, it is always tied to a specific employer and position at the beginning. This applies, for example, to employment of skilled workers, EU Blue Card, ICT Card.

For example, the subordinate clause then states, “Employment with Huashangbao as an editor permitted.” If you have such a restriction, you must always involve the immigration office before changing employers.

A restriction must be lifted after two years if the foreigner has been employed for a total of two years and the employment is subject to social security contributions. If it is not subject to social security (e.g. if the German-Chinese Social Security Agreement applies), the period is extended to three years.

What can I do to expedite the approval of the Foreigners Authority for the change of employer?

The duration of the procedure does not only depend on the way the foreigners authority works. For example, many immigration offices have a corporate service department that works relatively quickly and should be contacted.

It also depends on whether the Federal Employment Agency is to be involved. This is not the case with the EU Blue Card, for example.

All required documents should be submitted completely together to avoid delays due to queries.

If the change of employer threatens to fail because the foreigners authority delays, summary proceedings can help.

How do I proceed if I want to change my residence because the new place of work is far away?

The jurisdiction of the Foreigners Authority is based on the current registered residence of the foreigner. Often, a change of employer is accompanied by a move. The question then arises as to whether the application should be submitted to the previous foreigners authority or to the future foreigners authority.

The choice usually does not affect the chances of success, but here it is mostly a matter of time management, how quickly I get approval to change employers. If the foreigner moves, the previous foreigners authority must send the foreigners file to the new foreigners authority. This can take weeks to months. The new immigration office cannot make a decision until it has received the file. Therefore, it is usually better to submit the application to the old immigration office.

Do I have to leave the country for the change of employer and apply for a new visa at the German Embassy / Consulate in China?

No, there are very few cases where you will have to leave the country if you change the purpose of your stay. The most practically relevant case is dropping out, but even there there are exceptions.

Special case specialty chefs

Employer change for specialty chefs is additionally restricted. As a rule, reasons are required that it is unreasonable or impossible for the cook to continue the previous employment relationship. This applies, for example, if the business is closed, receipt of operational termination, misconduct of the employer.

However, since the entry into force of the Skilled Workers Immigration Act, specialty chefs have the possibility to obtain a residence permit for training purposes and, after graduation, to move freely in the labor market.


This information is provided without guarantee. They are not suitable to replace an individual consultation.