DE  |   -- EN  |   -- RU

German Immigration Lawyer & Business Immigration Attorney

Your attorney for all matters involving German visas, residence permits and German Blue Cards

Is your company sending employees to Germany for a short-term work assignment? Are you looking to invest into a German business company, merge with a corporation located in Germany or start a business and relocate to Germany? Whatever your or your company's German visa or residence permit needs may be, WINHELLER can help you select and apply for a German visa or residence permit that will help you reach your business and personal goals.

Incorporating and managing a subsidiary in Germany

German law allows foreign citizens to establish a business in Germany, e.g. a limited liability company ("GmbH"), and act as its manager. However, a foreign manager will need a German employment residence permit to manage the German business. And which residence permit a manager should apply for – as well as the process and wait times – depends on a variety of factors, including

  • the manager’s nationality,
  • the company’s size and type and
  • the manager’s proposed German salary.

If your company is incorporating a subsidiary in Germany and would like to send an employee of the parent company to manage the German subsidiary, we can help you decide which employment-based residence permit is most appropriate. 

Immigration to Germany as an entrepreneur

Persons seeking to start a business in Germany as an entrepreneur may be able to obtain a German residence permit. The requirements to obtain a residence permit as an entrepreneur are diverse. Most importantly, a business plan needs to be submitted to the authorities.

  • It should include detailed information about:
    • the business (e.g. its legal form and line of business),
    • the applicant (professional experience, possible academic training) and
    • the financing of the business.
  • The business plan should also address the following questions:
    • Will the business increase the market potential and sales opportunities of other German enterprises?
    • Will the enterprise produce sustainable products?
    • Will the enterprise supply the German market with foreign products or will it export German products?
    • Does the region where the business will be established suffer from undersupply regarding the products the business will offer?  

The key to obtaining a German residence permit as an entrepreneur is showing that the business will have positive effects on the German economy, i.e. that there is an economic interest in and/or a regional need for the business and that financing has been secured. Prior to August 1, 2012, a business concept was considered viable if EUR 250,000 had been invested and five jobs had been created. Unfortunately, these clear numerical thresholds do not apply any longer. Nonetheless, creating jobs for German or other EU citizens and investing a substantial amount of money are still essential criteria.

German Employment Visas for Temporary Work Assignments

As a rule, citizens of non-EU countries must apply for and receive an employment visa before they are dispatched to Germany to work. After having entered Germany with an employment visa, such employees may begin working immediately; however they must also apply for a residence/work permit with the local German foreigner´s authority. Here you can find more information on German employment visas for temporary work assignments.

Business immigration for researchers and scientists

Foreign citizens who have graduated from a German university (i.e. a state university, an officially recognized private university or a similar German institution of higher learning) or have worked in Germany as researchers or scientists can obtain a residence permit for self-employment by satisfying fairly straightforward requirements, including:

  • A demonstrable connection between the envisaged self-employment and the knowledge acquired during the applicant’s studies or research or scientific activities
  • Clear indications that the proposed self-employment will create enough income to cover the foreigner’s living expenses

These rules permit graduates of German universities, as well as scientists and researchers, to obtain an entrepreneur residence permit without having to meet the stricter requirements described above (including investment requirements and evidence that the business will have a positive effect on the German economy).

German business immigration requires careful and creative cooperation with local authorities

In Germany, applications for residence permits are submitted to a local “foreigner’s office” (Ausländerbehörde or Ausländeramt), which is located in medium-sized and large cities throughout Germany. As a result, applicants for German residence permits are not dealing with a central bureaucracy, but a local office with its own local culture, preferences and ways of doing business. As a result, obtaining a German visa and/or a German residence permit is easier if one contacts the local foreigner’s office before submitting an application.

But the foreigner’s office is not the only authority involved in deciding whether an application has satisfied all criteria and a residence permit may be issued. The foreigner’s office usually consults other agencies (e.g. the local Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Crafts or other professional organizations such as medical associations, the Chamber of Architects, etc.) to obtain their expert advice and input. Thus, it is very important to discuss the proposed residence permit application with these institutions as well. Having these conversations prior to submission increases the chances for approval.

Our team of experienced corporate and business immigration attorneys are familiar with these regional differences and can assist you throughout the entire application process – from the initial inquiry, to the submission and processing of the resident permit application.

German labor and employment law

Besides complying with German business immigration law, companies and individuals seeking to work in or dispatch employees to Germany should also be aware of German labor law, employment law and German social security tax law. Failure to comply with relevant German employment and labor laws can lead to significant fines and penalties. WINHELLER’s employment law attorneys can assist you with these matters as well.

Your business immigration attorney

Preparing and submitting an application for a German visa, residence permit or Blue Card can take a tremendous amount of time. But consulting with an experienced German Business immigration attorney can help save time and money. Your German immigration attorney for all matters related to German business visas, (business) residence permits and Blue Cards is Attorney Thomas Schwab. He has helped numerous corporate clients obtain the necessary visas and residence permits and set up their businesses subsidiaries in Germany. You can reach him via e-mail ( or by phone (+49 (0)69 76 75 77 80).




Juve AwardLegal 500 Germany 2019
azur100: Top Employer for Lawyers 2021


Stay up to date with our quarterly German Business Law newsletter!

Subscribe for free