German law provides many solutions to help employers of foreign nationals. Requirements, processing times, employment eligibility, and benefits for accompanying family members vary by visa classification.
Business visitors to Germany typically use a local version of the Schengen C Visa, unless they are visa exempt. The Schengen area limits stay for visitors to 90 days in any 180-day period. Depending on the nature of the activities, stay may be limited to 90 days in a 12-month period.
The main work authorization categories are the ICT Work & Residence Permit – used for highly-skilled staff on assignment within a company group; the Local Hire Work & Residence Permit – used for skilled employees that sign a German contract and are paid under German payroll; and the EU Blue Card – used for highly-skilled employees that meets a minimum salary requirement, sign a German contract and are paid under German payroll. The ICT and Local Hire permits are generally granted for one year; the EU Blue Card can be granted for the duration of the employment contract plus three months or for four years, whichever is shorter. All permit types can be renewed in country. European Economic Area/EU/Swiss nationals are generally visa and work permit exempt.
Note that German immigration authorities have considerable discretion when adjudicating work authorization applications. German employers that wish to sponsor work and residence permits must be registered with the labor authorities and must have a corporate registration number.
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