1.1 Has any guidance already been issued in relation to Brexit, for example on residence or work permits in the event of a no-deal Brexit?
Transition period for the first three months after Brexit; extension for another six months planned
For the first three months after Brexit date, Germany plans to give an exemption from the requirement for a residence permit for all British citizens and for family members of British citizens living in Germany at Brexit date as well as British citizens arriving in Germany after the Brexit date. The transition period will be implemented by ministerial order for an initial three months. An extension for another six months is planned but subject to the consensus of the German Senate (Bundesrat). During the transitional period, citizens would need to apply for a residence status under the third-country nationals’ regime.
Material scope of the ministerial order (only during its duration):
- exemption from the requirements for a residence document;
- option to apply for future residence status while staying in Germany;
- access to the labour market.
After the expiry of the ministerial order
After the transitional period the third-country nationals’ regime is applicable. Under existing national law, citizens who applied for a residence permit during the transition period are allowed to legally stay in Germany until their application is approved (or denied). Afterwards, this group will be granted the same privileges as currently granted to citizens of Andorra, Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino and USA (a residence document may be obtained after entry, a residence document for the purpose of employment may be granted for any type of employment under sec. 26 BeschV).
2.1 When UK employees become third-country nationals will they require a business visa?
No, Regulation (EU) 2019/592 of 10 April 2019 exempts UK citizens from the requirement for a Schengen visa. It will apply from the day the UK is no longer subject to EU law. When it takes effect, UK citizens will be able to enter and stay in the
Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days in any rolling 180-day period.
The Schengen exemption will apply:
- from Brexit date in the event of no deal;
- from 1 January 2021 if the Withdrawal Agreement (‘WA’) is ratified (under the WA, UK nationals keep their EU free movement rights until 31 December 2020).
However, even if allowed to enter and stay visa-free, UK citizens might need a visa if the activity conducted in Germany is considered employment in Germany rather than a business trip. It is considered a business trip if:
- The foreign citizen is employed abroad in the commercial or trading sector by an employer domiciled in Germany.
- The foreign citizen is conducting meetings or negotiations in Germany, preparing contract offers, concluding contracts or supervising the execution of a contract for an employer domiciled abroad.
- The foreign citizen is establishing, monitoring or managing a German part of a corporation for an employer domiciled abroad.
2.2 What documentation will be required for business travel on arrival at the border once UK citizens are considered third-country nationals?
Travel documents (a valid passport) with a validity of no more than ten years that is valid for at least three months after departure from Germany.
Proof of duration and purpose of stay as border control may ask additional questions concerning the duration and purpose of stay.
3.1 When UK citizens become third-country nationals will they need permission to work?
Yes, after expiry of the transitional period. In order to conduct gainful employment or work as a self-employed individual in Germany, a visa or combined residence/work permit (‘Aufenthaltstitel’) permitting this work must be obtained.
Some combined residence/work permits, such as those for family reunion or permanent residence, include permission to conduct any work in Germany.
3.2 If permission to work is needed do any quotas apply for employing third-country nationals?
3.3 If permission to work is needed, as of when will it be needed?
- generally, from 1 November 2019 in the event of no deal;
- from 1 February 2020 if Germany puts in place the planned three month extendable transition period;
- from 1 August 2020 if the transition period is extended by another six months with consensus of the German senate (Bundesrat);
- from 1 January 2021 (for new arrivals) if the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified before.
3.4 If permission to work is needed, what are the most common categories?
- EU Blue Card:
- university degree and a job offer in Germany with annual remuneration of at least EUR 53,600;
- in occupations with employee shortages (e.g. medical doctors, engineers): university degree and a job offer in Germany with annual remuneration of at least EUR 41,808.
- Combined residence/work permit for purposes of conducting gainful employment (Aufenthaltserlaubnis zum Zweck der Beschäftigung):
- a job offer in Germany;
- subject to labour market test (exceptions apply, e.g. if the foreign citizen has already been working in Germany for two years).
3.5 If permission to work or stay is needed, how long does the procedure take?
- Appointment waiting time: The foreign citizen must apply in person:
- for a visa at a German embassy or consulate; or
- for a combined residence/work permit at the Foreigners Office in Germany.
Appointments are often mandatory although sometimes a drop-in service is available. Waiting times for an appointment vary widely depending on the location.
- Processing time: If no labour market test is required, the combined residence/work permit will be granted immediately (e.g. Blue Card EU with minimum EUR 53,600.00 remuneration). If a labour market test is required, a processing time of one to eight weeks is to be expected.
3.6 If permission to work or stay is needed, what Government fees would be due for this permission?
EUR 56 - EUR 147 for the issue of a national visa or combined residence/work permit (exceptions apply).
4.1 From when can third-country nationals obtain permanent residence?
Five years of legal stay in Germany (subject to conditions). This is shortened to 33 months if the foreign citizen holds an EU Blue Card and 21 months if he or she also speaks B1-level German. Extremely highly qualified foreign citizens (e.g. university professors) may obtain it immediately.
5.1 What steps could UK nationals still take to secure their residence status?
During the transitional period under the ministerial order:
- applying for permanent residence (Niederlassungserlaubnis or Erlaubnis zum Daueraufenthalt EU);
- applying for a family reunion combined residence/work permit (if applicable);
- applying for German nationality if conditions are met, but individuals should consider consequences before doing so;
- preparing documents for family reunification with a German citizen or foreign citizen with legal residence status in Germany if relevant.