How to apply for permanent residence
As of the 1 January 2005 introduction of the new German Immigration Act, foreigners need only obtain a German residence permit, which gives them the right to work, rather than separate residence and work permits. Citizens of the US, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, and Switzerland may apply for their residence and work permit while remaining in Germany as visitors. Citizens of these countries, however, are not allowed to work in Germany until after their work and residence permit application is approved.
Citizens of most other countries are required to apply for and obtain a residence and work permit prior to entering Germany at their German consulate.
The procedure as of 1 January 2005 is as follows:
Stage 1: The residence permit application (which also provides access to the labour market) for the candidate is received by the German embassy in the country where the candidate lives.
Stage 2: The Embassy passes the application to the immigration office (the Auslaenderbehoerde) in the place where the job is to take place for initial approval. The immigration office, in cooperation with the local employment office (the Arbeitsamt) that issues the permission, makes its decision.
Stage 3: If the candidate's application has been approved, the Embassy provides an entry visa to the candidate.
Stage 4: Upon arriving in Germany, the foreign national and any accompanying family members must apply for their work and residence permits at the local foreigners authority.