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The German Working Holiday Visa Explained

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

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The Working Holiday program also referred to as the Youth Mobility Agreement, is a type of visa that allows young people to live and work in Germany for up to 12 months without needing to find a job in advance.

What is Germany’s Working Holiday visa program?

The Working Holiday program, also referred to as the Youth Mobility Agreement in the case of Canadian citizens, is a type of visa that allows young people to live and work in Germany for up to 12 months without needing to find a job in advance. This makes it easier to finance a longer trip abroad, which opens the door to both travelers wishing to get to know Germany better and young professionals seeking to gain experience or access to the German job market.


Who is eligible for a Working Holiday or Youth Mobility Visa?

To qualify for a Working Holiday Visa, you must be between the ages of 18 and 30 and be a citizen of one of the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, or Uruguay. Canadian citizens may also participate under the very similar Youth Mobility Agreement, though Canadian citizens aged 18 to 35 may participate (Nomadtoolkit).


What requirements are there for an application?

Citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, and New Zealand may apply for the visa even after entering Germany, though many of these countries’ embassies recommend applying in advance regardless. Citizens of Argentina, Chile, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, and Uruguay must apply in advance at the German diplomatic missions in their respective countries (Nomaden). Applicants are required to provide the following:

  • A valid passport
  • A recent 35mm by 45mm biometric photo
  • One year of foreign traveler’s health insurance
  • Proof of the necessary funds to finance your stay (this amount varies by country of application)
  • A completed Application for Issuance of a Residence Permit (available on our website in English here)

Those wishing to reside in the capital city of Berlin who chose to apply for their visa after arrival must provide proof of a main residence in Berlin. This can be accomplished with either a certificate of registration obtained from the Bürgeramt, or a rental agreement and a written confirmation of occupancy from the landlord (Berlin Service Portal). Regardless of which city you choose to reside in during your stay, you will eventually need to obtain a certificate of registration.We provide a simple online form to apply for your certificate of registration. This certificate is necessary to obtain a tax ID, without which you cannot work in Germany. Additional documents are, however, required by different participating countries, so it is best to check with your country’s German embassy for particulars. For more details on the applying for a Working Holiday Visa, click here for our article on the complete application process.


Can I work full-time with the German Working Holiday or Youth Mobility Visa?

As is the case of visa application requirements, the stipulations of the Working Holiday Visa also vary by country. Conflicting information is often provided from different embassies on whether this visa allows for full-time work, but according to the German government this is allowed under the Working Holiday Agreement. The permitted duration of full-time work, however, varies between countries. Citizens of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Israel may work for up to 12 months though no longer than 3 months for the same employer, and Israeli citizens can be employed by one or more employers either part or full-time. Chilean and Canadian citizens are allowed to work for up to 12 months with no more than 6 months with the same employer, and they may hold part or full-time positions with one or more employers. Citizens of Argentina may work for up to 6 months and can be employed by one or multiple employers either part or full-time. Australians, Japanese, South Koreans, and New Zealanders can work for up to 12 months under the Working Holiday visa on a part or full-time basis for one or more employers (German Missions in the UK).


The Working Holiday and Youth Mobility Programs open doors to all kinds of jobs in Germany, some of the most common of which include tourism, hospitality, tech, call centers, online business, and retail.

Do I need to know German to get the visa?

While proof of language skills is not a requirement to apply for the working holiday visa, learning at least some German before beginning your stay is certainly recommended. Though English will be more prevalent in larger cities, even in Berlin knowing some German is considered a plus if not a requirement for most jobs. Generally, the more demanding a certain position is, the more German is expected of an applicant. It is also possible to enroll in a German class at a language school during your stay in Germany, though enrollment in classes at a university would require a Student Visa. Knowing the basics of the language can be a great help in navigating bureaucratic measures as well as every day life (German Missions in Canada).


What type of jobs are available to me with a Working Holiday Visa?

The Working Holiday and Youth Mobility Programs open doors to all kinds of jobs in Germany, some of the most common of which include tourism, hospitality, tech, call centers, online business, and retail. Au Pair jobs are not permitted under the Working Holiday Visa as they would require an Au Pair Visa. Upon arriving to Germany, you can visit your city’s Agentur für Arbeit (job center) for help in finding a job that fits your needs and abilities (Deutschland, Nomaden).


Can I travel to other countries once my visa has begun?

Yes, holders of this visa may travel for up to 90 days in a 180 day period in any of the other 25 Schengen Area countries, amounting to 180 allotted days of travel during the visa’s one year duration. These countries are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland (Working Holiday Visa).


All in all, the Working Holiday Program is a great way for young people to experience German life and culture over a longer period than would typically be available to them through a regular vacation. This immersive experience is optimal for language learning and visiting many new countries at once. Linked below are several helpful links not affiliated with Native with further details on the Working Holiday Visa.

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