Looking to boost your chances of finding a job in Germany? Need Germany to recognise your uni degree so you can get a work permit? Be warned, the process is long-winded, expensive and frustrating.
By Katie Kruse
If you’ve come to Germany to find work, you might need to have your higher education qualifications recognised. You can then work in a regulated profession, increase your chances of getting a work permit for a skilled job and hand in your German CV confidently with certificates and diplomas that have been given the thumbs up.
Where to start?
A good place to start is Recognition in Germany. You can also call the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees hotline between 8am and 4pm on weekdays: +49 30-1815-1111 (yes, they speak English). There are organisations that offer free consulting services in various languages specifically for this process. This can be a good starting point because… it’s complicated and different for everyone.
Once you know exactly what you need to submit, gather your documents and have them translated into German by a certified translator. We’d be happy to provide you with a quote here.
Then, you have two choices: you can apply for a Statement of Comparability or you can apply for Professional Recognition.
Statement of Comparability vs. Professional Recognition
A Statement of Comparability is fine if you intend to work in a non-regulated profession. It is used for high education degrees worldwide and its purpose is to demonstrate to your prospective employer how your higher education degree measures up in the eyes of the German education system. The Statement of Comparability does not replace Professional Recognition. If you hold a degree in medicine or teaching, for example, you will need to apply with the correct recognition authority to be able to practice in Germany. For Professional Recognition, this is a good starting place.
For a Statement of Comparability (non-regulated professions), apply to the Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen, or, for less of a mouthful, ZAB, for a “Statement of Comparability”. This is a document that outlines the equivalence of your foreign higher education qualifications to comparable qualifications offered in Germany. Once you’ve sent in the certified translations of your academic documents, the ZAB will provide you with the coveted certificate.
How much does it cost?
An initial application for a Statement for Comparability from the ZAB costs 200€.
How long does it take?
Around 3 months. If you’re groaning right now, you might be pleased to know that you can even apply for a special residence permit that allows you to stay in Germany while you’re waiting for the decision. Besides the qualifications themselves, you need 920 EUR per month in your bank account, health insurance and A2 German.
Can I check whether my qualification has already been recognised?
Yes. The ZAB also maintains a database that is neither in English nor particularly user-friendly – it’s called anabin. There are two components here: you can search either for your higher education institution or for your specific degree. You’re likely to find your institution there (and you can air punch if the institution is rated H+, for that is half the battle) but if you don’t find your specific degree programme there, know that the database is by no means complete.
I have a job offer as a skilled worker. I don’t have time to go through this process before my work permit interview.
Just get whatever information you can from anabin about your higher education institution. Take it with you to the interview and apply anyway. If you studied at an H+ university for 4 years, you graduated with an undergraduate degree and your salary is suitable for a skilled candidate, your chances are good.
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