This series marks my experiences on my 4th working holiday visa for Germany and is written as an Australian applicant. If you are from other countries with the bilateral agreement, you may also find this post useful.
I also have some posts of my experiences under the Working Holiday Visas for Canada (called International Experience Canada), the UK (called Tier 5 Youth Mobility) and Ireland (simply Working Holiday Visa). It’s scattered all over my blog so please have a look at my earlier posts.
One main thing to keep in mind throughout the whole process
When I read posts from other applicants of the German working holiday programmes, there is a common theme emerging – and that is that the German immigration system will do the work for them. Meaning that, all German immigration authorities have native command of English and that everyone knows what a working holiday visa is.
The truth here is the opposite.
It is completely up to the individual to ensure that they meet the requirements for the working holiday visa. It is also up to the individual to ensure that they meet any other requirements to live and work in Germany – from making sure that the documents are correct to making sure to decrease as much miscommunication as possible.
With that in mind, feel free to continue on below for my thoughts around the application process for the German working holiday visa.
The Application Process
On the Australian Germany embassy website, Australians have the choice to either apply in the Consulate-General in Sydney or at the local immigration authority (‘Ausländerbehörde’). Being based in Dublin, I decided to do my application at the Germany embassy in Dublin instead. Another reason why I decided to avoid Ausländerbehörde was all because of their website. When I logged in to do an online appointment, there were no appointments available (not even if I browse all the way to 2020) and I was sure that there was an issue with their system after trying on three different browsers. I gave up and decide to apply here in Dublin.
If you decide to do your application after arriving in Germany, make a note of what the next available slot is for an appointment by going to the Ausländerbehörde website. From my experience in handling immigration bureaucracy (ie when getting my GNIB card here in Ireland), it is considerably better to research and try to get your paperwork and appointments ready in advance instead of showing up at the office and getting your information there. Do not assume that there will be a spot on the day of your appointment, or that there is even going to be availability in the near future.
In addition, don’t assume that information will be delivered to you in English and that it will be 100% accurate. I think that this comes from a source of naivety in people who the world is going to be functioning on their level at 100% English-speaking proficiency. The reality is that, especially in Europe, English is not going to be the native language and so it’s better to assume that whatever information you get, or whatever interaction you do, it will not be in native English level.
You are required to make an appointment and is usually booked out for two weeks. If you miss your appointment, you need to rebook again.
The documentation that you need in your application is pretty much straightforward and is outlined in the German embassy pages for working holiday visas.
One of the main areas of contention is around residence which was:
– Proof of main residence in Berlin
– Certificate of registration at the main residence or
– Rental agreement and written confirmation of occupancy from the landlord
I asked the embassy if it’s acceptable that I only show a booking for two weeks in temporary accommodation and they were fine with it.
A copy/paste of their answer is below:
Yes you will have to provide only the first 2 weeks accommodation in Germany for the VISA application. Hotel / Hostel booking are accepted for this. Regards, German Embassy Dublin
I am seeing some posts were others are going all the way to secure accommodation in Berlin as part of their application. For example, they would arrive in Berlin, go to Ausländerbehörd, sit there for a couple of hours to get confirmation that their real appointment is in 10 weeks, and during that time they’ll have the opportunity to do room viewings. I did thought that perhaps there is an advantage for already being in Europe AND I am on a working holiday visa but I am aware of someone in Argentina who also went through the process at around the same time as I did and not seeing any issues with the paperwork.
Housing – moving from temporary, short-term housing to long-term
There are quiet a number of various residence options in Berlin and I have to admit that it has been a dream meeting the most basic residence requirement! Meaning that there is established infrastructure in place making foreigners seeking housing in Berlin very easy. We are talking public transportation and all the different options and places that you have available to search for housing.
It is also possible to book for and pay for housing online on trusted, dedicated platforms where they make the effort to provide as much detail as they can on what to expect.
Overall, even though I didn’t need to book for months long accommodation for the working holiday visa application, I still had the option to do so safely and securely.
I think that Berlin is one of the leading hubs for expats / digital nomads, global / remote workers and so on.
Back to the paperwork. Don’t forget that shortly within obtaining your long-term accommodation, you will also need to register with the town hall. Check online for an appointment slot that is available. In addition, there are documents that you need to take with you when you register.
One thing to keep in mind around housing is that if you require temporary accommodation to look for longer term housing, you do not need to register as a resident within two weeks of arriving. I would recommend going for temporary housing while applying for the working holiday visa as this is enough. Since it’s considered temporary, then you do not need get the additional documentation for residence.
A one year’s travel insurance is enough, so long as it covers Germany. Certain visas may require specific types of insurance but a standard travel insurance is enough. The reason being is that a working holiday visa is only temporary in nature.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is a difference between travel insurance and health insurance. You can read more about my thoughts on this area here.
It is possible to open a bank account online and prior to arrival. You can also authenticate your identity online and without needing to be in a branch.
There are also various loopholes when it comes to opening bank accounts. It all depends on who you talk to, what type of account that you open and which bank.
Of course, you can also opt to go with other options that require in-person appearances. Banks these days need to be customer-centric. This means that banking services, should they wish to remain relevant in today’s modern world, also need to be available whenever and wherever the customer is. Hopefully, we will see more of these practices rather than forcing customers to change their whole day’s schedule just to open an account or cash a cheque.
Once you have registered as a resident you can now apply for your unique German tax number (Steuer-ID). This should be sent to you automatically after registering your German address.
Next part of the series…
Stay tuned for the next part of my German working holiday experience!