How to Move to Berlin as a US Citizen

Updated: Feb 10

Berlin currently ranks high on the list of desired destinations for many US Citizens looking to move overseas. The city’s booming startup scene, world-renowned creative milieu and mesmerising nightlife are drawing US citizens across the Atlantic. The allure of life in the German capital is increasing in step with the number of opportunities for international workers in Berlin, with English-speaking opportunities cropping up in ever-greater numbers around the city. But just how do you make the move as a US citizen? What visa do you need? What jobs are available? And how can Nomaden Berlin help?

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Visas for US Citizens Moving to Berlin As Germany identifies the US as a ‘priority country’, US citizens enjoy a favourable visa application process in comparison to many other non-EU/EEA countries. Notably, US citizens are able to enter Germany without a visa for a 90-day period to search for suitable employment to support their visa application. Then, once suitable employment has been found, US citizens are permitted to apply for a Residence Permit for Employment at the immigration office in Berlin. Sounds simple enough, right? But what exactly constitutes ‘suitable employment’? Well, US citizens are fortunate in that they can apply for a Residence Permit for Employment with any job, whether it is skilled or unskilled. Whether you work in an office, kitchen, hair salon or school, you can be approved for a Residence Permit for Employment. In addition to this, US citizens do not require a university qualification to be eligible for the Residence Permit for Employment. However, there are still some criteria that you must fulfil in order for the residence permit to be granted: 1. You must have received a job offer, i.e. an employment contract. 2. The employment conditions must be comparable with those of domestic employees, i.e. you must be paid on par with what a German citizen would be paid for similar employment. 3. The Federal Employment Agency must deem your salary sufficient to live off in Berlin. For most jobs, this requires you work full-time hours unless you land a job with a particularly high hourly rate. 4. The Federal Employment Agency also often perform a market priority check. If there are a high number of unemployed local workers in the same field that could technically fill the role, your Residence Permit for Employment may not be approved. This is uncommon though and we have only had two US citizens rejected on these grounds in the past two years. If this does happen, you are permitted to reapply with a new job or job title.

Our participants have a high success rate when it comes to landing their residence permits. As an example of the types of jobs that can be approved, we have had participants receive 3-year visas working as kitchen hands (40 hours a week at €9.75 an hour), customer service representatives (earning €2000 a month) and sales executives (earning €2300 a month). Note: These are just a select few examples – you can be approved with any job so long as it meets the criteria outlined in points 1 – 4 above.

The Job Market for Americans Moving to Berlin The Berlin job market is in rapid flux. With new, burgeoning startups springing up on a daily basis, there is a growing demand for international staff as companies work to break into overseas markets. When coupled with openings at established companies such as Zalando, Wayfair, N26, HelloFresh, GoEuro and Soundcloud (…and many more!), there are a large number of English-speaking jobs up for grabs across the city. Added to this, tourism is on the rise in Berlin, and hotels, hostels, restaurants and bars are increasingly looking for English-speaking staff to accommodate their international clientele.

In our experience, the most common English-speaking openings in Berlin are in: • Customer Service • Sales & Business Development • Recruitment • Hospitality • Childcare & Teaching • Tech • Marketing & Account Management

With opportunities for English speakers set to continue to increase, now’s the perfect time to polish the CV, update your LinkedIn and start looking for openings in Berlin. See below for details about how Nomaden can help you land a job in the German capital.

Health Insurance for American Citizens Moving to Berlin Germany combines one of the world’s best healthcare systems with affordable and comprehensive health insurance. If and when you receive a job offer in Germany, it is mandatory that you enter the Government Health Insurance System. As German health insurance is a pre-requisite requirement for obtaining a Residence Permit for Employment, it is not something you can substitute or get around with cheap international insurance or travel insurance. Once you do land a job, you have a range of German health insurance providers to choose from. While the most popular providers are AOK and TK (Techniker Krankenkasse), there are 113 health insurance providers to choose from. As a minimum, the coverage will include: • in-patient care • outpatient care • basic dental coverage As you are only eligible to apply once you have landed a job in Germany, you don’t need to worry about this during your job search. You simply need a travel insurance policy that gives you access to medical services while you look for a job in Berlin.

But what will this all cost you? The cost of a Government Health Insurance policy is calculated based on your gross salary and your employer is obliged to cover 50% of the cost. As a result, you can expect to pay approximately 8% of your gross salary towards health insurance contributions and this will be automatically taken from your monthly salary.

Accommodation Options for US Citizens Moving to Berlin With a competitive rental market, one of the trickier aspects of moving to Berlin is finding suitable accommodation in the city. Here it is essential that you secure accommodation that allows you to register at the address (Anmeldung) as this is needed to obtain a tax ID, apply for most bank accounts and, most importantly, apply for a Residence Permit for Employment. Obtaining an address registration certificate really is the first major administrative step to getting set up in Berlin and is often a frustrating hurdle to overcome when arriving in the city. For further details about address registration, see our blog post here. However, while competitive, there are still a large number of resources that you can use to land an apartment in Berlin. To get you started, check out WG-Gesucht and ImmobilienScout24, two of the most popular websites for finding available rooms in flatshares and whole apartments, respectively. In general, you can expect to pay €350 – €700 per month for a room in a flatshare and €750 – €1200 per month for an entire apartment. Note: Our Berlin Kickstarter and Berlin Pro programmes include 30-day private studio accommodation that allows address registration. You will receive your address registration documentation upon checking in to our accommodation and Nomaden will also book your address registration appointment at one of Berlin’s Bürgerämter (town halls).

How Nomaden Berlin Can Help You Relocate from the United States to Berlin

The Accommodation – as mentioned above, our Berlin Kickstarter and Berlin Pro programmes include 30-day private studio accommodation where address registration is possible, including all the necessary completed paperwork and an appointment booking service.

Added to this, our relocation platform includes long-term apartment hunting tips and resources for finding a room in a flatshare or an entire apartment and detailed information about essential documents for landing a long-term apartment in Berlin.

Visa Information and Support – all of our programmes include access to our full relocation platform that gives comprehensive step-by-step visa advice and support on how, where and when to apply for the Residence Permit for Employment. Our guidance will ensure you know the specific document requirements for your visa application and that you fulfill all the requirements for approval. We not only provide all the relevant application documents but also example templates and translations to ensure your visa application process goes smoothly.

The Job Market – all of our programmes include a large number of job-hunting resources: - Company listings including 500+ companies that employ non-German speakers in Berlin. - An extensive list of relevant job boards in Germany. - Job hunting information and tips for Germany. - Detailed CV and LinkedIn advice. - Editable CV template and CV examples for the German market.

The Health Insurance – we provide information regarding the types of health insurance available to you in Germany as well as contact details for our representative at one of the city’s leading insurance providers. Our contact can speed up the registration process and provide you with all the required certificates and policy documents in English.