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Hi - I am a US Citizen moving to Berlin. I have a 6 month contract with the likelihood to hire. The company is guessing that a freelance visa is best for me, but it seems that could take a long time. If things workout I will definitely stay in Berlin.

My first question is this the right kind of VISA to get to work soon? I'm planned to leave next week and have a lot of my appointments in November and December.

If this is the right VISA, will I be able to get paid before my VISA is complete? The company has a US headquarters but a separate entity in Berlin.

Thanks!
 

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In past years the freelance visa was kind of a catch-all beloved by Americans/Canadians and the like, relatively easy to get in Berlin. I've heard rumour that it's getting a little stricter, that you need more than one client plus a business plan etc. so that it really looks like you are setting up as self-employed. (Which also means providing your own health insurance, by the way.) What you have sounds more like a a six-month trial period followed possibly by a job offer.

There are two ways to go, I guess. Get a proper job offer and have the employer go through all the hoops to get you a work permit (strictly speaking, an Aufenhaltserlaubnis with permission to work) through the labour ministry review. Or you try the freelancer route.

Note that in both cases you're not getting a visa, since as a US citizen you can simply enter the country as a tourist then make the application directly at the Ausländerbehörde, once you've gotten your address registered and health insurance taken care of.

I don't know what field you're in, whether there's a shortage of German or EU citizens to do that kind of work, or where you're at with language. So I don't know what your chances are. But assuming you're in software or similar, if it were me I'd probably just show up at the Ausländerbehörde with all the paperwork in order (Anmeldung, health insurance, offer letter from employer, proof of savings to support yourself in the meantime) and see what they say.

Technically you can't actually work until you have the sticker in your passport, so you'd want to make an Ausländerbehörde appointment as soon as possible. That being said, some employers are surprisingly lax about not checking for work permits etc. so you could probably get away with it for a bit.

One more thing: if they aren't regularly hiring foreigners, don't expect your employer to know much about how this works. Smaller startups are happy to extend job offers without really having a clue about what's required for an American to acquire a work permit.
 
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