Work Authorization Services in Germany

Cultural Vistas’ Independent Work Abroad Program in Germany provides work authorization for students enrolled at U.S. universities and colleges. Enrolled students from Canada and non-U.S. students attending accredited U.S. colleges and universities are also eligible.

Participants find their own host companies and negotiate the terms of employment. Programs start individually, usually at the beginning of each month. Applications are due at least six weeks prior to your desired start date.

What’s Included

  • Assistance during the application process
  • Pre-departure information mailing
  • Health insurance (at an additional cost of $55 per month)
  • Work authorization services
  • Housing assistance
  • Enrollment in a language course (at an additional cost with limited stipends available)
  • Financial assistance for unpaid internships through the Cultural Vistas Scholarship Fund (apply separately, based on need)
  • Support throughout the program in Germany and the United States
  • Re-entry toolkit and tips on marketing your international experience to U.S. employers

Eligibility

Eligibility

  • U.S. and international citizens enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities and Canadian citizens enrolled in U.S. or Canadian colleges and universities are eligible for the program.
  • At least two years of university level studies in the field of your major
  • Basic knowledge of German (company can waive this requirement)

Costs

The program fee for the Independent Work Abroad Program in Germany is $450, which includes a non-refundable $75 administration fee. Applications are reviewed only after the program fee has been received. Please note that we will only process payments from qualified applicants.

Participants are responsible for all costs incurred in-country, including costs related to securing housing, taxes, and residence permit fees, which vary by city. Non-U.S. citizens are also responsible for any visa fees incurred in the United States. Please contact Internships Abroad at usabroad@culturalvistas.org for more information about typical costs and budgeting.

Program Details

Duration

Your internship can be up to 12 months long. You must negotiate the duration of your program with your host company.

Compensation

It is your responsibility to negotiate the compensation with your host company. For a modest student lifestyle, you will need approximately EUR 400–800 per month. Participants are responsible for all taxes. Tax deductions from your gross income may amount to approximately 30%, depending on the amount of compensation. Participants may be eligible for a partial refund of taxes paid.

Health Insurance

To ensure that all participants are covered throughout the duration of their internship, Cultural Vistas requires that all participants purchase our HTH Insurance policy (currently $55 per month). Students who are required to purchase equivalent international health insurance from their university will be exempt, but must provide proof of insurance enrollment and a letter from the university confirming coverage.

Housing

Many participants know where they will be staying before the program starts. Please note, however, that it is ultimately your responsibility to secure housing during your internship. You will receive guidelines for finding housing in Germany from Cultural Vistas before you depart. Finding housing in a foreign country is certainly a challenge; however, we consider it an important part of the internship experience. Most companies will help if you ask for assistance. If the company is unable to assist you, please contact Cultural Vistas immediately. We will try to help whenever possible. Remember: if you don’t tell us that you are experiencing problems with finding housing, we cannot do anything for you! Please note that you might need to confirm housing arrangements personally or sign a contract. Cultural Vistas cannot be responsible for housing arrangements that fall through due to a participant’s failure to follow up.

Travel

Participants must bear all travel costs. All travel arrangements and expenses within Germany are the responsibility of the participant. While we understand that you want to see as much as possible during your time in Europe, please note that this is not a work/ travel program. Participants are expected to spend the entire duration of their program completing their internship. Weekend trips to learn more about Germany and the German culture are of course encouraged.

Obtaining Work Authorization and a Residence Permit in Germany

Participants will receive work authorization for up to 12 months through the program. This document will be obtained by Cultural Vistas and mailed to the participants host company.

All participants receive their residence permits from the local authorities in their German host community. The residence permit is tied to the work authorization and will be issued upon personal application. Detailed information will be provided to you prior to your departure in the pre-departure information package.

How to Apply

Application Deadline

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Please apply at least six weeks prior to your desired start date.

Application Checklist

We encourage you to submit the majority of your application materials online. However, should you encounter any difficulties in uploading your application materials, please feel free to send them in hard copy to the address indicated below or as an attachment to usabroad@culturalvistas.org. The complete application must be submitted by 12:00 am (Eastern Time Zone) on the day of the application deadline (six weeks before your intended start date), including any materials mailed separately.

Application materials to be submitted:

  1. Online Application
    Please click the link above to request a password to the online application. Requesting a password does not mean that you have completed the online application process. After you have requested an application you will receive a username and password to access, complete, and submit an application. You may preview and edit your application at any time until you have clicked on the “Submit” button. We encourage you to print a copy of your completed application before submitting it. Please note that once an application has been submitted it is considered final.
  2. Professional Photo (example) – Your photo should be the same size and format as a passport photo, taken from the shoulder up in front of a monochromatic background. You should wear business attire. The picture can be taken with a digital camera but should be good quality.
  3. College Transcripts
  4. Letter from your college or university if your internship is mandatoryIf you are completing a mandatory internship as part of your degree, please provide a letter stating that the internship is mandatory.
  5. Current resume in English or German
  6. Copy of the picture page of your passport (example)
  7. Verpflichtungserklärung (Formal Obligation) (example) – This document verifies support by a third party, typically a parent or guardian. The form is a necessary step for acquiring work authorization and must be submitted even if you support yourself financially. Please use only this form.
  8. Certificate of Enrollment – This document must be signed and stamped by the registrar at your university. We are unable to accept forms printed on university letterhead. Please use only this form.
  9. Completed Statement of Insurance Coverage Form
  10. Completed Terms of Participation and Participant Code of Conduct Form
  11. $450 Program Fee (including non-refundable $75 administration fee)You can mail a check to our New York office made out to “Cultural Vistas.” Once you have submitted the online application, we can send you an invoice if you prefer to pay online with a credit or debit card. Please email us at usabroad@culturalvistas.org to request an invoice. Please note: Applications will not be processed until the program fee has been paid.

All hard copies of materials can be mailed to:

Cultural Vistas
Attn: Internships Abroad
440 Park Avenue S, Second Floor
New York, NY 10016

We encourage you to submit as much of your application online as possible.

Germany Visa Info


What is a visa?A visa is a document that allows one to enter and stay in a certain country and stay for a particular period of time for a specific purpose.

Do I need a visa?

  • US citizens do not need visas to enter and intern in Germany; they are able to enter and stay in Germany for up to three months with a valid US passport. In order to complete an internship, all participants will require a work authorization. As a participant in an internship program in Germany, Cultural Vistas will secure your work authorization on your behalf. We will also provide you with detailed information to guide you through the bureaucratic steps you will need to take once you arrive in Germany. Participants who will remain in the Schengen Zone for more than three months will need to apply for a residence permit at the local Ausländerbehörde (participants will receive more information regarding these steps after acceptance into the program).
  • Non-US citizens are responsible for obtaining their own visa as required by the German authorities. To determine whether you will require a visa to enter Germany, please visit the website of the Federal Foreign Ministry of Germany (in German or English). In order to obtain a visa, you will have to make an appointment to visit the German consulate responsible for your region of the United States.

Step One: Schedule an Appointment

Once you know which consulate you will need to visit, you can typically schedule an appointment on the consulate’s website (see links below). Most consulates in the United States have two visa appointment categories: tourist and employment. Although you will be in Germany as an intern, you will make an appointment for a tourist visa, not an employment visa. By the time you visit the consulate, we will have already secured your work authorization (Arbeitsmarktzulassung) from the German government allowing you to live and work in Germany for the duration of your internship; you will simply need the visa for permission to enter the country. An employment visa is designed for those entering Germany to work at a full-time position for an extended period of time, not an internship. The procedure for the tourist visa most closely matches your purpose for entering Germany.

As available appointment times fill up rather quickly, it is important that you schedule the appointment as soon as you have paid your program fee. Visa processing time is usually one week, and we recommend making an appointment for two weeks prior to your departure to Germany.

Please keep in mind that you will need to have your work authorization with you at your appointment. Because work authorization is issued for specific internships, we cannot provide you with your work authorization until you have received your internship placement. Therefore, if you book an appointment that is too early, we will be unable to provide you with the necessary documents. An appointment more than four weeks before you depart for Germany may not allow enough time for your work authorization to arrive.

Step Two: Gather the Necessary Documents

In addition to the documents required by the consulate, you will need the following documents from Cultural Vistas with you at your appointment:
  • A scan of your work authorization (Arbeitsmarktzulassung)
  • A support letter describing our organization, the program, and your purpose in Germany
  • A copy of your Certificate of Enrollment
  • A copy of your Verpflichtungserklärung
Once you have made your appointment, it is your responsibility to contact the Internships Abroad team at Cultural Vista to inform us of your appointment date and time and to request to have these documents sent to you.

Step Three: Visiting the Consulate

When you visit the consulate, please have all required materials together in a folder or envelope. Be sure that they are neat and organized. We also recommend having two high-quality copies of each document in a separate folder or envelope. (For the passport, this means the photo page containing all of your data.)

Please contact us with any questions or concerns at any time while acquiring your visa. We are here to help!

German Consulates outside the United States

If you are an international student who will travel outside the United States before going to Germany, you may wish to make your visa appointment in another country. Please be advised that various consulates may have different policies and procedures. Please contact these consulates directly for any questions you may have. Cultural Vistas cannot provide information on processing times and procedures for appointments made at consulates outside of the United States.

Links

German Consulates General in the United States Federal Foreign Ministry of Germany US Department of State

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need insurance coverage?

To ensure that all participants are covered throughout the duration of their internship, Cultural Vistas requires that all participants purchase our HTH Insurance policy (currently $55 per month). Students who are required to purchase equivalent international health insurance from their university will be exempt, but must provide proof of insurance enrollment and a letter from the university confirming coverage.

Will I have an opportunity to travel while interning abroad?

Cultural Vistas encourages you to explore as much as possible during your time abroad; however, please keep in mind that you are an employee at a company. Therefore, you are expected to attend work according to the expectations of your employer.

Will I receive school credit for my internship?

Credit is given at the discretion of each respective college or university. Be sure to speak with a coordinator at your school before beginning the internship to arrange proper credit. Cultural Vistas is able to provide a letter certifying participation in the program should the university request it. Contact your program officer for assistance.

Will I need to pay taxes in Germany or the United States?

Tax deductions from your gross income may amount to approximately 30%, depending on the amount of compensation. Participants may be eligible for a partial refund of taxes paid. Unfortunately, due to legal issues, Cultural Vistas cannot offer tax assistance to its participants.

Do I need to speak German?

We expect participants to have at least a basic knowledge of the German language. Should your host company determine that your work environment is mostly in English, this requirement can be waived; however, please note it is in your best interest to know your host country’s language. If further language training is required prior to your internship, we recommend the Carl Duisberg Centren (CDC) language schools in Berlin, Cologne, Radolfzell or Munich.

How much is the program fee and what does it cover? What additional costs can I expect?

The program fee of $450 ($75 application fee + $375 program fee) includes work authorization and assistance with other bureaucratic matters, a pre-departure mailing, support throughout the program in Germany and in the United States, and a reentry toolkit upon completion of the program. The participant is responsible for airfare, housing, meals, and transportation within the host country.

Insurance must be purchased through Cultural Vistas (currently $55 per month), unless proof of enrollment in equivalent international insurance required by your university is provided. Four-week language courses including a homestay and breakfast are available at a cost of about $1,900 (varies based on the current exchange rate).

Are graduating seniors and recent graduates eligible?

We are unable to accept applications for graduating seniors and recent graduates. Participants in the program must be enrolled at a U.S. or Canadian (for Canadian citizens) college or university for the duration of their internships. If it is possible to extend your graduation date to accommodate this requirement, we would be happy to invite you to apply. You may be interested in the Independent Work Abroad Program in Switzerland, which is open to graduates.

Does Cultural Vistas offer scholarships?

Scholarships are available through the Cultural Vistas Scholarship Fund for those who have already been accepted into the program.  All eligible participants will receive a scholarship application via email. Scholarships are available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents of the United States (Green Card holders). Priority will be given to participants with financial need and to those with unpaid internships.

Will I receive a refund if I don’t find an internship?

Yes. The program fee paid (less the $75 non-refundable application fee) will be refunded if you are accepted into the program and are unable to locate an internship. You may also wait until your internship is confirmed before applying, if this allows for a total processing time of six weeks.

Does Cultural Vistas find an internship for me in this program?

Participants of the Independent Work Abroad Program find their own internships and Cultural Vistas provides them with the necessary paperwork and general support. If you are interested in our placement programs in Germany, please visit the Summer Internship Program in Germany and Internship Program in Germany pages.

How long does it take to process my work permit and where can I pick it up?

The processing time for your work permit varies depending on the time of year. On average, the documentation is issued in three to four weeks and will be sent directly to the contact person at the host company you indicated in your application.

What is the duration of the program? Can I extend my internship?

The duration of the Independent Work Abroad Program in Germany depends on the conditions you negotiate with your employer. It is possible to extend the internship in accordance with your host company. The work authorization associated with the program can be extended to a maximum of twelve months in total and is only valid for the internship for which it has been issued.

Where will I live during the program?

It is your responsibility to secure your own living arrangement. Finding housing in a foreign country is certainly a challenge; however, it is an important part of the internship experience. Most companies will help if you tell them that you need assistance. If the company is unable to assist you, please contact Cultural Vistas and we will try to help you whenever possible. You will receive guidelines for finding housing in Germany from Cultural Vistas before you depart. Popular housing options include shared apartments with other students or interns.

Do I need a visa?

US Citizens

US citizens do not need visas to enter and intern in Germany; they are able to enter and stay in Germany for up to three months with a valid US passport. In order to complete an internship, all participants will require a work authorization. As a participant in an internship program in Germany, Cultural Vistas will secure your work authorization on your behalf. We will also provide you with detailed information to guide you through the bureaucratic steps you will need to take once you arrive in Germany. Participants who will remain in the Schengen Zone for more than three months will need to apply for a residence permit at the local Ausländerbehörde (participants will receive more information regarding these steps after acceptance into the program).

Non-US Citizens

Non-US citizens are responsible for obtaining their own visa as required by the German authorities. To determine whether you will require a visa to enter Germany, please visit the website of the Federal Foreign Ministry of Germany (in German or English). In order to obtain a visa, you will have to make an appointment to visit the German consulate responsible for your region of the United States.

What is a visa?

A visa is a document that allows one to enter and stay in a certain country and stay for a particular period of time for a specific purpose.

How do I obtain a visa?

Step One: Schedule an Appointment

Once you know which consulate you will need to visit, you can typically schedule an appointment on the consulate’s website (see links below). Most consulates in the United States have two visa appointment categories: tourist and employment. Although you will be in Germany as an intern, you will make an appointment for a tourist visa, not an employment visa. By the time you visit the consulate, we will have already secured your work authorization (Arbeitsmarktzulassung) from the German government allowing you to live and work in Germany for the duration of your internship; you will simply need the visa for permission to enter the country. An employment visa is designed for those entering Germany to work at a full-time position for an extended period of time, not an internship. The procedure for the tourist visa most closely matches your purpose for entering Germany.

As available appointment times fill up rather quickly, it is important that you schedule the appointment as soon as you have paid your program fee. Visa processing time is usually one week, and we recommend making an appointment for two weeks prior to your departure to Germany.

Please keep in mind that you will need to have your work authorization with you at your appointment. Because work authorization is issued for specific internships, we cannot provide you with your work authorization until you have received your internship placement. Therefore, if you book an appointment that is too early, we will be unable to provide you with the necessary documents. An appointment more than four weeks before you depart for Germany may not allow enough time for your work authorization to arrive.

Step Two: Gather the Necessary Documents

In addition to the documents required by the consulate, you will need the following documents from Cultural Vistas with you at your appointment:

  • A scan of your work authorization (Arbeitsmarktzulassung)
  • A support letter describing our organization, the program, and your purpose in Germany
  • A copy of your Certificate of Enrollment
  • A copy of your Verpflichtungserklärung

Once you have made your appointment, it is your responsibility to contact the Internships Abroad team at Cultural Vista to inform us of your appointment date and time and to request to have these documents sent to you.

Step Three: Visiting the Consulate

When you visit the consulate, please have all required materials together in a folder or envelope. Be sure that they are neat and organized. We also recommend having two high-quality copies of each document in a separate folder or envelope. (For the passport, this means the photo page containing all of your data.)

Please contact us with any questions or concerns at any time while acquiring your visa. We are here to help!

German Consulates outside the United States

If you are an international student who will travel outside the United States before going to Germany, you may wish to make your visa appointment in another country. Please be advised that various consulates may have different policies and procedures. Please contact these consulates directly for any questions you may have. Cultural Vistas cannot provide information on processing times and procedures for appointments made at consulates outside of the United States.

Links

German Consulates General in the United States

Federal Foreign Ministry of Germany

US Department of State