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Americans in Berlin?
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Shaytess



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 8:27 am    Post subject: Update Reply with quote

Okay, I am still in Berlin and still working on the paperwork. I was offered a few freelance positions and also 1 contracted position, so I had to choose. It seems not too difficult to find freelance positions and that is what I was talking about in all my previous posts, where the government has made an exception to let Americans start working more quickly. If you go the freelance route, you have to work at at least 2 schools - you can't get all of your pay at one school or then you're not a freelancer. Again, the Americans who I have met here so far are all freelancers. This means that you earn more per hour than a contracted worker (I was offered 16 Euros per hour to start) but have to pay all your own taxes, insurance, etc. And it is expensive, the taxes and insurance. Still, you can do it if you don't mind having a roommate or something.
However, I opted for the contracted position, because my school will pay 50% of my taxes and insurance and pension stuff, and also I SHOULD get a work permit... I don't want to jinx myself because I haven't gotten it yet. To get a work permit, as Spiral78 said, is difficult for Americans because then your school has to prove that there are no EU citizens that can do the same job or have the same qualifications. My school is going to make the claim for me that because I have my M.A. and TESOL, and have supervising experience, that there are not currently any EU people with the same qualifications wanting a job at this school. Still, the government will check this by looking at their database of unemployed EU people to make sure it is true before hiring me, which takes 3 weeks to 2 months. THEN they can give me a work permit.
I must add some disclaimers here, too, that I am here with my husband and our life savings, and we are living for free in a friend's apartment, which makes it possible for me to live for a while without working. I wouldn't come without money saved up or a friend to live with! Also, the pay is extremely bad for the contracted position. I am looking at it as, getting health insurance, vacation, and taxes paid is worth the bad pay... but really, it will be about 800 Euros per month after taxes and insurance are paid...
The next step is for me to go to the Auslanderbehorde (sorry if I spelled it wrong) to apply for my residency and work permit. You make an appointment with them, they send you a list of things you need like insurance, passport photos, paperwork, etc. and you show up. I will also have a "Letter of Intent to Hire" from the company that wants to hire me. Our appointment is in 2 weeks. I have my fingers crossed and will keep people updated!
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9488
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for keeping the thread going - I'll be interested to hear whether it all works out in the end.

I had an employer who was willing to go to court in Nederlands to apply for an exception in my case (I, too, have an MA TEFL/TESL and no one else had applied for the job in 18 months - plus there was an extensive petition signed by students at that university saying that they needed at least one North American native speaker on the language centre staff).

The court refused to even hear the case.

That was Nederlands, not Germany. Germany was much easier for N. Americans a few years back, and then tightened the exeption laws considerably two/three years ago, to the point that established North Americans were unable to renew their existing work permits and had to leave the country.

I'm very curious about the current situation. I've got some standing connections in Karlsruhe and would love to try to get a contract for the next academic year, if I'm eligible.

I also have Czech citizenship, but Czechs are restricted from employment in Germany - it's only granted on a very selective basis, such as for engineers.
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Shaytess



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My husband and I just went to the Auslanderbehorde (Residency-Work Permit place) yesterday. It may be of interest that my husband - also American - got a job offer as a Marketing Specialist. I will let people know how things go for him, too, in case any of you are coming with your non-English teaching spouses.

We both applied for our Residency Permits and Work Visas. Nowadays, you can apply for both at the same time, unlike in the past. We gave the Auslanderbehorde all our paperwork and now have to wait 3-6 weeks to see whether we have been accepted or rejected.

If we are turned down, we can apply again, with different job offers. Or we can apply JUST for a residency permit. Personally, if I am rejected, I will apply again as a freelancer, because it is much easier to get a work permit to freelance. (I asked the Auslanderbehorde lady about the other Americans I know who were granted permission to work on the spot, during their actual Auslanderbehorde appointment, and she confirmed that this sometimes happens for freelance teachers, but not if you are applying for a contracted position.)

Will post again about what happens next...
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Mephisto



Joined: 12 Jul 2005
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, keep us posted - your experiances are quite helpful,
Cheers,
pawel
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lunasea



Joined: 18 Nov 2007
Posts: 11
Location: Milan, Italy

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks for all your info!

can i ask you at what sort of places you interviewed at and got job proposals from? (ie, private language schools? public schools such as elementary or high schools, etc?)
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Shaytess



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First I interviewed for positions as a freelancer at private language schools like Berlitz & accelingua. I also interviewed at Wall Street Institute, which is the school that offered me a contracted position. To my knowledge, this is the only chain of schools that offers contracted positions (with benefits & guaranteed hours) and not freelance positions. There may be other schools that offer contracted positions but I haven't heard of any others.

I do not believe that Elementary, Jr. High, or High Schools hire foreign English teachers because school teachers here have to pass a special exam after university and without passing the exam I think you can't teach. I checked into International schools here, too, and they wouldn't hire me because I do not have a teaching license - I mean, I have a TESOL Cert. but not a U.S. teaching license for teaching kids.

I did meet a couple foreigners (though not Americans) teaching at nursery schools and kindergartens - but only a few hours a week, to do songs and games.
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Shaytess



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 7:15 pm    Post subject: WORKING!!! Reply with quote

BAD NEWS: As predicted by Spiral78, my application for a full-time work permit was rejected, on the grounds that there is a waiting list of EU citizens. Damn you, Germany! I didn't want to pay your old people's pensions anyway!

The very shady thing is that, if this were true, they should have sent these EU waiting list people to be interviewed by my prospective boss. However, he did not hear anything from the Work Permit people. He didn't even get a CV until Friday afternoon - and Monday morning was my appointment where I learned that I was rejected. So, I really do not think that I was given 'due process' or whatever you might call it. My prospective boss is very angry and is taking this up with the Auslanderbehorde.


GOOD NEWS: While I was rejected for a full-time work permit, I was given my permit to freelance on the spot. Today was my first day of work in Germany. I made 120 Euros. Not bad! While I will have to pay for my own Health Insurance and won't be eligible for German pension or anything, I will also make a lot more money per hour and have control over my own schedule, as opposed to having to work whatever hours they assign me.


CONCLUSION: Don't try to get a full-time work permit. It is much easier to get a freelancer permit and it takes a lot less time.


PM Me if you have questions!

Sincerely, Happily Working Shaytess
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9488
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats! It's not probably a feasible long-term situation, but it's a start.
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lunasea



Joined: 18 Nov 2007
Posts: 11
Location: Milan, Italy

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

that's good news! happy to hear about that, shaytess. im still considering moving from italy to berlin in the next few months, most likely in the summer. i wonder what the prospects will be like in the summertime, around may or so? Question i have my american and italian citizenship tho, so i guess i wouldnt have to worry about any work permits, etc?
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Shaytess



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know because I haven't been here for a summer yet...it's a good question. When I was in Istanbul, demand for English lessons was much less in the summer. But here...? Does anybody know?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9488
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Europeans take their holiday time very seriously. Plan to do something else in August, for sure - and July will likely be quite slow, as will early September.
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lunasea



Joined: 18 Nov 2007
Posts: 11
Location: Milan, Italy

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well, update from me (if you dont mind me hijacking your thread for a moment, shaytess!) i'm moving to berlin in 5 days, very excited altho a bit nervous on the job part-- i'm a very dedicated and passionate teacher (it's absolutely my calling in life..) but i only have a solid year and a half of experience (since i was in grad school before teaching.) i'm very outgoing and ambitious tho, and i hope my personality and presence can compensate somewhat for my lack of experience! Confused wish me luck, people!
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JZer



Joined: 16 Jan 2005
Posts: 3824
Location: Alaska

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Europeans take their holiday time very seriously. Plan to do something else in August, for sure - and July will likely be quite slow, as will early September.


If you don't mind traveling around maybe you could get hired to work at that traveling summer camp. There is an English summer camp that goes around Germany and Austria. You should be able to find the information by searching google.
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lunasea



Joined: 18 Nov 2007
Posts: 11
Location: Milan, Italy

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JZer wrote:


If you don't mind traveling around maybe you could get hired to work at that traveling summer camp. There is an English summer camp that goes around Germany and Austria. You should be able to find the information by searching google.


that would be nice, but my bf lives in berlin so i would like to stay near him. Smile good idea tho!!
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Shaytess



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:37 am    Post subject: Update: American in Berlin, several years later Reply with quote

Hello Dave's ESL Cafe readers. I posted a lot on here when I was new, looking for advice and so now would like to give an update and some advice in return.

I'm an American happily living and working in Berlin now for 7 years. The first 6 months were indeed not easy and came along with a full-time work permit rejection and successful re-application as a freelancer.

After 1.5 years of freelancing, I got a full-time job at one of my schools and have been a full-time employee since then.

In addition to my language school job, two years ago I cofounded my own company, Expath, to help those in the same situation as I was get a work or residency permit, find jobs (without German), get health insurance, find an apartment and figure out the whole bureaucratic process related to moving to Germany. We also teach expats German so that they can manage the system on their own going forward. We have gained a lot of experience helping people get a freelance work permit, Germany-wide, and work closely with a residency and immigration lawyer who can help out with any tricky cases.

What I would like to say to you is, where there's a will there's a way. If, indeed, your dream is to teach English in Berlin, you can. You will need savings, a university degree, a game plan, and a lot of motivation and energy for networking and job searching - but if hundreds of others have done it, so can you. Here is some advice based on my last two years of professional experience assisting freelancers in Germany with work permits and dealing with taxes/health insurance/etc.

Expath's residency & immigration lawyer has told us that what the Ausländerbehörde wants to see is that you can prove that you can fully and independently cover all your expenses as a freelancer - this includes at a minimum the costs of your rent and health insurance, plus approx. 350-500 Euros per month for expenses (depending on your city in Germany, and not including if you have dependents).

If you are American-Canadian-New Zealander-Australian, here is what you will need to apply for a freelance work permit at the Ausländerbehörde (in Berlin, requirements may vary slightly in other cities):
-a university degree (bring the original with you)
-a 'Revenue Forecast' - usually proven by 2+ Letters of Intent from local schools interested in working with you on a freelance basis
-a 'Financing Plan' - that can be a personal budget you work out on an excel spreadsheet, showing your projected income and expenses
-health insurance that covers you fully in Germany (an international health insurance broker is very helpful here)
-CV, letters of reference, certifications - anything proving your qualifications or work experience
-passport and biometric passport photos

Showing savings or a TEFL Certificate is not necessary for applying for a freelance work permit, but I recommend including them if you have them. Having 6 months' savings (the more the better) is highly recommended in general, as it can take that long to start working enough to support yourself.

Our residency and immigration lawyer has said to think of the whole process like going to court: if you present a strong case and facts, are persuasive and seem like an upstanding citizen, you will likely persuade the 'judge' (i.e. Ausländerbehörde caseworker) to give you a permit. On the other hand, if you seem untrustworthy, present a flimsy case, or are missing some facts, you are likely to get your work permit rejected. (In this case, you can always collect more/better evidence and appeal.)

Normally American-Canadian-New Zealander-Australians can come to Germany for 90 days visa-free. But even if you haven't managed to find 2+ Letters of Intent in that time there are several ways to buy yourself additional time to stay and search, including getting a German language student residency permit, a 2-year 'Studienvorbereitung' permit, or (in Berlin) the 6-month residency permit for qualified workers to search for employment. All in all, it is possible to buy yourself quite a lot of additional time to search for jobs, as long as you can show the authorities you have enough savings (and that you have health insurance, are signed up for intensive German class, etc.).

I hope that this advice will be helpful to those of you who would like to teach in Germany.

Finally - the language school where I am currently working is hiring English and German teachers to teach both online (teachers should be based in W. Europe/N.America due to tech reasons) and in Berlin, so if you are interested please PM me!

Best regards,
Shaytess
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