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HLJ



Joined: 12 Jul 2007
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 2:22 pm    Post subject: American Freelancers Reply with quote

Hi.
I have read some threads on this topic but have some questions.
I have a CELTA and 3 years of teaching experience (and a Bachelor's and an MSc).
Currently, I am teaching in Prague and am considering moving to Berlin.
I am an American citizen (USA) and would like to know if anyone has had any recent experiences in obtaining a freelance visa to teach in Berlin.
Has anyone had any recent problems when they tried to obtain a freelance visa? Do you have to show that you have a certain amount of savings available?
My goal is to obtain permanent residency and eventually EU citizenship. I understand that a freelance visa is renewable every year and after 5 years, it is possible to obtain permanent residency. Then after 3 more years (8 years total), it is possible to become a German citizen and to therefore work and live anywhere in the EU.
Once a person becomes a permanent resident, I suppose he/she could then apply for any job and not have to work only as an English teacher.
If an American becomes a German citizen, does he/she have to give up his/her American citizenship or is dual citizenship allowed in Germany?
Also, has anyone working in Germany as an English teacher been affected by the economic crisis? Has there been a reduction in the amount of jobs available for English teachers? Here in Prague, some companies have cancelled their classes in order to reduce costs.
Thanks in advance for any information!
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UICAlum



Joined: 12 Dec 2008
Posts: 4
Location: Stuttgart

PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I am in Stuttgart, not Berlin, I did just get permission to work in Germany (about a half month ago in fact). One problem I ran into was that the Auslaenderbehoerde (aliens office) wanted me to have at least two companies that offered me work, and said that in order to be a freelance English teacher, I had to have two. I really had no other problems with the government. As an American it was really quite simple, and even though I put down that I would support myself with savings and a job, I was not asked to show a bank statement or provide any financial information.

That being said, it seems that in Germany each auslaenderbehoerde will enforce the rules that they see fit. They may decide that they care about one thing and not another in Berlin (and even more frustrating is that there may be more than one office in Berlin, and definitely many more in the surrounding area). You need to apply where you have residency, not work (i.e. you live in a suburb but commute to Berlin for work, apply for work permission in the suburb).

Even though the government was nice enough with me, the system seems to have built in catch 22's. For instance in order to get work permission, you must first have an apartment and done your anmeldung. The problem with this is finding anyone to rent to you with no job, and the anxiety of signing a lease that extends past your passport. THEY WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO USE A HOSTEL, HOTEL, OR OTHER TEMPORARY RESIDENCE WHEN APPLYING. You do, however get work and residency permission all in one process, after you have an apartment and job in line.

A list of what you will need, and may need:
-passport
-passport photo (separate for the permit)
-insurance (as a freelancer you will need to insure yourself through a private company like DKV, not AOK. Insurance is an absolute must, you can not work without it)
-copy of your lease
-copy of your anmeldung (proof that you registered you apartment in the area, which needs to be done before you have residency permission really)
-transcript/diploma (proof that you are qualified, may not need it, but I did)
-the completed application for temporary residence (available online, not sure where for Berlin)
-letter from your intended employers saying they will hire you (have them fill out how much you can make, helps speed things up)
-contract from employer for freelance work
-possibly a current bank statement

The visa is renewable provided that you can prove that you were able to support yourself the previous year, showing them your earnings and expenses. It is my feeling that the market has slowed down the language school business, but there is still plenty out there (try nachhilfe too, private stuff on the side to supplement. Tutoring kids or giving SAT prep help for students aspiring to study in the US).

Not completely sure on the citizenship stuff, but I do know it is very difficult to get in Germany, and only in the case of Israelis (my understanding) is dual citizenship allowed, so you would most likely need to renounce your US citizenship (but don't quote me on that).

Once you have been here five years, you can work were you like, and if you can somehow get EU citizenship first you can do that before five years (ie maybe showing that you have been living/working in Prague too).

Helpful cites:
http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/diplo/en/WillkommeninD/EinreiseUndAufenthalt/Visabestimmungen.html

The German fed gov page, do not try to contact them however, the local authorities are in charge of such matters and the feds won't be able to help much.

Toytowngermany.com is a site for Germany's English speaking crowd, and has tons of useful information and message boards. They have people who can really help with citizenship questions, or any other questions, and also have things like meet ups for expats, so you don't get so lonely (Not everyone on there is necessarily from an English speaking country either, I have met Russians and Indians on there, so there are a wide range of views on Germany, which I think is useful).

Hope that helps
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Hod



Joined: 28 Apr 2003
Posts: 917
Location: Home

PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

UICAlum wrote:
-insurance (as a freelancer you will need to insure yourself through a private company like DKV, not AOK. Insurance is an absolute must, you can not work without it)


Not just freelancers, everyone must now have health insurance. No one checks this for EU folk, but for non-EU citizens applying for a residence permit at the Ausleanderbehoerde (foreigners’ department), this is on the first tick list you will ever submit. Without proper insurance, you will not get past first base. This rule has been tightened to the point of being daft in recent months. Normal travel insurance is no longer enough. The requirement now seems to be insurance from a German provider. There is, though, at least one company called A La Carte, who offer international (and cheaper) insurance which currently seems to be OK as far as the Ausleanderbehoerde are concerned. Someone else mentioned the Toytown Germany website, and you really have to ask the two or so experts on there before buying any insurance.

I’m EU and OK, Jack, but this new ruling sucks for non-EU applicants. My German Insurance is 250 Euros a month, and I am only in my thirties. Admittedly, everything is covered from dental and optical through to chronic conditions, which BUPA, etc, will not touch. I am even covered worldwide including the USA, there is no opting out of this unwanted cover. But comprehensive and expensive cover aside, the rationale is that premiums start high but stay constant as you get older* and more of an insurance risk. This is fine for me as I will stay in Germany a long time, maybe forever, but someone planning two or three years max here will be paying silly money. Budgeting for health insurance must now be part of any non-EU citizen’s plans before they even leave for Germany.

*Try entering some ages into the quote section of A La Carte’s website, and see premiums double from 35 to 50 years of age.
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UICAlum



Joined: 12 Dec 2008
Posts: 4
Location: Stuttgart

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hod is of course right on many points. There are several sites that provide quotes on insurance, but I found it even cheaper just walking into DKV. I only have bare bone coverage, but I also only pay 67 euros a month (I hope I don't sound like an ad for DKV). My point on the insurance was that there are two kinds (as I say private, that is not really accurate as neither form are entirely private). It is my understanding that as a freelance teacher making over 400 euros a month, you will need Private Krankenversicherung, which include the companies Debaka Kranken, DKV, Allianz, Signal, DBV-Winterthur, Central Kranken, Bayerische Beamtenkasse, Continentale, HUK-Coburg-Kranken, and Barmenia Kranken. You should probably ask around, but I was flat out told no by AOK, the other kind of insurance company. They said they could not insure a freelance teacher. Hope that helps.
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puhutes



Joined: 07 Nov 2007
Posts: 46

PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi! I just wanted to mention that I have a "Versicherungs Makkler" (an insurance sales man) and a year ago I got privately insured with Hallesche. They often take foreigners (non-EU) where other companies may not. I pay around 250€ a month for private insurance. The points I needed to meet to stay in Germany (get a work visa for teaching English) were:
1. proof of health insurance... Hallesche
2. proof of monthly income... either statements or a letter from your tax advisor
3. Valid passport and passport photo (as mentioned above in the thread).. I think it cost me 50€ for the 1 year "Arbeitserlaubnis"
That was it! I was very shocked, and quite lucky! Depending on where you are registered, they may be more picky and ask you for more.
Greetings, Jennifer
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Saintblu



Joined: 17 May 2007
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those cheap (60- 80euro) travel insurances usually state in the fine print the your Wohnsitz (place of residence) must be outside Germany. The second part of the fine print says " If you fill the form out incorrectly we reserve the right to take your money and not cover you" <------------no joke

When my German got better and I re-read the contract over a beer I almost choked to death... which would have been unfortunate because I wouldn't have been covered if they tried to help me as my residence was in Germany.
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renovatio



Joined: 21 Mar 2010
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

UICAlum you wrote:
Quote:
and the anxiety of signing a lease that extends past your passport


Can you elaborate on this? You mean past the 90 days of an American being able to stay in Germany right? Not past the expiration of your passport as those last for 10 years. I know this is probably a silly question but I'd thought I'd be sure about it, and thanks a lot for the list of things I need for Germany.
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Shaytess



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm American and I've been in Berlin for several years now and it took me about 2 months to get my freelance English teaching work permit, between applying and picking it up. With your experience and qualifications, I'd say you can definitely find work here, but the thing is, it takes several months not only to get the work permit but also to build up a full schedule of classes to where you can make enough money to live.

Several teacher friends who have gotten their work permits in the past year in Berlin have reported ridiculously different stories, from 'I got it on the day I went in to drop off my paperwork' to the incredibly dumb following story. My American teacher friend, a 23-year-old girl, got (expensive - 200 Euros a month) German insurance, as the Auslaenderbehoerde is less and less likely to accept cheap travel insurance. The clerk told her that this was inadequate, as it doesn't cover pregnancy. She told the clerk, at 23 she has absolutely no intention of becoming pregnant and uses birth control, etc. etc. The clerk told her absolutely no way around this. So she had to purchase additional, full pregnancy cover (i.e. prenatal checkups, delivery, hospital care, etc.) at an additional cost per month. Crazy.

About showing how much you have in the bank - they don't ask for this in Berlin but they DO want 1 or 2 Letters of Intent to Hire. That's the letter from a school stating that they'd be interested in working with you. Schools don't usually give these out until meeting you in person (like during an interview). From my point of view, it's a good idea to put on a suit, go around in person to the different schools in Berlin, ask to speak to the director, and give him/her your CV.

About the economic crisis, yes, many companies have cut back on the number of classes they're offering to their employees (through language schools) - BUT there's also special government funding for companies to get 'free' or subsidized classes for their employees. Also, the government is sponsoring classes for the unemployed, which is nice.

Overall, it is a difficult, time-consuming, and expensive (cause you have to live off savings for several months) investment. But it was worth it all : )
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rlp5321



Joined: 26 Jul 2009
Posts: 15
Location: Hamburg, Germany

PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shaytess wrote:
My American teacher friend, a 23-year-old girl, got (expensive - 200 Euros a month) German insurance, as the Auslaenderbehoerde is less and less likely to accept cheap travel insurance. The clerk told her that this was inadequate, as it doesn't cover pregnancy. She told the clerk, at 23 she has absolutely no intention of becoming pregnant and uses birth control, etc. etc. The clerk told her absolutely no way around this. So she had to purchase additional, full pregnancy cover (i.e. prenatal checkups, delivery, hospital care, etc.) at an additional cost per month. Crazy.


Why is this crazy? Afterall, most pregnancies that occur are unplanned. If you are a woman of reproductive age, Yes you should have to buy health insurance that covers pregnancies - planned or unplanned.

I am now in Hamburg and I am going through the process of getting a workpermit. I have to buy health insurance coverage for pregnancy although I have no immediate plans to have a child. It makes sense though - the German government wants to make certain that they are not stuck footing the bill for someone's 'oops, I am pregnant' event.

The process seems pretty easy. I have one letter of intent from a company, but they are willing to approve my visa because I have a bank account with at least X thousand dollars in savings to support myself. I have an appointment in the middle of this month to complete this process and as long as everything is in order (i.e. health insurance) I can walk out the same day with the permit.
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Hod



Joined: 28 Apr 2003
Posts: 917
Location: Home

PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rlp5321 wrote:
Why is this crazy? Afterall, most pregnancies that occur are unplanned. If you are a woman of reproductive age, Yes you should have to buy health insurance that covers pregnancies - planned or unplanned.


Everything is planned in Germany.

German health insurance laws are probably the strictest in Europe. I’ve copied and pasted a very small extract below. There’s nothing, however, written about cover being required for pregnancy. “Real” German insurance covers every eventuality, even chronic stuff such as diabetes. Pregnancy will be covered as a matter of course.

There are a small number of non-German insurance providers who will be permitted in Germany, although expert advice is required before going with any of them. These insurances are offered as “pregnancy free” or “pregnant”, the latter obviously costing more. Again, there is no “pregnancy” requirement at the Auslaenderbehoerde, who have no weird extra rules and have no choice but to follow the same laws as everyone else in Germany. If some clerk asks for a “pregnancy premium”, demand that they show you where this requirement is written down. All German laws are available on line; google the extract below. If the Auslaenderbehoerde still insist on this German “I am right” nonsense, try another day with another clerk.

Versicherungsvertragsgesetz (Insurance Law)
§ 193 Para 3
Jede Person mit Wohnsitz im Inland ist verpflichtet, bei einem in Deutschland zum Geschäftsbetrieb zugelassenen Versicherungsunternehmen ... eine Krankheitskostenversicherung...
(Every person with residence in Germany must have health insurance with a company approved to operate in Germany.)
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jojo25



Joined: 26 Jan 2010
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just wondering what EU citizens experience with this is? I'm a Brit, currently in Berlin. I would say "living" but that's not strictly true. I've got a Zwischenmiete Vertrag (well one that you print of the internet) for a few months, before I plan to leave in July. Thing is, as soon as I ask about work, I get asked about my "Zivi"? Do I have to take out private health insurance, if I'm just thinking about working? At the moment, all I'll got is my European Health Insurance card. I feel like I'm in catch 22. I'm not angemeldet, because I'm not confident I can prove I'm insured. And I don't really want to take out private insurance, if after that I can't find a job. What are your opinions?
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athenssoest



Joined: 24 Dec 2009
Posts: 41
Location: middle of nowhere United States

PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm almost positive that Germany does not allow dual citizenship. I have some friends with one German parent and one foreign parent, and they all had to eventually decide which citizenship to take. I don't think it's common for foreigners to obtain German citizenship, I don't know a single one who has.
Might I suggest just getting permenant residence in Germany instead of citizenship? It only takes 5 years, but I'm not sure if you'd be able to work in other EU countries with it.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9438
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Permanent residence in one EU country does NOT allow you to work in others (it's my own case, so I know for sure). Only citizenship does it.
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renovatio



Joined: 21 Mar 2010
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:23 pm    Post subject: My experience in Germany Reply with quote

I've finally received my work permit in Germany and I will repay the help I received on here by discussing my experience and giving some tips and pointers.

A special thanks to UICAlum, thank you I hope you're doing well. Okay, for starters finding work in Germany for me was easy. Before heading over to Germany I mass emailed my Europass CV. My plane landed on a Friday and I had an interview with a language center on the following Monday. I wanted to enjoy Germany a little more first before diving in, but obviously I wasn't in the postion to so no. I went through two interviews with one center and a couple of days after my second interview I was called by another language center for an interview. I was offered a postion at both schools, and started a month long training session (2 weeks per school). The training is intensive, and it isn't something you can sleep through, especially for one of the centers I got hired by.

Getting a job was a little easier than getting my work permit however. It wasn't difficult getting work permit at all, but the main thing is if you live in a highly populated area it is quicker and easier because they have dealt with people like you before. If you live in a more rural location which was me, it takes more time to get a permit because most of the time the people at the offices don't know what they're doing and they throw all kinds of weird paperwork at you. Also, the Ausländerbehörde that I went to required a signed affidavit obtained from my local American embassy stating that I wasn't a criminal. So, the more rural the more time and loops, if I were to give a time breakdown I would say: 2 to 4 weeks for big cities and 6 to 8 weeks for smaller cities for a permit after you get the letters of intent. It took me almost 7 weeks to get my permit. They kept throwing weird paperwork at me that one of the centers I worked for helped me with, thankfully.

In Hessen at least you get two sheets for your permit one with your photo and info on it, and the other with a list of all the places where you can work. If you get hired by two schools like me they both have to be on that list, and if they aren't then you can't work there, you have to go back to the Ausländerbehörde to get another school added to the list, and where I am there is no problem at all with only working for one place.

Bottom line is different people, different locations, different experiences. I would tell someone that it wasn't difficult at all to find work, get a permit, and live in Germany. I, however, dressed well for the interviews, I can speak well, I'm friendly, and I look and sound professional overall. Another person who doesn't do the same things that I did, or doesn't have the same qualities would maybe say something different, but at the same time not telling you that they went to their interviews in jeans and a t-shirt, so remember that the next time you're reading something negative about this subject.

So anyway dress nice, sports coat and slacks or khakis for guys and girls something equivalent. Everyone that got hired with me had a college degree including myself, but it was never said that it was required. I've only ever tutored, and outside of my college degree I don't have any teaching certificates. My degree is also in the field of economics and politics, and not English or teaching. Do not send your CV anywhere in Europe without a good professionally taken photo with a grey background, don't do it. The Europass template is good, use it, make it short and sweet. Try your best not to go to an Ausländerbehörde in a rural area it will take longer, and be more work for you.

I'll try to answer as many questions as I can, don't ask for any specifics because I won't give them to you. Good luck everyone.
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maastricht



Joined: 11 Feb 2011
Posts: 38

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great thread. Thanks everyone for the posts. I have a few newbie questions if anyone would care to answer them:

It seems that the various local offices have slightly different standards for issuing the freelance permission (or this might just depend on the particular bureaucrat). Are there certain offices that have a reputation for being less stringent? Would it be better to send one's CV all over Germany or to target a particular city/town?

With regard to the lease requirement, does it have to be a 12 month lease or can it be a month-to-month or a six month lease?

Someone mentioned in this thread that one letter of intent may be sufficient, if one has a certain level of savings. Is this common among the local offices?

If one's German is poor, would it be better to try to obtain a language course visa at the outset, and later apply for the freelance visa?
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