Immigration by means of a recognition partnership

What actually is a recognition partnership?

Foreign skilled workers from non-EU countries can enter Germany with a recognition partnership to work here. This does not require prior recognition of your professional qualifications in Germany. You can have your professional qualifications officially recognised after entering the country. This is made possible by, among other things, a written contract between employer and applicant.

The recognition partnership is part of the “experience pillar” in the area of skilled labour immigration. It offers foreign skilled workers from non-EU countries a new opportunity to combine professional practice with the recognition procedure in Germany. The residence permit for a recognition partnership is linked to an agreement between employee and employer. If you do not yet have a permanent job, you can apply for the Opportunity Card. The Opportunity Card allows you to stay in Germany for one year to look for a suitable job. Part-time jobs of up to 20 hours a week are permitted, as well as two-week trial jobs aimed at vocational training or qualified employment.


How recognising foreign qualifications works with the recognition partnership

Thanks to the post-recognition procedure, as a foreign skilled worker you are allowed to take up employment immediately after entering Germany. Recognising foreign qualifications is greatly simplified thanks to “post-qualification”. The basic requirement for the recognition partnership is a permanent employment contract with your future employer and a written declaration under private law. Instead of an employment contract, a concrete job offer aimed at qualified employment is also valid. In the declaration under private law, which ideally forms part of the employment contract, the skilled worker and the employer must state that they will start the recognition procedure without delay. In addition, the employer must affirm that the job is at “skilled worker level”. In order to apply for the recognition partnership, you need sufficient German language skills at language level A2.


Which residence permit do I need for a recognition partnership?

For the recognition partnership you need a legal residence permit, which you must apply for in advance at the competent Foreigners’ Registration Office or the foreign mission of your country. In addition, the Federal Employment Agency must approve the recognition partnership (unless employment regulations exclude this).

The duration of your stay is initially limited to one year so that the recognition procedure is carried out as quickly as possible. If you provide proof of the ongoing recognition procedure, the duration of stay can be extended to a total of three years. This primarily benefits foreign skilled workers who want to have their vocational qualification checked for equivalence. The Federal Employment Agency must expressly agree to an extension of the stay. If you have successfully completed the post-qualification, you must apply for another residence title at the competent Foreigners’ Registration Office that is not linked to the recognition partnership.


Which recognition body can I contact?

You must cover the costs of the recognition procedure yourself. The Central Office for Foreign Education (ZBA) is a suitable recognition body. This office will promptly check whether you have either a professional qualification with two years of vocational training or a foreign university degree. Certificates of graduation serve as proof. Furthermore, you must submit important documents such as your passport and future employment contract with a declaration under private law (between you and the employer). As a foreign professional, you can always apply to the ZBA, regardless of whether you are applying for the recognition partnership (at the Foreigners’ Registration Office or the foreign representation of your country).

Important: Your professional qualification must be recognised by the state in which you completed the training. A vocational qualification is considered “state-recognised” if it is based on state legislation and has been awarded by an authorised person. It can be vocational training or a university degree.


This applies to employers

Employers seeking a recognition partnership with a foreign skilled worker must meet certain requirements. These include being able to provide vocational training or a “post-qualification”. You can prove your suitability if you have been registered in the apprenticeship register of your chamber in the last three years, for example. Training providers, apprenticeship and training workshops and other companies must also prove their suitability in this regard. In addition to an employment contract or a concrete (qualified) job offer, you must submit a written agreement together with the applicant. In this agreement, you undertake to carry out the recognition procedure as quickly as possible and to offer the applicant a qualified job. The Federal Employment Agency must approve the recognition partnership.


Employment with recognition partnership

A residence permit obtained via a recognition partnership entitles you to perform work for which there is a concrete job offer. The Federal Employment Agency must agree to the occupation. In addition, you are allowed to look for a part-time job of up to 20 hours a week. Applicants and employers can thus coordinate flexibly and, for example, also agree on part-time employment.


Exemptions for regulated professions

If you wish to pursue employment in a regulated profession (nursing, engineering, teaching), you must first apply for a professional practice permit from the Federal Employment Agency. This does away with the regulation that you have to prove a job offer or an employment contract for qualified employment. The basic requirement is that the employment must be subject to collective agreements, ensuring that poor working conditions are excluded from the outset. This also applies to employment with the church or day-care facilities.


Advantages of the recognition partnership at a glance:

  • Simple recognition procedure for foreign skilled workers from non-EU countries
  • Working in Germany is possible without a prior recognition procedure
  • Extension of stay possible if the recognition partnership is successfully completed
  • Larger applicant pool for potential employers
  • Concrete job offers for foreign skilled workers
  • Part-time employment of up to 20 hours per week is permitted
  • Flexible working arrangements possible between employer and applicant



With a recognition partnership, foreign skilled workers from non-EU countries can have their recognition procedure run simultaneously with their professional activities. After entering the country, the skilled worker can work directly in the company; the professional qualification does not have to be recognised in Germany beforehand. The basic requirements for applying are sufficient German language skills (level A2) and a permanent employment contract or concrete job offer. Foreign skilled workers must have a vocational qualification that is recognised in the country where the training was completed. In addition, employers and applicants must submit a written agreement in which they promise to initiate the recognition procedure immediately after entry.

The legal residence permit for a recognition partnership is valid for one year and can be extended to up to three years. The Federal Employment Agency must expressly agree to this. Potential employers should meet certain requirements in order to carry out a recognition partnership. They must be suitable for training or post-qualification and prove this by providing necessary documentation. A suitable recognition body for post-qualification is the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZBA). Foreign skilled workers can apply there (regardless of where they applied for the recognition partnership). The costs for the procedure must be paid by the skilled workers themselves.

Download the recognition partnership agreement now!

Chancenkarte Jobs!

With Chancenkarte Jobs! a job platform will soon be created here, bringing Chancenkarte candidates and jobs together. Register now to be among the first to access the platform.

Early Access to Chancenkarte Jobs!

Find jobs or candidates.

Enjoy exciting benefits for early users.

We use rapidmail to send our newsletter. When you subscribe, you consent to the entered data being forwarded to rapidmail. Please also see the GTC and data privacy statement .