Applying for a freelance work visa from the U.S.

15 posts in this topic

I swear I have not seen this question answered and it is late in the evening so I cannot call the consulate, BUT...

 

I am seeking employment in Germany as a CATIA Design Engineer. I found an employer who would like to offer me a contract, but we are at odds about the work permit situation. They need me to be a freelancer (or to have a tax number), but I am un-willing to travel to Germany to apply for the visa and wait for it to be processed, when I am not sure how long this process may go (and am not being paid while waiting). Is it possible to apply for this Visa in the US? As a contractor in the USA, I am hired by an agency and my services are sent out to customers. It does not seem to work that way in Germany. Are all Design Engineers on freelance visas? That does not seem possible. I was hoping that by applying to an agency (Ruecker, Bertrandt, etc) that I would be employed by them and sent out to wherever I am needed, as I am here. Thanks for any advice...

 

Nick Wusz

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Actually, in my experience, most, or at least many of the engineers working through agencies, specifically Bertrandt and Rücker, ARE employed by those agencies. I personally am freelance and have interviewed with both those agencies, and Bertrandt at least told me they would definitely only take me on as an employee. I wanted to remain freelance, so would only have been prepared to change if Bertrandt had come up with a very good project offer - which they didn't.

 

I was told that a lot of agencies used to work with freelancers, but a law was passed some years back regarding "Scheinselbständigkeit" (complicated to explain, but essentially meaning you call yourself freelance/self-employed, but are basically doing a job as an employee), and the agencies got scared about trouble and stopped doing it. Agencies who definitely do still work with freelancers are: P+Z, Vispiron (formerly known as Axis), Hays, Ferchau. My understanding was that Rücker and Bertrandt did not.

 

EDIT: from what Allershausen wrote, my understanding may be incorrect. The agencies don't always tell everyone the same thing at interviews. Maybe it depends on the type of project and the customer too.

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I can't answer your visa question, but it is very common for design agencies to employ freelancers, especially foreigners. Design agencies here do send people to customers to work "in house", but they also have their own offices where the design work is done. Most of them have a mixture of permanent employees and freelancers. It's quite a while since I've known any American Catia guys working in Germany, but every one I've known has worked here as a freelancer.

Edit: When the new law was introduced many agencies flew into a panic and got rid of all their freelancers, I was one of them, but the situation settled down after a while and most of them take on freelancers now.

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Thanks for the responses! I am understanding this more and more. The best bet would be for me to get the freelance visa (money and job options), so that is what I will try and do. I have not had an offer as a permanent employee, only freelancer, so I will try and take it. Now, the only question remains if I can do the visa application from here. If I came over there to do it, in your experience, what are the process times for the visa with all proper documentation?

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So I called the consulate, and I can "try" and apply from here in the USA, but the processing time is 2-3 months!?!?! They definitly recommend going over to Germany and do the application process there. It just seems a little risky--moving there (wife and kid), finding a place to live, applying for the visa...and waiting...for how long? Life is full of risks, I guess haha

 

Anyone have feedback on how long this process may take in Germany for an experienced design engineer, using CATIA, applying for a freelance visa? The job is in high demand, so I hope that would speed it up. Also, the advantage of doing this application process over in Germany, I could probobly have my employer go with me to the appointment. That may help speed things up.

 

Thanks for any more input, I appreciate it!

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Another thought/question...are the CATIA guys that are working for Bertrandt, Ruecker being paid hourly? I have seen rates anywhere from 45-50 euro an hour--who is getting this much, just freelancers? I cant imagine a permanent employee of Bertrandt getting paid that much and getting all the social benefits as well.

 

Thanks

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The hourly pay (I'm not certain about the rate for CATIA, since it is in high demand, may possibly be more depending on the project/customer - if we're talking about Munich that is, which is where the rates tend to be highest) only applies to freelancers who normally bill an hourly rate for their services. (occasionally a package price is negotiated for the entire service, so no hourly rate, but that's always a bit risky and most people don't do it). There are no benefits at all included - health insurance, liability, risk of being out of work if the projects ends, etc etc - everything is borne by the freelancer personally and is of course worked into the rate.

 

As an employee of these companies, there is a monthly/yearly salary, which includes benefits - insurance contributions to unemployment, pension, health; sickpay, holiday pay... What you don't really get is job security, as if the project ends and the agency can't fine you another one, they will get rid of you - but that will give you maybe 3 to 6 months before they do so - during that time they will often give you something in-house to work on, and of course the agencies who work with both permies and freelancers will try to place their permies first as the freelancers don't cost them a cent if they're not working.

 

The other side though is that as a freelancer you are not bound to one agency, so if your project runs out you can look for a new one via several different agencies at once, whereas as a permie you are also bound to your notice period (although an agency who can't find you a project will normally let you go sooner if you find one somewhere else).

 

Yes, as a permie you would be offered considerably less money. That's the payoff. If given the choice, it depends a lot on your personality which way you prefer to go. I know a lot of people who prefer to work as permanent; having done both (even for the same agency) I prefer freelance.

 

EDIT: and sorry, I know absolutely nothing about the visa issue.

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I would prefer freelance, for sure, but the task of obtaining the proper work visa for that from the US seems a daunting task. I really cant afford to go to Germany without having the work situation taken care of. It is much easier for me to go the permanent route and have the work permit situated before I arrive in Germany. Then when I get over there I can figure out the way to get the freelance work permit eventually.

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@nickwusz

 

I'm interested to find out how your process is going.. I am looking at doing a similar application (freelance work visa, applying from New Zealand, also a "friend" of Germany in terms of visas).

 

My wife is German however, although she won't be working in Germany (full time mum at the moment).

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hey bleater,

 

It seemed like the freelance visa was too difficult an endeavor to attempt from the US. So I found an employer to sponsor me and I am going the permanent employee route. I figurd that once I am in Gemany, I can find out more about the freelance visa and apply for that after awhile.

 

Sorry I cannot be anymore help

 

Nick

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Thanks Nick for replying.

 

Anyone else have an experience applying for a freelance visa as a resident of a non-EU country?

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@nickwusz

 

I'm interested to find out how your process is going.. I am looking at doing a similar application (freelance work visa, applying from New Zealand, also a "friend" of Germany in terms of visas).

 

My wife is German however, although she won't be working in Germany (full time mum at the moment).

bleater, have you already seen this information from the German consulate in Wellington about moving to Germany with a spouse?

 

http://www.wellington.diplo.de/Vertretung/...quirements.html

 

If your German is decent I believe you can come and live here and enjoy most of the rights of an EU citizen, including working here as you like (either employed or freelance). Somebody correct me if I'm wrong about this as I'm not completely familiar with all the requirements. Also check out the exceptions to the language requirement as listed in the "Evidence of basic knowledge..." flyer provided on that website.

 

The difficult thing about discussing visas/permits is that everybody's case will be different, and in the end it is the local authority for foreigners (Ausländerbehörde) in Germany which will decide if you are worthy, based primarily on your qualifications, field of work, cash reserves, income, and insurance coverage. From my general knowledge I would say it is much more efficient to come directly to Germany and apply for the work permit from the authorities in the city where you want to live. The reason it takes a couple of months if you are not in Germany is that your local German consulate (e.g. in New Zealand, US, etc.) usually has to mail your documentation to the German authorities in the German city where you plan to work/reside and then wait for it to come back and then give it back to you. And you also have to hope when you send in your application that you're including every single piece of documentation that the Germans could possibly want (usually difficult on the first try). Coming directly to Germany is not always the most feasible or practical option, but if your country of citizenship allows it (i.e. entering initially on a tourist visa and then applying for the residence/work permit once you are here), applying while in Germany is usually best and fastest way.

 

Generally the most important aspects of applying for a freelance work permit are proving that you have the proper qualifications (diploma, certificates) in an industry which has a high demand for your services (documentation including invoices and offers/promises of work from clients), that you have enough cash to survive for a while (bank account statements), and you have adequate health insurance (proof of coverage).

 

Just remember that when it comes to Germany, the more documentation you have, the better! And best of luck with the process.

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