Friday, October 24, 2008

Week 3: Bureaucracy Wall

If any of you ever want to know anything about immigration to Germany, I am your man. Through that Toytown Germany site I mentioned a few posts back, I was put in contact with a company in Stuttgart looking for exactly my skills. I called him on Wednesday, giving him a few days to look over the ol' resume, which I sent last Friday. He is a very nice guy and I obtained lots of information from him. His name is Mathias (aren't they all haha). He can 100% guarantee me work, which is exciting, but the whole problem is the work permit situation. There are two possible work permit situations for a guy like me. One is a "freelance" visa which allows the holder to work as a freelancer (mostly teachers, writers, etc use this) for any company that they want. It is the holy grail of work permits. The second is a work permit bound to a company(a "permanent" visa), similar to the one Jenna got when we lived in London. This permit is valid only for working with the one company. If you were to quit or change jobs, you would have to go apply for the work permit all over again. As a freelancer, you are in charge of obtaining health insurance, get no paid vacations, or any social benefits, and are stuck doing your own taxes--basically you get paid 100% of what you earn and you take care of all the messy work with the government (and I assure you Germany has some strict laws haha). So an employer loves this type of arrangement because they have zero responsibility for you. These jobs pay alot more. We are talking 50 euro an hour. Now, if I was to get the permanent work visa, I would be on a salary. For the jobs I am looking at, this is 50-60,000 euros a year. Works out to be like 29 euro an hour max. But, 6 weeks paid vacation in Germany is the norm, plus all the extra holidays they get over there, plus complete healthcare coverage and any other social benefits (pension, etc.). My man Mathias in Stuttgart offered me an option of taking the freelance or doing the permanent. So, now we have to talk about how I am to get these work permits....

The permanent one is pretty straight forward--I will get a work contract from Mathias, send it in with my passport to the German embassy in San Fran, and they will process it, checking to see if the job is scarce enough to be hiring someone outside the EU, etc. I called the embassy today and they said the process takes 2-3 months! The one benefit to being an American in all this is that we have the privilege to be able to go to Germany without a work permit (90 days maximum stay), apply for one inside the country, and start working as soon as it is issued. Through research, I have read consistently that work permits are issued in 2-3 weeks or so, if you are in Germany and applying for it. This is alot different from 2-3 months. When I called the German embassy in San Fran this morning, the visa lady really did not know anything about the freelance visa. Through research on the subject, it seems like a daunting hula hoop fest to get one and could take months to obtain, which is why its the holy grail of work permits.

SO....right now I am leaning toward taking the permanent position for less money, but being relatively hassle free.  Mathias and company may even be able to assist with accommodation when we arrive or some relocation costs, which would be nice. I have yet to discuss this with Mathias, so I will keep you updated. I hope that his company is willing to wait the 2-3 months for the work permit. Otherwise, it would be pretty risky for us to pack up and move over there without the work permit in place. It's nice that it is an option, but if something did go wrong (work permit takes longer than we thought, etc.) than we would be losing lots of money trying to stay afloat on our savings. That rule really benefits a single guy with no wife no kid and no dog haha

I guess I was hoping that the situation was as it is here in Portland. I work for a company (Idex Solutions)who contracts out my services to a large company (Freightliner) and I get paid a good wage and have all the taxes taken out by Idex. A freelancer in Germany is basically the same thing as self-employed. Maybe once we are over there, I can talk to some people and find out what its all about. It is hard getting any quality up to date info from the US and speaking ZERO German. Sprechen Zie Work Permits? NEIN.

So I may not be making the big bucks right away but at least we will be over there...hope that salary is enough to be comfortable. 

I will update as I know more.

1 comment:

Troy said...

That's awesome that you lined up a gig tho. The red tape is to be expected, I guess.