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Business Immigration to Germany

Due to the fact that a Schengen visa is sufficient for founding a company in Germany, no national visa is required for business people who want to invest in Germany. The Schengen visa allows a 90-day stay in Germany within a period of 180 days. Usually a company is founded within 3 months if the German authorities work quickly. Germany is a very bureaucratic country, which means that a lot of paperwork has to be done by lawyers and then checked by the authorities. 

A Schengen visa is not sufficient if you plan to live and work in Germany. In many cases our clients first start a company and then apply for a national visa for the purpose of self-employment. This can be a good way if a company is to be founded with a minimum share capital. But it is possible and reasonable to apply for such a visa if a company with a high share capital is planned.

The most common company form in Germany is the Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (GmbH). With more than 1 million companies, the formerly popular partnerships are now being overtaken by this corporate form (from 2013). The GmbH in a legal entity, which has its own rights and obligations. This makes the GmbH an independent legal entity, i.e. it can sue and be sued independently of the partners. The GmbH itself can be the owner of movable property. Organs of the GmbH are the managing director, the partners and the meeting of partners. Furthermore, under certain conditions a board of directors may be appointed.

The share capital of a GmbH must be at least EUR 25,000.00. According to § 7 GmbH law, half of the share capital must be contributed when the notary public applies for registration in the commercial register. The company is obliged to hold the minimum share capital. This capital can be provided in the form of cash or non-cash contributions. When registering the company, the managing director must assure that the regular minimum share capital has been paid up. Opening a bank account can be difficult for foreigners who are not resident in Germany. Many banks have strict conditions. For example, there are banks that want to get to know their customers personally. But there are also banks that open a bank account at an official location after the legitimation of the client without fulfilling the requirement of entering Germany.

The GmbH is represented by one or more managing directors, who can be appointed by the shareholders in the articles of association at the time of foundation or thereafter for an indefinite period of time or for a specific period of time. Managing directors can only be natural persons who are absolutely sui iuris (unlimited legal capacity). Managing directors are subject to special requirements and duties of care which must be fulfilled, supplemented by the responsibilities developed by the jurisdiction.

The foundation of the association is not bound by the nationality of the partners or the managing directors. Foreigners can also form an association or be appointed as managing directors without a permit.

Entrepreneurs who come from non-EU countries and run their business in Germany as self-employed persons need a residence permit for self-employment.

This is generally issued if

  • there is an economic interest or a regional need with regard to the intended business activity,
  • The investment project is expected to have positive economic consequences,
  • the planned investment has secured financing.

The local immigration authorities assess individually to what extent these criteria are met. It considers the following aspects:

  • viability of the underlying business idea
  • Entrepreneurial experience of the investor
  • Level of capital investment and availability of capital
  • Effects on regional employment and (employee) training levels
  • contribution to innovation, research and development in Germany.

The Foreigners Authority consults the local trade office and local trade and business associations, e.g. the local Chambers of Industry and Commerce or the Chambers of Crafts.

  • Foreign entrepreneurs are considered self-employed if they are (e.g.) self-employed:
  • sole proprietors (including freelancers)
  • Partner in a partnership
  • Managing partners who are not employees of the company
  • Managing directors or executive employees with power of attorney or procuration who personally bear a business risk.

The application for such a visa must be made in the country of origin in one of the representations of the Federal Republic of Germany. In addition to the application, the consulates require a large number of documents, including a well-prepared business plan. Due to the large number of inquiries, problems may arise when making an appointment. The application is sent to the local immigration authorities, who will decide on the submitted documents. This process can take at least 8 to 10 weeks.

© by Hülya Oruç

O.Law is a modern and dynamic law firm working in cooperation with highly motivated, professionals offering legal advice in the heart of Dusseldorf. We are characterized by our cooperation with a tax advisor and a network of lawyers in Eastern Europe.

O.Law supports in all legal requests regarding commercial law, focusing on our international cooperation. In view of the intensity of German-Turkish trade relations and the importance of them, we established a Turkey Desk.

Solutions that are efficient and economically sensible, with creative approaches are defining O.Law’s hallmarks. O.Law offers legal services in German, Turkish  and English and can support double culturally. To speak a common language is important to us.

O.Law –

Attorney at Law Hülya Oruç, LL.M.

Goethestr. 30

40237 Düsseldorf

+ 49 211 976 358 -19



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