I am a student from outside the European Union currently starting my Master's in Tallinn, Estonia. I have lived here for 3 years already as I completed my bachelor's, naturally, I have a residence permit and visa, which is valid until 2022.

I want to do an internship in Germany and I am trying to find out how to go there.

I have tried to research this everywhere but every single source about non-EU citizens working/interning in Germany is all about people that are coming from a country outside the EU. There is almost zero information about the procedure of someone who is not an EU citizen but resides in the EU, with a residence permit, visa, and free allowance to travel to all EU members for up to 90 days (internship offer I received is for 90 days). I am applying for the ZAV approval to work in Germany, but everywhere I look I supposedly need this special "internship visa", but it seems to me that this visa only matters to those who come directly from countries outside the EU and need this internship visa in order to enter the EU, which is not the case as I am already in the EU, but I cannot confirm this information anywhere to my future employer who is concerned about it and they also cannot find any information either, they want the assurance that nothing will go wrong if I just get the ZAV approval and hop on the next plane.

And yes, I tried contacting the embassy in Tallinn but they have been incredibly unhelpful and contradicting so I wanted to ask anyone who has had this experience or knows about it.

  • I have no answer for internships this short. But my friend (non-EU citizen, resident in France) needed a Visa to go to Germany and do an internship. Having a visa for tourism doesn't mean you can settle and work. Probably once you find a job, your company will ask you on your immigration situation and they will guide you on the process. I have my doubts you can obtain a work visa by yourself without having already found an employer. Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 15:38
  • Did you find the answer? I have the same question if I study in Portugal Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 15:26
  • I addressed a similar issue in expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/20545/…
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 22:34

2 Answers 2


There is a lot of confusion about this issue and it's difficult to find explicit confirmation but your understanding seems right to me. This document from the Bundesagentur für Arbeit touches upon it:

Brauchen Praktikantinnen/Praktikanten ein Visum?

Staatsangehörige der EU-Staaten benötigen zur Einreise in die Bundesrepublik Deutschland kein Visum. Staatsangehörige aus Australien, Israel, Japan, Kanada, der Republik Korea, Neuseeland und den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika können visumsfrei in das Bundesgebiet einreisen und den erforderlichen Aufenthaltstitel für das Praktikum bei der örtlichen Ausländerbehörde in Deutschland einholen (§ 41 Abs. 1 Aufenthaltsverordnung).

Bei Praktika mit einer Dauer von bis zu drei Monaten können Staatsangehörige bestimmter Länder ebenfalls visumsfrei einreisen (§17 Aufenthaltsverordnung in Verbindung mit §16 Beschäftigungsverordnung). Auf der Internetseite des Auswärtigen Amtes Overview of visa requirements/exemptions for entry into the Federal Republic of Germany - Federal Foreign Office finden Sie eine aktuelle Staatenliste zur Visumpflicht, der Sie entnehmen können, ob Ihre Praktikantin/Ihr Praktikant unter diese spezielle Regelung fällt.

Alle anderen Staatsangehörige sind grundsätzlich visumspflichtig.

Basically, it states that if you are entitled to a visa-free short stay and your internship is shorter than three months. That's the meaning of the second paragraph. Now, the last sentence could suggest that nationals from so-called annex I countries (countries whose citizens need a visa to enter the Schengen area) do need a visa for an internship but a careful reading reveals that's not the case. What it says is that nationals from other countries “generally” require a visa (i.e. if they are not entitled to a short stay through another means, like a residence permit in another EU country country).

Other sources suggest the permission you should apply for is a residence permit from the local Ausländerbehörde (and not from the Bundesagentur für Arbeit). I would recommend contacting both as soon as possible to inquire about the procedure.

Note that this only applies up to 90 days. If your stay in Germany lasts even 91 days, you do in principle require a visa or residence permit and you would need to apply for that before leaving Estonia.

[If you want to track the references in the text, do note that the structure of the Beschäftigungsverordnung changed in between. The contents of §16 are now covered by §30 Nummer 2 und 3, which in turns refer to §15.]

  • 2
    @MarkJohnson The first paragraph is about internships longer than three months. That list (“Australia, Israel, etc.”) is familiar and specific to Germany, entirely disconnected from Schengen rules (as it should since it is about a long stay). The interesting bit is the second paragraph. What do you make of that?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 14:16
  • 2
    @MarkJohnson It's true that the first paragraph doesn't explicitly mention time but it refers to § 41 Abs. 1 Aufenthaltsverordnung, which reads “Staatsangehörige von Australien […] können auch für einen Aufenthalt, der kein Kurzaufenthalt ist, visumfrei in das Bundesgebiet einreisen” That's a very generic rule that applies to all residence permits (there is no mention of gainful employment in § 41 Abs. 1 Aufenthaltsverordnung) and it wouldn't make sense for these people to apply for a residence permit for a short stay. That's the process your Canadian friend went through.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 17:47
  • 2
    Meanwhile, the second paragraph explains that an even broader list of people do not require a visa for an internship under 3 months. It's not limited to Canadian citizens (which are dealt with in the first paragraph) but covers all annex II nationals. Where do you think the difference between the first and second paragraph lies? Why do you think the second paragraph mentions the duration of the internship?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 17:48
  • 1
    That's not what the document says, I see that's finally sinking in. That you don't like it doesn't mean it's unclear. We can continue to discuss residence permits in a minute but do you realize now that it states unambiguously that a visa is not required? Will you correct your answer?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 13:53
  • 1
    @MarkJohnson The text I quote is not the actual statute but it is just as official as berlin.de or most of what you are quoting and I note you had no problem with it until I explained what it actually means. In any case, § 17 (1) (AufenthV) is about getting a residence permit, I said I was prepared to discuss that in a minute but only once you correct the first mistake: None of these sources mention a requirement to get a visa. Your answer still states this with no evidence whatsoever. It is demonstrably false in that respect.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 20, 2020 at 8:45


These rules are for 3rd country nationals appling for a visa/residence permit in a Schengen Member state.

You must make the application in the country of your residence whether it is

  • in your home country or
  • in another Schengen member state

makes no difference.

I have tried to research this everywhere but every single source about non-EU citizens working/interning in Germany is all about people that are coming from a country outside the EU.

This information is for persons who are citizens of a country outside the EU (not for persons that are coming from a country outside the EU).

§ 17 - Failure of the exemption for gainful employment during a short stay -AufenthV
(1) The requirement for entry and short stay is the person in accordance with Article 4 Paragraph 1 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1806 as amended and the holder of a residence permit or a national long-stay visa issued by a Schengen state is not exempt from a residence permit requirement if they are gainfully employed in the federal territory.

An internship is considered to be a gainful employment.

For 3rd country citizens, who are eligible to apply for a residence permit directly inside Germany, the application for an employment permit is part if that process.

For those who are not eligible to apply for a residence permit directly inside Germany, must do so in their country of residence.

Having a residence permit from another Schengen state does not effect this general rule.


  • 2
    You entirely failed to address the issue at hand (what to do for stays under 90 days) or, apparently, to comprehend the distinction between a visa and a work permit or the underlying logic of the Schengen system.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 22:33
  • In your defense, gesetze-im-internet.de/aufenthv/__17.html does suggest Germany is violating EU law in this regard. As explained in my answer it still doesn't apply to internships, though.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 22:53
  • @Relaxed A residence permit (and possible work conditions) are only valid for the country of issue. One country cannot grant permission to work in another country. The residence permit allows visits to other Schengen countries. So the question has been answered: the needed "internship visa" must be applied for. Exceptions exist only in areas where an employer has offices in both countries and allows, as an employee, for an short internship possible. Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 23:08
  • 1
    We already went over this, that's still more of the same confusion. I agree that a Schengen country cannot grant permission to work in another country. That's why you need to secure that permission (in that case from the ZAV) but not a visa (as the person already has a right to stay in Germany). Those two things are distinct, that's the whole point! In fact, multiple German sources make it abundantly clear that you need to secure that permission before you can even apply for a visa in case you need one. That's completely clear and doesn't require an ECJ ruling (what for?)
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 23:53
  • 1
    Ditto for British citizens: the main issue in this scenario is staying for longer than 90 days across multiple countries (which they are allowed to do as EU citizens but not as third-country citizens), not the work permit issue. Leaving aside annex II nationals, let's consider annex I nationals for a minute, have you read the document from the BA cited in my answer? It directly contradicts the notion that someone who stays under Schengen short-stay rules (in that case visa-free) couldn't work lest they get a national long-stay visa. How do you account for that?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 23:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.