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I am an Engineer with an advanced STEM Degree (PhD Chem Engineering) with a successful consulting practice outside Germany. I am much above the average wage requirement for a Blue Card.

The only catch is that the Blue Card needs an employment contract whereas I am essentially an independent contractor / self-employed. What might be the best route for someone like me to migrate my practice to Germany?

I did read about the freelancer visa but it seems one has to apply for that from within Germany? So do I have to get a jobseekers visa first? I do have a long duration (5 years) business / tourist visa from Germany so physically landing there is not a problem. But not sure if that's the right way to go to the Auslaenderbehoerde to apply in person.

There's a strong business case for me to be in Germany since many of my clients are German / Swiss / Dutch chemical firms. And also I do speak German at a fairly good level.

Any thoughts?

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To establish residence in Germany, the general rule is that you must first obtain a long-stay German visa from your current place of residence. Then, after entering Germany you would apply for the corresponding residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis).

There are some exceptions but usually it is not allowed to enter Germany on a short-stay Schengen visa (which is presumably the kind of visa you currently have) and apply directly for a residence permit. The local authorities will want to check your visa before entertaining your application for the residence permit (some of them mention this explicitely in their requirements). So using your current visa and going to the Ausländerbehörde is not the right approach.

The requirements for all residence permits are defined in the Aufenthaltsgesetz. There are many different categories of residence permits, all with slightly different requirements. In turn, long-stay visas are governed by § 6 of the same statute:

Für längerfristige Aufenthalte ist ein Visum für das Bundesgebiet (nationales Visum) erforderlich, das vor der Einreise erteilt wird. Die Erteilung richtet sich nach den für die Aufenthaltserlaubnis […] geltenden Vorschriften. […]

In other words for each residence permit defined by the law, it's in principle possible to apply for a visa based on the same requirements. Most of the documentation you find online is from local authorities and provinces in Germany and deals with residence permits, which is why it sounds like it can only be obtained locally. By contrast, the visa must be obtained from a German representation abroad.

A jobseekers visa (§ 20 Arbeitsplatzsuche für Fachkräfte) does not seem like a good fit because, unless I am mistaken, Arbeitsplatz strictly means employment. If you are not looking for a bona fide work contract, you do not qualify. As you note, the EU Blue card is similar and not a good option for you.

I am not very familiar with it but it does seem that residence under § 21 Selbständige Tätigkeit would fit best in your situation. The requirements are quite extensive (business plan, financial means, insurance) and require some familiarity with German business law (registration in the commercial register, etc.) which is why I guess most applicants already live in Germany and transition from another residence permit (including student residence permits).

I did however find a form to apply for a visa for that purpose from the German embassy in Mexico. The best course of action is probably to contact the local German embassy to get the relevant form and requirements for an application.

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  • Thanks! Some great points you posted about! Some of them are a chicken and egg loop e.g. Registration in the German commercial register. I guess that would need a German address and that can't be gotten till I establish an entity and am actually in Germany which then needs the appropriate legal status. Jan 9 at 20:11
  • @curious_cat The German Consulate serves as a intermediary between you and the local authority in Germany. § 21, suggested in this answer, is the best route. The core of the 'business plan' would be your present experience with the German / Swiss / Dutch chemical firms clients. A well documented summary should be prepared, afterwhich you should make a consultation appointment with the consulate. They would then advise what may be needed for the initial application and eventually send it off. When approved, the local authority will authorize the consulate to issue the D-Visa. Jan 30 at 16:22
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You can apply for the German freelance visa from another country.

If you want to apply from Germany, and you are not from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, or the United States, then yes, you will need a job seeker visa.

Source: How to apply for the German freelance visa

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