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I am a software engineer from Russia with 2 years of work experience,a Masters in Data Science at Skoltech univesity and a job offer from Germany. My university is listed as H+/- in the Anabin database. I was going to apply for a Blue Card, and it seems like it might take up to 6 months:

  • up to 3 months to get my diploma certified at ZAB
  • up to 3 months to get the Blue Card approved

I wonder if I could start working sooner, in particular:

  • there is a fast-track procedure for specialists. Will it help speed up a Blue Card application or will it be more trouble than it's worth?
  • can I start working sooner using a different visa?

This website and this question imply that I should be able to get a German work permit without a degree:

The German work permit provides the same working rights as a Blue Card without the requirement of a university degree. As a developer, if your salary is within the average range for your role and your employer can justify their choice to hire you over a local applicant, you are likely eligible for this working visa.

But I can't find anything like this on the local embassy page. There is a visa for IT specialists with experience but it requires 3 years of experience and I only have 2.

I considered applying to PhD and doing an internship but it won't really speed up the process as PhDs only start in September, and I don't want to risk not getting accepted into a PhD program.

Is there any other option that I'm missing?

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  • Given the current situation you should be able to start working remotely. I presume all of your coworkers are remote anyway. – JonathanReez Feb 24 at 6:28
  • You can start a PhD at any time in Germany, there is generally no such thing as start in September, it all varies with sources of funding. – Dr. Snoopy Mar 18 at 17:48
  • @Dr.Snoopy, oh, thanks, I didn't know – seed Mar 19 at 12:11
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There is more or less no "quickest way".

You anyhow will need to (1) apply for national visa (which will be processed by both embassy and immigration office, i.e. Ausländerbehörde), (2) enter Germany on that visa and start working, and (3) then apply for residence permit (e.g., Blue Card).

Answering other questions of yours:

up to 3 months to get my diploma certified at ZAB

I'm not sure if your diploma really needs to be "certified" at ZAB. Basically, you need to apply for visa using a certified (at this point not by ZAB, just certified by notary) translated copy of your diploma, and then embassy or Ausländerbehörde will check it in anabin and decide if extra ZAB certification is required (which is often not the case).

I considered applying to PhD and doing an internship but it won't really speed up the process as PhDs only start in September, and I don't want to risk not getting accepted into a PhD program.

So do you want to work in Germany or do a PhD there? Or do an internship? All these are 3 different purposes of stay, which are regulated by different § of Immigration Law and have different conditions, including conditions for getting a permanent residence permit later.

For more details, see:

P.S. If you want to do a PhD, I'm actually writing a book about PhD in Germany in my blog (in Russian language).

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