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I'm moving to Berlin for work in November and I have a few questions I'd like answered. For the sake of background – I've never lived in Europe, so I don't know what to expect.

My biggest question is this: since I'll be moving there on a work visa, what happens in the event that I get a better job offer from a different company than I work for? Can I just submit my notice, serve the notice period and then quit and go work for another company?

I ask this because I currently live in Qatar – where a lot of the workforce consists of sponsored expats. Their employers actively restrict them from quitting and working elsewhere. If one jumps jobs, it is a crime punishable by immediate deportation. What's the law in Berlin?

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    What kind of work visa will you have? – Gala Aug 18 '15 at 7:11
  • I removed the open-ended “what should I know?” part of the question as it is frowned upon on this platform. The goal is to have tightly focused questions that can be answered objectively. But feel free to ask other specific questions as needed! – Gala Aug 18 '15 at 7:33
  • @Gala, there's more than one kind of work visa? I'm not sure... a company is hiring me and moving me there... – Tejas Aug 18 '15 at 8:46
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    @Tejas: Whether they are different "types" isn't clear to me, but any restrictions will be stated on the permit itself. Typically you'll either have to tell the Ausländerbehörde before you switch jobs or only if you try to move sectors. Also, anecdotally, it's not very hard to get approval. – Louis Aug 18 '15 at 9:13
  • There is a regular residence permit for work (§ 18), the EU Blue Card (§ 19a) and a few others that are probably not relevant here (direct permanent residence permit for highly-qualified applicants, residence permit for researchers, graduates from a German school, etc.). If your job qualifies, you might want to apply for an EU blue card, it has some advantages, especially if you would consider moving to another European country in the future. – Gala Aug 18 '15 at 9:33
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Some residence titles are tied to a specific employer, sector or region and some are not but leaving a job is never a crime and is not punishable as such. The only problem is that if you do that before you have another job and authorisation lined up or some other legal basis to stay in Germany (e.g. you married a German resident), your current residence title could become invalid and you would therefore have to leave the country or become liable for deportation.

Because of this, you have to report the fact that you lost your job to the foreigners registration office (Ausländerbehörde) immediately and they will decide how long you are allowed to stay. I believe they can grant you a grace period to bridge the time between jobs or even a six-month permit to look for another one but you are not entitled to that.

If you want to switch jobs during the first two years of your stay in Germany, you need to have your residence title amended (see e.g. berlin.de). If it's a better job (in the sense that it's a job in the same sector, with the same or better salary), I think it should be fine but it's not automatic (not really easy but doable). Your current employer does not have to consent to this, it's entirely up to the authorities.

After the first two years, you can switch jobs without prior authorisation, as long as the new job still meets the same conditions (e.g. still a highly-qualified occupation, etc.). You still face restrictions (for example, you could not take a random low-paying job that you find more fulfilling) but you are not tied to an employer in any way.

Finally, after five years and if you learn the German language, you would become eligible for a kind of permanent residence permit called a Niederlassungserlaubnis. Once you have that, you can stay in Germany with no time limit and take any job you like (not only jobs approved by the federal employment agency based on the needs of the German economy).

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