I am a US citizen moving to Berlin, Germany at the end of this month, and I'll be employed full-time by a San Francisco Bay Area-based technology startup, helping them to establish a presence in the European market--essentially a head of operations role. I plan to stay in the region for 2-3 years.

My future employer does not currently have a German subsidiary or branch, and I expect to be paid by the US entity, at least in the near-term. When it comes time to build a team in the region (3-6 months down the line), the company will set up a subsidiary or branch as necessary.

I'll be able to provide all of the required residence permit application materials without issue, and my salary will be more than sufficient for living comfortably in Berlin.

My question is this: will it be possible for me to receive a residence permit if my employer has no German subsidiary, and if so, what sort of permit is the best to apply for? I don't believe that the company will be able to formally 'sponsor' me if there's no German entity, though I'll be able to provide proof of employment, salary, etc.

In terms of background, I have worked in San Francisco in technology for 7+ years, but I am not a software engineer--my background is in product management and partnerships. I have a 4-year college degree as well as a certification in data science from a bootcamp-ish organization.

I have reviewed this thread (Moving to Germany, working remotely for company in US. What sort of visa do I need to stay?) which was helpful but not directly relevant, because the asker was soon-to-be-married to an EU citizen.

Another note, not sure if meaningful: my girlfriend is making the move with me and has received a job offer from a German company that will be sponsoring her residence permit.


  • 1
    What's your citizenship?
    – Karlson
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 1:58
  • Hi Karlson, I'm a US citizen w/ a passport that meets all residence permit requirements (blank pages, expiration date).
    – wints
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 3:40
  • 1
    You may be able to apply for a residence permit according to: german-way.com/for-expats/living-in-germany/… But you may want to consult an attorney if the letter of intent from a business without a physical presence in Germany will be sufficient.
    – Karlson
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 12:33
  • In Germany you'd need to be married to get a residence permit associated with your partner's job, assuming she's not German.
    – Louis
    Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 21:30
  • Thanks Louis, that's helpful. More general update is that I think we've found a good lawyer to help with the process. Will be sure to answer the question once we decide how best to approach my application.
    – wints
    Commented Sep 5, 2015 at 0:16

1 Answer 1


OK, it took awhile to get through the process, but I have an update. Here's how I handled my situation:

  1. I contacted a public-private organization called Berlin Partner for Business and Technology with my details: https://www.berlin-partner.de/en/our-services/talent-services/.

    Berlin Partner was willing to take on my case (free of charge--they're gov't funded), and they handled all communication with the Ausländerbehörde. It's not uncommon for them to take cases from 'temporary representatives' who will be on projects in Berlin for an extended period of time, working for a company without a Germany entity. This accurately describes my situation.

  2. My employer needed to provide Berlin Partner with a handful of documents verifying my position and my right to represent the company in Berlin. There wasn't really anything out of the ordinary that required special lawyering, though. I did pay a professional translator about $200 USD to translate my US employment contract to German.

  3. After Berlin Partner submitted my case, the Ausländerbehörde was willing to offer me a Blue Card so long as I first enrolled in German private health insurance, as the coverage is more comprehensive than the 'international' plans popular among expats. I ended up working with a broker (strongly recommended), and I am using Allianz to fulfill my insurance requirement. Note that I needed to see a doctor and a dentist for basic exams in order to be accepted by Allianz.

  4. After getting confirmation of insurance coverage from Allianz, I scheduled an appointment with the Ausländerbehörde, and during the appointment, they placed an order for my Blue Card. I received a 3-month temporary work permit in my passport since the Blue Card takes 3-4 weeks to arrive. They're going to email me so I can pick up the Blue Card once it's ready.

As far as I can tell, the process is nearly complete (though, to be clear, I don't quite have my Blue Card in hand yet). From start to finish, it took approximately 60 days to get to this point (20 days in the States, 40 days in Germany).

  • For the record: I picked the Blue Card itself earlier this week, approximately 4.5 months after I started the application process. I think it's now officially safe to say that the approach described in my answer worked successfully for me.
    – wints
    Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 9:06
  • Glad it worked out for you. I'm willing to attempt a similar scenario with my case, it would be very helpful to know what percentages you ended up committing for your insurance/taxation expenses for future reference.
    – Kerem
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 9:17
  • 1
    Looks like the link has expired, but I suspect it was just moved to here: berlin-partner.de/en/our-services/talent-services
    – u2622
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 0:23
  • Are you employed as a full time employee in the USA? Does your company withhold tax? My American tax advisor told me: As a full time employee, I'll have to pay social security in the USA, and my company will withhold federal, but not state tax. Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 12:32
  • 1
    @ACIDSTEALTH Initially, I provided my US employment contract, a copy of my passport, my CV, a couple of applications that Berlin Partner had asked me to fill out, and a letter from my company stating that I was being sent to explore the European market. I also needed to get my Anmeldung (settle-in-berlin.com/anmeldung) and proof of private German health insurance--in the German system, not travel insurance or similar. That last one might prove to be tricky if you don't have a contract with a German company / German entity of a US company, but a broker was able to help me out.
    – wints
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 0:17

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