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Nursing Jobs in Germany – How to Become a Registered Nurse Under the New Immigration Law

Germany has a rapidly aging population and a shortage of skilled nurses to care for them. As such, nursing is one of the occupations now encouraged under Germany’s new immigration law that seeks to attract skilled workers from abroad. There are excellent job prospects for foreign nurses in Germany, with competitive salaries, benefits and a high quality of life. This guide explains everything you need to know about finding nursing jobs and becoming a registered nurse in Germany as a foreigner.

With one of the lowest birth rates in the world, Germany has an aging population that is vastly outgrowing the number of working-age adults. This is creating a rising demand for geriatric nursing care. At the same time, many existing nurses are approaching retirement age themselves.

It’s estimated that Germany could have a shortage of up to 500,000 nurses by 2035, creating excellent job prospects in both hospitals and long-term care facilities.Nursing is now being encouraged under Germany’s new Skilled Immigration Act, which seeks to attract foreign workers to fill high-demand roles. This guide covers everything you need to know as a foreign nurse looking to work in Germany, including visa requirements, qualifications, finding jobs, salaries, benefits and more.Nursing Abroad images 18

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New Immigration Laws Make It Easier for Foreign Nurses

Historically, Germany has had complex and restrictive immigration laws that made it difficult for most foreign workers to gain long-term residency. But the country now recognizes the need to attract skilled immigrants to fill widespread staffing shortages. The new Skilled Immigration Act, which took full effect in early 2020, introduces the following key changes:

  • Easier access to work visas – Skilled workers no longer need to prove there are no qualified EU candidates before getting a work visa. Visas can now be issued quickly if certain language and salary requirements are met.
  • Faster permanent residency – Skilled immigrants can now apply for permanent residency after 21 months instead of 48 months.
  • Easier family reunification – Workers who reach the 21-month threshold for permanent residency can also immediately bring over spouses and minor children.

These changes make it much easier for foreign nurses to gain work authorization and bring their families with fewer bureaucratic hurdles.

Qualification Requirements to Work as a Nurse in Germany

To work as a registered nurse in Germany, foreign applicants must meet the following key requirements:

Formal Nursing Qualifications

You must have a recognized nursing diploma, such as:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Nursing
  • 3-year hospital nursing program diploma
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) diploma

Vocational nursing certificates that involve less than 3 years of total training may not meet minimum standards.

Professional Nursing License

You must hold a current nursing license in your country of origin or last residence. This proves you meet expected competency standards.

Language Proficiency

  • Minimum B1 level German – You must pass a recognized test showing at least CEFR language level B1 in speaking, listening, reading and writing. Higher levels may be required for specialized nursing roles.
  • English can suffice temporarily – For the first 4-6 months, some healthcare providers will accept English until your German improves. But you must still commit to language training.

Additional RequirementsNursing Abroad business proposal 770x384 1

  • Recent professional nursing experience (at least 6-12 months recommended).
  • Health clearance
  • Criminal background check
  • Proof of financial means

Meeting these requirements makes you eligible for a German work visa and nursing license. Continue reading for details on the steps to follow.

Step-by-Step Guide to Getting a Nursing Job in Germany

Here is an overview of the typical process foreign nurses follow to start working in Germany:

1. Research regions and employers – Identify areas with strong demand and vacancies aligned to your experience. Begin contacting healthcare providers about openings.

2. Apply for visa – Once you’ve secured a preliminary job offer, apply at your local German consulate for an appropriate work visa. This could be a Skilled Worker visa or EU Blue Card.

3. Get license approved – Ask your employer to submit your diploma, transcripts and other documents to the licensing body in their federal state. If approved, you can work as a full registered nurse.

4. Complete hiring formalities – Finalize your job contract, arrange accommodation, open a German bank account, get health insurance and apply for your residence permit.

5. Start employment – Once your visa is approved, you can move to Germany and start working! Continue meeting language and integration benchmarks to eventually apply for permanent residency if desired.

The following sections provide more details on each step.

1. Finding Nursing Jobs in Germany

The first step is researching different regions and employers to find available openings matching your background.

High-Demand Regions

Certain areas of Germany have greater nursing shortages, including:

  • Western cities – Prosperous regions like North Rhine-Westphalia offer abundant openings but also high living costs.
  • Rural areas – Smaller towns and villages in southern and eastern Germany have acute nursing shortages and affordable living but fewer immigrant networks.
  • Berlin – As an international capital, Berlin offers many English-speaking healthcare jobs and cultural amenities to help foreigners integrate.

Compare regions based on job prospects, costs, immigrant communities and other factors important to you.

Employer Types

There are a few main settings where foreign nurses can find employment:

  • Public hospitals – State-funded hospitals offer very secure, well-compensated jobs but generally require fluent German.
  • Private hospitals – For-profit hospitals are more likely to hire foreign nurses with basic German, but may offer lower pay.
  • Long-term care homes – Nursing homes and home care services need many workers and often provide language training, but salary packages may not be as strong.
  • Staffing agencies – Recruiters can match you to temporary openings and assist with immigration, but contracts lack stability.

Identify employers that align with your language ability, experience and priorities.

Job Search Resources

Use these online platforms to find open nursing positions in Germany:

You can also work with international nurse recruiting agencies.

Application Process

When applying for nursing roles, prepare the following documents translated into German:

  • Resume/CV
  • Diplomas & Transcripts
  • Nursing License
  • Letters of Reference
  • Language Certificates
  • Passport Copy

Expect at least 2-3 rounds of interviews before getting a firm job offer. Hiring often takes 2-4 months from initial application through securing your work visa.

2. Getting a German Work Visa

Once you have a concrete job offer, the next step is getting an appropriate work visa from your country’s German consulate.The two main options are:

EU Blue Card

Aimed at highly skilled workers, the EU Blue Card requires:

  • University degree or comparable qualification
  • Minimum gross salary of €56,400 (or €43,992 for shortage occupations like nursing)
  • Valid job offer in Germany

Perks include easier family reunification, faster permanent residency (21 months) and ability to move between EU countries.

Skilled Worker Visa

For qualified professionals who don’t meet Blue Card criteria, the Skilled Worker Visa needs:

  • Vocational qualification
  • Recognized occupation
  • Minimum gross salary of €46,860 (lower for shortage fields)
  • Valid job offer

It also allows bringing your family and eventually applying for permanent settlement.Submit your visa application at the German embassy in your country once you secure a job offer. Processing times range from 4-8 weeks.

3. Getting Licensed as a Nurse

To start working as a registered nurse, you need approval from the nursing licensing authority in the federal state where your employer is based.Have your new employer submit your credentials, including:

  • Nursing diploma & transcripts
  • Detailed course descriptions
  • Professional licenses & referencesNursing Abroad Doctors

The licensing office will verify if your home country qualifications are equivalent to German standards of training and competency. Outcomes may include:

Full License – If your diploma and competencies match German registered nurse standards, you will get a full unrestricted license.

Partial License – If certain aspects differ slightly, you may need to complete a “compensation measure” first, like a written exam or adaptation course to bridge any gaps.

License Denial – In rare cases of major shortcomings, you may be asked to pursue further German nursing education before reapplying. With license approval, you can legally work as a nurse and get oriented at your new employer. Continue pursuing language classes in parallel.

4. Finalizing Employment Details

As your start date approaches, you will need to arrange:

Accommodation – Secure housing before you arrive. Short-term rentals can help when first arriving until you find more permanent housing.

Bank account – Open a German bank account to receive your salary payments.

Health insurance – Enroll in German national health coverage through a public or private insurer. This gives you access to medical services.

Residence permit – Apply at your local immigration office for a multi-year residence permit tied to your work visa. This serves as your right to live and work in Germany.

Relocation support – Larger hospitals may even cover some of your moving costs or temporary housing as a hiring incentive.Once these basics are in place, you can focus on your nursing job while settling into everyday life in Germany!

Salary and Benefits – What Nurses Earn in Germany

Nursing salaries in Germany are quite generous compared to other European countries. Here are typical earning ranges:

  • Staff nurses – €2,900-3,500 per month
  • Nurse managers – €4,500-5,200 per month
  • Nurse practitioners – €4,800-5,500 per month

This amounts to around €35,000-65,000 annually.Actual salaries vary based on:

  • Geographic region
  • Years of experience
  • Specialty area
  • Shift differentials
  • Public vs. private employer

Note that German salaries are quoted in gross terms pre-tax. Your actual net take-home pay will be 15-20% less after social security contributions and taxes.Other attractive benefits include:

  • Bonuses – Most hospitals pay annual bonuses equal to 1-2 months salary.
  • Pension – Employers contribute 15% towards your retirement savings.
  • Paid time off – Typically 6 weeks of annual leave plus public holidays.
  • Parental leave – Well paid child care leave with return to work guarantees.
  • Healthcare – Free or low cost comprehensive medical coverage for you and family.
  • Contract security – Strict dismissal laws protect against arbitrary job loss.

Overall compensation packages are very competitive to attract scarce nursing talent.


Germany provides excellent opportunities for nurses seeking fulfilling careers and professional advancement. With its modern healthcare system, new immigration law, and high demand for skilled healthcare professionals, Germany is an attractive destination for nurses looking for growth and stability in their careers.

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