For foreigners: geriatric care and nursing in Germany

The German population is getting older. The reason is the increasing life expectancy and the decline or stagnation of births. Germany has a high and increasing need for inpatient and outpatient care services. Nursing service providers, i.e. hospitals, old people’s homes and other care facilities, always have enough skilled workers to attract them. The Federal Employment Agency has determined that there are only 19 applicants for every 100 vacancies for geriatric nurses. Germany is therefore urgently dependent on specialists from abroad in the health and nursing professions.

Particularly in the area of geriatric care, the demand for qualified geriatric nurses is increasing steadily in view of the demographic change. By 2050 there will be 50 percent more elderly people in need of care than today.

In order to continue to have enough nursing staff in Germany in the future, nursing training was reformed from January 1, 2020. In addition, foreign nurses are constantly recruited.

Very good opportunities and opportunities for international nurses

Anyone wishing to work permanently in nursing professions as a foreigner in Germany must have state approval. Linguistic and professional adaptation qualifications are required to obtain this professional recognition.

The application for professional recognition must be made to the responsible body in the federal state in which employment is desired. The recognition given by the German authority there applies throughout Germany.

What are the requirements for the foreign applicant for a nursing job?

Recognized qualification: The qualification as a nurse that the applicant has obtained in the country of origin must be recognized in Germany. Upon approval, the German authority checks whether the foreign nursing qualification is equivalent to German qualifications. If this is not the case, an adaptation course can be taken.

 Sufficient knowledge of German:

German language skills at level B2 or B1 according to the European frame of reference are required. Whether B2 or B1 differs from German federal state to federal state.

Health aptitude:

The foreign applicant must provide a medical certificate from a German doctor to prove that he is physically and mentally healthy. Therefore, a health suitability for the job of the caregiver must be given and proven.


Applicants for a job in the field of nursing must prove their trustworthiness, i.e. they must prove that they have no previous criminal record. The foreign applicants must provide this either with a certificate of good conduct from their home country or with a German police certificate.

Country of professional qualification decides

Nationality is not decisive for the recognition of the foreign professional qualification, but where the qualification for the nursing profession was acquired.

Vocational qualification acquired in an EU country

If the nursing training was carried out in an EU country or a member country of the European Economic Area, the professional qualification for the nursing profession is generally recognized automatically. In addition, German language skills are required. This means that knowledge of German at level B1 or B2 must be demonstrated.

Vocational qualification obtained in a non-EU country

Since nursing professions are on the positive list of shortage and bottleneck professions, nursing professionals from third countries can be recruited or immigrated in accordance with the Employment Ordinance.

First, an applicant from a non-EU country must apply for recognition of his foreign professional qualification. Even before a visa for Germany is applied for.

If the result of the recognition test is positive and the applicant receives full recognition of his professional qualification, i.e. the equivalence of his qualification has been determined and the other requirements (including language skills) are met, the following applies:

As soon as the applicant has a specific job offer, he can apply to the German diplomatic mission in his country of origin for a visa to enter Germany.

After entering Germany, the applicant must contact the relevant immigration office in accordance with Provide a residence permit for the purpose of employment as a carer in accordance with section 18 (4) of the Residence Act.

In Germany the nursing profession is an apprenticeship. The training takes place at school and not, as in many other countries, academically. For this reason, the EU Blue Card does not apply to nursing staff!

If the result of the recognition test is negative and the applicant does not receive full recognition of his professional qualification, several cases are possible:
In the event that the recognition authority determines that the applicant lacks theoretical or practical qualifications for full recognition, he can carry out the necessary adaptation measures in Germany. According to § 17a AufenthG receive a visa to recognize foreign professional qualifications in order to acquire the missing qualifications through further training within a period of up to 18 months. This includes all educational measures that are possible in the context of a recognition process. This can e.g. Adaptation courses, preparatory courses for exams, language courses or company training. During the adaptation measures in Germany, the applicant may work as a nursing assistant and earn money. If the recognition process has been successfully completed, the residence permit can be extended up to one year to find a job as a nurse.

Nursing education in Germany

On January 1, 2020, the Act on Nursing Professions (Nursing Professions Act – PflBG) came into effect. The training in all nursing schools begins with a 2-year general nursing training that no longer differentiates between elderly care, health and nursing care and health and pediatric nursing. There are then two options. Either the trainees continue the generalist training with the qualification “nursing specialist” or “nursing specialist” or they carry out a specialization in the third year of training. This enables them to acquire a professional qualification as a “health and children’s nurse” or as an “elderly nurse”.
The theoretical part of the training takes place in nursing schools and the practical part in training institutions.
In addition to and as a possible supplement to vocational training, there is the possibility of studying nursing. It contains the content of professional nursing training and also takes into account the ever more complex need for nursing.
The generalist training ensures comprehensive nursing skills for the care of people of all ages and all care areas, taking into account the progress in nursing science. The nursing staff also have opportunities to change, work, advance and develop in all areas of nursing. This makes it easy to adapt the nursing profession to your own living conditions.
Generalist nursing training in Germany is automatically recognized throughout the EU. School fees do not have to be paid. There is a reasonable training allowance.

Initiatives and country agreements: Foreign nationals in nursing in Germany



The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) has developed a model project with partner country Vietnam. It is called “Recruiting Vietnamese workers to train in nursing in Germany”. In this project, young Vietnamese people in Germany can complete training as nurses. The project is managed by the Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).
In this way, cooperation with Vietnam in the healthcare industry is being expanded. GIZ is supported by the German Federal Employment Agency. The project is adapted to the training content of generalist nursing training.
The project has been running since 2016. In Vietnam, young Vietnamese are being prepared in two rounds for training as a nurse in Germany. They go through a state-sponsored qualification program in cooperation with the Goethe Institute in Hanoi. This qualification includes a thirteen-month language course including technical qualification, intercultural training and preparation for the professional profile of the nurse in Germany. If the language exam is passed, the training in Germany follows.

Triple Win project

The Triple Win project is a labor market and development policy program based on a culture of welcome and recognition.
The Triple Win program is managed by GIZ and the Federal Employment Agency. It is a pilot project to attract foreign nurses to the German labor market.
Triple Win is based on placement agreements between the Federal Employment Agency and the employment services of the partner countries Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, the Philippines and Tunisia.
The partner administration in the countries mentioned carries out the application process on site and checks the applications according to formal criteria. The Federal Employment Agency then checks the applicant’s personal, technical and linguistic qualifications through personal interviews. A language test is also part of this selection process.
GIZ carries out the linguistic qualification of the nursing staff (level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference with technical language for nursing), the technical preparation for work in Germany as well as the integration support and support with the recognition after arrival in Germany.
The foreign qualification of nurses should be recognized in the first year of their employment in Germany. Until then, the nurses will work as nursing assistants. The specialists can be employed in hospitals and outpatient care services, but also in geriatric care facilities. However, you are required to go through the health and nursing recognition process.

Project “Nursing in Germany”

The project “Nursing in Germany” is an offer of the Federal Employment Agency (BA) for nursing staff from Mexico.

The Federal Employment Agency works with the National Labor Office in Mexico. Both are looking for qualified health and nursing staff from Mexico for healthcare companies in Germany.

This gives nurses from Mexico new job opportunities. German employers in the health sector present their job offers in different places and at different times in Mexico.
If you want to take part in the project, you have to be mobile and interested in working abroad. He must acquire German language skills within 12 months. An academic degree from a Mexican university is also a prerequisite.

In return, the interested nurses receive a variety of support. E.g. Funded language courses in Mexico and Germany. In addition, they receive support in applying for a visa and professional recognition.

The way to Germany – Information for nationals from third countries

1. Check the possibility of entry: The requirements for entry and the visa must be checked in advance.
 2. Apply for recognition of nursing professional qualification:
First you have to apply for the recognition procedure. Recognition of nursing training is required for the entry visa.
 3. Search for a nursing job in Germany:
For the visa to enter the country, an employer is required to have a job in the field of care in Germany. You have to look for a job in Germany first. The job must be a job in the field of nursing or elderly care. If you already have recognition of your own professional qualification for nursing in Germany, you can enter Germany to look for a job. A special visa is required. You can stay in Germany for up to 6 months to find a job in the field of nursing or elderly care.
  4. Apply for a visa:
You can apply for a visa to work as a nurse or geriatric nurse or nurse at the responsible German diplomatic mission abroad. A prerequisite for issuing the visa is the recognition of professional qualifications in the area of nursing and a specific offer for a job in nursing in Germany. Knowledge of German must also be demonstrated. Health insurance is also required. This is a legal requirement in Germany