Just arrived in Berlin?

Single and just arrived? Your apartment is renovated and your moving is finished? You are living on your own?  Anyway, if you recently live apart, a long-distance relationship or you are not living in permanent relationship.  No problem: 50% of households of Berlin are single ones.

Now you start your social life in Berlin. There are many possibilities to make new contacts. No matter if you join online groups like “new in Berlin” or you go out for a drink, dinner or party. There are so many places you will meet nice people and get in contact.

One quickly makes contact not only at parties or bars, but there is also a large variety of initiatives: business-clubs, science circle, “creatives groups” or voluntary activities.

A great opportunity to get in touch with other people is, to join one of the many clubs in Berlin: for startups, women, international women and creative people.

You will find many more different clubs in Berlin.

Working & Living in Germany – Europass

The Europass – What is it really?

The Europass is not (although it might sound like it) a residence, travel or work permit; it has nothing to do with travelling, living or working in the European Union. It is not a document you need to hand in to get a working permit or a residence permit, nor is it a document for acknowledging your qualifications or vocational training.

Thus, the name is quite irritating, although the idea behind the Europass is promising. It is a service to facilitate communication of your skills, qualifications, education and other job application documents. It should provide a platform to facilitate comparison of skills, different university degrees and other qualifications.

Education and training authorities can define and communicate their curricula content, citizens can use predefined forms for e.g. their CVs, language skills.

If done and used by a majority this would enable employers to understand the skills and qualifications of their workforce more easily and comparison would be facilitated and job application rounds in the EU could become fairer and more transparent.

Additionally, it is possible to ask for the “Europass Mobility” document, which records knowledge and skills in other European countries, for the “Certificate Supplement”, which describes the knowledge and skills acquired and is based on your education and training certificates. Further, the “Diploma Certificate” is issued on basis of your knowledge and skills acquired by holders of higher education degrees.

However, these are lot of “ifs”, “cans” and “woulds”. The Europass has still some flaws: it is a platform providing several documents and forms, however they are still to be filled in by the persons themselves and no one has to fill them in. There are no real guidelines to fill in the Language passport or the CV, which makes comparison subjective and not really easier than comparing two different CVs.

It is questionable to what extent the Europass meets its objectives at the moment and how useful it is at the moment. However, it is a good idea and hopefully in some years comparison of skills, qualifications as well as of academic and vocational training is fair and easier throughout Europe. To achieve this, however, we need some musts and guidelines and really comparable documents and grade scales.

BLUE CARD EU – how to apply

We are asked very often, “can I apply for Blue card EU electronically?” – Regarding Germany definitely no:

The Blue Card EU is a specific work permit for NON EU people. It is not possible to apply for the Blue Card EU online. Although, there are some differences on the exact procedure of applying throughout some German cities, overall the procedure is the same.

You have to go to the authority in person (at some authorities you even need to make an appointment beforehand). Furthermore, you have to hand in specific documents and forms and therefore have to bring all papers with you to the authority (hint: check gohelpy to know which documents you need and how to prepare them).

In order to save time and money you check if you meet the criteria for the EU Blue Card before applying:

  • You have a binding job offer (on expert level or job of the white list)
  • You have recognition of your professional and vocational training
  • Your salary is higher than € 50,800 (job of white list i.e. IT, Doctor, scientist  € 39,624 per year)

It is only possible to apply for the EU Blue Card if you fulfill all criteria and have all documents with you when applying in person at the authority.

Relocation – start your journey with the right way

There are many things you can do in advance to make your way to the new country easier:

When you relocate, you’ll have so many decisions to make that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Do as much research as you can before you go. Make good use of social networks, they can help you to avoid isolation that can occur when moving abroad.Learn the language from day one. Every step you take in learning the language of your host nation brings you closer to the culture.

Gather information as much as possible about the new country, city and your potential neighborhood.

Become acquainted with the culture of your host nation. Which are typical characteristics of the people? Which are the main behavioral differences between your home country and your host nation.

Immigration to Germany

Recommendation: Employers should be proactive in relocating employees to Germany and should initiate the process as soon as possible to not cause unwanted delays. Due to a lack of resources in the German Immigration authorities authorities and an unexpected high volume of resident/work permit applications the current adjudication times are between 8 and 12 weeks.

The problems include the inability of offering appointments on short notice or answering phone calls relating to applications. Especially affected are complex application which require special consultations and often additional training for staff. In order to address the current capacity problems new people are hired, nevertheless regularizing the lack of resources will take some time as the new staff needs specific and adequate training as well as job experience.

Immigration will remain unchanged for companies, which relocate employees to Germany, however guidance cannot be provided by the authorities to do so at the moment. Further additional requests by the authorities asking for provision of additional documents could be experienced by foreigners and their employers. Additionally, inquiries in relation to qualifications, salary rates, benefits and employment conditions could be requested.

 

Startup scene Germany

New star on Germnay’s startup scene – Hamburg gains impotance

Berlin is the heartland of the German startup-scene: good infrastructure and low housing price. However, one city is catching up – Hamburg. The Hanseatic town is catching up fast and even leading concerning Tech-Startups.

Following a survey Hamburg meet the current trends for choosing a startup location. Founders of young technology-enterprises estimate that the Hanseatic city will gain in importance even further as a study of PwC indicated. Hamburg ranks with 74% best out of 9 compared cities, followed by Berlin and Frankfurt a. M.

At the bottom maneuver, according to the study, Stuttgart, Dresden and Karlsruhe. Not even 50% of the 500 interviewed Start-up-founders believe that these cities will increase their importance in light of the startup-scene. Munich, Cologne and Düsseldorf reach mean values. The study is based on the European Digital City index, which includes all German cities.

Reasons for the assessment are unknown. Hamburg is amongst other a location for media and trading enterprises. More than half of the respondents operates in the sectors of information- and communication technology followed by E-commerce (25%).

How can you plan your move to another country professionally?

How can you plan your move to another country in order to be professionally successful over there?

Of course, first of all you need some information and Expat-Portals are perfect to gather information as well as experiences of different people. However, it takes long to find information appropriate to your case. You might have to scroll through experiences of expats, moving neither from your home country to another country nor did they move to the country you want to move to. Still, you will find people’s experiences of moving from your home country to other countries, moving from other origins to the country you want to move to or even people making the same move as you: from your home country to the country you want to move to (the ideal case for you).

And afterwards – what to do with this bulk of information and experience you gathered? There won’t be a case that fits you completely. There are always specialities to each of us, furthermore, in those portals you can find experiences only, there is no security that everything will happen to you the same way it happened to them. Rather, there is security that at least something is different. You want to live in a different part of the city, you have children, you have another budget or simply the circumstances in the town changed (because of time, supply & demand or whatsoever). Therefore, you need something more specialized, more tailor-made for your further steps like gohelpy and Xpatvisor. Expat-Portals are great to get a first or even a detailed overall impression of what to expect and what to bear in mind. However, when entering the actual planning of your move and planning your steps to your new home, do not rely on experiences of other but use the possibility to have a tailor-made path to walk along. You have special desires and demands which should be realized. The Xpatvisor does exactly this and hence adds a more personalized and specialized part to Expat-information portals.

 

Brexit is on the horizon already – first impacts are felt

A recent case shows that Brexit has its influence on European as well as British citizens already. Uncertainty is immense and still growing among all citizens. A British had to feel this personally: Because of uncertainty a landlord decided to rent his flat to a person with lower income, however a European citizenship, lasting longer than the next 2 years. He valued the security of having a tenant for probably longer than the next year higher than the security of the higher income of the British citizen.

Uncertainty, especially concerning citizenships, work and residence permits is extremely high, not only on the side of the British citizens but among EU citizens working and living in Great Britain as well. “Will I be allowed to live here? Will I be posted to another country? How long will I be allowed to live here from now? What will happen?” All these questions are going around in many peoples’ heads. And of course not only those directly influenced by the Brexit, but they influence those indirectly affected as well. This group is huge: landlords, hotels, apartment-owners and many more are people being uncertain about the Brexit´s impact on their jobs as well.

Although, nothing is really decided yet on the Brexit conditions the consequences of it are growing and growing as uncertainty rises.

We have to wait and see and hope for the best, for both sides.

Berlin’s top-employers

What do Deutsche Bahn, Vivantes, Charité, BVG, Deutsche Rentenversicherung, Siemens and KPMG have in common? – On the first sight: not a lot besides there large company size and being based in Berlin.
However, you should have a closer look at those companies. In times of scarce employees and problems to fill employment vacancies with talented and appropriate people these companies developed programs to enhance conditions of employment and to create a better working atmosphere.

These programs include flexible and individually adjusted working models, family friendliness as well as diversity. Other points are programs and support for health and leisure activities as well as initiatives to improve the atmosphere between the employed and between the different working levels. Outstanding: KPMG provides every employee with the opportunity to take up to 4 hours per month to follow voluntary activities.

 

Elections in France – Changing Point for the EU?

Macron clear success in the parliamentary elections mark a success for the planned reforms in the EU. Macron is known for his rather pro-European mindset. In the parliamentary elections this weekend he won clearly and defeated the traditional parties as well as Marine Le Pen’s “Font National” significantly. What the first round of the parliamentary elections indicated already was confirmed in the second round: Macron has a huge majority in the parliament.

German politicians congratulate Macron and welcome the results of this weekend’s elections as success for Europe. Does Macron`s success mark a changing point in the development of the crisis-ridden Europe?

It could be, however the success is not as beautiful as it seems, there is a flaw: the historically low turnout of the elections: more than 57% did not participate in the elections. How representative is this result then? Nobody knows.

Nevertheless, change is coming, the new French parliament will be younger and composed of more women than ever before. The average age drops to 47 years and 37% of the parliamentarians will be female. This shows that something is happening and keeps hope alive for change and modernization, not in only in France but in the whole EU.

For the EU however, we need to await whether the French elections will have any influence on German elections in September. The last election of the year will mark a distinctive point for the further political, social and economic development of Europe.

Fingers crossed, hope for the best and go voting in order to participate in reforming EU and solving our problems.