Obtaining German internship visa (ZAV Pre approval)

Akanksha Bhardwaj
Apr 8 · 3 min read

Welcome to German bureaucracy! If you have stumbled upon this post, chances are you’re going to be in Germany for quiet a bit. A very important document that goes along with your visa application (if you have a weak passport like mine!) is the work permit document or ZAV consent letter from the Bundesagentur für Arbeit. Rest assured it’s something no one has ever heard about, especially if you are joining a startup where there’s no dedicated team for relocation, you’re mostly on your own.

I decided to share my experience with obtaining a ZAV pre-approval for my technical (mandatory) internship in Munich, Germany, since I struggled a bit with it due to lack of information available online. I would say that its the first thing you should look into when you decide to arrange a visa, since processing time can be between 3–6 weeks, in my case it was 5 long weeks (and we were unfortunate enough to make it the last priority)

Tip 1: If something sounds as alien as the ZAV, look into it the first thing!

A cool snap for some color (Olympia Park, Munich)

Important things to note:

Only the employer or the intern’s supervisor can file for the work permit and the intern needs to provide the following documents which you should send to your employer in advance to sped up the process.

  1. Filled proof of enrollment provided by the Bundesagentur für Arbeit signed and sealed by candidate’s university (do consider your university’s processing time as well!) Tip: Make sure your university fills for the mandatory internship clause if its one (you save a ton on taxes !).
  2. Certificate of enrollment.
  3. Passport copy (only pages with the personal data)
  4. Print from anabin on the Internet (http://anabin.kmk.org). The Ausdruck from anabin is required to find out if a university degree is recognized or comparable to German standards. For obtaining that, one needs to check this online database — relevant print out of the information given by anabin will be accepted.

Apart from these a few more documents would be required from your employer’s side. (Obtained and translated from the following pdf from the ZAV site: https://con.arbeitsagentur.de/prod/apok/ct/dam/download/documents/dok_ba015615.pdf )

  1. Acquisition sheet,
  2. Internship plan

The following form needs to be filled and submitted from your employer’s side(via email: zav@arbeitsagentur.de, you’re welcome).

In my case my case even my employer was unaware about this ZAV document. Turns out it wasn’t even required for anything else except for my visa, it might be the same for you.

More info about Bundesagentur für Arbeit can be found here:

https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/unternehmen/arbeitskraefte/studienfachbezogene-praktika (It also contains the form for Internship plan.)

Sometimes reaching out to ZAV after form submission is a good move to sped up the long process, so give your employer the head’s up.

ZAV contact info:

0228 713–1313 (Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm)


Some background on my visa (since some of you reached out):

  • I applied for the Schengen visa for my internship given the time constraints, National Visa wasn’t possible, so yes you can intern on a Schengen Visa and possibly extend it in Germany.
  • In my case the pre-approval arrived so late that I had to shift my internship dates and the dates on the ZAV certificate became outdated. We never bothered to get it corrected however I did mention that in my visa application.

Tip 2. Try to mention it in the visa cover letter in case of ambiguity. Also, ask queries via email to the embassy and attach a copy with your visa application

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