London Japan Kitchen Bob


You are from a country that for whatever reason, you want to escape. You don't qualify for refugee status, but by some blessing you secured a temporary visa through your partner who got accepted into a German University. Currency conversion works against you, and you need a job asap to support your partner and yourself. You only speak English.

What should you do first?

This is a real life experience of a friend. They were couchsurfing amongst friends while they looked to secure their first accomodation. The student alone could easily qualify for student accomodation or a house share (called WG, wohngemeinschaft), but as a couple they couldn't take advantage of some of these offers.

Searching for the first accomodation in Germany

As with the UK, if you are planning to rent a housing from a landlord, you may need a deposit. While a local can just prove they have a job and avoid paying the deposit, an immigrant without any proof of financial security will have to pay an upfront deposit of 6 months.

In Germany, a lot of apartments don't come furnished. If house share isn't an option, it's better just to find a cheap unfurnished apartment. Here are several words that will come up:

  • Nebenkosten: Side costs, i.e. utilities. These may or may not be included
  • Kaltmiete: Rent without Nebenkosten
  • Warmmiete: Everything inclusive
  • Mobiliert: Furniture included. Unmobiliert for without, the standard.

Cost is probably more affordable with an unfurnished 1 bed apartment for a couple, and that's what they found. €750/month with energy bill included.

You could use a Google translate plugin on flat rental sites like to search for properties. It's essential to check out public transport links because your job will likely require you to travel into the city.

Getting a bank account

In the UK, you can by-pass majority of the paperwork to get your first bank account by using a mobile banking service like Monzo. You do need a Biometric Residence permit to prove you can work, but there's no need to prove your address. Unfortunately, German banks follow a slightly different order.

  • Students: They will be able to apply for a bank account straight away.
  • Spouse of a Visa permit holder: They need a written statement of you secured a job first before opening up a bank account. This means your odd under the table jobs will not be possible.

Online banks did not accept their application due to their Nationality needing extra paperwork that was difficult to get at this current stage.

Searching for a job

There are several limitations on what job you can get at the beginning. My friend's limitations were; no car, no bike, no German driving licence, stuck in a small city associated with partner's visa, no bank account. First things first, they got a bike. You can find this in Facebook Market Place or Ebay cheap. The following are job search attempts they tried:

  • Job Centre. They only spoke German. Didn't help much.
  • Temp Agency. This would be the first place that could offer jobs, especially if you can do warehouse and other physical lifting work. Unfortunately they only spoke German, and communication was a chaalenge. After finally being able to apply, they got occasional phone calls from recruiters...

    In German.

    They freaked out when he spoke English and cut their phone short.
  • Walking on the high street. Asking around restaurants, Cafe's, and Hotels you'll probably find some vacancy. There were a few that were interested, but only if they had the certification to work with food, the Infection Protection Act 43. Infektionsschutzgesetz – IfSG for short.

How to work in a Restaurant

In the UK, you need the Level 2 Food Safety Hygiene cetificate, offered online by many independent services. In Germany, you need a Infektionsschutzgesetz certificate to comply with the Infection protection Act 43. These are often 2.5 hour in-person courses that are signed off by a doctor by the end, though I did find an online course in English:

Online Infektionsschutzgesetz Course

Notice how it has the name of a doctor. The in-person course is more bizzare as the doctors who offer the course don't have this listed on their clinic website. It does seem quite random though, that a busy person who is specialized in medicine would also teach Catering newcomers about how to handle eggs and milk. This is probably a legacy system from covid, I wouldn't be surprised it this changes in future. The In-person course was €35 as of March 2023.

#ImmigrantExperiences #Refugee #Germany