Letters of intent for the German freelance visa

Letters of intent for the German freelance visa

How to get letters of intent for the German freelance visa application, with examples.

Letters of written come from German clients that intend to give you work. Essentially, they say "if you give this person a freelance visa, I have work for them". A letter of intent is not a contract. The businesses and individuals that write your letters of intent are not forced to hire you1.

When you apply for the German freelance visa, you must show letters of intent (Absichtserklärung)1, 2, 3. Some interviewers don't care about them, and some require them1, 2. They are officially required since August 20181.

This guide was kindly fact-checked by Johanna Sieben from c/o Germany. We are grateful for her help.

Why are letters of intent important?

Letters of intent are officially required when you apply for a freelance visa in Berlin1, 2. They are very important because they prove two things:

  • You can find work and make money in Germany. You will not get a freelance visa if you don't make enough money to support yourself.
  • There is a regional demand for your services. You will not get a freelance visa if you don't have any clients in Germany1. You can't only work for clients in other countries.

How many letters of intent are required?

According to feedback from applicants, you need at least 2 letters of intent from German clients or individuals1, 2, 3. The more you have, the better.

Signed contracts

Signed contracts are better than letters of intent for your visa application. Letters of intent just show that the company wants to hire you. With a signed contract, the company must hire you.

Contracts are harder to get, because companies don't know when you will get your visa1. You can't start working for them until you have your visa.

Letters of reference from previous clients

In addition, you can bring letters of reference from previous clients. They do not replace letters of intent, but they can help your case.

What goes in a letter of intent?

Your letter of intent should contain this information1, 2:

  • Who is hiring you. The letter must come from a real company who wants to hire you. Ideally, it must come from a German company. Put the address of the company is on the letter, to prove that it's in Germany1, 2.
  • Why they are hiring you. The letter must explain what kind of work you will do. This must be the same job as the one on your visa application. If you apply as a freelance software developer, you must get letters of intent for software development work. It also helps if the letter explains why you are qualified for this job.
  • Your name. The letter must clearly be about hiring you, not any person who can fill this role.
  • How much they will pay you. Letters of intent must contain a clear amount or hourly rate1, 2.

Letters of intent do not need to follow a specific format. Ideally, they should be recent. Some people just printed emails from companies that were interested in hiring them1.

Remember that a letter of intent is not a contract. Companies who write your letters of intent are not forced to hire you1, 2. They only need to intend to hire you.

Who can write letters of intent?

You can get letters of intent from anyone, not only registered businesses. You must have at least two letters from people or companies in Germany. This is because the freelance visa is only granted if there is an "regional economic interest" for your business1. The letters can come from anywhere in Germany, not just the city you live in.

How to get letters of intent?

This is where you must be creative. Getting letters of intents from people you have never met is very difficult. Even though I already lived in Germany, I found it very hard.

Here are some tricks:

  • Start networking! Visit your local coworking spaces, attend industry meetups, join local communities and just ask for it. People are generally happy to help you, even if they won't always hire you1.
  • Ask your friends, family and colleagues. Even if they can't hire you, they might know people who can write a letter of intent for you. Even if they don't live in Germany, their letters of intent can help your case.
  • Ask your old clients. If you were a freelancer before, or if you currently are, you can ask your old clients to sign a letter of intent. You need two letters of intent from German companies, but those from other countries also help.

No matter what you do, do not fake letters of intent. Visa fraud is never a good idea.

Can you write letters of intent in English?

Ideally, letters of intent should be in German1. If they are in another language, bring a translation. Some Ausländerberhörde interviewers only speak German.

    If you need certified translations of your documents, use Lingoking. You can get your translations done online at a really good price.

    Can you write letters of intent yourself?

    Ideally, the letters should always be written by the company. However, some freelancers draft the letters themselves, and ask the companies to sign them. This is also legal, but the letters should look like the companies wrote them.

    No matter what you do, do not fake letters of intent. This is visa fraud, and it's very illegal.

    Letter of intent examples

    Comments

    • Victoria

      Thank you for the detailed guide!
      I am sending some speculative letters now (applying for the visa next month), most of them remain with no answer, but some reply like ´currently we don't have offers, but will keep your docs for the future reference´. Does it make sense to ask them for the letter in this case?

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