Self-Employment for Foreigners in Europe
Thread poster: Emal Ghamsharick

Emal Ghamsharick  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:01
English to German
+ ...
Aug 6, 2011

I am posting this on behalf of my foreign college friends here in Germany.
Many of you are probably educated non-EU citizens working as freelancers or business owners in Europe.
Therefore, you might be willing to share some practical advice.

My foreign friends and I will be graduating next year. I'm set, because I'm a German citizen, but my friends will have to find steady employment quick.

That is an absurd requirement, since not even born Europeans can expect steady employment upon graduation nowadays. That is why I started as a freelancer in college - and I'm much better off than the kids in the internship trap.

However, my foreign friends' student visas specifically state that they are NOT allowed to be self-employed, so they can't register with the tax office and write invoices to potential clients.

Should they want to work independently after graduating, German law requires them to invest at least €250,000 and create 5 jobs. I wonder why oil sheiks aren't fleeing the Middle East in hordes to exploit this amazing opportunity.

We would appreciate any creative solutions to the legal self-employment problem.
Also feel invited to vent any frustration you may feel for our general amusement.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 02:01
Chinese to English
Not just a European issue Aug 6, 2011

I face exactly the same thing where I am. I don't even know exactly what my legal status is here as a freelancer, but I'm on a family visit visa, which doesn't allow me to work, in theory.
Your peers have my sympathy, but this is kind of the way the world works. We all have to find creative ways to get around the fact that the law hasn't caught up with the reality of our global village.

[Edited at 2011-08-06 13:36 GMT]


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Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 20:01
English to Polish
+ ...
creative solution Aug 6, 2011

First, clarification. I understand that the problem is not that foreigners can't freelance or issue invoices. It's just that freelancing is not a basis for a visa, right? They can't get a business visa without investing a quarter million and they can't get an "employee" visa without the prospect of an actual employment contract?

One way around this might be to set up a company, employ yourself (to get an "employee visa") with the company and have the company invoice your clients. It's an additional cost but it doesn't have to be prohibitive. If they can't register a company (a GmbH or something similar) without non-student paperwork, they can have somebody else do it. You could register the company, employ your friend(s) and then sell the company to them (as long is this a circumvention of the law rather than a violation thereof). Needless to say, this would require a good deal of trust.

Another idea: maybe it's possible to register as an entrepreneur and issue invoices if you have an "employee visa"? Then it might be possible to get a part-time job (a few hours a week) somewhere, get a visa and voila?

Yet another idea: find a country that actually wants them (Austria?).

Yet another idea: marry a German, if this is something that gets a foreigner residence. Sounds a bit extreme but hey, if Andre Agassi could do it, anyone can I bet some of your friends are in relationships with Germans of the opposite sex.

This is just guesswork however, as the reality of every country is different. Now go do some research

[Edited at 2011-08-06 15:31 GMT]


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Thor Truelson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:01
Swedish to English
+ ...
Problem? Aug 6, 2011

Just what is the issue here? It doesn't take a brainiac to figure out that freelancers can just work, issues invoices and receive electronic payments from anywhere in the world. Why even mention it to the German government? It technically may not be legal and they have no way of finding out that you're doing it anyways. So there. I have worked from all over the world and while I don't really hang out abroad for extended periods of time, I easily could. Lots of translators do this. You need to be rather established, however, and not just a hobbyist looking to earn an extra buck or two.

If you're trying to help your buddies throw down some roots in Germany in order to establish residency, or something longer-term (which appears to be the case here), then your friends would probably be better served by working in their field of study since they can demonstrate to the authorities a degree of proficiency within that field and perhaps something that may be of particular need in Germany.

Working as a freelance translator is not a certain path to elevated diplomatic status. If you're satisfied with the passport you currently have, then just live with it. If you're from a gnarly place, then marry someone from somewhere better. That's the easiest way.

So good luck with all that...

T


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Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:01
Member (2005)
English to Latvian
+ ...
a marriage with a EU national... Aug 7, 2011

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

Yet another idea: marry a German, if this is something that gets a foreigner residence. Sounds a bit extreme but hey, if Andre Agassi could do it, anyone can I bet some of your friends are in relationships with Germans of the opposite sex.


Not necessarily a German. One can marry any EU national and if they decide to live together in Germany they have even more rights for residence than in the case if they wanted to live in the home country of the EU national. They just have to exercise the Treaty rights and self-employment is included in free labour movement rights.

It can still mean a long bureaucratic fight because many immigration officials either don't know the EU rules or blatantly disregard them. But it is getting better with time. Each case when a person successfully gets his rightful status as a self-employed resident or as a foreigner with a EU national spouse for this matter, makes it easier for the rest of us.

[Edited at 2011-08-07 09:50 GMT]


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Emal Ghamsharick  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:01
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Just a thought Aug 7, 2011

I don't think you'll make unjust laws better by evading them.

Having an official income, even if it's taxed, also makes life a lot easier. Plus you're paying the folks that have the power to "elevate your diplomatic status."

Our legislators are probably decent people, but they need us to point out flaws and suggest changes. Of course there are easy ways, but following the right path should be easier than living like a renegade - that's just cute on TV.


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xxxkalap
No problem at all Aug 7, 2011

Thor Truelson wrote:

Just what is the issue here? It doesn't take a brainiac to figure out that freelancers can just work, issues invoices and receive electronic payments from anywhere in the world. Why even mention it to the German government? T


In Europe, just tax evasion and social security fraud.


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:01
Member (2004)
English to Italian
I wouldn't say that... Aug 7, 2011

Phil Hand wrote:

I face exactly the same thing where I am. I don't even know exactly what my legal status is here as a freelancer, but I'm on a family visit visa, which doesn't allow me to work, in theory.
Your peers have my sympathy, but this is kind of the way the world works. We all have to find creative ways to get around the fact that the law hasn't caught up with the reality of our global village.

[Edited at 2011-08-06 13:36 GMT]


on a public forum... you might end up in a lot of trouble...


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Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:01
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dura Lex Sed Lex Aug 7, 2011

The law has always been considered harsh by those it applies to, the Romans already experienced this and things haven't much changed in all these thousands of years.

Creative solutions should be that, creative not illegal, so be careful what you try, by all means be creative but remember to stay within the law.

Just because you don't like a law or don't agree with it does not mean you are entitled to break it, that way lies anarchy.


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 20:01
French to English
+ ...
Umbrella company? Aug 7, 2011

Here in France we have a system called "portage" where you find your own customers but you are nominally employed by the umbrella company. At the end of the month you send them your invoices and they bill the clients, pay all your taxes (as an employee) and then send you whatever remains!

Obviously, they charge a commision to do this but that is offset against the costs of having an accountant etc.

Is there an equivalent in Germany?


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Felipe Gútiez  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:01
German to Spanish
+ ...
Well, in northern Africa (Egypt, Tunisia) people were against the Law last couple of months Aug 8, 2011

Alex Lago wrote:

The law has always been considered harsh by those it applies to, the Romans already experienced this and things haven't much changed in all these thousands of years.

Creative solutions should be that, creative not illegal, so be careful what you try, by all means be creative but remember to stay within the law.

Just because you don't like a law or don't agree with it does not mean you are entitled to break it, that way lies anarchy.


Well, if we refer to the Romans, the Christians disobeyed Roman Law, which said they should worship Caesar, and the Christians died because of this law.


And you should not forget that Hitler was democratically elected. And he used laws to impose his politics, and then he used the laws no more. Blitzkrieg was much more effective than law.

A German physician has also incriminate himself because he was against the law and apparently the German Parliament is changing the law for this reason. I must say, I don´t know deeply this case and I am by no means saying that what this scientist did was good or bad. I don´t know the facts.

To go against the law is sometimes what you "should" do if law is not what you think should be. But you know this only some years later. See, for example, the nazi regime.


So, it is not always cristal clear what is wrong and what is right. You don´t know today what people will think of your behaviour in 20 years.

I think that we live in a globalized world technically, economically but not politically and this is a missmatch that cannot last much longer.

The fonds profit makers laugh loudly about the prime ministers calling each other in a hurry to talk about solutions to the financial crisis. What should I do, what should we do? The fonds investors professionals use as masters the globalized economy whereas the small prime ministers, even Obama, cannot do nothing against, because there is no world government.
We need a democratically elected World Government. If possible, through the Internet, which would be very cheap.
Politically we live in the XIX century...It is awful.


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xxxyanadeni  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:01
French to Russian
+ ...
No hope Aug 9, 2011

It's a known thing that Europe (and Germany in particular) doesn't want to get more people when they already have difficulties to employ those who were born there.

What are the reasons for your friends to stay in Germany? Work? So why don't they try to find an employer who wants them? It could be slightly easier because they are already in the country.

Love? So they should marry.

They wish to live in Occident?
They should forget Europe. It's closed now. Look at Australia, New Zealand and Canada. These countries have open immigration programs now. Nobody guarantees they will stay open for a long time.

Me too I'd like to live in Europe. I even have family there - my father lives in Germany. But no legal way for me to get the permanent residency there with work permit. Unless my husband, who is also a European, wants to get back to his country, but I doubt he'll do it - he left Europe for European problems


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Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:01
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
OH Aug 9, 2011

Felipe Gútiez wrote:

Well, if we refer to the Romans, the Christians disobeyed Roman Law, which said they should worship Caesar, and the Christians died because of this law.


And you should not forget that Hitler was democratically elected. And he used laws to impose his politics, and then he used the laws no more. Blitzkrieg was much more effective than law.

A German physician has also incriminate himself because he was against the law and apparently the German Parliament is changing the law for this reason. I must say, I don´t know deeply this case and I am by no means saying that what this scientist did was good or bad. I don´t know the facts.

To go against the law is sometimes what you "should" do if law is not what you think should be. But you know this only some years later. See, for example, the nazi regime.


So, it is not always cristal clear what is wrong and what is right. You don´t know today what people will think of your behaviour in 20 years.

I think that we live in a globalized world technically, economically but not politically and this is a missmatch that cannot last much longer.

The fonds profit makers laugh loudly about the prime ministers calling each other in a hurry to talk about solutions to the financial crisis. What should I do, what should we do? The fonds investors professionals use as masters the globalized economy whereas the small prime ministers, even Obama, cannot do nothing against, because there is no world government.
We need a democratically elected World Government. If possible, through the Internet, which would be very cheap.
Politically we live in the XIX century...It is awful.



OK wow I thought we were talking about business/employment/taxation laws, if we are going to get into a deep discussions about THE LAW then this is probably not the right forum and I might agree with you on most of your views.

BUT, I thought we were looking at this from a business point of view and at least in my opinion from a professional business point of view if you are in business everything you do should be legal, that is what I was referring to.


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