ZAV Pre-Approval | The Golden Ticket to Employment in Germany

ZAV, an acronym for Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung (Central Foreign and Specialist Placement), is a crucial agency under the German Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit).

Its primary responsibility lies in overseeing and regulating the employment of international professionals in Germany.

The primary function of ZAV is to ensure that foreign employment adheres to the guidelines of the German labor market, hence maintaining its integrity.

If you’re a non-EU citizen hoping to work in Germany, obtaining ZAV approval becomes a key milestone in your journey.

This procedure involves a thorough review of your potential job role, qualifications, and their relevance and compliance to the German labor market.

To put it simply, the ZAV pre-approval is not just a bureaucratic hurdle to overcome; it’s a process that ensures the fairness and integrity of Germany’s labor market.

Whether you’re a software engineer, a nurse, a research scientist, or an artist, the ZAV pre-approval process is your gateway to legitimate professional opportunities in Germany.

In the following sections, we will dive deeper into the different facets of the ZAV pre-approval process, dissecting each step and providing detailed insights to make this complex journey a little easier for you.

Note: With the implementation of the Skilled Immigration Act, the ZAV letter is not mandatory anymore. Please refer to the official website here for further details.

Understanding the ZAV Pre-Approval Process

Navigating the German labor market as a foreign national can be a complex process.

However, having a clear understanding of the ZAV pre-approval procedure can provide you with the necessary foundation to approach it more confidently.

1. Role of the Employer

The process begins with your prospective employer in Germany.

Once you’ve secured a job offer, your employer is required to initiate the ZAV pre-approval process on your behalf.

They will gather the necessary documents, which typically include copies of your educational certificates, a detailed job description, and the contract of employment or binding job offer.

This part of the process is essential as it not only demonstrates your qualifications for the job but also the demand for your skillset in the German market.

2. Submission to ZAV

Your employer then submits this information to the ZAV (Link to the official website).

Here, the agency thoroughly reviews your qualifications and the specifics of the job offer.

This process aims to ensure the suitability of the job role to your qualifications and that it’s in line with the standards and regulations of the German labor market.

3. Assessment

A crucial part of the ZAV pre-approval process is the assessment of whether a German or EU citizen could fill the job position you’re being offered.

Known as the labor market check, this assessment is intended to safeguard the interests of domestic and EU workers.

If the ZAV determines that there are suitable candidates within Germany or the EU who can perform the job, the pre-approval may be denied.

This labor market check is particularly relevant for non-specialist roles.

However, if you’re applying for a job in professions with a shortage of workers or you’re highly skilled, this process may be expedited.

4. ZAV Decision

Based on the outcome of the review and the labor market check, the ZAV makes its decision.

If approved, the ZAV issues a pre-approval document that your employer will receive. This document is also known as the ZAV letter.

5. Next Steps

Following the ZAV pre-approval, you can proceed to apply for a visa at the German embassy or consulate in your home country.

The ZAV pre-approval letter forms a crucial part of your visa application and is a testament to your eligibility to work in Germany.

By understanding the ZAV pre-approval process, you can effectively position yourself in the German labor market and take proactive steps to ensure the success of your application.

It’s important to remember that while this process may seem daunting, it’s designed to ensure that your employment opportunity in Germany is in line with your qualifications and the needs of the German economy.

The ZAV Pre-Approval Processing Time

Embarking on the journey to secure a work permit in Germany demands patience, particularly when waiting for the ZAV pre-approval.

Understanding the processing time can not only help you plan better but also manage your expectations.

1. Standard Processing Time

Under normal circumstances, the ZAV pre-approval process typically takes between two to three weeks.

This period starts once the ZAV has received all the necessary documentation from your prospective employer. It’s important to note that this timeframe is an average estimation and may vary in individual cases.

2. Factors Influencing the Processing Time

The processing time can be influenced by several factors.

The completeness and accuracy of the application are key determinants. Incomplete applications or those with incorrect information can lead to delays.

The demand for your profession can also impact the processing time.

If you’re in a profession where there’s a shortage of skilled workers in Germany, your approval process may be faster.

3. Current Workload of the ZAV

Another significant factor affecting the processing time is the current workload of the ZAV.

During peak periods or times of high demand, the process might take longer than the estimated average.

4. Possible Delays

While delays are usually the exception rather than the rule, they can occur.

For instance, if additional documents are requested or if there’s a need for further verification of your information, the processing time might be extended.

5. Timely Communication

To minimize delays, ensure that you promptly respond to any requests for additional information or documents.

Keep in regular contact with your employer, who can provide updates from the ZAV.

The wait for ZAV pre-approval can be nerve-wracking, but knowing what to expect can make it more bearable. Patience and prompt communication are your best allies in this process. Being aware of the factors influencing the processing time can help you prepare more effectively and approach the process with a realistic outlook. Remember, this is a crucial step toward your career in Germany, and each day brings you closer to that goal.

How to Apply for ZAV Pre-Approval

Knowing how to apply for the ZAV pre-approval is fundamental in initiating your journey to working in Germany. Let’s explore the steps involved in the application process:

1. Accept a Job Offer

The first step towards obtaining ZAV pre-approval is securing a job offer from a German employer. This job offer should include an outline of your proposed salary and job responsibilities.

2. Preparation of Documents by the Employer

Once the job offer is accepted, your employer must compile a set of necessary documents. These typically include your job contract, copies of your educational and professional qualifications, and a detailed job description. Your CV and passport-sized photographs might also be required.

3. Submission of Application by the Employer

The responsibility for submitting the ZAV pre-approval application lies with the employer. They will send the complete set of documents to the ZAV office. The application is primarily conducted in German, so it’s typically easier and more efficient for the employer to handle this process.

4. Review by ZAV

Upon receipt of the application, the ZAV will review the submitted documents. They will assess your qualifications, the specifics of the job offer, and the demand for your profession in the German labor market.

5. Labor Market Check

As part of the review, the ZAV performs a labor market check to ensure no eligible German or EU citizen is available to fill the role. This check is integral to protecting the employment rights of German and EU citizens.

6. Receipt of ZAV Approval

If your application meets all the requirements and passes the labor market check, ZAV will issue the pre-approval letter. This document is crucial for your subsequent work visa application.

Importance of the ZAV Letter in Germany

In your journey toward securing employment in Germany, the ZAV letter serves as a crucial piece of the puzzle. This document signifies a milestone in the work permit process and carries substantial importance for the following reasons:

1. Confirmation of Pre-Approval

The ZAV letter is an official document that confirms the ZAV’s pre-approval of your employment. It is an affirmation that you meet the necessary qualifications and that your prospective job is compliant with German labor regulations.

2. Required for Visa Application

The ZAV letter forms an integral part of your work visa application. When you apply for a German work visa at the German embassy or consulate in your home country, this letter must be included in your application packet. The letter provides the immigration authorities with the assurance that you are eligible for employment in Germany and that your job won’t negatively affect the domestic labor market.

4. Evidence for Your Employer

This letter also serves as a formal confirmation to your employer that they can legally hire you. It reaffirms to them that your hiring process has been vetted and approved by the relevant German authorities.

5. Facilitates Residence Permit Process

Once you arrive in Germany, the ZAV letter will also play a role when applying for your residence permit, which you will need to legally live and work in the country long-term. The residence permit application process requires proof of your employment and the ZAV letter serves this purpose.

In summary, the ZAV letter is more than just a piece of paper; it’s a key that unlocks numerous doors on your path towards working in Germany. It is a testimony of your professional appropriateness for the German labor market and serves as a green signal for further visa processes. It’s crucial to safeguard this document, maintaining both digital and physical copies, as its importance extends even beyond your arrival in Germany.


Understanding the ZAV pre-approval process is a key factor in your journey to work in Germany.

This process, managed by the Central Foreign and Specialist Placement (ZAV), ensures that your employment meets the regulations of the German labor market.

From understanding what the ZAV pre-approval entails, navigating the application process, and knowing what influences the processing time, to acknowledge the significance of the ZAV letter, each step brings you closer to your dream of working in Germany.

It’s essential to remain patient, ensure your documents are complete and accurate, and maintain open lines of communication with your employer throughout the process.

The ZAV pre-approval may seem daunting, but it’s simply a stepping stone toward a world of opportunities in the German job market.

With the right information and preparation, you’re well-equipped to tackle this journey head-on and make your German employment dream a reality.


1. How long does the ZAV pre-approval process take?

Typically, the ZAV pre-approval process takes around two to three weeks. However, this timeline can vary depending on factors like the completeness of your application, the demand for your occupation, and the current workload of the ZAV.

2. What documents are required for the ZAV pre-approval process?

Key documents include your employment contract or binding job offer, proof of your qualifications, and a detailed job description. It’s important to remember that your prospective employer in Germany will typically handle the application process and will gather these documents.

3. What is the role of the employer in the ZAV pre-approval process?

Your prospective employer plays a crucial role in the process. They are responsible for gathering the necessary documents and submitting your application to the ZAV. They also act as the primary point of contact with the ZAV throughout the process.

4. What is a ZAV letter, and why is it important?

A ZAV letter is a document issued by the ZAV indicating that your proposed employment in Germany has been pre-approved. It’s an important part of your work visa application and serves as a confirmation of your eligibility for work in Germany.

5. Can I apply for ZAV pre-approval myself?

No, the ZAV pre-approval process must be initiated by your employer in Germany. They will gather the necessary documentation and submit the application on your behalf. Your role is primarily to provide your employer with the required information and documents.

There is another process called ZAB that you can initiate from your end. Read more about ZAB and its importance here.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for general informational purposes only. We strongly advise readers to conduct their due diligence or consult with a professional legal or immigration consultant before taking any action based on the content of this post. "Germany Is Calling" or the author of this post does not assume any responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or applicability of the information provided.