Many of you are eager to get the “artist visa” and happily hang out in Berlin. A lot of you are sure this “visa” is issued only in Berlin. You have probably started to ask your friends’ friends and random companies for letters of intent. But I’d like to shed a light upon 3 myths about this type of visa.
Myth 1: Artist visa exists only in Berlin
First, you need to know what this type of “visa” is. Actually, it’s not a visa, but the residency permit to work as self-employed in your (creative) field. The term “artist visa” was born and raised by expats in Berlin and has become a kind of a slang word here, but it doesn’t exist in the German immigration law.
Yes, it’s true that Berlin’s authorities try to attract creative individuals and provide special conditions in getting the freelance permit. I heard it myself while translating at an appointment. Basically, you get the permit right away after the caseworker scans all your papers and does some maths. However, in other cities you will need to wait for some longer time. That could be one more reason that they say “artist visa exists only in Berlin”.
What you should do: To all of you who love Hamburg, Köln, Düsseldorf and and and… Don’t get confused by this myth. Go and apply for the residency permit as a self-employed/freelance (your job title here) in any German city, as we know, the federal law is performed in the whole Bundesland
Myth 2: Artist visa is only for artists
This urban expat slang term (Artist visa) can, unfortunately, lead to other misunderstanding, such as, “oh you’re engineer, you cannot get the “Artist visa”. With the knowledge this visa doesn’t exist, you can definitely get a permit as a self-employed freelance engineer.
German Immigration law tells us about the residency permit for self-employment. And if you read it deeply on, you’ll see a sub-division to a self-employment and “free” professions, and for they have slightly different prerequisites.
What you should do: Do some research on whether your profession is in freelancers or traders lists.
Myth 3: Artist visa is an easy way to stay and hang out in Berlin
It seems, people take self-employment too easy. Being on the “artist visa” in Berlin is not only being a busker or a dj and having endless fun, it’s about being organized in a German way (which means super-organized).
Sadly, many people don’t do their homework before the lesson, though the result is completely on them. There’s nothing more confusing than hearing “How to make a business plan as I’m going to become a freelancer”. For me, it sounds like “Guys, tell me how to sing, as I’m going to perform in Deutsche Oper”.
You’re in a pleasant situation if you’ve been freelancing in your home country, so you can imagine what you can face. But still, it’s a foreign state and different laws and taxes.
What you should do: Do your homework! Get a tax advice. Get a free advice on Facebook groups, do your research, seek for advice and coaching beforehand. Get ready to run your own business even if you’re going to do occasional gigs in Berlin’s clubs. It can save you a lot of time and money in the future.
Well, those are 3 greatest “artist visa” myths. There’re for sure, more controversies and insider information from me to spill the tee on.
I’m writing this being an expat freelancer in Berlin myself. I can share my 2-year experience with you and coach you on this topic as well as translate at your appointment.