Instruction for visa getting and residence permit in Germany obtaining

Perhaps you are interested in getting a visa or other permit to simply visit, live, work or study in Germany. Use this important guide to find out which steps are required in each particular situation.

Work in Germany: work permit in Germany

EU / EEA / Switzerland

You do not need a visa or a residence permit if you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen (although there are some exceptions).

The Federal Republic of Germany is one of the 26 countries in the Schengen area which  includes Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. In order to stay in these countries, it is enough to have a Schengen visa to any of them, and there is no border control among those countries.

Thus, under the Freedom of Movement Act, if you are a citizen of one of the countries of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (i.e. all EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), then you do not need a visa or other permit for visit, living, work or study in Germany.

Citizens of the “new” members of the EU, Bulgaria and Romania, from January 1, 2014, have the right to work in other EU countries, including Germany.

Swiss citizens can also enjoy freedom of movement within the EU, but must apply for a declarative residence permit in the department of foreigners.

All other EU and EEA citizens have the right to enter, stay and work in Germany only with a valid passport or identity card, although they must also register in the registration office of the city of residence within three months from  entering the country.

If you are not an EU or EEA citizen but would like to join a close family member in Germany who has European citizenship, depending on the nationality, you must apply for a visa to enter Germany and then have the right to obtain a residence permit in the German department of foreigners.

Citizens of countries that are not part of the EU / EEA / Switzerland

Almost all third-country nationals who do not belong to the EU require a visa and, in most cases, a residence permit in Germany.

Citizens of some countries, including Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the United States of America do not need a Schengen visa to enter Germany for a stay of up to three months (90 days), but it is necessary to apply for a residence permit in Germany during these three months if they want to stay longer and / or work.

If you are not from the EU, EEA, Switzerland, or any of the countries listed above, you must apply for a Schengen visa to enter Germany if you plan to stay in the country for no longer than 3 months (90 days); if you plan to stay for a longer period or get a job in Germany, then it is necessary to get a residence permit in Germany.

Visas and residence permits

Visa to Germany

Depending on your nationality, if you  are on transit to another country and briefly stop at a German airport (even for a few hours), you will need a transit visa or an airport visa. It allows  staying only in the international zone of the German airport. In case you leave the airport, even for one day, you would need to get a three-month Schengen visa.

The Schengen visa allows you to enter Germany (or any other country in the Schengen area) for up to three months (90 days) during the six-month period. After entering Germany on the basis of a Schengen visa, you can not change it to a residence permit while being in Germany, except in special cases. You will have to leave the country and apply for a residence permit abroad, and then come again to Germany.

You must apply for a Schengen visa at a German embassy or consulate in your country of residence. The website of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs contains detailed information on all aspects of getting a Schengen visa.

Residence permit in Germany

If you want to stay in Germany for more than three months for any reason (for example, for work, complete a training course, or reunite with your family), you must apply for a Schengen visa and residence permit in Germany before you arrive in the country (except for cases if you are not a citizen of one of the countries for which a visa is not needed, and when you can apply for residence permit).

• The most common permit is a residence permit, which, as a rule, is issued for one year  period and can be extended providing that the basis for obtaining a residence permit has not changed (for example, work, marriage, study, etc.)

• The EU blue card – a residence permit with extended conditions for highly qualified migrants and their spouses.

• Permit for settlement and permanent residence permit of the EU – Permission to reside in the country permanently. They are usually granted only after five years of uninterrupted residence in Germany (and if you meet some other requirements), but can be issued for highly skilled workers immediately, and for other groups of people – after two or three years of residence in the country.

The reason for coming to Germany, your education and professional qualification will determine what kind of residence permit you can get. It will be necessary to meet some general requirements; including having a valid passport and being able to prove that you have enough money to stay in the country.

Most people must apply for a residence permit through the embassy or consulate of Germany in their country of residence.

Work in Germany

If you are a citizen of a country in the EU, EEA or Switzerland  then you have the right to work in Germany without restrictions..

All the other nationalities can work in Germany only by the way of getting a residence permit. There is no need to get a separate work permit in Germany – this information is indicated in the document – a residence permit.

Family reunification

If you are not an EU / EEA citizen, but want to come to Germany to be with a partner (spouse or register a civil marriage) or another close family member, you will have to apply for a residence permit in Germany. You and your relative must also meet other criteria, for example, your relative must have a residence permit, have a residence property and show the availability of sufficient funds for your maintenance. In most cases, you will also have to show basic knowledge of the German language.

Studying in Germany

You can get a residence permit in Germany for nine months on the basis of study in Germany, or for a longer period for a full term of study. It will be necessary to prove that you have the necessary financial means for the period of study and also have a proper level of the German language. Most universities on their websites have detailed information about the residence permit in Germany based on their studies.

Permanent residence in Germany

After you have lived in Germany for several years, you can apply for a permanent residence permit. A permanent residence permit allows you to stay in the country for an indefinite period and you get all the same rights as German citizens, except for the right to vote. In case you want to have absolutely the same rights as citizens of the country, you must meet a certain number of conditions and apply for naturalization after 8 years of living in Germany.


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