Types of Visas Available

There are different types of visas that are available to enter the country, and it is important that expats make an application for the correct one due to the reason why they are coming to the country.

Tourist Visa

Germany is under the Schengen agreement so residents who have come from other Schengen countries will not need to apply for a tourist visa before arriving. These individuals will also be able to stay for up to 90 days in the country.

As well as the Schengen countries, citizens of the UK, Australia, Argentina, USA and New Zealand are also able to stay in the country for 90 days or less.

A tourist visa can be applied for at a German embassy or consulate before arriving in the country. Expats should apply a couple of months before the departure date.

Short Stay Visa

EU nationals will not need a visa to enter Germany although a passport will be required and expats must ensure that it is valid for the duration of the visit. Other nationalities will need to check rules depending on the country of origin which means that some nationalities will not need a visa for up to 90 days within a 180 day period but other nationalities will always need a visa to enter the country.

Fees for a short stay visa can vary from 60 Euros to more but to find out more information it is best to contact the local Germany embassy or visit the German Federal Foreign office website.

When applying for a short stay visa it can take between 2 to 10 days for it to be processed by could be longer in busy periods.

To be able to get a short stay vis, you must meet the following:

  • A valid reason to enter Germany
  • Sufficient income to finance living costs in the country
  • Provide evidence of travel health insurance
  • Be prepared to leave the country before the visa expires.

Documents for a Schengen Visa application

  • Passport
  • Passport colour sized photos
  • Completed application
  • Proof of travel
  • Evidence of accommodation
  • Application fees
  • Schengen visa holders do not have permission to work or conduct business in Germany and other member countries.

Long stay visas

A long stay visa can take up to three – four months for it to be processed and EU, EEA and Swiss nationals will not need a visa for long stay periods or if you wish to take up employment in the country.

To register for a long stay visa, this can be done at the nearest registration office within 7 days of arriving in Germany and generally people will need to speak German to register. For those who are unable to speak German will need to take along a someone who does.

The documents that will need to be shown are:

  • Passport
  • Proof of address
  • Marriage/Divorce documents
  • Relevant fee
  • Non-EU foreign nationals will need to apply for a long stay visa from their home country before arriving, but nationals from Canada, New Zealand, Japan, US and Australia are able to enter Germany first then apply for the long stay visa.

Business Visas for Germany

Those who want to do business in the country will need to apply for a business visa which needs a formal invitation from Germany companies.

Expats will be required to show why they are coming to the country, duration of the stay and costs involved.

Work Permits

Expats who wish to work and settle in Germany will be required to have a work permit. Requirements for a work permit will vary depending on what country you are from.

Most citizens from EU states will not be required to have a permit but those who are from Bulgaria and Romania will need one if working in certain sectors.

Anyone planning on living in Germany needs a residency permit, regardless of where they come from.

Non-EU citizens many find it harder to obtain a work permit for Germany especially those who do not have specialist skills to find work. For this reason, the German government has agreed upon policies to protect jobs for citizens and residents who are already in the country and have a right to work and live in Germany. Those however who are planning to stay for longer than three months will be required to get a residency permit.

Self Employed Resident Permit

This is a permit for those who a self employed or for those who want to set up their own business. Applicants will need to demonstrate how skills are required in the particular area of Germany they will be moving to. A self employed residence permit will be given for three years, ad when it comes to expiring the permit will be extended until further notice only if the application has been successful.

Expats who want to set up their own business will need to show that a positive contribution will be made to the local economy by the means of employing local staff. They also must ensure that they have enough funds to start up the business.

You may be required to show a detailed business plan which shows the long term goals of the business and what will be done in order for the goals to be completed.

General Employment Permit

A general employment permit should be applied for by expats who have a offer of employment from a German company as well as a vocational qualification

To obtain this visa, it is quite difficult due to the government preferring to give nationals of the country jobs. For this reason, employers will need to give a reason of why a foreign national is hired and suitable for the particular job.

Specialist Professional Residence Permit

More skilled professionals and those wanting to work can apply for this visa. Majority of the applications are sent by graduates who have specialist skills i.e. university managers and professors with years of experience and those with other specific skills.

Applicants must be able to prove that they are able to speak the German language as well as being in a good financial situation to be able to support themselves in the country. A firm offer must be given by an employer and degrees, qualifications can be submitted as proof.

Residency Permit

A residency permit should be done in person at the German embassy or local consulate. There are three types of residency permits for non-EU citizens who will be working in the country. These are General employment, Professionals with specialist skills and self employed foreigners. In some cases non-EU expats will need to have the residency permit approved before arriving.

Once application has been processed, expats will be granted a limited or unlimited residency permit which is dependent on the country of origin and the reason for staying.

Study Permits

Expats who want to study in Germany will be required to apply for a study permit. Those who have not been accepted in a university can get a three month, non-working student applicant visa to be able to fulfil the German university requirements proving you have the required qualifications.

Once you have secured admission in the university, a regular German student permit will be required on a full time course which will also enable students to work for 120 days in the year.

Students who have already been offered a position in a German university will need to apply for the three month student visa which then can be changed into a German residence permit within three months.

It is important that students have the finances and health insurance during the course of stay and will need to prove that you are able to speak the German language.