A Guide on How to Obtain a Visa for Germany
Let’s be honest, not all of us have had an easy ride getting into Germany, so sharing tips like how to obtain a visa for Germany will come in handy for newcomers. While Life in Düsseldorf is all about becoming acquainted in the city, there are a few legal things you’ll need to work out as well (you know, the not so fun blog posts… but the blog posts you know you should read and save for later).
We have Elisa Stella, Founder of Düsseldorf Expat Assistant, back and sharing some more detailed information on how you can go about applying for a visa into Germany.
If you have any questions at the end of the blog post, ask away!
There are so many different ways to answer questions like: “Do I need a visa?”, “Can I work during my stay?”, “How long….?” But, let’s try to find a suitable answer for your case and for every other case (in simple terms).
Are you European and a citizen of one an European Union (EU) country? ➔ If yes, stop reading and travel to Germany already!
Are you from Switzerland or any of the European Economic Area countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway)? ➔ If yes, stop reading and travel to Germany!
All others must apply for a visa ➔ Let’s get started
Are you citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America?
Congratulations! You have three months to explore the country before you’re required to apply for a residence permit. If you’re living in Germany and want to apply for this permit, you will need to register at the immigration office (Ausländeramt) in the city in which you want to obtain residency in. To get more information about Düsseldorf’s immigration office, head to the city website.
If you’re not moving to Düsseldorf (that’s too bad), you can check out the federal immigration website (BAMF) to find the closest office to you.
Don’t belong to the above of the mentioned countries?
You need to apply for a visa in advance, at the German Embassy or Consulate in your homeland. Visa application forms are free of charge to download online (you’ll need to Google the closest German Embassy to you in your homeland). If you need some more support, you can check out the Federal Foreign Office website. Simply fill out the forms and submit the original version (and at least two sets) to the Embassy.
Some applications submitted to Embassies or Consulates must be approved also by the Foreign Office in the German town where you intend to live and this procedure can take up to three months: this happens because different authorities are involved (e.g. the Federal Employment Agency). Visas entitling holders to take up gainful employment often do not require the approval of the foreigners’ authority, which speeds up the application process.
Once you are sure you do need a long-term visa, let’s start applying for it…
- Be sure you meet the requirements, which means that
- your purpose of the trip is clear and realistic
- you’ll finance your trip and your stay from your own money (or a third person guarantees this)
- you have a travel insurance for the entire Schengen area, which covers at least 30,000 euros medical expenses
- you have not been convicted before nor rejected from Schengen border officers
- Refer to the German embassy or consulate responsible for the area in which you have your ordinary residence or domicile: consult the website well in advance of your departure date check the application procedure and what documentation you have to submit
- Visa application forms are available free of charge at Embassies and Consulates or you can download them from their website. For example, here the link to the German mission in Pakistan with related forms to download
- Fill them in properly, which means “accurately and fully”
- Submit these forms together with all necessary documents, and bring them in person at the related German mission of reference. It sounds exhausting, but actually many embassies and consulates have adopted an electronic scheduling tool, which allows you to book a personal appointment without standing for long in a queue!
- Be patient and wait…. Some applications submitted to Embassies or Consulates must be approved also by the Foreign Office in the German town where you intend to live and this procedure can take up to three months: this happens because different authorities are involved (e.g. the Federal Employment Agency). Visas entitling holders to take up gainful employment often do not require the approval of the foreigners authority, which speeds up the application process.
Want some good news?
Once you obtain that visa for Germany and have a valid travel document, you can move freely in the Schengen area up to three months in any six-month period! Enjoy it!
Have any other questions about visas or expat services? Ask Elisa! Do you have questions about living #LifeInDüsseldorf? Feel free to send us an email with your question at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have tips you’d like to share with others, we’re also accepting guest posts which include the author’s name, bio, and photo.