Visa

On 1 March 2020 the Skilled Immigration Act enters into force. More information to this act you will find here.

Please note that from 01.03.2020 onwards it will no longer be possible to transfer from the Blue Card to a residence permit for researchers (or study) (further information).

The type of visa you need depends on the length of time that you will be in Germany, the purpose of your stay in Germany and your nationality.

The following visas are those used most often for research and study purposes:

  • § 16b Study
  • § 18b Specialists with an Academic Education
  • § 18b (2) Blue Card EU
  • § 18c Settlement Permit for Specialists
  • § 18d Research

The Welcome Centre will be happy to advise you in figuring out which visa is most suitable for your individual case.

If your spouse and/ or children will be accompanying you during your stay, we advise you to submit all applications at the same time, even if your family is arriving later.

In most cases, the national visa is only issued for a period of three months. After arriving in Germany, you must apply for a residence permit based on your initial visa at the Foreigners’ Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde).

Short stays of up to three months

Exceptions from visa requirements

Nationals from some countries are allowed to enter Germany without a visa for stays of up to three months. A list of these countries can be found on the homepage of the Federal Foreign Office "Country Visa Requirements". Please note that without a visa, you cannot apply for a residence permit and will have to leave the country at latest three months after your arrival (exeption: UK). If you are not sure how long you would like to stay in Germany, you should already apply for a visa in your home country of residence.

Also for British nationals, the Schengen entry requirements for visa-exempt countries apply. You can apply for the residence permit (including stays over 90 days) after the visa-free entry.

From EU countries, the European Economic Area and Switzerland

Researchers from these countries are exempt from visa requirements. You do not need a separate residence and work permit.

From all other third countries

If you do not belong to one of the groups mentioned above, you must apply for a visa to enter Germany. If you plan to stay in Germany for less than 90 days per 6 months, a Schengen-Visa (Category C) should be acceptable. However, please note that the Schengen-Visa cannot be extended, so you will have to leave Germany at latest three months after your arrival. In order to obtain a Schengen-Visa, you must prove that you are able to financially support yourself during your stay in Germany. It is also required that you have a travel health insurance good for all Schengen countries with a 30.000 Euro minimum limit of liability. When filling out your Schengen-Visa application, be sure to state “scientific activity” or “research” as your purpose for travel. You can complete your application online and print it out by clicking here. The holder of a Schengen-Visa is entitled to free movement and residence in all countries which have joined the Schengen Agreement (so-called Schengen States).

Stays of more than three months

From all other third countries

Researchers from all other countries must apply for a visa to enter Germany at any German embassy or consulate in your home country. We recommend that you apply for the visa that allows you the most freedom in terms of your study. However, the type of visa you may apply for depends on many factors, including how much you earn and if your family intends to join you during your stay.

From EU countries, the European Economic Area and Switzerland

Researchers from these countries are exempt from visa requirements. You do not need a separate residence and work permit. 

From Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, UK and the USA

Researchers from these countries do not need a visa to enter Germany. However, upon arrival, you must apply for a residence and work permit at the Foreigners’ Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde).

Information on Brexit

Based in Germany already before December 31, 2020

If you are British and were already living or employed in Germany on December 31, 2020, and would like to remain, you must report your residence to the Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde) responsible for you by June 30, 2021, so that you can then obtain the new residence document. Many authorities also allow you to do this online. You can find out which authority is responsible for you in the WebGis database. However, this privilege only applies to British citizens (with “British citizen” on their passport) who, based on their status, were treated as citizens of the Union during the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. The website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior contains complete information covering all possible scenarios.

Entry after January 1, 2021

After 1 January 2021 UK nationals arriving in Germany are subject to general German law on third-country nationals. However the following applies despite Brexit:

  • UK nationals arriving in Germany for long term stays, such as study or work, do not need a visa. However, after entry into Germany you will have to apply for a residence permit from your local Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde). If you wish to start work before you obtain your residence permit, you will have to apply for a visa for the purpose of employment at your local German mission before entry into Germany. You can find more details on the requirements and procedure on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (in German), and here.
  • UK skilled workers and other workers arriving in Germany will have easier access to the labour market. The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) can approve and priority-check applications for those wishing to take up employment of any kind in Germany, regardless of where the employer is based.

Visa Application

As a general rule, you must submit the following documents along with your visa application in person at a German embassy or consulate:

  • Application form (free of charge at the embassy or consulate)
  • Valid passport
  • Bio-metric passport photo (35 x 45 mm)
  • Proof of a specific job offer or support for research activities including detailed information explaining the purpose and length of your stay (for example, an invitation letter from BTU, admission/ hosting agreement, etc.)
  • Proof of sufficient financial resources (for example, your provisional work contract, letter of award …etc.)
  • (Travel) health insurance
  • For family members, marriage and birth certificates

Useful Tips

  • Under no circumstance can a Schengen-Visa be extended or converted into a long-term residence permit.
  • Keep in mind that applying for a visa can take up to three months.
  • Please ensure that your passport is valid for the entire length of your desired stay in Germany.
  • If you are unsure which documents you need for your visa application, please direct all questions to your local German embassy or consulate. Much of the information is also available online! However, no matter which visa you apply for, you will need proof of health insurance.
  • Fee Waiver: Recipients of a German scholarship who receive public funding (e.g. DAAD, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation) are exempt from paying fees for their visa and residence permit.

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