In order to enter Germany, third-country nationals must apply for a German VISA depending on the purpose of stay in the country. Generally, there are two main purposes to enter Germany:
- For work purposes – the German labour market
- For study purposes – the German education system
The process for both purposes remain the same and are completed in seven (7) main steps:
The process for applyng for a VISA in Germany and are completed in five (5) main steps:
- Check VISA requirements
Each purpose has different entry and application requirements to satisfy. You can find information about the requirements for each VISA available in our German VISA types section. If you are unsure, you can view the overview of German VISA types describing all available VISA types in Germany.
- Request an appointment with your local German embassy or consulate
You must book an appointment with the German Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence in order to apply for a VISA. If you are unsure where to make an appointment, you can find the nearest German Embassy or Consulate.
They can also advice you on all the documents required for your particular VISA. The document requirements depend on the purpose of your stay. Furthermore, they can advice you on which application form you need to prepare. These may differ depending on the purpose of stay.
- Apply for the VISA in your country of residence
Once you have made an appointment and prepared all the required documentation in step 2, you can submit your application in person at the German Embassy or Consulate.
It is important to note that your residence permit is granted based on the VISA issued to enter the country, so it is very important that you apply for the VISA corresponding to the purpose of your stay in Germany. For example, if are moving to Germany to work, you need to obtain a VISA for qualified professionals – or any other work-related VISA types.
- Pay the VISA application fee
All VISAs related to long-term stays, carry an application fee of normally EUR 75. The fee depends on the purpose and duration of your stay but is no more than EUR 100. This can usually be paid in local currency at your German Embassy or Consulate. The fee is not refundable if your visa application is unsuccessful.
The VISA application fee is under certain circumstances reduced or exempt altogether. This applies to children and spouses of German nationals and if your purpose of stay is funded by for example a public scholarship. The Federal Foreign Office or your German mission abroad can provide a full list of VISA application fees.
- Get a health insurance in Germany
Before being able to pick up your German VISA, proof of health insurance is requested. It is mandatory in Germany to have sufficient health insurance coverage. It is also important to understand the different options of health insurance in Germany, depending on your purpose of stay, financial and occupation situation. The insurance should cover you from the first day in Germany.
- Travel to Germany
Once your VISA has been issued, you can plan your trip to Germany. It is advised to bring all-important personal documents with you, such as a recent birth certificate, educational and vocational certificates, driver’s license and marriage certificate.
It is advised to contact the Foreigners Authority in the area where you will be living in Germany to get information about all the documents required for your residence permit application.
- Apply for your residence permit
Generally, all VISAs are valid for up to 6 months. In order to stay for a longer period in Germany, you need to apply for a residence permit before your VISA expires. The residence permit application will be based on the same purpose as your VISA upon entering the country.
Qualified Professionals Can Get Their Application Process Expedited
If you already have a work contract with a German company, and you are applying for a VISA for the purpose of qualified professionals, your German employer is able to expedite your VISA application process. It is important that you inform your employer before making an appointment at the German Embassy or Consulate.
Finding Contacts To Important Authorities in Germany
If you are unsure where you local Foreigners Authority is located or you need assistance integrating, you can find contacts to German Authorities across the at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.