The fifth largest economy in the world, and one of the wealthiest and largest countries in the European Union, Germany remains an attraction to travelers with its beautiful landmarks and tourist attraction. Aside of that, the land of invention and innovation, which has a very low rate of unemployment and a very financially stable economy, has lured many qualified and skilled workers from abroad to come and work, giving them many possibilities through different types of visas. With its free educational system and developed medicine, it has also attracted many to come to the country for study or medical purposes.
Who Needs a Visa to Enter Germany?
Depending on your nationality you could need a visa to enter Germany. EU citizens and those of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland don’t need a visa to enter Germany for any purpose, due to the Schengen Agreement reached in 1985 among the majority of the European Union member states.
On the other hand, non-Schengen countries can enter the whole Schengen territory with one unified document known as the Schengen Visa, for a period of up to 90 days (3 months). However one is not allowed to have a job within the countries of the Schengen Zone, not even as a freelancer, during this period of time. One can also get a short-term visa to visit Germany for a maximum of 90 days in an 180‑day period.
Non-EU and non-EEA nationals that want to stay longer than three months in Germany for whatever reason: studying, research, family reunion, have to apply for a National Visa, or else known as a D Visa, at the German mission in their country, before arriving in the country, i.e. consulate or embassy at one’s country of residency. Excluded from this category are the citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America who may obtain any residence permit that may be required after entering the Federal Republic of Germany.
The D Visa is usually issued for three months, but may also be issued for up to twelve months and must specify whether its holder is permitted to work in the respective country. The granting of a national visa is generally subject to the approval of the immigration authorities. Based on the D visa, a long-term residence title may be issued after the entry. In addition to staying in and experiencing Germany, the D visa is valid for short stays in other Schengen countries.
Germany Visa Types
Because of the many reasons one might wish to enter Germany for, the German Immigration Authorities have established a few types of visa, in order to categorize each traveler based on his or her purpose of travel.
These are the most frequent visa types:
- Tourist & Visitor Visa
- Studying & Language Learning Visa
- Job Seeker Visa
- Business Visa
- Airport Transit Visa
- Working Visa
- Guest Scientist Visa
- Training/Internship Visa
- Medical Treatment Visa
- Trade Fair & Exhibitions Visa
Germany Visa Requirements
Depending on your purpose of application and nationality, and also the purpose of visit, the embassy or consulate will ask you to submit some certain documents, which will help the consular officer decide whether you should be issued a visa or not. In general, the commonly required documents for a German visa application are as follows:
- The application form completely filled out (at least two sets). The application form may change depending on your country. Fill the application form with detailed and accurate information about yourself and the purpose of your travel. Capital letters are recommendable.
- Your passport with at least 6 months of validity beyond the end of the visa period requested, with two blank pages available in order to be able to affix visa.
- 2 current photographs – 35mm x 45mm, frontal shot with neutral facial expression and closed mouth, looking straight into the camera and light background.
- Proof of sufficient financial means for the period of stay. According to the European Commission information, a foreign applicant applying for a German Visa, must be able to prove the possession of 45€ per day to the German Embassy or Consulate for the period of stay in German territory.
- Detailed travel itinerary of the purpose of a visit to Germany (travel ticket, accommodation etc.). Learn how to book dummy air ticket for visa application.
- Accomodation – hotel reservation or if you are staying with friends/relatives you should submit a copy of their ID and Passport as well as proof that they can support your stay is mandatory.
- If employed, a letter from your employer that confirms you are in working relations. If a student a letter from the place of study that confirms you are enrolled at a college/university. If self-employed you should hand in official documents, that confirm your own business.
- Travel health insurance confirmation of minimum 30,000 € coverage within Germany and the entire Schengen area. You can choose either Public and Private insurance. Those with private health insurance should be of the same value as a public health insurance would be. And even if you have travel insurance you will still have to get health insurance.
- Proof of civil status (marriage certificate, birth certificate of children, death certificate of spouse, ration card if applicable, etc.)
- Proof of paid visa fee – 60 Euro (Since 14 May 2008, the fee for all types of visas has been EUR 60).
- Proof of earlier Schengen Visas – if applicable.
Proof Regarding the Purpose of Travel
Depending on the type of visa you are applying for, you will have to submit some extra supporting documents, alongside the commonly required documents, to prove the purpose behind your travel. Below, you can find some of the supporting documents that are required for the following visa types:
Tourist & Visitor Visa
- Leave letter of your company (if employed)
- No-objection certificate of school or university (if student)
- Your driver’s license and/or utility bill in your name as proof of residence in the consulate where you plan to apply for the visa
Authenticated Certificates of Earlier Education (formal and informal) – Submit your mark sheets & other certificates of educational qualifications for high school classes, Graduation, Post-Graduation & others, as applicable.
- Confirmation Letter of Language Course Registration (if applicable), (the course must contain at least 18 hours/week of classes).
- Proof of submitting a university application and/or correspondence with university/ies – to prove you have a great probability of admission.
- University Admission Letter – you must submit the letter from the German academic institution/university (in German language) confirming the admission.
- For programmes in German, international students must provide a TestDaf or DSH score. Whereas, for courses in English, students will have to provide a TOEFL or IELTS score.
- Letter of intent or contract offered to you by a company in Germany containing a detailed description of the employment
- Documentation of your professional knowledge and experience – this includes CV, recommendation papers by former employers, university diplomas, certificates and everything else that shows proof you have the professional capability to work.
Student Internship Visa
- Permission to work, received from ‘Bundesagentur für Arbeit’ (original and photocopy) – it is upon your employer to apply on your behalf for approval of the BA. Some internships do not require the agreement of the BA. These include internships under EU-funded programmes (Leonardo, Socrates, Erasmus, etc.). Internships funded by international intergovernmental organizations are also exempt from approval.
- A letter from the university institution you are studying at (if applicable), confirming that the applicant is a student of that organization (original and photocopy).
- Approval letter from German company confirming conditions of your stay in Germany, including payment.
- Proof of qualification (diploma, academic degree, or mark sheets).
- Rental contract of the home or flat or room you will be staying.
- Copies of your degrees to show your educational qualifications.
- In case you are older than 45 years you must submit a pension plan, a monthly pension of 1,188.92 euros after the age of 67 (for at least 12 years). Citizens of these countries are not required to provide proof of a pension plan: Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the United States of America.
- Recommendation Letters and Contracts from prospective clients. Have as many letters (as official and as detailed as possible) from prospective or current clients. It’s recommended that the letters highlight your experience and expertise in your field too. Two contracts/job offers, from clients based in Germany, are the absolute minimum. If that will really be enough, depends a lot on the “quality” of the letters. Note that letters from German companies, written in German, are preferred.
- Financing Plan – this is a sheet of your detailed budget, how much money you have and how you plan to spend it. Remember that Financing Plan is only a projection so just fill it in with numbers that you expect to spend and receive.
- Capital Budget – this is the form to explain what capital you have to start your business. Here you only need to fill in the capital that you already own. If you do not have all the forms of capital merely strike a line through the box. Don’t forget to include your health insurance.
- Printed Portfolio – Bring at least 6 samples of your work. The samples have to be printed. Do not take a laptop or any other gadget hoping that you can turn it on and show your work to the consul.
- Personal covering letter explaining the purpose of your stay in Germany, period of stay and other details. Must be very convincing.
- No-objection letter of your local university / research institute which states that you have contractual obligations in your home country which you have to and will return to.
- Invitation letter from German university / research institute confirming conditions of your stay in Germany, including payment (scholarship).
- Proof of academic qualification (academic Degree Certificate, or mark sheets) – in original.
Family Reunion Visa
- A marriage certificate attested by the foreign office, translated into German and legalized by the embassy
- Recent extract from the family register
- Proof of German language skills at the level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages by an ALTE certified provider of examinations
- For the purpose of family reunification with a German spouse: a copy of the German spouse’s passport and identity card
- For the purpose of family reunification with a non-German spouse: proof of legal residence and passport of the spouse living in Germany, including a notice of the residence status in the passport
- For the purpose of family reunification with a German child: birth certificate of the child, proof of the child’s nationality and, if necessary, proof of the right of care and custody
- For the purpose of family reunification with parents: Birth certificates of the children attested by your country’s foreign office, translated into German and legalized by the embassy
Medical Treatment Visa
- A certificate from a medical doctor confirming the need of specific medical treatment
- A certificate from a medical doctor confirming that necessary treatment can be provided and an appointment is made.
- Proof of advance payment of the treatment / financial arrangements with the medical doctor in Germany.
- Correspondence between the sending medical doctor and the receiving medical doctor
*Note: Each original has to be offered with 2 (two) photocopies. Do not staple any of the documents!
Depending on the embassy, you may also need to provide proof that you do not have any criminal record. You shall obtain the document at the competent authorities in your country of residence.
Please keep in mind that your passport will remain at the Embassy / Consulate where you have applied during the entire process of visa proceeding. If you need to withdraw your passport for any reason, whether it be traveling or else, you will have to apply again from the beginning.
Extra documents may be required by the visa officer upon the visa interview.
Germany Visa Application Process
Many people are confused when it comes to how to apply for a Germany visa. There is a procedure you must follow in order to be able to obtain a visa. These step by step instruction will show you how the procedure goes.
Prepare your visa application
First of all, find the application form you need online and apply by filling the required information. If you fail to find the application online you can ask for one through email from the German embassy or consulate in your country. Answer the questions honestly and be careful not to make any technical mistake. If any of the information you have given in the application form does not comply with the information in the other required documents then your application might get rejected.
Then get a list of all the required documents for the visa you wish to apply for and gather them all. Usually each original is required with two copies so take care to photocopy them all. You can find the list online at the website of the German mission in your country, embassy or consulate, or ask them through email to submit you the list. Keep in mind that depending on your country of residence they might ask you for extra or fewer documents.
Make an appointment
If you don’t book an appointment before you go to the Application center (embassy, consulate in your country of residence) to submit your documents for a German VISA, they will not accept your documents or application. All visa applications are accepted only if you have made a prior appointment.
Go to the Application Center
Make sure to be on time at the application center since they may not accept your application if you arrive later than ten minutes. After the verification of your appointment letter, you will be issued a token. Keep it because you will need it later!
Submit your Visa application
In general the submission process takes around 10 minutes to complete. Please make sure that:
The official person at the application center will check and verify your documents. Take care to arrange your documents in the order stated on the checklist, in advance, so you won’t have a mess in from of the consular officer.
Entering of application information
After the verification of your application, all the application form information will be entered into the online system of the German consulate and you will receive a printed copy of your application. This process usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. After you get the printed form, please make sure to verify all the details are correct and sign the form.
Paying the Visa Fee
After you pay the visa fee, you will be issued a receipt which you have to keep in order to collect your processed application.
Biometric data collection
Once the application has been completed, biometrics will be collected. This is a quick process that captures a 10-digit fingerprint scan with a digital finger scanner which usually takes 7-8 minutes per applicant.
After all these steps, the applying procedure has been completed. The Embassy, or consulate where you have applied will process your application, and may also ask for additional documents in the meantime. Take care to provide anything extra they ask for.
Germany Visa Application Processing Time
The processing time of your Germany visa application really depends on how many applications the embassy or consulate where you have applied is handing at the moment. In general, a visa for short-term stays will be issued within around two to ten working days.
Whereas, a long-term visa application processing might take up to a few months, that is why the applicants are requested to apply as soon as possible. However, the earliest you can apply is three months prior to your planned travel to Germany.
Germany Visa Extension
Visa extension is possible in Germany, however, one must have a very strong reason to do so as for example, humanitarian reasons. When the Schengen visa is extended because of force majeure or for humanitarian reasons, there is no fee the applicant should pay for. Whereas, when the Schengen visa is extended for important personal reasons or due to late entry, the applicant has to pay a fee of 30.00 Euro.
On the other hand, long-term visa can also be extended based on strong reasons. Every long-term visa type has its perquisites for visa extension. Below find some examples:
Internship visa extension
If the company where you are working as an intern wants you to continue your internship for a longer period than planned, but your visa does not cover that amount of time, then appoint a meeting at the Foreigner’s Office in the city you are staying in Germany. Take all the documentations you have, and also a letter from your company that they wish to extend your internship for another couple of weeks/months and see what you can do on the day of your appointment.
Researcher Visa extension
You must make an appointment with the foreigners’ registration office of the city you are staying in Germany, at least two months before your visa expiration. On the day of the appointment, bring all the documents you have with you. A cover letter why you wish to extend your stay, and a letter from the research university / institution stating that they would like you to carry on for a few more months with your research would a huge plus. The renewal fee is about 80 euro.
Medical visa extension
If your health has not improved and you need to receive medical treatment for a longer period than foreseen, then you can apply for Medical Treatment Visa extension. The hospital you are receiving treatment at, can help you a lot in this aspect. Appoint a meeting at the foreigners’ registration office of the city where you are receiving medical treatment in Germany. On the day of the appointment brig all the documents you have with you. A letter or a document from the hospital showing that you need to stay in Germany for a longer period in order for your conditions to improve, is vital.