Guide to Visas for Germany
You’ve probably heard that it’s difficult to get a visa for Germany. With strict immigration rules, visiting or settling in Germany usually requires you to get a visa. The working visa is the largest and longest hurdle to overcome in your move to Germany. It can be intimidating, and the process will vary with different visas.
The good news is that with a job offer in hand, you (and your family) can get working and residency permission for Germany fairly simply. In this guide to getting visas for Germany, we’ll review different types of visas you or your family may use in the course of relocation.
Important to understand!
Depending on which passport you hold, you will have different requirements to enter and work in Germany. You might need a visa to work but not to visit, or may need a visa for both.
Your local German embassy is responsible for granting you a visa. You do not have a right to get any visa. If they refuse you, though, they must give a good reason. And you can try again or appeal that reason.
Who DOES NOT need a visa to enter, live, and work in Germany?
Persons from the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Sweden do not need a visa to enter Germany, no matter of the length of stay. If you wish to study or work, you will need to register at a German address.
Do I need a visa to enter Germany?
If you didn’t find yourself in that short list above, you will definitely need a visa to work in Germany.
But first, let’s consider the interview process. There may be an in-person interview in Germany. To make sure that you can get to the office, you may need a visa to come to Germany for the interview.
Some nationalities will be able to enter for up to 90 days without a visa. For the following 62 countries, citizens may enter Germany as a tourist and may stay within the EU (in Germany or any other country) for up to 90 days in a 180 day period. This also means that you can come for a job interview on relatively short notice without filing for a visa.
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Hong Kong
- Marshall Islands
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent
- San Marino
- Solomon Islands
- South Korea
- Timor Leste
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United States of America
- Vatican City
For the remaining countries, you will need to file for a short-stay visa before you book your flights to Germany.
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Rep. Of Congo
- Dominican Republic
- Equatorial Guinea
- Ivory Coast
- Marshall Islands
- North Korea
- Northern Marianas
- Papua New Guinea
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
So - what kind of visa would I need?
Depending on why you are coming to Germany, there are different types of visas that will apply to your situation. Whether you are planning to visit Germany, study or work or settle there permanently, you will have to apply for a different visa, accordingly.
These are the most often used Germany visa types:
Tourist / Visitor Visa
This visa is for visiting friends and family and exploring the cultural beauty of the nation. A tourist visa of up to 90 days in a 180 day period is issued to persons of the 62-nation group, as seen above.
It may ALSO be used to come for an interview. But only if automatically given. If you need to apply for a visa in advance for an interview, use the business visa.
Students at a university, language, or other course are eligible for a student visa, which allows them to study and take a part-time job during the course of their program.
They will need to prove their financial stability during the studies either with proof of sufficient funds, or a scholarship.
This visa is for conducting business in Germany, and can be issued for up to 6 months with single or multiple entry permission. It does not give working permission, but it does allow you to attend conferences, interviews, business meetings, and so on. It can be applied to between 3 months and 3 weeks in advance, in most cases.
Job Seeker's Visa
Used by those who will come to Germany for up to 6 months for the purpose of finding a job. It does not give you working permission, and you’ll need to prove that you can support yourself during the whole time you’re here. Once you get a job, you can convert this visa to a working visa.
If you have a working visa already and leave your job, you’d convert to a job seeker’s visa until you find another job.
In order to earn money and hold a job while in Germany, you will need to get a working visa. One good point is that if YOU have working permission, your SPOUSE will also have it.
So! Once you get a job offer in Germany, you will need to apply for a working visa. You will submit the application at the German embassy in your home country / country of residence.
University graduate visa: University graduates are eligible for a 6 month job seeker’s visa, as long as they can show proof of financial stability for that 6 month period. If they graduated from a German university, they are eligible for an 18-month working visa, during which they can work in any job, but after that will need to show that they are working in a field related to their study.
General employment visa: For non-highly skilled jobs, which could also be filled by someone from inside the EU, this visa is valid for one year and can be renewed.
EU Blue Cards: Intended to support skilled professionals, especially in shortage roles. Those in shortage roles must earn more than 41,808 EUR annually, and those in other roles must earn 53,600 EUR annually. There are several advantages to this visa: you can get permanent residency as quickly as in 21 months, and after two years you will no longer need permission from the government to change your job. Please check out the official page for more information. This article is also very informative on the benefits of the Blue Card. While it looks complicated – you will have the support of a visa professional to walk you through the process.
Freelance work visas / Artist visas: Freelancers and artists must show proof of potential earnings, such as current or prospective clients, plus proof of the need for their business in Germany. There are many more hoops to jump through for freelancers and artists, than for regular employees.
General documents required for a visa
Here are some documents that will be required during your visa application. This list is not comprehensive for all types of visas, but it is a good start.
- University degree
- Detailed CV / Resume
- Biometric photos
- Employment contract
- Letter from the employer
- Proof of German health insurance (a letter from a public insurance company will suffice)
- Marriage certificate (for those married persons whose spouse will join)
Before you start the visa process, it’s best to start preparing early. Make sure you have your university degree in original copy and a passport valid for at least one more year.