Obtaining a German visa is a crucial step when planning to settle in Germany, a European nation.
You may be able to obtain German citizenship (naturalisation) and the third-best passport in the world by residing in Germany for at least eight years while holding a residence permit.
There are some prerequisites that must be fulfilled in order to apply for a German visa, such as demonstrating sufficient income and having health insurance. The average cost of a long-term visa to Germany is about 75 EUR (88 USD), while the cost of a short-term visa (good for up to three months) is normally about 60 EUR (about 70 USD).
In this article, you can explore various visa types and associated costs. Additionally, you’ll receive insider tips to increase your chances of a successful application. For instance, it’s essential to know that German visa applications can take between six to twelve weeks to process, so it’s advisable to initiate the process about four to five months before your planned move to Germany.
Furthermore, in December 2018, Germany introduced a new immigration law known as the “Fachkräftezuwanderungsgesetz” (skilled worker immigration). The law is similar to immigration point systems used in countries such as Australia, and it makes it simpler for companies to hire skilled employees from outside the European Union.
Work Permits and Visas Based on Employment
In recent years, Germany’s limits on work permits and employment-based visas have been relaxed as the government seeks to attract highly skilled individuals. You can read on to discover more about the eligibility criteria and types of work permits available in Germany.
Work Visa Requirements in Germany
Requirements for a work visa in Germany differ for EU and non-EU citizens. EU citizens do not require a work visa to work in Germany. Non-EU citizens, on the other hand, must seek a visa or a residence permit in order to work in Germany.
Germany Work Permit Fees
A German work permit (employment visa) costs 75 EUR (about 90 USD).You’ll need to complete the “Antrag auf Erlaubnis einer Beschäftigung” application form for Germany’s work permit visa and obtain a residence permit, or “Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels.” If you require guidance on your visa application process, you can contact our immigration professionals, who will provide the necessary steps for a successful application.
A business visa is required for persons wishing to visit Germany for business purposes who are not citizens of the EU or a country participating in the visa waiver program. This visa allows you to stay in Germany for up to 90 days in a six-month period to do business, sign contracts, attend meetings, and other related appointments.
Visa for Family Reunion
For most non-EU nationals, family reunion visas in Germany have relatively strict requirements. Family reunification visa applications may experience delays if submitted at the last minute.
To reunite with your family in Germany, you’ll need to meet certain requirements:
- Financial means: You must show that you have the money to sustain your family financially.
- Housing: You must offer adequate housing for your family.
- Language Proficiency: Your spouse may be required to demonstrate basic understanding of the German language in some cases.
- Your children must be under the age of 18 and unmarried.
However, if you are an immigrant with specialized skills or an EU/EEA national, these requirements may not apply to you.
Special rules apply to citizens of certain countries, including Andorra, Canada, Australia, Honduras, United States, Israel, Japan, San Marino, Monaco, New Zealand, South Korea.
If you intend to marry in Germany with your fiancé(e), you will most likely require the following documents:
- Birth certificates for each spouse as well as any children you may have together
- Proof of your single status
- Proof of at least 21 days’ residence in Germany (e.g., a Meldebescheinigung)
- An application from the Standesamt or civil registration office (submitted in person with your partner)
Additional documents that may be required include:
- Bank statements or pay slips are examples of financial proof.
- A certificate verifying your single status, such as a Certificate of Freedom to Marry, No Marriage Affidavit, or Certificate of No Impediment.
- Marriage certificates from any previous marriages are required.
Typically, the individual who is already in Germany must offer proof that they can financially support their family members who are joining them. You can give a commitment declaration, also known as a “Verpflichtungserklärungen” (VE), to establish that you have sufficient means to support them.
Based on the documentation you give, the German authorities will analyze your financial condition to guarantee that you and your family have the means to support yourselves in Germany.
The European Blue Card and Skilled Migration
Germany introduced the European Blue Card for skilled workers, which permits EU countries, as well as residents of Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein to work in Germany without a visa or other formal permission. This is intended to solve the shortage of competent people in particular industries.
If you have a bachelor’s or master’s degree and a job in Germany paying at least 55,200 EUR (about 65,000 USD), you are eligible for an EU Blue Card, which costs 140 EUR (roughly 165 USD). The Blue Card allows you to stay in Germany for four years, with the option of acquiring a settlement permit after 21 to 33 months, particularly if you have B1 German language competency. Your spouse and dependant children are welcome to accompany you and get work visas.
Graduates and Insufficient Employment
Germany is experiencing a skills shortage, with over 1.2 million employment openings. Since March 2020, the Skilled Labour Immigration Act has made it simpler for skilled workers with vocational qualifications to work in Germany. This provides an opportunity for talented workers from Vietnam, India, Mexico.
For those entering shortage occupations, the minimum annual salary requirement is lower than that for other graduates. Depending on the year, graduates in shortage occupations need to earn at least around 43,060 EUR (about 51,000 USD), while other graduates must earn a minimum of 55,200 EUR (around 65,000 USD).
Highly skilled individuals and EU Blue Card holders enjoy certain advantages, such as reduced waiting times for approval.
Visas for Self-Employment in Germany
If you want to set up a temporary business in Germany, you can apply for a German business or self-employment visa. This visa is available for three years and can be followed by a permanent “settlement permit” provided certain criteria are met.
The application process for long-term self-employment in Germany involves obtaining a residence permit and seeking advice on residence permits, labor laws, business regulations, and tax laws. If you are from the EEA, the US, Canada, or Australia, you can live and work in Germany for 90 days before applying for a residence visa, as long as you have a valid passport.
German Freelance Visa Process
To apply for a German freelance visa, you’ll need to complete a form covering various sections, including basic information, family history, your address, work details in Germany, reasons for being in Germany, and more. The application process entails steps like securing health insurance, completing financing and budget forms, scheduling appointments with the Foreigners Registration Office, and presenting required documents.
A freelancer visa in Germany costs around 60 EUR (around 70 USD), while a residence permit costs around 140 EUR (around 165 USD). Applicants from the United States, Canada, or Australia may arrive in Germany before applying for a freelancer visa, albeit the process may take three to four months.
Temporary and Permanent Residency Permits
Many expatriates aspire to become permanent German residents, given the country’s high quality of life. To qualify, you must reside in Germany for at least five years. Before achieving permanent residency, expats interested in long-term stays in Germany should apply for a temporary residence permit.
Temporary and permanent residency permits in Germany depend on various factors, including nationality and purpose of stay. Some of the permits you might consider include temporary residence permits, EU Blue Cards, EC long-term residence permits, and permanent settlement permits.
How Can I Obtain Permanent Residency in Germany?
The procedure for getting permanent residency in Germany is dependent on your nationality and the reasons for your relocation. EU or EEA citizens do not need a residence permit. Germany’s permanent residency cost is 255 EUR (about $300 USD).
After two years, if you have graduated from a German institution and have a temporary residence visa for employment, you can apply for permanent residency.
Regardless of whether you had a visa before arriving in Germany, you will need to contact the local immigration office to obtain a permanent resident permit.
Required documents typically include:
- your registration card
- a valid passport
- biometric passport photographs
- employment contracts (for employees)
- student enrollment confirmation (for students)
- proof of retirement benefits (for pensioners)
- evidence of financial support
- birth certificates
- marriage certificates
Specific document requirements may vary based on your country of origin and the purpose of your stay.
Finally, it’s essential to verify with your closest embassy or consulate whether you need to complete registration there. This process is entirely separate from any registration with German authorities and is dependent on the specific regulations of your home country.
Fees for Permanent Residency in Germany
Permanent residency fees can vary by city and case, such as costing around 100 EUR (approximately 113 USD) for a one-year permit in Munich.
Residency in Germany
After relocating to Germany, you are required to complete the local registration process with the authorities, known as “polizeiliche Anmeldung” or police registration. This registration is mandatory, particularly if you have applied for a German visa from your home country. It’s important to note that you must apply for a residence visa before this step.
To begin the process, make an appointment for a personal interview. You cannot simply go into a German consulate or embassy and request a visa. A residence visa normally costs between 55 and 100 EUR (equal to 65 to 120 USD), with renewals costing between 50 and 95 EUR (similar to 60 to 115 USD). Turkish citizens may be charged a maximum of 30 EUR (about 35 USD).
Every resident, whether German citizens, EU nationals, or those from non-EU countries, is required to notify the local authorities (known as “Einwohnermeldeamt”) of their address. Any change of address must be recorded within two weeks after moving to a new residence, or within two months if residing at a hotel or a friend’s home. If you move to a different town, you must re-register at your new address.
In many cities, you can complete this registration process at a designated municipal office, which may go by various names such as KVR, Bürgerbüro, Stadtbüro, Bürgerservice, Meldestelle, and more. Following registration, you will receive a registration card, which is a document that confirms your address and the date of your move. It’s important to note that this registration card is not a substitute for a residence permit; it simply serves as an official record of your current place of residence.
Documents Required for German Local Registration
You will need the following documents to register your residency in Germany:
- A simple registration form is available at the town hall or on their official website.
- A valid passport.
- The rental agreement for your place to stay in Germany or a written statement from the person who is giving you a place to stay.
It’s worth mentioning that certain landlords may ask for a residency permit before signing a rental agreement. This is to ensure that you are legally permitted to stay in the country for an extended period of time. In such instances, you can register using the temporary address of your initial residence, which could be a hotel, serviced flat, or a friend’s house.
Once you have acquired the official residence permit, changing your registered address is a straightforward process and typically involves a small fee, usually less than 10 EUR (equivalent to 11 USD), for registering with the local authorities.
Application for Temporary Resident Permit in Germany
In Germany, a temporary residency permit is known as a “Aufenthaltserlaubnis” and is normally good for one year. The frequency of renewal is determined by a variety of factors such as your work position, occupation, and nationality.
For instance, consider a scenario involving a US expatriate:
- If the US expatriate has a permanent job contract with a German company, they may be granted a residence visa that must be renewed every three years.
- If the same person has only a limited job contract for the next two years, their residence visa will expire in about two years.
Requirements and Fees for a German Temporary Resident Permit
If you plan to visit Germany for no more than 90 days within a 180-day period and are not a citizen of the European Union (EU), the USA, Canada, Israel, Australia Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, or the Republic of Korea, you will need to obtain a short-term Schengen visa.
German Short-stay Visa Fees
The following are the visa fees for various categories:
Free of charge:
- Students who received scholarships from a German scientific organization
60 euros (70 dollars):
- Transit visa for airports
- Stays of up to 30 days are permitted.
- Stays between 31 and 90 days (single entry)
- Stays ranging from 31 to 90 days (many entries)
75 EUR (USD 90):
- National visas (for family reunions, studies, and so on)
For EU citizens’ spouses
If your personal situation remains unchanged, renewing your residence permit is typically a straightforward process. However, changes such as switching employers, discontinuing employment, or separating from your spouse can have an impact on your residence status.
In such situations, it’s advisable to promptly contact the local Aliens Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) and seek guidance from an immigration lawyer.
Advantages of German Permanent Residence
If you are planning to move to Germany for the long term, it’s important to understand the process for obtaining a permanent residence permit. Typically, you must legally reside in Germany for a period of five years before you become eligible to apply for permanent residency. Obtaining permanent residence in Germany comes with several advantages, including:
- Unlimited Residence in Germany: You can reside in Germany without any time restrictions.
- Work Opportunities: You have the freedom to work for any organization in Germany without needing specific work permits.
- Free Movement: You can enjoy free movement not only within Germany but also within the European Union (EU) and outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
- Access to Education: Permanent residents have access to educational opportunities and training programs in Germany.
- Welfare Benefits: You may be eligible for certain welfare benefits and social assistance programs.
- Financial Support: Permanent residents may find it easier to access grants and loans for various purposes.
- Social Security: You become eligible for social security benefits, providing financial protection in times of need.
Processes for Fiancé and Family Visas in Germany
You can apply for a spouse or family reunion visa to visit or join a partner or family member in Germany, and in some cases this can lead to permanent residency in the country. There are prerequisites that must be completed in order to apply for a visa for family reunification:
- The minimum age for applying for a visa to reunite with family members is eighteen.
- Your spouse or other family member in Germany must be in possession of a valid work visa issued by the German authorities.
- You should have at least a basic understanding of the German language in most situations. But there are always outliers:
- If a close relative in Germany has an EU Blue Card, you may qualify for one as well.
- If they are in Germany for an academic or professional assignment.
- If you or your partner holds citizenship in Japan, Israel, Australia, the USA, Canada, or the Republic of Korea.
Here are the measures you need to take to get a visa for family reunion:
- Send your application to the German embassy or consulate in your country.
- Your first order of business in Germany should be to visit the Einwohnermeldeamt, or “residents’ registration office.”
- Your German-based spouse or relative will need to submit the following paperwork at the German consulate or embassy in their area:
- Certificate of marriage or civil union registration
If you have any questions about the paperwork you need, contact the embassy or consulate in your country.
Adults pay 75 EUR (88 USD) and children under 18 pay 37.50 EUR (45 USD) for a family reunion visa.
Your relative’s residence permit expiration date will likely be determined by factors such as their living and working situations. It shouldn’t be too difficult to renew their residence visa as long as their circumstances remain unchanged. If you need help obtaining a visa or any other documentation necessary to settle in Germany, you can ask the appropriate authorities or services for guidance.