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Visa and Residence Permit

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Visa

You will generally need a visa to enter Germany. Citizens of EU and EEA countries are not subject to this visa requirement, nor (in exceptional cases) are citizens of countries with which Germany has agreements to this effect.

You must apply for a visa at a German mission abroad in your home or residence country before you plan to enter Germany. It normally takes 4 to 6 weeks for a visa application to be processed, and sometimes processing takes several months. This is why we recommend that you submit your visa application as early as possible.

You can apply for the following visas before entering Germany:


National Visa (D Visa)

  • You must apply for this visa if you plan to stay for more than 90 days (regardless of a planned employment).
  • You must apply for this visa if you are planning to take up employment in Germany (also if you plan to stay for less than 90 days.)
  • You should expect a processing time of several months when applying for this visa.
  • This visa can be converted into a long-term residence permit once you are in Germany.


Schengen Visa (C Visa)

  • This visa is only valid for a maximum stay of 90 days.
  • It does not allow you to take up employment or undertake (doctoral) studies.
  • Important: This visa is not renewable, and you cannot follow up with an application for a residence permit. After your Schengen visa has expired, you will be required to leave Germany.
  • This visa is not recommended for research stays, as it does not allow you to change the purpose of your stay or to extend the duration of your stay. Only if it is very clear that you will be leaving after a maximum stay of 90 days and no employment is planned, this visa may become an option.)
 

When is a visa not required?

There are exceptions to the requirement for a visa. Citizens of the countries listed below may enter Germany without a visa. They require only a valid travel document (such as a passport).

1. EU and EEA countries: Citizens of these countries may enter Germany without a visa. Furthermore, they are not required to apply for a residence permit for longer stays. The only requirement is that they register with the residents' registration office (Bürgeramt) in their new place of residence.

2. Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, Switzerland and the USA: Citizens of these countries may enter without a visa, even if they plan to take up employment. However, they must apply for a residence permit if staying for an extended period (more than 90 days) and before commencing employment.

3. Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino: Citizens of these countries may enter Germany without a visa, but are not permitted to take up employment. They will be required to apply for a residence permit if staying for an extended period (more than 90 days), this can also be applied for after the visa-free entry. Attention: if you intend to take up gainful employment, it is not possible to enter without a visa. You must apply for an appropriate visa before entering Germany. For Brazilian nationals, there are some special rules which could result in you having to apply for a visa. Please enquire about this directly at the German Embassy in Brazil. We recommend applying for the residence permit as early as possible. We would be happy to help with the application.

4. Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brunei, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Malaysia, Mexico, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Singapore, Serbia, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela: Citizens of these countries may enter Germany without a visa, but are not permitted to take up employment. However, they cannot apply for a residence permit if they enter without a visa. Attention: At the end of 90 days, the citizens of these countries must leave Germany.

 

Citizens of all other countries will require a standard visa.


Tips and advice

  • Germany’s entry and visa requirements change frequently. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, you should check all details of the relevant visa on the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) website.
  • Visas and residence permits are different documents. A visa only entitles the bearer to enter the country. If you wish to stay for an extended period (more than 90 days), you must apply for a residence permit after your arrival. You can find further information on how to apply for a residence permit on this website.
  • You apply for a visa for a specific purpose, for example to take up employment or undertake studies. Approval is tied to the particular purpose given. If you will be working in Germany, you will generally require a visa permitting employment.
  • If you are staying in Germany for less than 12 months you may ask the German visa department to issue a D Visa valid for all Schengen states for the entire period of your stay with reference to Article 18 Section 2 SDÜ. In that case, you do not have to apply for a residence permit at the Immigration Office in Bonn.
  • Please make the relevant German mission abroad (at which you apply for your visa) aware that you have an approval-free status as a researcher in accordance with § 34 Section (2) of the Residence Ordinance ("Aufenthaltsverordnung"). You do not need the authorization from the Immigration Office in Bonn.
  • In case you apply for a visa that allows you to sign a work contract in Germany, you can make the relevant German mission abroad in your home or residence country aware that you have an approval-free status as a researcher in accordance with § 5 of the Employment Regulation ("Beschäftigungsverordnung"). You do not need the authorization from the Employment Agency in Bonn.
  • If you are unsure or have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the Welcome Center team – we will be happy to help you.

Residence permit

Since a visa only entitles you to enter the country and remain for short-term stays, you will require a residence permit if you wish to stay for more than 90 days. Citizens of EU/EEA countries are exempted: You do not require a residence permit but instead should simply register your place of residence at the Citizens' Service Center ("Bürgeramt") in Bonn.

In case you do need a residence permit and your place of residence is in Bonn, you can apply for a residence permit after arrival at the Immigration Office in Bonn. The Welcome Center team will be pleased to make an appointment for you - just contact us.

Please make sure that you apply for a residence permit for Germany before your visa expires.


Bonn Immigration Office
Oxfordstr. 19
53111 Bonn

  • Phone: +49 (0)228-776000
  • E-mail: termine-auslaenderamt[at]bonn.de
  • Website (and online appointments)


The following residence permits are available:

Residence permit for research purposes (section 20 AufenthG)

A residence permit under section 20 can is issued for employment in science and research. An employment contract or an effective hosting agreement with the University of Bonn is needed in this case.

At the University of Bonn, (future) employees should contact the responsible HR department to issue a hosting agreement. Visiting researchers with a scholarship/fellowship should contact the Welcome Center for International Researchers at the International Office.


EU Blue Card (section 19a AufenthG)

This residence permit is designed for qualified foreign professionals. To receive an EU Blue Card, you must hold a university degree and have an employment contract with a gross annual salary of at least €52,000 (respectively €4,333 per month). In some occupations with a shortage of personnel (including scientists, mathematicians, engineers, academic and comparable professionals in information and communications technology, and doctors), this threshold is reduced to €40,560 (respectively €3,380 per month) .

> The EU Blue Card can be issued to international researchers who have an employment contract at the University of Bonn for at least the required gross annual salary amount.


Residence permit for highly qualified foreigners (section 19 AufenthG)

The term "highly qualified foreigners" includes academics with specialized expertise, and teaching and academic staff in specialist roles. You may immigrate once you have employment and you can immediately obtain a settlement permit (with no limit on duration). This automatically entitles you to work. Spouses are generally granted the same residence permit.

> A residence permit in accordance with section 19 is automatically a settlement permit. It can be granted to academics who are working in prominent positions (for example professors).

 

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