Visa and Residence Permit

Your Way to Your Visa and Residence Permit

German residence law can be very complex, especially for people whose native language is not German. Therefore, we have compiled a brief overview of the most important points for students and researchers here.

n Germany, there are different residence titles according to the Residence Act (AufenthG). You can find an overview on the Make it in Germany page. Regardless of which residence title you are seeking, if you are a third-country national, you generally need a visa to enter Germany. Exceptions are EU citizens and countries for which the visa requirement has been lifted.

You can find out whether you are subject to a visa requirement in this table. Please note that some exceptions are described in the footnotes. If you are not sure whether these apply to you, you can contact the German mission abroad.

Apply for a visa

If you are required to have a visa for Germany and have been granted admission to study, you must make an appointment at the German mission in your current country of residence to apply for a visa. If you are a student, you need a visa according to § 16b of the Residence Act. You can usually find the documents you need for the application in the checklists provided by the German mission abroad. If you have not yet been admitted to study, you can also apply for a visa for the purpose of applying to study.

Proof of funding is required for a visa, especially for students and researchers without an employment contract in Germany. The most common proof of sufficient funds is the so-called blocked account. On Study in Germany, you can find detailed information about the proof of funding and the blocked account.

PhD students and postdocs who are subject to visa requirements should contact the Welcome Center. There are different types of visas and selecting the correct one depends on the individual situation. For an initial overview, the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) has produced a leaflet.

Please note: You should never apply for a Schengen visa for tourist purposes! This visa cannot be extended or changed into a visa for study purposes after entry. Also, your visa must allow you to study at a specific university. If you initially applied for your visa with plans to attend another university, you should have it changed immediately after entering the country so that you can successfully enroll at UTN.

After the visa, you need a residence permit

A visa is always issued for a limited period. Depending on the German mission, this period is between 90 days and six months. Before your visa expires, you must apply for a residence permit for study purposes at the Foreigners’ Authority of your place of residence (§16b AufenthG). To know where to turn with questions of foreigner’s matters, check with the Residents’ Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) of your jurisdiction. You will usually be working with something called a Foreigners’ Office. In Nuremberg, for example, this is the Amt für Migration und Integration. There you will also receive a list with all the documents you need for your application. The application can only be made online via the platform My Nuremberg.

Students usually receive a residence permit for one year. After that, you will need to apply for an extension before your resident permit expires. The procedure is the same as the initial application at the Foreigners’ Office. For researchers, residence permits with a longer duration can be issued, depending on the employment contract or proof of funding.

It is important that you always apply for a residence permit before the visa or the previous residence permit expires! For your first residence permit (after the initial visa), we recommend applying as soon as you have successfully registered your residence at the Residents’ Registration Office . If you apply for an extension too late, a new residence permit may not be issued.

Please note: Your work permit is always connected to your residence permit. For example, with a residence permit according to § 16b AufenthG (study), you may work a maximum of 120 full days or 240 half days per year. In addition, student part-time jobs (for example as a student assistant at the university) are possible. Self-employment, on the other hand, is not permitted.

You need more info?

The Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community has a detailed website on the subject of residence law and answers frequently asked questions there.

© AdobeStock/ozsitoeroe