In general, international students and researchers of non-EU/EEA countries (third-country nationals) who intend to study or pursue research for more than three months need a visa to enter Germany. Make sure you apply for the right visa. If you are coming with family members who have a different nationality they may need a visa. Review the following information carefully and if you need a visa, apply for it well in advance before leaving for Germany.
Nationals of the EU and the EEA countries and Switzerland can enter Germany with a national identity card without a visa. If you intend to stay in Germany for more than three months you need to register with the local authorities ("Bürgeramt").
Swiss nationals enter Germany without a visa but need to apply for a residence certificate at the Foreigners Office if they reside in Germany for more than three months.
Nationals of these countries can enter Germany without a visa. However, if you stay in Germany for more than three months you need to register with the local authorities ("Bürgeramt") within one week after arrival and then apply for a residence permit at the Foreigners Registration office. It is important to note that you may not start work until you have the permit. More information on the website of the Foreigners Registration Office.
Non-EU/EEA nationals planning to study in Germany for more than three months must apply for a National Visa for Germany (= D Visa) at the German mission in their own country or current country of residence. Please note that this also applies when staying in another European Union country.The visa must be issued before you can enter the country. Therefore, you should apply for it in good time. Refer to the information "Merkblatt zum D-Visum" on the Foreigners Registration Office website for details about the National Visa. More Information about the visa application process on the website of the German Federal Foreign Office and the German mission of your home country.
National Visas are usually issued for a three month period. Before your visa expires you must apply for a residence permit at the Foreigners Registration Office.
Important: If you intend to stay in Germany for more than three months do not apply for a Schengen Visa (= C Visa = Tourist Visa). This type of visa only entitles you to stay in Germany for a maximum of three months. It can neither be extended nor converted into a study visa and as a tourist you are not eligible to study in Germany. You would have to return to your own country at your own expense and apply for the right visa there. The same applies to family members.
The scientific visa package is specially designed for researchers coming from non-EU/EEA countries (third-country nationals) to enter, stay and work in the EU in order to pursue their research. Scientific visa applications are generally processed faster and also provide advantages for researchers coming with family members. Researchers with the residence title “researcher” under § 20 of the residence act are given certain rights as to residence, teaching at higher education institutions, working conditions, social security, taxation, etc.
In order to apply for the Scientific Visa Package, you will need to sign a hosting agreement with the Freie Universität Berlin and submit it to the German mission of your home country.
The German Rectors’ Conference has compiled an “Overview on potential residence permits for scientists from third countries pursuant to the German Residence Act”. It depicts the necessary requirements for obtaining a respective residence permit such as minimum income or German language skills. Furthermore, it takes into account aspects regarding family reunification or access to the labour market for family members of foreign researchers.
Generally, it is not possible to obtain a visa from a German embassy other than in the home country. Exceptions apply only when a person’s country of residence is not the country of nationality. In this case, the German embassy in the country of residence will deal with the visa process.
Congress participation: please note that it is necessary to apply for a visa (if applicable), if traveling outside of Germany. In general, the national visa and the national residence permit allows you to travel within the Schengen States for 3 months within a 6 month-period.
Leaving Germany for longer than 6 months: the residence permit for Germany expires, if you leave the country for more than 6 months. In this case, you have to apply for a permission to leave the country for more than 6 months before you leave Germany or you will have to re-apply for a new visa for Germany.
Proof of finances: If you intend to enter Germany for a longer stay, you have to provide evidence that you have at least € 670 per month and per person available, when applying for a study visa. This may be a grant, a stipend, a state or city official guarantee, or a bank account.
Proof of adequate living space: A longer stay in Germany requires proof of adequate living space. As a general rule, every member of the family over 6 years old needs 12 m² of living space, members between 2 and 6 need 10 m², members under 2 years are exempt from the regulation. In addition, there must be a kitchen, bathing and other facilities.