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Visa & Entry Requirements

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Quick Facts:

  • Your visa needs to be issued before you enter Germany
  • You have to apply in person at the German mission (embassy or consulate) responsible for your place of residence
  • There are different visa types, depending on the purpose of your stay (with/without work permit)
  • The exact visa requirements should be ascertained from the responsible German diplomatic mission, as they can differ from country to country

Do I Need a Visa for Germany?

EU citizens and citizens of Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein:

  • You do not need a visa to enter Germany.
  • You do not have to apply for a residence permit after entering the country

Citizens of Switzerland, the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea:

  • You do not need a visa to enter Germany
  • You have to apply for a residence permits after entering the country

Citizens of Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, and San Marino:

  • If you do not plan to work in Germany, you do not need a visa (for example, if you have a scholarship)
  • If you plan to work in Germany, then you have to apply for a national visa
  • You have to apply for a residence permit after entering the country

Citizens of all other countries:

  • You need a national visa to enter Germany
  • You have to apply for a residence permit after entering the country

If you are not sure whether you need a visa, the German Federal Foreign Office has compiled a comprehensive list of all countries’ visa requirements.top

Which Type of Visa Do I Need?

If you are coming to Germany as a doctoral student, you need to apply for a Type D visa, also called a national visa. Unlike a Type C/tourist visa (also called “Schengen” visa), a national visa can be converted into a residence permit after you enter Germany, allowing you to stay in the country for a prolonged period of time.

Whether you are coming to Germany on a scholarship or a work contract makes a difference:

  • scholarship: the main purpose of the stay is your studies. You are only allowed to work a maximum of 120 days/240 half days, as well as have a student job at the university/research institution.
  • employment: the main purpose of the stay is gainful employment, so your visa needs to include a work permit. In this case, you need a confirmation of the intended employment from your employer.

This distinction determines which documents you will need to include in your visa application.

Important to know:

  • A national visa is usually valid for three months (exceptions may apply)
  • A national visa needs to be converted into a residence permit before it expires (ideally as soon as possible!)
  • You are required to stay in the country for at least three of the first six months after you enter Germany
  • After that, the national visa allows you to move freely in the Schengen area for up to three months within any six-month periodtop

Where Can I Apply for a Visa and Which Documents Do I Need?

You need to apply for a visa in person at the responsible German mission in your country of residence. It is highly recommended to apply as early as possible, ideally at least two to three months before you plan to enter Germany, as there can be a waiting period for the visa. Also, visa fees may apply.

The website of your diplomatic mission usually offers detailed information on the visa procedures and the documents required for the application.

In general, you will have to submit the following:

  • Visa application form (can be downloaded from the website of your German mission or the German Federal Foreign Office)
  • Valid passport and biometric photograph(s)
  • Proof of admission as a doctoral candidate by the doctoral committee
  • Proof of sufficient funds (e.g. through a scholarship or employment)
  • Proof of adequate health insurance
  • CV and copies of your university degree(s)
  • confirmation from your employer or scholarship organization

It is highly recommended that you provide German translations of all original foreign documents.top

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