Germany Visa

You will usually need a German visa when you come to the country to live, work, study, visit, or transit through. Each visa is different and has complex application processes, so many people applying for a visa decide to get help from an immigration lawyer.

If you decide to get help from Total Law, please call us at (+44) 333 305 9375. You can also visit us online to learn more about our services.

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    Do I Need a Visa for Germany?

    Germany is part of the European Union and Schengen agreement, which means that many nations’ citizens won’t require a visa to live or work in the country. This applies to all nations in the EU and the EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland).

    Germany also has strong connections to a range of third countries. People from these nations don’t require a visa to enter Germany. However, they will require documentation if they want to remain in Germany for more than 90 days. Third countries for which these requirements apply include:

    • Israel.
    • Australia.
    • Japan.
    • Canada.
    • The Republic of Korea.
    • New Zealand
    • The UK.
    • The USA.

    All nationals from countries that are not in the EU or from one of the specified third countries will almost always require a visa to legally enter Germany for any reason.

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    Germany Visa Types


    Part of the complexity of applying for a German visa is that there are so many options to choose from. You will need to apply for the visa that best fits your unique circumstances. The most common visas to apply for include the following:

    Please note that this list only covers the most common types of German visas. Several more types of visas apply to specific circumstances and are much less common.

    The following sections break down the specificities of each type of visa. If you need help deciding which visa is right for you, please contact Total Law at (+44)333 305 9375 or visit us online.

    Schengen (Short Stay) Visa

    The Schengen visa is intended for people who want to come into the Schengen area for a short period of less than 90 days within a given 180-day period. This travel can be for business trips, tourism, or visits to friends and family. However, you will not be able to seek work opportunities within Germany. It gives you access to the following 27 nations which are in the Schengen area:

    • Austria
    • Belgium
    • Czech Republic
    • Croatia
    • Denmark
    • Estonia
    • Finland
    • France
    • Germany
    • Greece
    • Hungary
    • Iceland
    • Italy
    • Latvia
    • Liechtenstein
    • Lithuania
    • Luxembourg
    • Malta
    • Netherlands
    • Norway
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • Slovakia
    • Slovenia
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland

    Please note that while the Schengen visa will allow you to travel freely within the Schengen area, it does not guarantee that you can enter the Schengen area. The German immigration authority reserves the right to deny your entry if you cannot show proof of the purpose of your trip.

    National (Long Stay) Visa

    The National (Long Stay) visa is often referred to as a Residence visa because it allows you to remain in the country for more than 90 days and is essential if you want to establish a permanent residence in Germany.

    The National visa will usually give you the right to enter Germany in the long term for up to one year. However, you will also need to get a residence permit once you are in Germany.

    Marriage and Family Visas

    The best visa to use if you have family members in Germany that you want to join is the Family Reunion visa. This is a specific type of National visa that you can get if you fit one of the following criteria:

    • You are married to a German citizen.
    • You are a German citizen’s spouse.
    • You are the parent of a German child.

    Please note that Germany recognises both mixed-sex and same-sex marriages and registered civil unions. Therefore, same-sex couples can use this route to move to Germany if one member of the couple is a German citizen. However, be aware that they don’t currently recognise civil partnerships and de facto relationships as of November 2023.

    Furthermore, you will have the same level of eligibility if your German partner or child is already in Germany or if you are moving together.

    Student Visa

    The Student visa is another type of National visa that allows you to remain in the country long-term. There are three types of Student visas, and you will have to apply for the one that is most relevant to your circumstances. The types of visas include the following:

    • Language Course visa: for German language courses that last three months to a year.
    • Student Applicant visa: a shorter-term visa valid for three months, extendable to six months, for people whose university application hasn’t been accepted yet or need to attend entrance exams.
    • Student visa: the standard type of visa for those who have been offered a place at an educational institution.

    One critical requirement of the German Student visa is that you must prove you have the financial means to support yourself. This can be done by including a guarantor on your application, or you can get a part-time employment contract with a monthly salary of at least 861 euros.

    Many people in Germany overlap study and work. It is common for students to work as research assistants or to seek additional income in part-time employment. EU citizens are permitted to work 20 hours per week during the semester with no limit during vacation periods, but those in Germany on a Study visa have reduced permission to work. They can work 120 full days or 240 half days without the express permission of the Federal Employment Agency (BA).

    As your studies are coming to an end, you might want to start looking for graduate jobs in the country. If you are offered a job, you will need to change to a residence permit that will allow you to work in the country.

    Employment Visa

    The final key type of German National visa is the Employment visa. This is a blanket term for those who state “work” as their purpose for travel when they apply for their national visa. It allows for the following types of work:

    • Formal, long-term employment based on a job offer.
    • Self-employment and freelance work.
    • Being a jobseeker in Germany.
    • Working as an Au Pair.
    • Working Holiday visa.

    Please note that each of these types of German visa has different requirements that you will need to fulfill in order to have your application accepted.

    You should also remember that getting an employment visa in any country can be a difficult process. In Germany, the process favours those with experience, skills, and qualifications that are particularly sought out in the German labour market. You have a higher chance of success if the following applies to you:

    • You are highly qualified in research or teaching.
    • You are a skilled intra-corporate transfer to Germany, particularly as a manager or specialist.
    • There is a shortage of workers in your profession.
    • You have a concrete job offer.
    • Your education is equivalent to a German degree.

    Airport Transit Visa

    In some cases, you will need a visa simply to pass through a German airport in transit. This applies to nationals from 21 countries, mostly distributed in Africa and the Middle East. Exceptions apply if you have another visa that gives you the right to travel to Germany. Alternatively, you won’t need this visa if you have a US visa that is valid or expired less than 24 hours before you enter Germany. Other specific exceptions apply to some of the individual nations that normally need this visa.

    With the Airport Transit visa, you will be able to connect onto a different flight at certain German international airports. You must have booked the flight beforehand, and it is recommended you allow at least 75 minutes to make this connection.

    Furthermore, an Airport Transit visa will usually only allow you to stay in the international transit area of the airport. This isn’t open 24 hours a day at some airports, and it is your responsibility to make sure that your connection doesn’t run through the airport’s closing time.

    Finally, there are three circumstances that will make an Airport Transit visa invalid, and you will need to arrange a Short-Term visa, which includes:

    • You have to pick up your baggage or check in again between flights.
    • You are transiting through more than one airport in the Schengen area.
    • You have an open ticket.

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      German Visa Application Process


      Each German visa has a slightly different application process that you will need to satisfy to be awarded the visa. However, the general process is the same, and you will usually need to follow the steps listed below:

      1. Ask the German embassy or consulate general in your country for a documents checklist and an application form.
      2. Complete the application form and gather the required documents.
      3. Make a visa appointment. This can usually be done up to six months before you will travel to Germany.
      4. Pay the visa fee and save the receipt. You will need to show this at your interview as proof you have paid.
      5. Attend your visa interview. An immigration authority will look at your documents and ask you questions about your application and your purpose of travel. This will usually take just ten minutes.

      Any issues with your application will severely reduce the chances of your application being successful. Therefore, make sure that you take the time required to complete your application to the best of your ability.

      General Documentation

      Again, the exact documents that you will have to supply during your application will vary depending on the visa you have chosen and your personal circumstances. However, the documents you will usually have to provide include the following:

      • An application form.
      • A receipt for payment of the application fee.
      • A valid passport and personal identification.
      • Two identical passport-style photos that fit the specifications of a German visa photo.
      • Proof of accommodation in Germany.
      • Proof of an offer for a job or a place on a degree or course as appropriate.
      • A travel itinerary that features travel to return home.
      • Comprehensive health insurance coverage.
      • Proof of financial means to support yourself without help from the state.

      Each visa will have additional documentation on top of these essentials. Make sure to thoroughly consult the document checklist that your German embassy or consulate general will provide so that you don’t miss anything.

      Health Insurance

      When you submit your application for a German visa, you will need health insurance so that you are fully covered if you become ill while in the country. There are strict requirements that your health insurance must cover, which include the following:

      • Coverage must be at least 30,000 euros and valid in all Schengen States.
      • Repatriation back to your home country must be covered.
      • A confirmation letter from the insurance provider, not your employer, is required.
      • You must be specified as both the insurance holder and the covered person.
      • Your health insurance must be valid for the entire length of your visa.

      If you have health insurance already, it may fit all of these requirements. However, if you don’t, it is advised that you procure health insurance in Germany, as these requirements are industry standards in the country.

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      Application Fees and Processing Times for German Visas

      The standard visa processing time for German embassies and consulates is around 10-15 working days. However, you may experience delays if the German embassy in your country is experiencing a backlog or there are issues with your application.

      Meanwhile, the application fee will vary depending on which type of visa you are applying for. The fee is usually around 80 euros for a short-term visa and 75 euros for a long-term visa. You will be informed on how much you will need to pay when you make your application.

      Please note that each visa will have visa fee exemptions, which will make your application free or substantially cheaper. Make sure to check if any exemptions apply to you before you make your application.

      If you need assistance, please contact our immigration team. They have helped with hundreds of cases. Contact Us

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        How Can Total Law Help?

        Applying for a German visa can be complex and challenging. Each one has specific requirements which you need to make sure that you fit with. Then, you will need to make a high-quality application, which will not give immigration officials reasons to reject your application.

        At Total Law, our expert team is knowledgeable across all German visas. We can help you to navigate around common pitfalls to create an application that maximises your chances of winning. We can also liaise with the German government to keep you updated on the progress of your application and can provide advice based on the outcome.

        If you want to find out more about how Total Law can help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at (+44)333 305 9375 or visit us online.

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                  Related pages for your continued reading.


                  The German visa authorities reject thousands of applications each year. The reasons for refusal of applications are usually either issues with the applicant or issues with the application. Common issues with the application include the following:

                  • Applying for the wrong type of visa.
                  • You perform poorly at your visa interview.
                  • You haven’t arranged appropriate travel insurance.
                  • You have failed to provide crucial documentation.
                  • Your application includes forged or falsified documents.
                  • Your application contains lies or discrepancies.

                  Meanwhile, common issues with the applicant include the following:

                  • A lack of financial means or stability.
                  • Lack of qualifications or skills for the study or work you plan on doing in Germany.
                  • Failure to meet language requirements.
                  • You don’t fit with the profile of worker or student, which the German labour market desires.
                  • You pose a national security or health risk to people living in Germany.
                  • You have a criminal record in the Schengen area.

                  Each visa will also have unique reasons for refusal. For example, some student visas are rejected if the applicant wants to study for a Masters degree in Germany, which immigration authorities do not think is connected to your undergraduate degree.

                  Usually, you will have to apply for a visa before you come to Germany long-term. However, some nationalities can come to Germany without a visa and only need to apply for a residence permit at the local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) once they have arrived in the country. This must be done within 90 days of entering the country. You will also have to register your new residence within two weeks of coming to Germany. You will need to make sure that the residence permit you are given gives you the rights you require in Germany, such as the right to work.

                  This measure applies to citizens of eight countries, including the following:

                  • USA
                  • Australia
                  • Canada
                  • Israel
                  • Japan
                  • New Zealand
                  • Republic of Korea (South Korea)

                  Citizens of all other nations, apart from those in the EU or the EEA, will need to arrange a visa before they come to the country.