Germany Visa : A broad summary

Blessed be the European Union !

Any E.U citizen can freely live and work anywhere they want in the Schengen Zone, including Germany.  But for citizens of other countries, it is an entirely different story. After 3 months, it is necessary to apply for a residence permit in Germany.

A long road of tears, sweat and sometimes despair awaits anyone applying for a German visa to be able to come and live in Berlin or elsewhere. This road often ends up with the golden ticket (blue card actually), but can also end up with a stupid red stamp reading “denied”.

germany visa
Repeat after me “I <3 administration”


How should you proceed to get a German visa :

If you are a citizen from one of the following countries, good news ! You do not need to apply for an entry visa;

Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, Korea, New Zealand or the US.

You can even apply for a German working visa from your home country and avoid the local administration all-together for this process. It might come handy, especially if you are reluctant to speak German.

Any citizen from a country that is not from the EU, or from those friend countries, will need a visa to enter German soil, which can be from your home country. Since the matter is quite complicated depending on your case, we have made separate guides. Behold:

Good, you have now arrived in Germany. What now ?

Follow this guide to get permanent residence in Germany.

1- Book an appointment the Foreign Registration Office
2- Gather all necessary documents
3- Be at your best to get your permit approved


Obviously, beyond 3 months, you will need a residence permit to stay in Germany. This applies to everybody (except EU citizens of course). To obtain just that, a visit to the Ausländer-Behörde (foreigners’ registration office) is necessary.

Update October 2016: there are now 2 offices you can go to register yourself. You can now go the office in Moabit, or the new one in Charlottenburg too. That is great news for many people who won’t need to queue so long to give their documents away.

Since administration is rather slow and appointments taken long in advance, this would be one of the first thing to do when first arriving the country, next go right to your anmeldung.

Booking an appointment is easily done through this link. It’s this option or getting up at 4am to queue in front of the building to obtain one of the rare waiting numbers.


On the confirmation email will be shown all the documents needed for the appointment. Make sure you have those in original and copies. Any forgotten paper, and it’s back to square one. Bring some cash too as a residence permit costs 110€ since 2009.


Be on time for your appointement and bring a german-speaking friend if you can. The person you will have in front of you might want to prefer to communicate in German.  Give out all the required documents and answer a few questions.
All those will be checked, and within 3 weeks, you should get an email or a phone call to tell you whether or not your visa has been approved.

How do i increase my chances for the visa germany has to offer for me ?

If you are lucky enough to have found an employer willing to hire you within the 3 months span, or before, he/she can write a letter stating that your position can not be filled by a german citizen, and that you are the best person in the schengen zone to match the job desc.

This will make sure that you pass the “working market check” and greatly improve your chances to get a positive answer.

Any IT or engineering related profile looks also very good since such profiles are rare in Germany.

You can find a list of all very wanted profiles in Germany this way. If you fit in one of those, it’s then also easier to get a blue card.

I wish you good luck friend, and i hope you get the following answer

Tip 1 : If you can prove in any way that your German level is good, that is definitely showing your willingness to integrate and will look good for your request. Maybe a good idea is to add a certificate in there.

Tip 2 : An official website lets you quickly assess your chances of getting a visa in Germany. It might be a good place to get real. This way please.

Tip 3 : This spreadsheet was posted by a helper on SiB’s FB fan page to try to get an overview of requirements and conditions for each type of Visa :

I can not vouch for this document’s accuracy though.


  • Reply Muhamed Shahid 14/05/2019 at 08:29


    I’ve received an offer from a German company, and I’ve processed my Visa, with the offer letter I received from them. About the contract, it is a 2 year fixed term contract, instead of a permanent one. Hence my Visa is only 2 yr valid. Before joining my new Employer, I got another offer, again from a German company, which offered me better facility and permanent offer.
    I prefer to accept the Permanent offer, but since my Visa is already processed with the Fixed term contract, is it possible for me to reject the offer and accept the better one? What could be done in this case? Will there be any Visa or Work permit related issues?

    Please advise.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/05/2019 at 14:22

      Hey Muhamed. From my limited understanding of your case, this would then assume that you are still allowed to cancel the limited contract now. In this case, you’d need to notify the Arbeitsagentur and apply for another visa for this new job/company. The Arbeitsagentur would let you know how much time you would have to do this.

  • Reply Cedric 25/02/2019 at 13:14


    My German is so poor that I cannot find information on the exhaustive list of documents that will be required to request the change of a ‘French residence permit’ into a ‘German residence permit’ for a spouse whose French husband (me:)) will work permanently in Germany. Does anyone know where I can get this information?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/02/2019 at 20:41

      Hey Cedric. You have so many questions: maybe it’s worth checking with a relocation professional? Since she is your spouse, i guess she can just join you as such in Germany, can she not?

      • Reply Cedric 26/02/2019 at 11:01

        Hi Bastien, she can join me and stay legally in Germany for 3 months but at some point, I know that she will have to convert her French residence permit into a German one. The French residence permit will not be enough. I only wanted to know if the process for a conversion was lighter than the ‘usual residence permit German process, especially because the legal documents will require to be translated into German.

  • Reply Habeeb 24/03/2018 at 11:49

    Hello, I’m apply for a student visa in my home country but my wife lives in Germany, how can she help me to make everything goes well. Thanks in advance.

  • Reply Jane O'Neill 24/01/2018 at 04:50

    Hi there,
    If you are planning to enter Berlin with the intention of applying for an artist visa whilst there and staying for nine months, is it necessary to have proof of intention to leave within 90 days? The travel agent in Melbourne assures me that we should have back up flights to London…

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/01/2018 at 09:48

      Again, here better to do your own research what an artist visa requires.

  • Reply Candice 22/11/2017 at 15:16

    Hey There!

    Thanks so much for all the info, it’s really helpful.
    Wanted to ask a question. My boyfriend and I are looking to immigrate to Berlin, I have an EU passport however he does not. Would he be able to apply for residency before we go there, or is that something he can only do once I am already there, after he has been there for 3 months?
    Would we also need to be in a registered partnership/civil union in order for him to come over?

    Thanks so much

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/11/2017 at 18:53

      Hi Candice. Probably best to contact a specialist for this. I don’t want to give you any wrong directions. In my opinion, residency can only be applied for after a while. A civil union that is recognized in Germany is definitely increasing his chances to be able to get a visa.

  • Reply vicfau 07/09/2017 at 09:05

    Dear , good morning. hope all is fine. I am spanish and moving to Berlin due to work, already contract signed. i am moving with my wife that is brazilian, i have already marriage certificate from spain, birth certificates ,.. do you think anything else needed? thanks!

  • Reply Taylor 29/08/2017 at 19:32


    I am applying to school in Berlin. Do you know if being accepted to a graduate program in the country will help get a residence permit for the duration of the degree?

    Thank you for any info!!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/08/2017 at 10:47

      Hi Taylor. I guess it will help you get a student visa for the duration of the program.

  • Reply Marcela 06/07/2017 at 00:16

    Hi! I have a doubt. If I am an EU citizen and my husband is not, and we are moving from South america to Germany, is it better for him to get his spouse visa in Germany or should I get it in my coutry (south america)? the german consulte here is very slow and they don’t answer many questions…

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/07/2017 at 10:18

      Hi Marcela. If you feel confident he can secure this visa while being in Germany under a normal tourist visa, why not? You should maybe call the foreign office in Berlin for a reality check.

  • Reply Jimena 23/06/2017 at 20:56

    Hey there! I am currently doing an internship and my job already offered me a paid position. Can I change my student visa to a full work visa? Thank u in advance for the answer!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/06/2017 at 12:28

      Hi Jimena. I guess so but i can’t know for sure because it’s almost a case by case decision.

  • Reply Jane O'Neill 11/06/2017 at 06:34

    Hi there,

    We are a family of four from Australia, wanting to settle in Berlin for nine months from next April. We’re hoping to send our kids to a public German school when we arrive…if anyone has any tips we would be really grateful, not sure where to start at this point… Thanks

  • Reply Linda Chui 11/05/2017 at 09:03

    Hi there! I have visited the Auslanderbehörde website of

    For making an appointment for resident permission , there seems no sections for Self Employment person. I have just copy and paste her following sorry for the format. Should I walk in?? Thanks!
    [Edited by SiB Editor for clarity]

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 11/05/2017 at 10:35

      Hi Linda, you can also use this if you are not sure what option to pick.

      • Reply Linda Chui 12/05/2017 at 08:14

        Hi Bastien many thanks for the reply and I visited your link again! The other condition of free lancer seems ok , however there is one condition it stated Economic interest of the state of Berlin
        A residence permit can be issued to a foreigner for practicing a self-employed occupation if there is an economic interest or a regional need.
        Do you know how can I freelancer be the Economic interest of the state of Berlin? It sound really vague.

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/05/2017 at 10:00

          You need to gather information on which sorts of profile are needed in Berlin. You can probably find out more on other parts of the Foreign office website or in doubt, ask a specialist.

  • Reply ledio 03/10/2016 at 13:42

    The cost of residence permit is 120€

    • Reply Linda Chui 12/05/2017 at 11:19

      Ok will try to find out, thanks!

  • Reply Luke Kristofski 07/06/2016 at 13:15

    Ive just decided to settle in Berlin and am in a bit of a hurry to get my visa and there are no appointments until September! I managed to get my Anmeldung today simply by walking in and waiting in the Bürgeramt Tempelhof. So now with all my papers ready and a job who wants to hire me ASAP Im in a bit of a urgent rush, Im going to be applying for the one year youth mobility visa as Im on a NZ passport. Do you know if it is possible to do walk ins for visas like a i did my Anmeldung and if so could you please talk me through the process and which Bürgeramt’s allow for this to happen?
    Much apprecited!


    • Reply settle_in_Berlin 07/06/2016 at 16:28

      Hi Luke. I’m afraid i can’t offer more information than what it contained in this page. That is: get up really early to wait in line at the Auslanderbehörde and hope to get a number. The Bürgeramts don’t deal with Visa issues. No magic trick there. :). Good luck.

    • Reply Chris 09/09/2016 at 10:18

      Hi Luke

      Did you manage to get it all sorted? I am in exactly the same position, NZ Passport looking to move onto the 1 year working holiday / youth mobility visa after getting my Anmeldun. Was the trip to the Auslanderbehörde successful? Any tips?


  • Reply SZhan 12/10/2015 at 15:32

    Hey there! Thanks a lot again for these incredibly helpful articles. I’m a Canadian with a one year Work and Travel visa (Youth Mobility Visa), which is expiring November 30, 2015. I’ve found a flat, have an appointment for Anmeldung, and will open a bank account later this week. I’m currently job hunting, and I was hoping to find a contract in the hostel industry. I speak a decent level of German (B1-B2), as well as French and Chinese, in addition to English, and I was hoping to be able to use these skills to convince my future employer that I can do a job that a Schengen citizen cannot. Do you have any suggestions for things to do to improve my chances of success of getting a contract, and an extension on my work visa? If it is unlikely that a hostel job will work out, I am also qualified to teach English as a Foreign language, though I understand that this is mostly done through a freelance basis, and would require a Freelance Work Visa. I would really appreciate any input you have!
    Thanks so much for your help,


    • Reply settle_in_Berlin 12/10/2015 at 20:05

      Thanks for leaving a comment here Sen. I’m not so qualified to answer your question and i also dont know your exact profile so difficult to say. It is possible that you’ll need to lower your job expectations at first to make sure to score a visa to then later be picky. Best of luck man.

  • Reply Nick 28/09/2015 at 12:27

    When I was trying to make an appointment online for a residence permit, it asks me to choose an department. Either 3rd floor or 2nd- any help here?

    • Reply settle_in_Berlin 29/09/2015 at 10:03

      Can you not look-up which service is on which floor ?

      • Reply Nicholas 15/10/2015 at 14:52

        I eventually sent a help request through the website where you book the residence permit application appointment.

        From the response:

        “The department IV Z 2 is responsible for servicing customers who are foreign students or scientists and their family members as well as exchange and language students.”

  • Reply Adam 27/02/2015 at 08:05

    your info was incredibly Helpful!
    I am heading to Berlin in about a month, I want to just get the visa and then continue to travel for a few months before settling somewhere and working. So getting a permanent address right away wasn’t ideal… I was just wondering, when looking for a place so i can get the residence permit, do i just need an address and a signature from the owner/Housemate? Could I just rent a place for a few weeks while I get the visa then Leave?
    What are the minimum requirements?

    Thanks for the help.

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