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Due to the enduring strength of its economy, Germany is attracting immigrants from Europe and further afield. Within the EU, many southern Europeans are finding jobseeking almost impossible going at home and are moving to Germany to find work instead.
Germany is of the countries in the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes all the European Union countries (except new member Croatia) plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Within the EEA, free movement and labour are permitted. Citizens of these countries, and additionally Swiss citizens, can enter Germany with minimal restrictions. They must provide some form of identification, but an ID card or driving licence will suffice instead of a passport.
To enter Germany from any other country, you must have a valid passport, or an equivalent travel document if you are a refugee or stateless person. Passports and other travel documents must be valid for the entire period of your stay.
No Visa Required
If you are a citizen of an EEA country, you do not need a visa to enter and remain in Germany. If you are a Swiss citizen, you do not need a visa either, but if you intend to stay in Germany for more than three months, you will need to apply for a residence permit. Note that if your spouse or children are not EEA or Swiss citizens, they will need to apply for visas in the normal way.
A visa is not required for citizens of several other countries. Details of the visa requirements for different countries can be found on this webpage:
Citizens of the countries with a ‘no’ in the ‘visa required’ column on this page are generally permitted to stay in Germany for up to 90 days. If you are from one of these countries and want to work or stay for a longer period in Germany, you will have to apply for a residence permit before leaving your home country. However, this does not apply to citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and the USA, who may apply for a residence permit while staying in Germany on a short-term visa. For more information on residence permits, see the ‘Settlement, Residence and Citizenship’ page. Note that in all cases, foreign nationals seeking to stay in Germany long-term must provide evidence that they are able to support themselves financially.
From all countries other than the above, you will need a visa to immigrate into Germany. The main types of visa are given below.
C-Visa: This is the Schengen visa, which entitles you to travel in most of the European countries for up to 90 days total. The Schengen visa is the one that is generally used by executives conducting light work such as attending meetings, seminars and conferences. For any other work, you will need an employment visa and a residence permit.
D-Visa: this is a visa for non-EEA citizens who are planning to stay in Germany long-term. The application for a long-term German visa generally takes months, so it is important to apply in time.
Employment visa: you will need to apply for this if you intend to do any work in Germany. Like with the residence permit, you need to have employment already secured to obtain this visa. You also need to take a letter of acceptance or contract to your embassy when applying for this visa.
Study visa: this grants you leave to study in Germany. You will need the acceptance letter from the educational institution you will be attending, and evidence that you can financially support yourself.
As a bare minimum, you will need the following to apply for a visa:
Other documents you require depend on the type of visa you are applying for. Most German visa types cost €60.
Sections in IMMIGRATION IN GERMANY:
We value input from our readers. If you spot an error on this page or have any suggestions, please let us know.
If you are considering moving to Germany or are soon to depart, you can find helpful information and advice in the Expat Briefing dedicated German section including; details of immigration and visas, German forums, German event listings and service providers in Germany.
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