As you may already know, Germany is part of the Schengen area and therefore, Germany also offers a Schengen visa.
The type of visa you get depends on the purpose of your visit. You can get a Schengen visa for both short term and long term stays. For the citizen’s of most countries, a visa is mandatory to enter Germany / Schengen area regardless of whether you’re planning a short term or long term trip.
Citizens of the European Union (EU), Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Liechtenstein do not need a visa to enter Germany. They can visit Germany for any duration of stay and any types of purpose such as visit, work or study.
As per the Overview of visa requirements or visa waivers when entering the Federal Republic of Germany, the European Community has regulated the requirements for foreign nationals when entering Germany.
You can enter Germany without a visa and stay up to 90 days within a 180 days period.
You need a visa prior to arrival if you plan to stay more than 90 days and a residence permit once you enter the country.
Visa requirements and longer stays
If your country is not listed as exempted, you need to apply for a Schengen visa before traveling to Germany.
If you plan to stay longer than 90 days even if your country is exempted from the visa requirements you need to apply for a long stay Schengen visa in your home country before you can travel to Germany. However, the nationals of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and the United States of America can still enter Germany without a visa and then apply for a residence permit from their local foreign office in Germany.
Citizens of all other countries who plan to stay in Germany for more than 90 days must apply for a long term visa in their home country or country where they reside before traveling to Germany.
Schengen area and types of visa
List of countries which are part of the Schengen area
The Schengen area is an area made up of 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passports and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. The area mostly functions as a single jurisdiction for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy
List of Countries participating in the Schengen Area
Schengen visa types
If your country of nationality doesn’t have the visa exemption, you need to apply for a short term Schengen visa (category C). This visa will be valid for up to 90 days within a period of 180 days in the entire Schengen area including Germany.
The entry to the Schengen area on a Schengen visa is regulated by the number of entries one can make. There’s a specific place in the visa application form to mention the number of entries you want. The cost of the application may slightly vary for double or multi entry visas.
You may enter a Schengen area once, two times or multiple times depending on the number of entries marked in the visa you received. If you have a single entry visa, use it for one continuous 90 days of stay.
If the number of entries column is marked as 02, you can enter the Schengen area two times but not exceeding 90 days of stay from the first arrival and within 180 days time period. Eg: you can enter the Schengen area on 01-01-2022 and leave on 15-02-2022. Then you may come back on 15-05-2022 and leave on or before 30-06-2022.
The multi entry visa holders may enter the area as many times as they want within the 90 days period.
If you complete your stay for the whole 90 days in a Schengen country or anywhere in the Schengen area, you have to exit the Schengen area for another 90 days before you can apply for another Schengen visa.
2. German national visa
If your home country is not exempted from having a visa to enter Germany / the Schengen areas and you need to stay in a Schengen area longer than 90 days you need to apply for a category D national visa before you can travel.
The national visa requires you to apply for a residence permit after entering the country. You have to convert to a residence permit within three months of arriving in Germany.
Read more about applying for a residence permit in Germany here.
You may apply for the German national visa not only to take up a job in Germany but also to join your spouse or family member, for academic purposes, to seek a job, participate in a training, to start a business or to seek asylum.
Remember that you can only convert specific types of national visas to the same types of residence permit. Such as a work visa can only be converted to a work residence permit. If you have a student residence permit, you have the opportunity to apply for a different type of residence permit (e.g. a working residence permit) once you complete your studies.
3. Airport transit visa
An airport transit visa is required if you stopover in an airport in Germany and take a flight to your final destination which is outside the Schengen area.
Note that the airport transit visa does not allow you to leave the airport. If you need to exit the airport and continue your travel by another means of transport, you need a Schengen visa.
How to apply for a German visa
You must apply for a visa before you travel to Germany if your home country is not exempted from visa requirements.
While for short term as well as long term visas, you have to apply at the German consulate or embassy in your home country, you can also contact agencies such as VFS Global to apply for a short term visa.
You can also reach out to a German mission in a country near to you if there is no German mission in your home country. Find a list of German consulates / embassies here.
Prepare the documents required
Documents required to apply for a German visa
Photo (2 nos) as per Schengen visa measurements
Application form, fully filled and signed in the designated places.
Proof of accommodation covering the entire stay.
Travel insurance that covers medical purposes as well.
Itinerary - short term visas.
Proof of financial situation (bank statements, pay slip, proof of financial support (eg: a signed declaration from the person is sponsoring your trip, etc) - short term visa.
Document detailing the purpose of travel, (eg: an employment contract, letter of admission in case traveling for academic purpose, etc).
Approval from the Federal Employment Agency (if traveling for employment).
Proof of financial independence (if applicable)
Proof of financial independence
If you are applying for a long term visa and you don't plan to earn an income by working in Germany, you need to prove that you can financially support yourself for the duration of your stay. The most common method to prove this is to open a blocked bank account in advance to your visa interview appointment.
This special type of bank account requires the account holder to deposit a predefined amount to the bank account, which can be withdrawn in small monthly amounts after the approval of the visa.
2. Schedule an appointment at the consulate / agency
You need to schedule an appointment and visit the agency (eg : VFS Global) for a short term visa interview. They will clarify the questions if any and take your biometric details such as thumb impression, etc.
You need to make an appointment at your local German mission for a long term visa. You must bring all the required supporting documents along to this appointment.
The person at the consulate will ask you questions if required and get your biometric details.
German visa application fees
Below you may find the fees for each visa types
Type of Visa
Schengen visa single entry (90 days)
Schengen visa multiple entry (90 days)
Schengen visa children 6-12 (90 days)
Schengen visa children 0-6 (90 days)
Transit visa (ages 12 and above)
Transit visa children (6-12 years)
Transit visa children (0-6 years)
National visa (aged 17 and above)
National visa minors (0-17 years)
There are certain nationalities where a fee waiver is applicable. Please see this detailed documentation on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
German visa processing time
The average processing time for a short term Schengen visa is around two weeks. A long term visa may require more time from weeks to months sometimes. You should also expect a longer waiting period during the holiday season.
German visa application rejected
If your visa application is rejected, you will get notified by your consulate / embassy / agency in the case of a short term Schengen visa about the rejection. You will get one month to appeal the decision by writing to the German mission. Your application will then be reconsidered and a new decision will be made.
If the authority still finds that you do not meet the conditions for granting a visa, they will inform you in writing. If you still want to appeal the decision, you may approach the administrative court in Berlin within a month period.
On your way to Germany
You can find all the information you need about living and working in Germany at www.expatova.com.
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