Overview of German Visa types

Updated on
April 12, 2023
Table of contents

Applying for a VISA is the first step to enter Germany legally. Depending on your country of origin and your purpose of stay, there are various German VISA types you can apply for. It is important to enter the country with the correct VISA, and purpose of stay, in order to apply for a residence permit once you arrive. It is equally important to make sure you have health insurance in Germany, and understand which insurance is best for you.  

VISA for the purpose of Employment 

VISA for Self-Employed and Freelancers in Germany

If you would like to start your own business in Germany as self-employed, or as a freelancer, the VISA for self-employed is for you. It is, however, important to note that you can only exercise what is referred to as a liberal-profession. This defines your eligibility to work in Germany as ‘Freiberufle’, amongst others.

Read more about the VISA for Self-employed freelancers.

The German Blue Card VISA and Residence Permit

The German EU Blue Card allows qualified third-country nationals to move to Germany on a contract basis. The purpose of the Blue Card is to attract skilled workers to Germany and provides an easier way to get a long-term residence permit for in-demand workers.

This VISA type is especially favorable because of its benefits, such as allowing your family to live and work in Germany under a regular work VISA but with fewer restrictions. Other benefits include easier access to long term residence permits.

Read more about if you are eligible for a German EU Blue Card.

German Jobseekers VISA

All VISA’s for the purpose of employment require a German job offer or employment contract in place. If you have difficulties in finding work in Germany from your country of residence, you can opt to apply for a VISA for job seekers.

This type of VISA is valid for a limited amount of time and allows you to enter Germany for the purpose of employment, without having a job offer. It is important to note that you need to find employment within 6 months because the VISA cannot be extended for the same purpose.

If you are looking to enter Germany for the purpose of employment, but have difficulties in finding a job in Germany from your country of residence, this VISA will allow you to build a network and find appropriate work in Germany.

Read more about the VISA for jobseekers in Germany.

German VISA for Research Purposes

If you have a Ph.D. or a suitable university degree that enables you to access Ph.D. degree programs, you can take up employment in Germany for research purposes.

If you are a third-country national, you can apply for a VISA and be able to enter the country in order to conduct a portion of your research in Germany.

Similarly, third-country national doctoral students and complete their doctoral thesis as part of the contract with a German research facility. The same VISA and residence permit for research purposes can be used for this.

Researchers from EU countries have the freedom of movement and do not need to apply for a VISA. Non-EU nationals who are considered as international researchers, and are frequently in EU member states, can also perform part of their research in Germany without a VISA.

Read more about the German VISA for Research Purposes.

German VISA for IT Specialists

If you have significant practical experience within the IT sector and fulfill the remaining  requirements, you can apply for a special residence permit. It is in particular for in-demand IT specialists who have at least 3 years of work experience.

The VISA can be applied within your country as long as the employment has been approved by the authorities in Germany. The duration his for four years and can be renewed.

Read more about the VISA for IT specialists in Germany.

German Employment VISA for Qualified Professionals  

This VISA is considered as the regular employment or work VISA in Germany. It applies to third-country nationals for the purpose of entering the German labour market. One of the requirements is to have a valid job offer or employment contract prior to applying for this VISA. If you do not, a VISA for German job seekers is applicable.

Third-country nationals who possess a higher education degree may qualify for an EU Blue Card instead. This VISA type will offer some more benefits, such as a permanent residence.

EU citizens are entitled to freedom of movement within Germany, and thus do not need to apply for a VISA.

Read more about the employment VISA for qualified professionals.

VISA for the Recognition of Qualifications

Some of the VISA options in this article have requirements that your foreign qualifications must be equal and recognised in Germany. This VISA will let you enter Germany to;

  • Get your foreign qualifications recognised in Germany; and/or
  • Obtain the missing theoretical or practical skills in order for your qualifications to be recognised.

You can attend for example company or technical training courses, preparatory courses or job-related language classes. Once you have completed this, you can apply for a residence permit for jobseekers and find employment.

Read more about the VISA for recognition of qualifications.

VISA for the purpose of Education

German VISA For Vocational Training

Vocational training is a great way to prepare yourself for employment or study in Germany. It will provide valuable training of your language skills, which can be obtained both via school-based vocational training, or company-based vocational training.

In General, company-based vocational training will also allow you to receive a training salary from your employer in Germany for the duration of your training.

Upon completing the vocational training program, you are able to stay for an additional 12-month period in Germany in order to find work. You can even take up any other employment which is not related to your training, during this period.

Read more about the VISA for vocational training.

VISA for Academic Internship In Germany

You can complete part of your higher education in Germany through an academic internship. For those that are currently completing a higher education course at an institute outside the EU, you can apply for this VISA and enter Germany. In this way you can gain valuable experience in a German facility which corresponds to your course of studies.

Read more about the VISA for an academic internship in Germany.

VISA for Language Acquisition

Third-country nationals can enter Germany for the purpose of language acquisition by attending language courses. The duration of the VISA is 12-months and it is important to note that one cannot take up any employment in Germany during this time.

An intensive language course is considered to have at least 20 hours per week.

Read more about the VISA for language acquisition in Germany.

VISA for Studying in Germany

German Universities rank among the best in the world and offer a large variety of opportunities to study. There are many attractive international courses across the country, such as Bachelor’s, Masters and Doctorates. A VISA for styling in Germany also provides the possibility to take courses in foreign languages such as English or French.

This VISA specifically applies to preparatory measures in order to attend higher education institutes, such as language schools, preparatory classes for colleges and full-time doctoral studies at German higher education institutions.

Furthermore, you can apply for a VISA for jobseekers in Germany once you have completed your studies in order to find work. If you already received an employment offer, you can apply for a residence permit for qualified professionals or an EU Blue Card.

Read more about a VISA for studying in Germany.

Who Needs a German VISA?

Some countries are part of special agreements that allows their citizens to enter Germany without a VISA. These countries are:

  • Australia
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Canada
  • Republic of Korea
  • New Zealand
  • The United States of America

However, they are required to apply for a residence permit before taking up any employment. The local Foreigners Authority can issue residence permits once you arrive in Germany. The same qualification requirements apply to nationals of these countries as the ones from any other third-country national.

Any other third-country national which is not mentioned above must submit a VISA application before entering Germany. You can read more about who needs to apply for a German VISA or visit the nearest German Embassy or Consulate in your home country.

How to Apply For A German VISA

In order to enter Germany, third-country nationals must apply for different VISAs depending on the purpose of stay in the country. Generally, there are two main purposes to enter Germany:

  • For work purposes - the German labour market
  • For study purposes - the German education system

The process for both purposes remain the same and are completed in five (5) main steps:

  1. Check the VISA requirements
  2. Request an appointment with your local German embassy or consulate
  3. Apply for the VISA in your country of residence
  4. Travel To Germany
  5. Apply For Your Residence Permit

For a full guide, you can read the process of applying for a German VISA.

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