Who Needs A German VISA and Residence Permit?

Updated on
April 12, 2023

Many people move to Germany for either employment or educational purposes. Third-country nationals are required to apply for a VISA either prior or upon arrival, depending on your nationality. The correct VISA type and residence permit for you are dependent on mainly three things:

  • Your country of origin;
  • Your purpose of stay; and
  • Your professional qualifications.

Third-country nationals are classified as such if they are not part of an international agreement or not part of a community such as the European Union.

Freedom of Movement for EU Nationals and EFTA Member States

EU member state nationals, together with nationals from EFTA states such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, are entitled to freedom of movement.

This means they have unrestricted access to the German labour market and education system. Nationals from these countries do not require to apply for a VISA or residence permit.

Third Country Nationals Who Can Enter Without a VISA

Some countries are part of special agreements which 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.

If you are a national of one of the above countries and is going to obtain employment shortly after arriving in Germany, it is advised to apply for the residence permit prior to arrival in order to speed up the process. You cannot start work unless you have been granted a residence permit.

Third Country Nationals Who Require a VISA Prior To Entering Germany

Any other third-country national which is not mentioned above, must submit a VISA application before entering Germany. You can apply for VISAs at the nearest German Embassy or Consulate in your home country.

If you are unsure how to apply for a VISA, you can read more about it in the article on how to apply for a German VISA. 

The Purpose of Stay In Germany

All VISA types have different requirements depending on the purpose of your stay. It is important to carefully understand the requirements for each in order to qualify for a VISA. Visa Fees are non-refundable. 

Persons With Professional Qualities 

If you possess certain qualifications that are in demand, you may qualify for certain VISA types, such as for employment VISA for qualified professionals, work VISA for IT specialists or the EU Blue Card. These VISA types carry different benefits, so if you qualify for several VISA types, it is important to understand the benefits and choose the most beneficial one.

You can find all VISAs available in the overview of German VISA types.

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