Your Comprehensive Guide To German Visas And Residence Permits 

Moving to Germany has so many perks. You get to interact with a diverse culture as well as explore extensive job opportunities. The one thing you need to ensure you do if you plan to move to Germany is either get a German visa or resident permit. These two are often confused but they all mean something different. Here is everything you need to know about the two and how they affect your overall stay in Germany.

Differences between Visa and Resident Permit

Even though the visa and resident permits can grant you access to Germany, they all have different features. The main difference is the duration of stay. The other difference is the number of times you can renew the visa or residence permit.

A visa is a document issued by a specific country that allows a person entry to the country in question. It includes the purpose of a visit, the duration of the stay, and how often the visa owner can enter said country.  It can be used for a visit, tourism or work. All the holder needs to remember is, they need to leave said country before the visa expires. There are also rules on how many times one can apply for, and get a visa.

A resident permit is the document issued by a government that allows you to extend your stay in a country longer than a visa would. It extends for a year or longer and is also known as a work permit or a long-term visa. As a foreigner, you can only apply for a residence permit once you have entered the country. Germany has different kinds of resident permits so familiarizing you with them helps you make the best decision on what will work for you.

Types of Resident Permits

There are different types of resident permits in Germany and they all have different purposes as well as requirements. Before you apply for a permit, ensure you know what permit you qualify for. These are the main types of resident permits offered by the German government to foreigners.

Temporary resident permit

The temporary resident permit or limited resident permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) is a permit that is granted to foreigners planning on staying in Germany for a year or less. You could, however, apply for an extension on the same if you still meet the requirements after a year and your condition does not change.

One thing you need to remember with this permit is that you need to have a specific reason why you want it. The specification is that you cannot do anything other than what you stated in your application. for instance, if you apply for it to work you cannot study and neither cannot use it for work if you apply for it to study. 

There are four different types of temporary resident permits

  • German student resident permit
  • German resident permits for humanitarian or political reasons
  • German family resident permit
  • German resident permit for temporary employment

The EU Blue Card

Even though the EU Blue Card is similar to the temporary permit, it is only offered to a specific group of people.  The EU Blue Card can only be given to foreign nationals who are non-EU residents but are highly skilled in one area or another.  These professionals could be degree, masters or PhD holders in the IT or STEM field. 

To qualify for an EU Blue Card, you need to find a job in Germany that is in the same areas as your educational qualifications.  The job should pay you a minimum of €45,300 annually. You should also have high proficiency of the German language.

The card is valid for four years, after which you can apply for permanent residency if you are still employed.  You qualify for permanent residency after 33 months; however, if you have high proficiency of the German language, you can apply for permanent residency in 21 months.

Holders of the EU Blue Card can also bring in their spouses to Germany, even if said spouse has no knowledge of the language. Your spouse can start working after you get your permanent resident permit.

Permanent resident permit

If you plan on living in Germany for a long time, then you need to get a permanent resident permit.  The permanent resident permit is also knows as settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis). The permanent resident permit allows you to work in Germany and move around the world as you please. 

For you to qualify for the permanent resident permit, you need to ensure you have held a temporary resident permit for a number of years or have held the EU Blue Card. You also need to have worked in Germany for at least five years and have paid taxes and made the right contributions as stated by government. It is also important that you have proficiency in the German language, since that is very important.

If you hold a permanent resident permit, then your spouse and kids can join you on a temporary resident permit. They can then get the permanent resident permit after a few years.

Requirements for a resident permit

These are the documents you need when applying for a German resident permit:

  • Valid passport
  • 1 passport picture
  • Proof of sufficient financial means if you are a student or employed
  • Filled in application form
  • Proof of German health insurance
  • Certificate of no criminal record
  • Integration certification (after you pass your B1 German language test)
  • Rental contract
  • Depending on your purpose for staying, a job contract, marriage/birth certificate, proof of university admission

How to apply for a Resident permit

Once you have all the necessary documents, these are the steps to take when applying for a resident permit.

  1. Register your German address

The one thing you need to do when you are applying for the German resident permit is get a proof of address certificate (Anmeldebestätigung) which you will get from the Einwohnermeldeamt resident registration office within 2 weeks of your arrival. Ask your landlord to fill out the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung to confirm you live in the property. Ensure you have your proof of address within 90 days of your arrival, as this affects whether you get the permit or not. Getting housing in Germany can be a hassle so getting one before you arrive would come in handy for you.

  1. Apply for health insurance

It is a requirement for anyone living in Germany to have health insurance so ensure you organize for that before you move.  Since Germany does not take foreign policies ensure you get one within the country.

  1. Get a bank account

The one way to prove your financial stability is have a bank with funds. Open an account with a German bank and transfer your funds there as this will help you have bank statements and prove that you have enough money to qualify for the permit.

  1. Fill an application form and get an appointment

To apply for the resident permit, submit all the documents listed above to the (Ausländerbehörde). Even though you can walk into the office, it is best to set up an appointment. Always ensure you have all the right details on your documents to prevent your application from being rejected. If everything is in the right order then you will have a short interview with the officer and afterwards be asked to pay a fee. The application fee ranges from €110-150 depending on your situation.

The application process usually takes between 2-4 weeks to be approved. During this time, you will be given a certificate that proves your legal status in Germany. You can use the certificate for travel as you wait for approval. Your permit means you get to stay in Germany for the period of time stated. In the event that the application is denied, you will be given the reason why and when next you can apply for a permit. 

If your application is accepted, you will get an electronic residence permit which is a plastic card with a chip containing your biometric information.  You can use it to verify your age or address, or online activities as well as travel within the EU.

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