Entry conditions and visas

Living in Europe, Working in Europe | Entry conditions/visas | Germany



Current information: In light of the corona crisis, there are several questions of importance for international mobile researchers in terms of entry conditions.

The newest recommendations of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) regarding the issuance and extension of residence titles can be found here and here (only in German).


(Informal) applications for an extension of a residence title are also possible via phone or e-mail. If an application for an extension is submitted before the expiry, a fictional certificate (“Fiktionsbescheinigung”) will be issued and the current residence title will remain valid until a decision has been made by the immigration office.

Holders of expiring short-time visas (Schengen visa) will not be required to have a residence permit until 30 June 2020. Moreover, they will be allowed to continue working until 30 June 2020 despite the expiration of the visa. This regulation might be extended beyond 30 June 2020.




On the subject of entry and residence in Germany, different rules apply to citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland on the one hand and citizens of so-called third countries on the other:



Nationals of the European Union, as well as citizens of the European Economic Area and Switzerland and their family members, do not need a visa for entry or a long stay permit.

For entry, only a valid passport or identity card is required (§ 2 Abs. 5 FreizügG). After entering Germany, you (as well as a German citizen) have to register for residence at the registration office of the city you live in within three months. The obligation to register is regulated differently in the individual federal states and is linked to moving into an apartment or a room in Germany. This also applies if the residence is also maintained abroad. In some cases, the obligation to register may also apply to shorter stays, which is why prior information must be provided on the websites of the municipality in which the apartment is to be occupied.

One exception concerns family members of EU and EEA citizens who are not EU, EEA or Swiss citizens themselves: they need a visa to enter Germany in accordance with the provisions applicable to foreigners to whom the Residence Act applies. In Germany, you will then receive a so-called residence card from the Immigration Office (§ 2 Abs. 4 S. 2 FreizügG).

Swiss nationals and their family members also enjoy freedom of movement within the EU. However, you must apply for a special (purely declaratory) residence permit Switzerland (§ 28 AufenthV).

Which Local Immigration Office is responsible, depends on the future residence in the federal territory.


In general, citizens from non-EU countries require a  visa to enter Germany. For stays of up to 90 days in a period of 180 days, nationals of third countries, for which the European Community has waived the visa requirement, do not need a visa. An overview of visa requirements can be found here


The visa application must be submitted by the applicant in person to the diplomatic mission at his place of residence with all necessary documents. In order to avoid time-consuming additional claims, applicants should inform themselves in good time prior to departure on the website of the competent diplomatic mission about the visa procedure and the documents to be submitted when applying for the visa.

Applicants will receive the visa application form free of charge from the respective mission abroad (in the local language version). They must always be presented in the original in the language version used by the diplomatic mission. Application forms can also be downloaded free of charge from the website of the responsible diplomatic mission.


If you would like to work in Germany, you will find corresponding information on our page Work permit.


On 1 August 2017 the EU Directive on students and researchers, (REST Directive, Directive (EU) 2016/801) was implemented into German law. Among other things, the law regulates the residence of internationally mobile researchers from third countries in Germany.

The operating instructions on the implementation of the REST Directive into German law are provided by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior (in German).

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), which acts as the National Contact Point for REST Directive queries, has set up a central e-mail address for questions: rest@bamf.bund.de

On 1 March 2020 the new Skilled Immigration Act has entered into force. The current regulations for researchers remain in place, with some relaxations of the rules. For mobile researchers, § 18d, § 18e and § 18f apply now (instead of §20). The operating instructions are provided by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior (in German).



Residence permits are distinguished as follows:


This residence permit is addressed to qualified foreign professionals. Prerequisite for the issuing of the Blue Card EU is a university degree and an employment relationship with a gross annual salary of 55,200 euros or 43,056 euros (as of January 2020) for highly skilled workers in certain shortage occupations (including natural scientists, mathematicians, engineers, computer scientists and doctors). After 33 months, Blue Card EU holders can obtain a settlement permit if the employment relationship persists. If a proof of German language skills at level B1 can be provided, the settlement permit can be issued after 21 months.

Holders of an Blue Card EU or a residence permit issued by another Member State of the European Union on the basis of Directive 2009/50 / EC are excluded from the scope of § 18d (§ 19f (3) (1)). If a third-country national already has a Blue Card EU, a change to the residence permit according to § 18d is no longer possible. However, when a residence permit is issued for the first time, the researcher has the right to choose (Blue Card EU or residence permit according to § 18d). The Blue Card EU offers, for example, the faster possibility of obtaining a settlement permit; the advantage of a residence permit under § 18d is, however, the possibility of mobility (especially with regard to short-term mobility) and the possibility to obtain a residence permit for job search purposes after the completion of the research project (Cf.: of the Operating instructions on the implementation of the REST Directive into German law are provided by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior (in German).

Further information on the Blue Card EU is available from the BAMF.




Further information

  • Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)

    Information on residence permits and application procedures for researchers from third countries

  • Information on visas and entry regulations

    Information on visas and regulations for entering Germany as well as the requisite application forms
    Federal Foreign Office

  • EU Immigration Portal
    Information for non-EU citizens wishing to carry out research in Germany
    European Commission