WELCOME PORTAL der TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe

TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe

WELCOME PORTAL der TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe

Visas and Residence Permits

Do you need a visa to enter Germany or permission to stay for an extended period of time? To make your path to the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion as smooth as possible, we've put together a collection of important information on Germany's residency laws. 

Europe makes it possible! Since the EU's laws on freedom of movement apply to you as a European citizen, you typically need neither an entry visa nor a residence permit to stay in Germany. You can also travel and work as you like in the country. However, you do need a valid passport or another form of personal identification, and you are required – just as all German citizens are – to register with the local registry office (Meldebehörde). This office will collect all of the information pertaining to the applicable freedom of movement regulations and transfer it to the foreign citizens' office (Ausländerbehörde). If you eventually require documentation regarding your right to move freely within the EU, the foreign citizens' office will issue you a corresponding certificate free of charge. Immediate family members of EU citizens receive EU residence permits.

 

If you are a citizen of Switzerland and stay in Germany for longer than three months, you are also required to register with the foreign citizens' office. Its officials will then verify whether you meet the requirements of EU's freedom of movement laws based on the related agreement between the EU and Switzerland. If you do, you will receive a residence permit (for a fee).

To enter and stay in the Federal Republic of Germany, foreign citizens generally need a valid, recognized passport and a residence permit. 

A visa is considered a separate residence permit that applies to your entry into the country and the initial period of your stay. Germany's residency laws differentiate between:

  • Schengen visas, which are for short stays (up to three months), and
  • National visas, which are for longer stays involving a purpose defined in the residency laws

During the application process, you must already specify the eventual purpose for which you plan to use your visa (looking for employment, for example).

 

How can you apply for a visa?

Visas for short-term or extended stays are issued prior to your entry into Germany by an embassy, consulate, or Germany's diplomatic representation abroad. For short-term stays, visas can be issued by the diplomatic representation of another country in the Schengen Area, as well.

When staying (for tourism purposes, for instance) for up to three months within a six-month period, citizens of certain countries are exempted from the visa requirement, provided that they are not seeking work.

After entering Germany, you can secure long-term residency by obtaining a temporary residence permit (and having it extended) or applying for permanent residence. You must apply for a residence permit at the foreign citizens' office by the time your entry visa expires at the latest.

Every residence permit must make it clear as to whether and to what extent you are allowed to work. As a foreign citizen, you may only seek employment when authorized by your permit. If you'd like to have your residence permit extended, you are required to submit a corresponding application before your current permit runs out. By doing so in good time, you can avoid having to leave the country and risking the loss of your right to work.

Residence permits

The foreign citizens' office approves applications for residence permits and extensions for certain purposes. 

You can only apply for a residence permit after entering the country with a valid national visa. In special cases (involving highly skilled individuals, for example), foreign citizens may be immediately eligible for permanent residence.

Requirements

Among other basic requirements, you must fulfill the following criteria in order to receive a residence permit:

  • You entered the country with the required visa and provided the information necessary for acquiring a residence permit (regarding the purpose of your stay in particular) during the visa application process.
  • Your identity has been established and you meet the relevant passport requirements.
  • You can support yourself without public welfare assistance (except for in exceptional cases, this is based on your ability to secure income that at least covers the simple standard rate of social assistance, the cost of housing and heating, and any health insurance contributions).
  • There is no outstanding reason for which you could be deported.
  • If you are not otherwise entitled to a residence permit, your stay nevertheless presents no hindrance or danger to the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany for any other reason.

Further criteria may be required based on the purpose for which you are seeking a residence permit.

If you are a foreign citizen who possesses long-term legal residency in another EU member-state (meaning you hold a national residence title that grants "permanent residency in the European Community" in that state's official language), you can usually obtain a residence permit for Germany if you plan to stay here for longer than three months. This permit will also allow you to work, provided that the applicable regulations concerning your intention to seek employment or vocational training in Germany are met. A residence permit can also be revoked in these cases, such as if your status as a long-term legal resident of another EU member-state becomes invalid. 

Permanent residency

A permanent residence permit is an open-ended residence permit that authorizes you to work and move freely throughout the country. If you initially receive a temporary residence permit, you will generally be eligible for permanent residency after a certain amount of time passes. 
To obtain a permanent residence permit, you must apply in writing at the foreign citizens' office of your main place of residence. 

 

Who can apply for a permanent residence permit?

The requirements for acquiring permanent residency are as follows:

  • Your identity has been established and you meet the applicable passport requirements. Here, having a substitute form of identification is also sufficient.
  • You can support yourself without relying on public welfare assistance.
  • There is no outstanding reason for which you could be deported.
  • You do not have a criminal record.
  • Your stay presents no hindrance or danger to the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • You have been in possession of a residence permit for at least five years.
  • Other time requirements may apply depending on the purpose for which you received your current residence permit.
  • You have paid into the statutory retirement insurance fund or another insurance institution providing comparable services for a total of five years.
  • You are allowed to work and hold all of the permits your occupation requires.
  • You have adequate German language skills and basic knowledge of Germany's laws and social structures.
  • You have sufficient living space for yourself and your family.

Required documents

  • Proof of fulfillment of the applicable passport and visa requirements
  • Proof of sufficient means of subsistence
  • Proof that you are not subject to any grounds for deportation
  • Proof that you present no hindrance or danger to the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Proof that you have no prior criminal record
  • Proof that you have possessed a German residence permit for at least five years
  • Proof of contributions paid into the statutory retirement insurance fund or a comparable insurance institution
  • Proof that you are allowed to work and possess the permits your occupation requires

Highly qualified immigrants enjoy particularly attractive residence conditions in Germany.

For example, these individuals are eligible for permanent residency immediately after arriving in the country. Family members who accompany them to Germany (or join them at a later date) are also allowed to seek employment here.

Meanwhile, residence permits for seeking employment and the EU's Blue Card represent two particularly intriguing opportunities for highly skilled people.

Residence permits for seeking employment

This form of residence permit enables you to search for possible employment, get to know potential employers, attend job interviews, and (hopefully) secure an employment contract right here in the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion.

Foreign citizens with certain university degrees can obtain a residence permit to find a job that matches their qualifications. Residence permits for job seekers are not open-ended, however – they can only be granted for up to six months – nor do they initially grant you the right to work. Before coming to Germany, you must apply for a national visa in your home country. Upon your arrival, you must also apply for a residence permit in writing at the foreign citizens' office before your visa expires.

Requirements

The requirements for obtaining a residence permit for seeking employment are as follows:

  • You meet the applicable passport and visa requirements.
  • You are capable of providing for your own livelihood.
  • There is no outstanding reason for which you could be deported.
  • Your stay presents no hindrance or danger to the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • You have not received a residence permit that allows you to stay in Germany for another purpose.
  • You have one or more of the following:
    - A German university degree
    - A recognized university degree from a foreign country
    - A foreign university degree comparable to a German university degree

 

 

The EU Blue Card

Highly skilled foreign citizens who wish to work in Germany in a position that matches their qualifications can obtain the EU's Blue Card.

Your first Blue Card can be valid for up to four years. If your employment contract is for fewer than four years, your Blue Card will be valid for the contract's duration, plus three months. 

Please note:

If you wish to change jobs within the first two years after receiving your Blue Card, you must first be granted permission by the foreign citizens' office.

Who is eligible for the EU Blue Card?

The requirements for obtaining a Blue Card are as follows:

  • You meet the applicable passport and visa requirements.
  • You earn an annual salary of at least €48,400. For certain professions (natural scientists, mathematicians, engineers, physicians, and IT specialists), the minimum annual salary is €37,752.
  • There is no outstanding reason for which you could be deported.
  • Your stay presents no hindrance or danger to the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • You have one or more of the following:
    - A German university degree
    - A recognized university degree from a foreign country
    - A foreign university degree comparable to a German university degree
  • You have acquired a position that matches your qualifications (or have been offered one in writing ).
  • The German Federal Employment Office has approved your residence permit (this is only required in specific cases).

A list of recognized foreign university degrees is available here.

How can you apply for the EU's Blue Card?

Before coming to Germany, you must apply for a national visa in your home country. Germany's diplomatic representation will then consult with the relevant foreign citizens' office.

Upon your arrival, you must also apply for a residence permit in writing at the foreign citizens' office before your visa expires. Depending on your place of residence in the region, the foreign citizens' office can be reached either through the city administration of Karlsruhe or the Karlsruhe District Office (Landratsamt).

Required documents:

  • Proof of fulfillment of the applicable passport and visa requirements
  • Proof of minimum salary
  • Proof of university degree
  • Proof of employment (or corresponding offer)
  • Proof that you are not subject to any grounds for deportation
  • Proof that you present no hindrance or danger to the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany

 Please note that additional documents may be required depending on your situation.