Generally speaking, all other foreigners require a visa for stays in Germany. A visa is not required for visits of up to 90 days in an 180‑day period for nationals of those countries for which the European Community has abolished the visa requirement.
Bodies responsible for issuing visas
Under German law (section 71 (2) of the Residence Act), responsibility for issuing visas lies with the missions of the Federal Republic of Germany, i.e. its embassies and consulates‑general. In principle, the Federal Foreign Office is not involved in decisions on individual visa applications, nor does it have any knowledge of the status of individual applications being processed by the missions.
Ratione materiae competence (subject‑matter responsibility) lies with the mission of the Schengen state in whose territory the sole or main destination is situated.
Since 14 May 2008, the fee for all types of visas has been EUR 60.
Time required to process a visa application
As a rule, missions require between two and ten working days to decide on an application for a short stay visa. Applications for visas entitling the holder to a longer stay or to take up gainful employment may take several months to process.
Requirements for the issue of short stay (Schengen) visas
Since 5 April 2010, Regulation (EC) No. 810/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code) forms the statutory basis under European law in all Schengen states for the issuing of visas for transit through the Schengen area or for short‑term stays in the Schengen area not exceeding 90 days in any 180‑day period.
The Visa Code standardize the visa requirements which must be examined by the mission in the course of the visa procedure. The respective mission makes a decision on the visa application at its own discretion, taking into account all the circumstances in any given individual case.
There is no automatic entitlement to a Schengen visa.
The mission must ensure that the following requirements have been met in each individual case:
- The purpose of the trip to Germany must be plausible and comprehensible.
- The applicant must be in a position to finance his/her living and travel costs from his/her own funds or income.
- The visa holder must be prepared to leave the Schengen area before the visa expires.
- Documentary evidence must be provided of travel health insurance with a minimum coverage of 30,000 euros valid for the entire Schengen area.
Should an applicant be unable to prove that he/she can finance the journey and stay from his/her own funds, a third person may undertake to cover all costs associated with the trip in accordance with sections 66 and 68 of the Residence Act. This undertaking is normally to be made to the foreigners authority in the place of residence of the person making the undertaking.
Persons whose entry into the Schengen area would jeopardise security or public order in the Schengen states or who do not fulfill one or more of the above‑mentioned requirements, cannot be granted a visa.
Should a visa application be rejected, the applicant will be informed of the main reasons for the rejection. Every applicant is entitled to take legal recourse against the mission’s decision.
Requirements for the issue of visas for longer stays and/or stays entitling the holder to take up gainful employment
As a rule, all foreigners require visas for stays of more than three months or stays leading to gainful employment. Exemptions apply to EU and EEA (European Economic Area) citizens and Swiss nationals.
Furthermore, citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America may obtain any residence permit that may be required after entering Germany. Citizens of all other countries planning a longer stay in Germany must apply for visas at the competent mission before arriving in the country. Such visa applications must be approved by the relevant foreigners authority in Germany, i.e. the foreigners authority in the place where the applicant intends to take up residence. If the approval of the foreigners authority is necessary before a visa can be issued, the procedure can take up to three months, in some cases longer, since the foreigners authority will often consult other authorities (e.g. the Federal Employment Agency). Missions may only issue visas once they have obtained the approval of the foreigners authority.
Visas entitling holders to take up gainful employment often do not require the approval of the foreigners authority, which speeds up the application process.
Visa application forms for a long‑term stay (longer than three months) can be obtained from the relevant mission free of charge. They can also be downloaded here (German, English, French, Italian). The forms submitted must be original versions (at least two sets) in the appropriate language of the mission in question. Please contact the mission beforehand to find out exactly which forms are required.
The foreigners authorities are also responsible for measures and decisions pertaining to residence law for foreigners already residing in Germany. Foreigners authorities are not subordinate agencies of the Federal Foreign Office, and the Federal Foreign Office cannot influence their decisions. They are in fact accountable to and operate under the supervision of the respective interior ministries and senators of the Länder (federal states).
As a result of Regulation 265/2010 it is now possible for anyone in possession of a national visa (D visa) and a valid travel document to move freely in the Schengen area up to three months in any six‑month period.