Visa and Entry Requirements
Before coming to FrankfurtRheinMain (FRM) from abroad, you need to clarify whether you need a visa to enter the country, and if so, which type. This depends on the country you are coming from, as well as your qualifications or profession. The same regulations apply all over Germany.
European Union and EEA Countries
As a European Union (EU) citizen, you do not need a visa to enter Germany. The right to freedom of movement allows EU citizens to come to work and live here. Under certain conditions you may be able to stay for a longer period of time, even if you are still looking for work. The same applies to citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway - countries in the European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland.
Citizens of other countries, so-called third country nationals, generally need a visa to enter Germany. You should apply for this in person at the German diplomatic mission in your country of residence. Please contact your local consulate or embassy for more details on the documents required. The standard time for processing German visa applications for short stays is around ten days. For longer stays in Germany, it will take several months. The visa fee is around 80 euros, with some exceptions.
Due to special agreements, residents of the following countries do not need a visa: Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, UK and the USA. In practice, this means that citizens of these countries may travel to Germany and stay for up to 90 days without a visa. However, if they plan to stay longer, they must apply for a residence permit within the 90 days.
In addition, there are a few more exceptions to the rule, allowing entry without a visa. However, these do not include the right to work. You will find a list of visa requirements for all countries on the website of the Foreign Office, the Auswärtiges Amt. This is updated regularly.
There you will also find more details as well as visa application forms. The EU Immigration Portal from the European Commission and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) both provide information in various languages on their websites.
With the introduction of the Skilled Labour Immigration Act in March 2020, it is much easier for skilled workers from third countries to enter Germany, for example, if they have a concrete job offer, as a job-seeker or to search for vocational training.
Entering as a Job Seeker
Skilled workers of all professions may enter Germany with a Job seeker visa (§ 20 Abs. 1 und 2 AufenthG) for a maximum of six months to look for a job.
To do so, they must meet three conditions:
- They must have a good knowledge of German. The minimum requirement is B1.
- Their qualification is recognized in Germany or is equivalent to a German qualification.
- They can prove that they are financially self-sufficient in Germany.
While looking for work, they are allowed to work for up to ten hours per week on probation or on an internship. This has the advantage that the skilled worker and their potential employer can get to know each other better.
Entering in Search of Vocational Training
Those who would like to do vocational training can enter Germany to search for a suitable course. To do so, they must meet four requirements:
- They have a good knowledge of German. The minimum requirement is B2.
- They are in possession of a school-leaving certificate that entitles them to enter university.
- They are not older than 25 years.
- They can provide proof that they are financially self-sufficient in Germany.
In this case they will receive a residence permit for qualified vocational training (Aufenthaltserlaubnis für eine qualifizierte Berufsausbildung). This enables them to attend a German course. During their course, they are allowed to work for up to ten hours per week on probation or on an internship. This has the advantage that the skilled worker and their potential employer can get to know each other better.
Visa for the Purpose of Language Acquisition
It is possible to enter Germany with a visa to learn the German language (§ 16f Abs. 1 AufenthG) and take an intensive course in a language school in Germany. The visa is issued for the duration of the language course or for a maximum of twelve months and should be applied for at the German Embassy in your country of residence.
The prerequisites for a visa for language acquisition are:
- Registration at a language school in Germany with at least 18 hours of lessons per week.
- Proof of sufficient financial means for the duration of the stay in Germany. Alternatively, a declaration of commitment from someone in Germany who can put up the language learner is also acceptable.
- Valid health insurance in Germany for the duration of the stay.
- Proof of accommodation in Germany for the duration of the stay.
During this period, the language learner is not permitted to work and will not be granted a work permit.
Visa for the Purpose of Studying
If a visa is required for study in Germany, an application for a visa for the purpose of studying (§ 16b AufenthG) must be submitted. The visa also includes any preparatory measures for studying such as a language course or attending a preparatory course e.g. Studienkolleg at a higher education institution in Germany.
The prerequisites for a visa for the purpose of studying in Germany are:
- Admission to a state-recognised higher education institution in Germany.
- Proof of a school-leaving certificate which qualifies for university entrance or an officially recognised qualification from a university from abroad.
- Sufficient financial means to live in Germany. The current amount is set at 11,208 euros and must be deposited in a German blocked account. Alternatively, proof of a scholarship or a declaration of commitment from someone in Germany are acceptable.
- Depending on the degree requirements, proof of sufficient knowledge of the German language may be required by the German Embassy. In general, if the study programme is in German, a language level of B2 is required.
For the duration of the studies, the student is permitted to work for 120 full days or 240 half days per year.