Visa & Residence Permit

(Symbolbild) Ein blauer Pass, der aus der Hosentasche eines Mannes herausschaut
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Visa & EU Freedom of Movement

If you are an EU national or come from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland you will not normally need a visa. You may enter Germany on your national identity card. Within two weeks you will normally have to register yourself at the Residents' Registration Office (see Resident Registration)

Due to various visa agreements nationals from other states do not need a visa to enter Germany. For a stay of more than three months a residence permit or a relevant visa is required. You can find a list of these countries on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.

You can find an overview of the required documents for the relevant visa at the German diplomatic mission abroad.

Schengen Visa (C-Visa)

A Schengen visa is issued for a short stay of up to three months per six-month period. It cannot be extended beyond three months or converted to a different type of residence title. You have to leave the country before the visa expires.

National Visa (D-Visa)

This visa is issued to a person planning to stay in Germany for longer than three months or to pursue employment. It is also issued for a maximum period of three months. After your arrival, this type of visa has to be converted to a residence title with a longer period of validity at the foreigners' office.

Tip: Schengen Visa

If you only need a Schengen Visa you can complete the request form. When you have filled in the form completely you must print it out and present it to the German diplomatic mission in person.

You can find more useful information on this website

Tip: Fees

Fellows of German funding organisations who receive a publicly funded fellowship are not usually required to pay fees for their visas or residence permits.

Residence Permit

Citizens of the EU are entitled to the Freedom of Movement permission. You are not required to obtain a visa or residence title. If you are a national of another state and you are planning to stay in Germany for a longer time (see Resident Registration), please contact the Immigration Office, to apply for a residence permit.

In order to obtain your residence title, limited residence permit or unlimited settlement permit please visit the Immigration Office in person. A residence title is linked to the specific purpose of your stay.

In the city of Essen the Welcome Center of Essen is responsible for international academics according to the articles §18b to 18f and not the Immigration Office (see Resident Registration).

Required documents

  • Valid passport
  • previous residence permit if available
  • 1 biometric passport photo
  • Fellowship award letter, employment contract or hosting agreement with the university (stating the amount of the monthly fellowship or salary)
  • Proof of health insurance cover valid in Germany
  • For marital partners/children: German or English translation of marriage and birth certificates
  • Fees vary
  • Tenancy agreement (room/flat, at least 12 sq.m./person)
  • Landlord's confirmation ("Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung", forms are available here: Essen, Duisburg)
  • Hosting agreement from the university (only required for a resident title for the purpose of §18d), available via the Welcome Service
Depending on the purpose of your residence title, there might be further documents required. Depending on the purpose of your stay, there are different residence titles which are associated with different rights.

Fiktionsbescheinigung (Probationary Permit)

A probationary certificate ("Fiktionsbescheinigung") is a temporary substitute document to prove a temporary right of residence. There are different types of probationary certificate:


A "Erlaubnisfiktion" can be issued, if your visa or the time period of 90 days expires (see Resident Registration), but the Immigration Office needs more processing time to issue a residence title. Hence, the  "Erlaubnisfiktion" is a temporary extension of your visa.


If you have applied for your extension in good time and now have to wait for the card to be issued, you will usually be given a "Fortbestandsfiktion" (probationary continuation), because your old residence permit will continue to be valid until you receive your new card.

Zu sehen ist ein Dokument auf einem schwarzen Tisch. Ein verzierter, geöffneter Füller liegt daneben.
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Letter of Invitation

In order to apply for a residence permit and/or register as a Ph.D., a person must present an official written invitation. This invitation is required to be written in German and should include the following information:

  • Full name, birth date and place of birth of the international researcher
  • Inviting chair or faculty
  • Period of stay with a clear start and end date
  • Kind of work or purpose of stay (e.g. employee of the faculty, ph.d. student or postdoc with a scholarship)
  • In case of employment: Mention of the monthly gross income
  • In case of scholarship: Mention of the monthly payment

Subsequent Immigration of Family Members

In principle later immigration of a visiting scholar’s family members for the purpose of reuniting the family is possible if you qualify for a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) or a settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis), the living quarters are adequate to house the additional family members, they possess adequate health insurance and are sufficiently supported financially. 

The proper permit for the visiting scholar’s spouse is the residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis as defined in §§ 27, 29, 30 AufenthG). Subject to the residence status of the visiting scholar already residing in Germany and the planned period of the stay, the spouse arriving later will be granted a residence permit. If the visiting scholar possesses a residence permit of at least one year or a settlement permit, the spouse must be granted a residence permit. If, however, the visiting scholar has been granted a residence permit of less than one year, the spouse arriving subsequently may be granted a residence permit, which is a decision within the discretion of the Foreigners' Registration Office. 

Unmarried minor children younger than 16 are permitted to join the visiting scholar. Children between 16 and 18 can be granted a residence permit when the prospects of integration are favourable (among other prerequisites competence in German) or in the event of hardship. 

Required Documents

  • Valid Passports
  • Marriage certificate (original document and certified translation)
  • Birth certificates (original document and certified translation)
  • Copy of the passport and residence permit of the partner who is already staying in Germany
  • All other relevant documents of the partner who is already staying in Germany
  • If necessary, the A1-Certificate of the following partner (to proof the knowledge of the German language, not necessary for §20)

Invitation of Family Members

If a visa for visitors cannot be issued for your family members, you can invite visitors for a shorter time with a formal obligation ("Verpflichtungserklärung"). The following documents are necessary:

  • Passport or ID
  • Proof of income for the last three months
  • Proof of accommodation / costs
  • Administration fee

Obligations with regard to the guest:

  • Obligation to cover all the costs ensuing in case of an enforced repatriation
  • Assumption of all costs for the guest's financial support during the stay in Germany

There should not be more than six months between the issuing of the formal obligation and the guest's entry to Germany.

Tip: Formal obligation ("Verpflichtungserklärung")

Here you will find the information sheet for the formal obligation:

Merkblatt Verpflichtungserklärung

Family and Children

If you have any questions about child care and family benefits, please go to "Family & Children".