Applying for a German visa

Learn step by step how to apply for a German visa: schedule an appointment, prepare the application, go to the appointment at the embassy, additional demands, first steps in Germany, change of status.

Foreigners need a residence title for entering and residing in Germany as long as no other ordinances apply. Visas are the residence title needed for entering from a foreign county. There are residence permits, as well, which you first receive when you are in Germany. Every visa application is assessed on a case-by-case basis. The German embassy or consulate processes your application and sends it to the immigration authority responsible for you in Germany. The immigration authority must give a positive reply before the embassy can approve your visa application. Immigration authorities in Germany are usually located in every county or bigger city. Your future place of residence determines which immigration authority is responsible for you. If you do not specify a place of residence, the immigration authority at your chosen FIA course location is responsible for you.

Important note:

It is our concern to ensure that the content of our information is always correct and up-to-date. However, since circumstances at individual embassies or consulates differ in detail it is essential that you either verify and complete the information needed for your situation by using the website of the embassy responsible for you or by personally requesting information from them.


Due to Covid-19, restrictions on visa processing are in effect in many countries. Irrespective of whether a visa has been issued the following applies: decisions on who can ultimately enter Germany are not made by the German embassy but rather by the German federal police at the border checkpoint. Before traveling please inform yourself about current developments for example by visiting the website of the German Ministry of the Interior or the information portal of the German government for skilled workers from abroad.

Steps to apply for a visa

Visa: timeline from application to temporary professional license
Visa: timeline from application to temporary professional license
Visa: timeline from application to temporary professional license

Step 1

Make an appointment at the German embassy responsible for you. You can schedule an appointment with visa services online.

  • Waiting time for appointments will vary from embassy to embassy and may take between 3 to 6 weeks, sometimes longer. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic appointments may not be available at all.
  • It is essential to fill in the registration form correctly. Appointment bookings with incorrect information (misspelled name, wrong date of birth, wrong passport number, etc.) will be cancelled by the embassy.

 

Step 2

Prepare the visa application. Important and current information is available in the leaflets "Language Courses" (§16f) and "Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications" (§16d) on the German embassy’s website. Here you will also find general information on national visas for long-term stays (over 90 days). Be sure to inform yourself in depth!

  1. Fill in visa application form. The form can be found on the German embassy’s web page in the category "national visa" (or "D visa" or "long-term visa").
    • Be sure not select a study visa but rather the visa §16f or the visa §16d.
    • Do not tick: "I intend to stay no longer than 12 months in German federal territory".
       
  2. Apply for professional licensing (Approbation) in Germany (state license and requirement to practice as a physician, dentist or pharmacist in Germany). After 3 to 4 weeks you will receive a confirmation of receipt, which you should attach to your visa application.
     
  3. Apply for a certificate of good standing in your home country.
    • Not every embassy requires one for a visa application, however you will definitely need one for your licensing application.
    • It must not be older than six months at the time of submission.
       
  4. Supply proof of sufficient funds for your entire stay: Open a blocked account or get a letter of commitment (guarantee) from a sponsor (e.g. relatives in Germany) to prove that all running costs are covered. Further information on this and the following points can be found here.
     
  5. Plan your accommodation in Germany (e.g. a hotel for the first one to four weeks, a room in a shared flat or an apartment of your own) and inquire about travel health insurance which is valid in Germany. Proof of both must be given at the latest when you pick up your visa.
     
  6. Write your letter of motivation including details about your planned job search and your recognition process (employment sector, region, qualification plan for professional recognition, planned place of residence/accommodation, etc.; do not exceed one page).
     
  7. Contact potential employers in Germany. Inquire about your hiring options after you have received professional recognition (expression of interest or job offer). Attach correspondences (email printouts) to your visa application.
     
  8. Assemble copies of these documents: passport, CV of your professional career, course registration confirmation from FIA, university degree and language certificates. You will also need several biometric and recent passport photos as well as a self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage.

Certificate of good standing, curriculum vitae, university degree certificates and language certificates

  • Translation: an officially certified translator must translate these documents into German. Translators in Germany can be found in this database of translators and interpreters.
     
  • Certification & Legalization: the translations must then be certified and / or legalized by the German embassy.

Step 3

Go to your appointment at the embassy and hand in the visa application together with all assembled documents and the required fee (in cash).

 

Step 4

During processing: It is possible that the visa office will ask you questions about your application and / or request additional documents. Please respond immediately. 

Processing of your visa application usually takes up to four months. Therefore, do not be surprised if you do not hear from the embassy before that and please refrain from making inquiries by telephone or in writing during this time.

If you have been waiting for four months without hearing back from the embassy, FIA's counselling team can assist you: fill in this form and email it to visum@fia-academy.de. We will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss further steps with you.

 

Step 5

The embassy will inform you by e-mail that your visa has been granted and that you can pick up your passport. You will have to pick it up in person.

However, you may also receive an official letter of denial from the embassy. This may have various reasons. Please immediately send a copy of the letter by e-mail to FIA (visum@fia-academy.de). FIA will summarize the reasons for you and give you recommendations on how to proceed, e.g. objecting (remonstrance) or applying for a new visa.

 

Step 6

After you receive your passport check if all the information on the visa label is correct. If you detect any incorrect information you should immediately report this to the embassy.

Prepare your trip to Germany:

  1. Take out travel health insurance. You will need to show it when you receive your visa.
  2. Book your accommodation.
  3. Inform the FIA consulting team about your arrival in Germany. You will immediately receive binding information on the commencement of your first course.

 

Step 7

After entering Germany: Immediately register with the residents' registration office (located in your new place of residence at the citizens' office, citizens' service center or city hall) and make an appointment at the foreigners' registration office to apply for your residence permit. You should make the appointment at least four to six weeks before your visa expires.

A national visa allows you travel within the Schengen area.

 

Step 8

Change your residence permit status

  • The residence permit §16f is only valid for 1 year. Therefore, it is necessary to change to the residence permit §16d. You may do so after successfully completing your language course or with the recognition notification from a German state health authority.
  • The residence permit §16d is only valid for 18 to max. 24 months, thus it can be useful to look for a job with a (restricted) temporary professional license while waiting for a test date for the professional knowledge test. The residence permit §20 paragraph 3 No.4 applies then (visa for job search).