8 types of Visa to live in Germany

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Let me guess. You want to live in Germany.

But you cannot.

You need a visa for living and working in Germany.

Well, in this case, let me help you.

There are several different types of residence permits, as you may know.

The type of visa you must apply for depends on the purpose of your visit to Germany.

Let me show you 8 common ways to get a visa for staying in Germany.

Preparatory student visa in Germany

Are you interested in studying at a German university? You can apply for a residence permit that allows you to prepare your university application. During this time you can learn German. You can also work part-time – if the work is related to your future studies and helps you get into your course.

This preparatory study visa can be granted for two years maximum. This means that you have two years in order to fulfil all the requirements for studying in Germany. In this time you should be able to master the German language and get acquainted with the German culture.

The purpose of study preparation includes:

  • Intensive German language course (a minimum of 18 lesson-hours per week
  • study college
  • preparatory courses

Important Note: This residence permit cannot be issued for an intensive language course to learn a foreign language (e.g. English). This applies even if the desired course of studies is offered only in a foreign language.

Regular Work visa in Germany

For this visa you need to have an employment contract in Germany. With this visa you can freely live and work in Germany for the duration of your contract. It is important that you quickly find a new job or an extension to the contract, if it runs out. Usually you are allowed to stay one month after your official contract has ended. Then you must leave the country.

Officially, this ‘work visa’ is called ‘German residence permit for the purpose of employment’!

Apply for a student visa in Germany

Get a study visa once you have been admitted to a German university. For this you need to have already completed the application process and received an official paper that confirms your place.

In order to apply for a study visa in Germany, you must:

  1. Fill out all the visa application forms.
  2. Have a personal interview at the German embassy in your country or at the foreigners office in Germany.
  3. Have an official confirmation of your place at the German university. In other words, you must be enrolled or have conditional approval for studying in order to be issued a residence permit)
  4. Have proof of health insurance.
  5. Proof of secure livelihood: As the official website states “For the initial issue: e.g. escrow account at a German Bank with 8,640 euros / submission of a declaration of commitment by a third party on an official form / scholarship / notarized declaration from parents securing the livelihood for the duration of the studies with proof of the income of the parents in the last six months. For the extension: bank statements of the last six months”

Remember, after completing your degree you may extend your residence permit for up to 18 months as you search for work.

Get the EU Blue Card to work in Germany

Do you have an academic or equivalent background and meet a minimum salary criteria? Then you are able to apply for a EU Blue Card. This gives giving you a more simple and faster path to German residency.

Are you eligible for an EU blue Card to work in Germany?

You must have completed at least a Bachelor degree or be able to show that you have proven professional skills. Further, you must provide proof of a work contract. The monthly salary of this contract must be roughly more than 40,000 Euros gross per year.

The great advantage of the EU Blue Card is that is allows you to work not only in Germany but in other EU countries. This way you remain flexible when it comes to switching jobs and moving to another EU country!

Apply for a Job-seeking Visa in Germany!

If you have a university degree you can stay in Germany as a resident for a maximum of 6-months to look for employment. If you find a job during these six months you can then apply for a normal working visa.

This visa to ‘look for a job’ is officially called ‘residence permit for qualified workers’. It is perfect, if you want to find a job in Germany. Looking a job whilst in Germany is a lot easier than finding a job, if you are not here. This way you can attend interviews in person and also brush up your language skills!

The residence permit is issued for a period of six months and does not represent an entitlement to practice an occupation. You can apply for this type of visa one time only.

Once you have found a job, you must apply for a different kind of visa – for example, the EU Blue Card or a normal work visa.

Get a Freelance Visa

You like being your own boss? Great! Then you may want to apply for the freelance visa, the residence permit for self-employed people.

If you have language, communication, writing, computer, and/or editing skills you have the potential to be a freelancer in Germany. Becoming a freelancer is easier than you may think. Of course, it involves some bureaucratic work and papers to fill out. In our guide, we take you through each step you have to take in order to be a freelancer in Germany.

The official name for this visa is: ‘German residence permit for the purpose of freelance or self-employment’.

A residence permit for self-employed business purposes is valid for a maximum of three years. It can be indefinitely extended if your project is successful.

How do I get a German freelance visa? 

These are some of the documents that you should prepare, if you intend to apply for a freelance visa.

  1. A personal interview is required. This takes place at the German embassy. Or, if you are in Germany, you must go to the foreigner’s registration office (Ausländerbehörde).
  2. You need to write a statement of economic interest: A freelance visa can be issued to a foreigner, if there is an economic interest or a regional need. You must justify why you are unique in providing this service.
  3. Business Plan: You must provide evidence that you have business clients that want to work with you in Germany. You should also mentioned your relevant business experience in the field, the impact of your business project on employment and skills. You may want to mention how Germany benefits from your business.
  4. You must show evidence with a bank statement that you have enough money to sustain yourself.
  5. If you are over 45, you must show that you have a pension that covers your maintenance costs in old age. For this, most people provide evidence of a private pension insurance plan that covers them.

Apply for an Au Pair Visa in Germany

Have you ever considered to be an Au Pair in Germany? As an Au Pair, you live with a German family. You take care of their children. You can improve your German skills. It may be a good chance to get to know Germany better. After that you can apply for a different visa. For example, for a study or a work visa.

To get an au pair visa, you must find a German host family. You need official proof that the host family is happy to accept you. There is a variety of websites and agencies that help you find a trustworthy host family.

Why not browse through our wiki and check out our blog on “9 Steps – How to Become an Au Pair in Germany”?

Get a Visa for an Internship in Germany

If you are looking to get some more work experience, try finding a paid or unpaid internship in Germany. Not only will you gain work experience, you will also receive a residence permit for Germany.

The internship visa is only for the duration of the internship.

To apply for the visa you must have:

  • Proof of Health insurance for the duration of your internship in Germany
  • an Internship contract with a description of your tasks

Visa for a language course in Germany

You can also apply for a visa that allows you to learn German in Germany. After this you can always apply for a different visa. These are some of the requirements for this type of visa:

  1. You must produce evidence that you are enrolled in an intensive language course in Germany. This can be a contract by a German language school, for example. What does intensive mean? It should take place Mondays to Fridays.
  2. You must provide evidence of health insurance.
  3. You must show that you have enough money for the duration of the language course. For this, you have to show a bank statement at a German bank which shows that you have more than 7,608 Euros. Alternatively, you can have a “notarized declaration from parents securing the livelihood for the duration of the studies with proof of the income of the parents in the last six months”.


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