***Disclaimer: This post is written based on personal experience. Please note that required paperwork and procedure are subjected to change. This article only serves as a general guidance and should not be relied as an ultimate source. Please refer to the website of the appropriate authority for the most updated information.***
Let’s Talk Paperwork! – A Somewhat Complete Complete Guide about Necessary Paperwork to Get into Germany. (Of course, legally!)
So you have decided to go to Germany. What next? Or I must ask this way, what first?
I am (mostly) always a person who likes to prepare things in advance (except for packing, I tend to pack at the very last minute. I know, it’s not good most of the time, but I can’t help it.) In particular, paperwork is always one of the crucial things I work on first. Very first.
It is also a pain in the butt with all of the paperwork whatsoever if you do not prepare in advance, thoroughly, and carefully. Especially with Germany, they are very specific about everything and everything must be fulfilled. Otherwise, you know, it could delay your trip and sometimes cancel it as well. Two years ago, I had a one-week trip to South Korea, but one week before my flight, I realized that I totally forgot about Visa (!) Yes, I did forget. Rushing to apply for my Visa, luckily, I got it after two days. Normally, it takes two weeks to process. It was close. And I learned my lesson.
Oh by the way, this post is mostly related to students who are going to Germany only. However, you may still want to double check on the website of the German Embassy of your area. Things change quickly.
So, you have found a place in Germany to study full time or to do an exchange program. If not and you want to, there are a lots of places to start with in finding a right program for you. First of all, check with the Study Abroad Office at your school to see which available programs there are. These should be the approved programs that you could take without extra work on acquiring information about the new school for the Office to pre-approve before you could attend. Secondly, check DAAD website. They have tons of information about studying in Germany. Their office in New York is a great info hub for you.
This may be long and wordy. Please bare with me. Legal paperwork is always important, I think ;)
Unless you are from a country that have Visa agreement with Germany (the list HERE), you will have to apply for Visa at German Embassy or one of the German Consulates in your area. If you live in the USA, click HERE for the official website. There should be a section for Visa. Depending on your purpose of going to Germany, you should select the appropriate section since the required documents may be different.
For students, if you got scholarship from a German Institution, your visa fee will be waived. Check the website for the most updated information. You will only need to pay for the mailing service (FedEx) in order for them to mail your passport with German Visa back to your place. You can choose to pick up as well but if you live far away from the Embassy/Consulate, then I would recommend you to pay 19USD (may change) to have it shipped to you.
A lot of people said that it may take at least 3-4 weeks for the Visa to be processed since they will have to send your application to the local authority in Germany where you will reside and have the people over there to preview and approve your visa. My friends actually had to wait for about 1 month and a half to get their visas done. However, it was weird enough, for me, it took one (1) day to get my student visa. Strange, huh? I had my interview on Monday (Yes, you need to schedule interview. Make sure you to do that REALLY EARLY since they fill up quickly.) and the next day, a FedEx package arrived and I got my Visa. I still don’t know how it happened but I was happy that I got it without any issues.
Also, I read on the website back then, and also from my friends, that they only give you a 3-month visa and once you get to Germany, you will extend it later. However, the lady at the Germany Consulate asked me how long I would be there (with proof of course). I said 1 year and my visa now is valid for one year and multiple entries. Sweet, huh? So, keep this in mind when you apply for Visa.
2. Upon Arrival
This is assumed that you already reported to your school that you have arrived and you finished the paperwork required by your school. They also should have guided you how to do all of these as well.
It doesn’t matter if you come in Germany with or without Visa, it is your responsible to have a trip to Bürgerbüro to register yourself within a week, so that they know you have arrived and how long you would be there. Make sure you have your German address with you. They will then give you a form saying that you are registered. Keep it. You will need it in case of the residency permit.
If you do not need visa or your visa will definitely expire during the time you are there, you have to apply for residency permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung) at the Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde). Basically, it is an extension of your visa, allowing you to stay in Germany for a long period of time.
If your visa has multiple entry and validity longer than your intended stay, you are good to go after registering yourself. I did not know this until I was there, waiting for my appointment to apply for the residency permit. I didn’t mind that at all but if I knew that before, I would not have to make several trips there.
In Munich, you should go to Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR) at Ruppertstraße 19, 80466 München. It is right next to Poccistraße Subway Station (U6 Line). Here is the place where you register (ground floor) and apply for residency permit (German 2nd floor).
Here is the procedure:
- Once you get to the office, find a floor plan and locate the check-points on the ground floor to find out which one you should go to, since they separate people by the first letters of their last names.
- Go to the appropriate one and talk to the personnel there to get a number and a registration form to fill out.
- Wait for your turn and somebody will register you to the system. Once done, they will give you a copy of the registration form. Keep this form as you need it for the residency permit application (if you ever need to apply for it.)
- Then schedule for an appointment to apply for residency permit.
Things you will need for the residency permit application:
- Application (get at KVR, second floor)
- Passport Photo
- Proof of Health Insurance
- Immatriculation Form (for students)
- Proof of Sufficient Funds for one year. Basically, they ask you to prove that you have enough money to support your stay in one year, no matter how long you will be in Germany. Ideally, they also ask you to have a Blocked Account which has about 8000 Euro and from which you are not allowed to withdraw more than a certain amount per month. That way, they could ensure that you have enough money per month to live in Germany.
3. Final Work
Once everything is completed, you are now good to go. Depending on your situation, there may be extra work that you have to take care of. For example, bank account, subway tickets, cell phone, leasing, etc. But all of the basic things are done by now.