Can I enter Germany and stay for long term?
All citizens of so-called "third countries" (non-EU countries) need a visa to stay in Germany for more than three months or work here. That means only citizens of the EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland do not require a visa to live in Germany. The long-stay visa most foreign citizens need to obtain is called the "National Visa Type D".
Most people from third countries also require a visa for shorter visits. You can find out more about it in our chapter "Visitor Visa".
What do I need to know?
The "National Visa Type D" is a long-stay visa that allows you to stay in Germany for more than three months and - depending on the type of visa - also, for instance, work, study, or go through vocational training. We present various types of visa in more detail here:
You must apply for your visa at the German embassy/consulate in your home country or - if that is not possible - in a neighbouring country or in the country in which you live. To do so, you need an appointment that you can book online on the website of the embassy responsible.
The embassy will also forward your application to the responsible Immigration Office in Germany, i.e. the local Immigration Office in the city where you wish to live. In principle, the Immigration Office must also approve your application.
You can obtain the visa application form directly from the German embassy or consulate responsible. You can also download the form at auswaertiges-amt.de and print it out twice. In some countries, the application form is only accepted in the language used in the embassy there. Check out the website of the embassy responsible for you beforehand to find out.
For a national visa, you usually need at least the following documents:
- Visa application form - filled out and signed (2x)
- A valid passport
- Current biometric passport photos
- Proof of financing or a declaration of commitment. You can find out more about such a document in each chapter mentioned in the section "What is a national visa type D?" and our chapter "Declaration of Commitment for a National Visa".
- Other documents, depending on the type of your visa. You can learn more in each chapter mentioned in the section "What is a type D national visa?".
The processing fee for a national visa is €75 which you have to pay when applying. Important: You won't get it back even if your visa application is rejected.
Please note: There are exceptions to the costs for certain groups of people. You can find more about it (in German) in the German Foreign Office's leaflet.
In principle, you should expect up to 3 months, but it may take longer for some types of visas. Such is often the case if the Federal Employment Agency also has to approve your visa application.
The requirements of National Visa Type D differ depending on the purpose of your entry. You can learn more about the conditions in each specific chapter mentioned in the "What is a National Visa Type D?" section.
The duration of this visa differs depending on the purpose of your entry. You can learn more in the specific chapters mentioned in the "What is National Visa Type D?" section.
You can enter the country with a National Visa Type D and then apply for asylum in Germany. Whether your asylum application will be accepted depends on the circumstances in your home country. Often people who have a chance of asylum are not issued a visa at all. You can learn more about the asylum procedure in our chapters "Asylum procedure" and "Residence permit for refugees".
Please note: Until a decision has been made on your asylum application, you or the person who has made a declaration of commitment on your behalf must bear all of your costs (accommodation, food, medicine, etc.), including costs of possible deportation. You can learn more in our chapter "Declaration of commitment for a National Visa".
Citizens of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Korea, Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the United States of America do not need to apply for a visa at the embassy in advance. They can also apply for it after they arrive in Germany.