How can I legally reside in Germany?

Young woman works in Germany

Foreign citizens who want to reside in Germany need to obtain a residence permit. For a short-term stay, a visa will suffice - but if you'd like to stay longer or plan to make Germany your new home, you must apply for and acquire a residence permit. Citizens of other EU states, however, are exempt from this rule, i.e. they may stay in Germany without a visa or residence permit.

Here, you will read about some options which can enable foreign citizens to obtain longer-term right of residence in Germany. The Residence Act has been reformed- and the revised version will come into effect in March 2020. So the following information has been put together according to the new Residence Act, coming into force in March 2020.

If you have fled to Germany, read the chapter "Residence Permit for Refugees", where you can find all essential information concerning right of residence for asylum seekers.

Various ways of obtaining a residence permit

Vocational Training (“Ausbildung”)


Job hunting

Searching for a vocational training programme

Measures for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications

Employment for skilled workers

EU Blue Card


Research Work

Family Reunion

Where can I apply for a visa or residence permit?


If you are a citizen of an EU country or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland or Norway, you do not require a residence permit for vocational training, studying, working or residence in Germany.