Have your heart set on moving to Germany? Ah, don’t we all.
Beautiful landscapes, excellent food, incredible culture-- what’s not to fall in love with?
Maybe you’ve already found a cheap plane ticket. Your finger is on the buy now button with Lufthansa. Dreams of Oktoberfest in Munich are swirling in your head. Spätzle. Bratwurst. Beers. Come to mumma...
Hold up a second: you’re gonna need a residency permit.
But have no fear! Follow our quick guide to obtaining a residency permit in Germany, and you’ll be well on your way to that new German life that you’ve been daydreaming about.
1. Find your passport
2. Get a visa
This is by far the most complicated part of the process for non-EU citizens.
Wanting to come spend your days strolling the streets of Berlin or Munich isn’t enough: you’re gonna need a visa in order to remain in Germany for more than 90 days.
So, where to start?
The easiest option for most people is to apply for admission to a German university or language school and become a student. You can then apply for a student visa, and voila!
But if you’ve already studied and have your sights set on getting a job in Germany, you’re going to have a tougher time.
You can start by applying for jobs and finding a company, business, or school that is willing to sponsor your visa process. But be forewarned: not many employers will hire employees that don’t already have the legal right to work in the EU.
But it’s worth a try!
3. Take two biometric passport photos
4. Get a certified copy of your birth certificate
It’s best to do this part while still back in your home country-- it’s easier to get!
5. Get a health care plan
When immigrating to Germany-- or other EU countries, for that matter-- you’re going to need to provide proof that you have a health care plan that’s valid in Germany, since you’re not yet part of the national health care system.
If you’re a student, you can get a Krankenkasse (a health insurance plan) for around €60 per month. If you’re not a student, there are plenty of private plans available out there. Shop around!
When you first arrive in Germany, obtaining an Anmeldebestätigung is one of the first things you should do.
An Anmeldebestätigung is a residency registration. It’s sort of like a census, which takes account of every person-- legal or not-- living within a neighborhood, town, or district.
It’s free of charge, and it takes less than 15 or 20 minutes to do. All you need to bring with you is your passport and a copy of your rental agreement (to prove that you live in the area).
It’s probably the easiest thing you’ll do in the entire process.
7. Show me the money
In order to get your residency permit in Germany, you will have to provide proof of a minimum €700-per-month income.
For workers, all you need is your contract from your employer.
Students, on the other hand, can provide a certified letter from their parents, relatives, or guardians stating that they will provide financial assistance of at least €700 per month for the student.
8. Get a checkup
You’ll also have to provide a certificate from a doctor stating that you are in good health.
For visa applicants, you should have already done this process to obtain a visa, and you generally don’t need to show it again. But keep the document from your doctor with you, just in case.
For everyone else, you can get a letter from a doctor in your home country or in Germany. In Germany, you can get this certificate from a local doctor for around €75 to €150.
9. Background check
You’re also going to need to provide proof that you have no criminal record.
Before you arrive in Germany, you should head down to the police station of the town you currently live in at home to get a background check.
Or, in the case of Americans, you can get an FBI background check or a state background check.
10. Work contract or school admission
Last but not least, you’ll have to provide the immigration officers with either a work contract or a certified admissions letter offering you a place at a university or other school.
This is the sole reason you’re allowed to stay in Germany, after all!
11. Don’t stress
Take a deep breath. Chill. It’s stressful, but you can and will do it. Get all your documents together, check in with the immigration office’s list of requirements frequently, and get everything very organized.
And be sure to keep smiling. Smile all the time. After all, you’re on your way to a brand-new, German life!
Have you gone through the immigration process in Germany? What was your experience like? Help out others going through the process and tell us about your experience below!
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