How to get a visa for my doctorate studies in Germany?

Getting to know why there is a clear indication of ever-increasing number of foreign doctoral candidates in Germany, specifying that one in seven doctoral candidates in there is an international student, we surely rely on the welcoming quality and standard of the doctoral education system, research programs and research infrastructure, as talked about in our article series “Why should I choose Germany for my abroad Ph.D. Studies?”

Regardless of this, being a foreign candidate for doctoral (Ph.D.) studies you must undeniably be aware that German entrance and residence policies involve visa and residence restrictions for nationals seeking to legitimately enter and reside in Germany to pursue their doctoral education. German embassies or consulates are the sole legitimized authorities for issuing visa – an official authorization for a lawful entrance, a reserved right for non-German nationals, guaranteed under German law, the Residence Act, section 71, paragraph 2.

Who do and who do not need a German visa

As regards of visa-restrictions, entrance policies and regulations of the German state, you must be aware that they differ depending on the country of origin of the German visa – seeker. In this regards, there are three main categories of foreigners seeking to enter Germany, categorized based on their entrance policy applied.

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Nationals from the European Economic Area (members of the European Union, Liechtenstein and Norway, Iceland)

In lieu with this category of foreigners, as freedom of movement applies, there is no need for such nationals to get a visa for entering Germany, solely an identification card at the moment of traveling to Germany. This category is simply required to register at the Resident Registration Office (or Citizen Service) “Einwohnermeldeamt or Bürgeramt”, if planning to stay longer than three months.

When registering, as an national of this category you should provide the following documents: duly completed application form in German language the so-called “Anmeldeformular”, identification card or passport, if applied marriage status certificate in German.

Upon the registration, you will become a holder of a registration certificate “Anmeldebestätigung”, serving for your daily activities as well as for opening your German bank account and for your enrollment in doctoral studies.

Nationals from Australia, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Republic of South Korea, United States of America

Being a national of this category, you are not required to have German visa for entering Germany. Though, if scheduling to reside longer than three months, you are obliged to register at local authorities the Resident Registration Office or Citizen Service “Einwohnermeldeamt or Bürgeramt” within a week of your arrival.

What is more, upon the registration – as you take your registration certificate, you shall immediately apply for the proper residence permit concerning to the purpose of your stay inside the Germany, at Foreigners Authority (or Foreigners Registration Office) the so-called “Ausländerbehörde”.

Nationals from the third world

If you come from other countries than the aforementioned – the so-called third-world countries, you are a subject to get the appropriate visa for entering the territories of the German state, linked to the purpose of your travel/residence in Germany. Hence, your visa application must clearly indicate the reason for requiring visa – coupled with supporting documents, at the home German Embassy or Consulate. The German visa application form is available online and you can download it free-of-charge in the website of German Embassy or Consulate of your home country or in Germany VISA website.

Once you arrive in Germany, you have to register at the Resident Registration Office within a week from your accommodation. After you get the registration certificate, you must apply for the proper residence permit at Foreigners Authority. The residence permit will be the basic document for legitimizing your enrollment in university or research institution.

A few things to consider before visa application

Consider you have not yet applied for a visa, despite that you are not thus-far touching the needed confidence and surety that your travel to Germany will ever about to happen, conversely, still there are things to consider and arrange earlier. Let us see which are the important matters defining your prosperous visa-application, stay and enrollment.

Be careful on applying for the appropriate visa

The applicable German visa for foreign doctoral candidates is the so-called “Student Visa”- intended for foreign doctoral and other higher education students seeking to get higher education in Germany.

Leave behind the idea of entering Germany through Tourist Visa, as once in Germany, this type of visa cannot be altered into scientific or any other kind of German visa. Consequently, you will be required to depart Germany, if exceeding Tourist visa allowed period of stay.

Be early enough on your visa-application

We are not sure if you knew this, but visa application sometimes might take long time processing, up to a month or months. Make sure you apply immediately after receiving your notification of admission as a doctoral candidate – the acceptance of your doctoral mentor. Do not forget that you cannot move in Germany without a visa, so try to be punctual on your visa-application in case you do not want to be late for your enrollment.

Be punctual for your enrollment

As aforementioned, enrollment is amongst most important processes for your doctoral studies – the time when you will formally will be entitled as a doctoral candidate who is ready to get involved in the doctoral studies program. Make sure you arrange entering Germany on time, so you get the time for accommodation, registration, getting the residence permit, opening the bank account and adapting yourself with the neighboring location. Your tranquility is needed for your future engagement as a doctoral candidate, so take things under control by scheduling properly actions before.

Be sure your passport validity does not expire soon

Well, as understood by the title, when the volume of requirements and tasks-lists pressures you out, it is so common forgetting something that is pretty important, such as the validity of your passport. Hence, you make sure that before applying for a visa, you get your passport validity extended at least up to the period of your planned stay in Germany. We regret to say it, but if not doing so – you will be obliged to travel back in your country for extending it for returning to Germany. Remember this, make sure you do not spend money and study time unnecessarily.

Meeting Visa requirements

We all agree that visa application is a very delicate and infuriating process, though when planned properly, success is fail-safe. In this spirit, we want to present you specifics – as regards of requirements, which can make your application efficacious supporting you in getting the German visa.

German student visa for non-national researchers

As an admitted doctoral candidate in Germany, you will be required to apply for the German “Student Visa” type.

Applying for such a visa, you will need to provide at the German Embassy or Consulate in your country the following documents:

  • Duly completed student visa application form,
  • Valid passport (recommended with a validity up to the period of studies or more),
  • Recent Photos,
  • Proof of mentors acceptance to supervise your doctoral thesis work– as a proof for your right of entry doctoral studies in Germany,
  • Proof of health insurance,
  • Proof of sufficient financial coverage for the given period of doctoral studies – typically a blocked German bank account with 8,000€,
  • Certificates of education (all formal and informal education),
  • Proof of sufficient German and/or English language skills (depending on the language of the doctoral program).

*Note: You make sure being punctual for the visa interview and talk with you all the required documents. In addition, keep in mind that visa is issued before entering Germany, and in any circumstances, you are not allowed to act differently, as regards of entering in German territories.

Requiring a German residence permit

Let us consider that you have entered Germany, found the accommodation and within a week, you applied to register at the local Residence Registration Office. Once you have received the registration certificate, you shall immediately apply for the residence permit – a formal document issued to legitimize your long-term residency in Germany. Foreigners Authority is the address where you should apply for your residence permit, requiring the legitimate residency for pursuing your doctoral studies.

The documents required to provide during your application for residence permit are:

  • Duly completed residence permit application form,
  • Certificate of mentor’s acceptance to supervise your doctoral thesis work,
  • Proof of possessing the adequate and sufficient health insurance – needed also for the enrollment in a university / research institution,
  • Certificates of earlier education,
  • Proof of language skills – not at all times,
  • Proof of sufficient funding resources.

German residence permit for doctoral candidates

In accordance with the Act on the Residence, Economic Activity and Integration of Foreigners in the Federal Territory, Chapter II, Part 3, Section 16, as an foreign doctoral candidate who has entered Germany through Student Visa you will become a subject to require Residence Permit for Educational Purposes – as a form to legitimize your stay, study and economic activity in Germany.

This kind of residence permit allows you, as a legitimized doctoral candidate to:

  • Reside in Germany for pursuing doctoral studies – equal rights to German citizens,
  • Involve in economic activity through an employment – max. 120 full-days or 240 half-days /per year, which should not be interruptive with study schedule,
  • The opportunity to extend your residence validity up to 18 months, after a successful completion of your doctoral studies under job-seeking purposes,
  • Residence permit re-extend, if you find a firm-job related to your qualification – the extend goes up to the work contract period.

Benefits of being a German residence-permit holder

In the face of benefits that you take from your specific residence permit for education purposes, there are, likewise, general benefits that all residence holders (largely) receive, such as:

  • Safe livelihood inside territories of Germany,
  • German foreign identity, guaranteeing you to remain inside the territories of Germany for a specific period,
  • Securing document which proves you have applied for the right German visa and you are not jeopardizing German rules and regulations of residency and involvement in education and economic activity,
  • Right to use highly developed health services,
  • Right to take part in cultural and social activities.

References and useful information:

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