Visa and entry
EU nationals and citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland do not normally need a visa to enter Germany, and may enter the country with their national identity card. However, if they intend to stay in Germany longer than three months, they must register at the “Einwohnermeldeamt” (Residents' Registration Office).
Nationals of Australia, Canada, Isreal, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, or the USA do not need a visa to enter Germany. However, if they intend to stay in Germany longer than three months, they will need a residence permit, which they can file for after entering Germany.
Please check with your local German embassy or consulate in your home country whether or not you need a visa to enter Germany. In case that you need a visa, make sure that you familiarize yourself with the processing times. For more information visit the website of the German missions abroad.
Depending on the duration and purpose of your planned stay, you will either need a Schengen-Visa (research stay lasting up to three months) or a national visa (research stay lasting more than three months).
If your research stay in Germany is scheduled to last less than 90 days in a sixth - month period, a Schengen visa will usually be issued to you (Schengen visa type 'C'). Bear in mind that a Schengen Visa cannot be extended or changed to a different visa type. Upon expiration of your Schengen visa you will have to leave Germany. When completing your visa application please be sure to state “scientific work” or “research” as the purpose of your stay. A Schengen visa entitles you to the right to travel among all of the Schengen states.
2. National Visa
If you plan to stay in Germany longer than for three months, you must apply for a German national visa (type 'D'). Please note that you can only apply for this visa from your home country or country of your permanent residence. This applies even if you are temporarily staying in another EU country. If your stay in Germany is planned to last longer than 90 days, under no circumstances should you enter Germany on a visitor or tourist visa (Schengen visa), as the Schengen visa only allows you to stay in Germany for 90 days and cannot be extended. You would then have to return to your home country/country of your permanent residence at your own expense and apply for the correct visa type there. The same applies for members of your family. Note that a national visa entitles you to stay in Germany only. If you intend to travel to other Schengen States during the first three months of your stay (e.g. to attend a conference) you should state this in your visa application. In this case you may be issued what's called a hybrid visa (Category C+D Visa).
National visas are usually issued for a period of three months. Once you have entered Germany, you must present this visa to your local Immigration Office ('Ausländerbehörde') to apply for a residence permit.
3. Researcher's Visa
Until now, the residence of researchers from non-EU countries in Germany has been regulated by § 20 of the Residence Act. Since the new Skilled Immigrations Act, which came into force on 1 March 2020, the entry and residence of researchers from non-EU countries has been regulated in sections 18d, 18e and 18f. It is intended to further facilitate the entry of researchers and speed up the procedures.
The instructions for application issued by the Federal Ministry of the Interior explain the new provisions of the Skilled Immigration Act. The residence permit for the purpose of scientific work entitles the researcher to become gainfully employed for the research project indicated in the hosting agreement, as well as to teach at recognized research institutions. In February 2010 the University of Bremen was officially issued a status of a research establishment pursuant to Article 38 of the Regulations Governing German Residence ('Aufenthaltsgesetz').