The Researcher's Visa, also referred to as a researchers' residence permit (§ 20 Residence Act/Aufenthaltsgesetz), makes it possible for scientists to carry out work and research projects agreed upon with their host institutions, as well as to teach at recongnized scientific institutions.
This residence permit makes it easier for researchers from non-EU countries to travel to Germany and stay here for time periods longer than three months. It speeds up the visa application process and facilitates mobility within the EU.
Before the Researcher's Visa can be issued, a hosting agreement needs to be drawn up and signed by the international researcher and a research institute in Germany (§ 20 Residence Act).
A researcher then submits this agreement to the appropriate German diplomatic mission locally to apply for a researchers' residence permit.
A valid hosting agreement can only be drawn up when:
- The host institution has confirmed that the research project is going to be carried out.
- The researcher has proven that she/he is qualified to carry out the research project outlined in the agreement. As part of this, the researcher generally needs to have completed a degree that gives him/her access to doctoral programmes.
- The researcher can provide proof of sufficient means of subsitence during the proposed stay.
(Source: Federal Office for Migration and Refugees)
- When applying for the researchers' residence permit, the hosting agreement counts as sufficient proof of employment at the university. This means that you will not need to present a letter of invitation or an employment contract to the Foreign Citizens’ Office.
- The residence permit for researchers (§ 20) has many advantages for international guests such as a special status in immigration law. This means shorter application wait times, mobility within Europe, no pre-employment checks, no need for visa approval from the Foreign Citizens’ Office, advantages in cases of subsequent arrival of family members and employment taken up by spouses.