Student visas are hard to come by
Visa for Germany - who can get it and how?
Before we get into this question, we must briefly clarify a couple of points that are important and relevant to our legal position. Because not all visas are the same.
1. Short or long stay?
So we will always have to differentiate between whether the planned stay in Germany is short-term or long-term. Short-term is a stay of a maximum of 90 days within a period of 180 days since the first entry. However, if the stay is longer than 90 days, it is considered long-term.
This difference is crucial because with it the visa exemption of many citizens stands or falls and because the requirements for the issuance of a visa change fundamentally depending on the situation.
2. Who needs a visa and what for?
Of course, not all foreigners need a visa to enter Germany. Here we can distinguish between three groups based on the traffic light principle:
- Green light…
all Union citizens have, because they do not need anything (except an identity card) to enter the country at any time and to take up residence in the federal territory.
- Yellow light ...
have privileged states with which the visa exemption has been agreed at European level:
Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Canada, Liechtenstein, Macau, Malaysia, Mauritius, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Switzerland, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, St. Kitts and Nevis, South Korea, Taiwan, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, United States (including Puerto Rico).
Caution is advised here, because the visa exemption only applies to short-term stays. The citizens of these states can therefore enter the federal territory for up to 90 days without a visa, but they cannot easily apply for a residence permit for the purpose of further residence in the federal territory after entering the country. This rare privilege is only for the nationals
Andorra, Australia, Brazil, El Salvadors, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Canada, New Zealand, San Marinos, South Korea and the USA
granted. However, all other citizens who are planning a long-term stay in Germany still have to apply for a visa in advance at the German diplomatic mission in their home country, despite the visa exemption.
- Red light…
citizens of all other countries have in the sense that they always need a visa to enter the Schengen area, no matter how short or long their stay is planned. This applies to all nationals of the international community with whom no visa exemption has been expressly agreed, such as the states from the African and Arab countries as well as largely the successor states of the Soviet Union, to name just a few examples.
3. Where can I apply for the visa?
The visas are issued by the foreign representatives, i.e. the embassies and consulates general, of the Schengen countries. The Schengen states include:
Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic and Hungary.
If you come to Europe and also want to visit Germany, you don't necessarily need a German visa. It is sufficient if the visa is issued by one of the Schengen states. This means that with a Lithuanian or Hungarian visa, for example, you can also travel to Germany. This is possible because the issuing of visas in the Schengen area is regulated uniformly in the Schengen Implementation Convention and in a multitude of European legal ordinances for the entire Schengen area. This means that the visa issued by a Schengen state is also valid for all other Schengen states, so that onward travel within the Schengen area will be unproblematic within the period of validity.
The situation is different with a visa for a planned long-term stay in Germany. In this case you will have to apply for the visa at the German embassy or the German consulate general in your home country.
4. How does the application process work and how long does it take?
The procedure always begins with an application from the interested person.
Applicants must always submit this visa application in the context of a personal interview at the German embassy (or the consulate general) in their home country.
It is very advisable to inquire about the procedure on the website of the respective embassy in advance. Many diplomatic missions abroad already have application forms in various languages that can be downloaded free of charge and provide important information about the documents you will need, as well as contact details and opening times. In addition, there are some diplomatic missions abroad that only give their pre-interview appointments online, so that you can save yourself an annoying trip for free if you first look at the website. The Foreign Office maintains a list of the websites of the various embassies at: http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/DE/Laenderinformationen/03-WebseitenAV/Uebersicht_node.html
With a few exceptions, a processing fee of EUR 60 must be paid when submitting the application.
The duration of the procedure varies greatly depending on whether a short-term or long-term stay is intended.
For a business or visitor visa, a decision should be ready within a few days / weeks, while the issue of a visa for a long-term stay can take several months. The main reason for this long processing time is that the immigration authorities of the future place of residence in Germany usually have to be involved in order to give their consent. The Federal Employment Agency sometimes has to be involved and, albeit very rarely, in some cases even the Foreign Office. In addition, documents (such as birth or marriage certificates, academic titles, etc.) are usually required for long stays, which in some countries must be authenticated by the embassy lawyers. In addition, there are always difficulties with the certified translations.
Obtaining a visa for a long-term stay is therefore often an arduous, rocky road, which unfortunately cannot be spared the applicant.
5. How can I get a Schengen Visa for a short visit?
The same requirements apply to all Schengen countries to apply for such a visa. It remains to be seen whether all Schengen states check the requirements with the same thoroughness.
The Visa Code standardizes the most important requirements, namely:
- The purpose of the trip must be plausible, i.e. you must be able to explain in a comprehensible manner what you intend to do in the Schengen area (tourism, business meetings, visiting friends / relatives, etc.).
- Financing must be secured, be it because the applicants can afford the trip on their own, or because they are invited by a financially strong person in Germany. This invitation is then issued in the form of a declaration of commitment (more on the declaration of commitment in the next section).
- In addition, applicants must provide evidence of travel health insurance with a minimum coverage of 30,000 euros for the entire Schengen area and for the entire duration of their stay.
- Finally, there must be willingness to return, i.e. the willingness of the visa holder to leave the Schengen area again before the visa expires and not to apply for a residence permit for a longer stay in Germany or even to go into hiding without a valid residence title.
The granting of many visa applications often fails because of the last requirement. The granting of the Schengen visa is at the discretion of the diplomatic mission, so there is no legal entitlement to it. The diplomatic mission abroad therefore checks in each individual case how likely it is that the applicant will return to their home country before the visa expires. How such a test is carried out cannot be described in general terms. The diplomatic missions abroad carefully examine the circumstances of each individual case before deciding on the application. It is therefore advisable to be very transparent from the outset. But it is sometimes difficult to say where the correct exercise of discretion ends and arbitrariness begins. Certainly, however, a completely different overall picture emerges when visiting relatives resident in Germany for the first time (a plausible and by no means suspicious reason for visiting) or when a young single woman wants to visit her unmarried boyfriend living in Germany (who knows whether she will Come up with the idea of a lightning wedding in Denmark and want to stay together despite the expiry of the visa in Germany). The declared purpose of the trip gives the embassy information about the willingness to return, but also the roots of the applicants in their own home country (if you leave a husband / wife and children in your own country, own real estate and have a stable job, you will hardly get the idea staying illegally in the federal territory after the visa has expired).
In addition, persons for whom a valid entry ban has been entered in the Schengen Information System (SIS) due to previous deportation or deportation and / or who are listed as a threat to public order, security and health in the Schengen states will initially not be able to obtain a visa.
The visa is also issued with an adhesive label on the passport. The application is rejected in writing by means of an often pre-formulated letter stating the reason for the rejection and instructions on legal assistance.
6. What is a declaration of commitment?
A declaration of commitment is sometimes belittled as an "invitation from foreigners", but is nothing more than a guarantee to the German state in the event that the invited foreigners unexpectedly incur costs.
The declaration of commitment is submitted to the responsible immigration authorities and in some places also to the registry office with proof of sufficient personal income / assets.
By submitting the declaration of commitment, the declaring party undertakes, in accordance with §§ 66, 68 of the Residence Act, to assume all costs that the invited person could cause to the German authorities until a new residence title is issued in the federal territory, such as benefits under the AsylbLG, possibly. Medical treatment costs as well as the costs of any necessary deportation including detention pending deportation.
A declaration of commitment is therefore very similar to a blank check. Particularly high cost risks arise above all if the invited person applies for asylum in the federal territory after entering the country; or necessary medical care is not covered by the international health insurance; or if there is no voluntary departure after the visa has expired and a deportation is initiated. Those who made the commitment will ultimately have to pay all of these costs, although far too often they were unaware of them when they made the commitment. It is therefore advisable to sleep over it for at least one night before making a declaration of commitment.
7. How can I get a long-term residence visa?
The German bureaucracy would certainly not have the reputation it has if there was a simple answer to this question.
Issuing a visa for a long-term stay takes a long time and is usually associated with a high level of bureaucratic effort. The reason for this is that the diplomatic mission - usually in conjunction with the immigration authorities of the future place of residence in Germany - must check whether the applicant can subsequently be granted a residence permit in Germany in order to issue the visa. The examination of the issue of the residence permit is therefore moved forward to the visa procedure.
The visas are then usually only issued for three months. However, the visa holders can enter Germany during this time, register here and receive a residence permit for their further stay without any problems.
That is why you sometimes have to be patient for such visa procedures and keep in mind that once the visa is "cracked", everything else will run like clockwork.
When it comes to the requirements for issuing a visa, a distinction must be made between general and specific requirements. The general requirements are the same for all applicants, while the specific requirements relate to the planned purpose of stay (such as studying, family reunification or employment) and are therefore very different.
7. a General conditions for issuance
The general requirements are regulated in Section 5 (1) of the Residence Act and can be summarized in a few words on the following points:
- The applicant's livelihood must be secured (more on this below).
- Applicants must have a passport so that their identity and nationality are clarified.
- The applicants must not have come into conflict with the judicial authorities in Germany in the past, so that there could be grounds for deportation against them. And they must not represent a prejudice to or endanger the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Securing a livelihood means nothing other than that applicants have to prove that they will not be entitled to benefits under SGB II (so-called Hartz IV) in Germany because they have their own income or assets or through binding support from third parties through a declaration of commitment be able to cover their own needs including health insurance. In addition, applicants must be able to provide evidence of sufficient living space in Germany. There are very few social benefits (such as child or parental benefit and unemployment benefit I) that they are "forgiven" for.
Many visa applications and, above all, applications from people who already live in Germany and need to extend their residence permit, but have since lost their jobs, also fail to secure their livelihood.
For foreign students, a special feature applies to securing their livelihood. Your livelihood is considered secure if you have a blocked account with the maximum BAföG rate for one year (i.e. 8040 euros for 2014). Otherwise, they can prove that they have secured their subsistence level either through regular income or through a declaration of commitment.
7. b Specific granting requirements
It is impossible to give detailed information about the different case constellations in the context of this article. General statements about this are an abomination for lawyers. It is therefore advisable to look for information on the website of the respective diplomatic mission or to seek professional advice if necessary.
In most cases, a long-term visa is issued for the purpose of studying, employment or family reunification, although the Residence Act provides for other options such as research, self-employment or admission from abroad for reasons of international law.
Studies / language acquisition
The study visa is issued for attending state or state-recognized universities or comparable training institutions. For this purpose, the applicants must apply for a visa at the responsible diplomatic mission abroad, providing evidence that they have been admitted to study at a German university. If you are not ready, for example, because you still have to pass an entrance exam, you can apply for a visa to apply for a degree instead.
There is also the option of applying for a language visa. This is not used for studies, but exclusively for language acquisition in an intensive course and does not authorize you to pursue gainful employment.
The Residence Act differentiates between unqualified, qualified and highly qualified employment.
In the case of unskilled employment, there is unfortunately little chance of getting a visa. The reason is that there is no need for foreign workers for unskilled work.
In the case of qualified employment, i.e. with at least two years of professional training, the chances of getting a visa depend on the respective profession.Those who have learned so-called shortage occupations such as plumbers or geriatric nurses have a good chance. In this case, you can apply for a visa together with proof of your qualifications and a job offer in Germany with good prospects. The list of professions that allow access to this work visa is also published in English by the Federal Employment Agency and is easy to find on its website under the keyword "positive list". However, the visa will only be issued if there is already a specific job offer and the agreed income is sufficient to secure a living.
Highly qualified foreigners are actually the only ones for whom the red carpet is being rolled out. They have the option of applying for the Blue Card. To do this, however, they must provide evidence of a job or a job offer in Germany with an annual salary of at least EUR 47,600 (or EUR 37,128 in the case of a shortage of skilled workers according to the positive list mentioned above) that corresponds to their qualifications. In the application process, you will also have to provide evidence of a German university degree or a comparable foreign university degree. If you are unsure how your foreign academic title will be recognized in Germany, you can find valuable information on the anabin website (http://www.anabin.kmk.org/). However, the issuing of the visa presupposes that the applicant already has a specific job offer in Germany. Incidentally, foreigners who study in Germany but have not yet found a job can also enter the country for six months to look for a job; however, this visa does not permit employment.
Usually, visas for the purpose of family reunification are separate spouses who want to reunite in Germany, or children who want to move to a parent living in Germany.
As an exception, the reunification of spouses with German spouses does not require the provision of livelihoods because the basic law guarantees them in Art. 6 a basic right to a family. Germans cannot be expected to leave their own country just to continue married life. Unfortunately, the situation is different if both spouses are foreign. In this case, securing a livelihood is still a requirement. This is all the more bitter for many families because many foreigners work in the low-wage sector and rarely earn enough for themselves, their spouses and the apartment.
In addition, the visa will only be issued if the applicant can provide evidence of A1 German language skills. The knowledge of German must therefore be acquired in the home country, otherwise the visa will not be issued at all. For many of those affected, these legal requirements are absurd and mean an involuntary separation. In a decision of July 10, 2014 (C-138/13), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) declared the language requirements for a Turkish couple to be contrary to European law. It remains to be seen what effects this will have on the legal situation and official practice in Germany.
Child reunification, i.e. the reunification of children with their parents living in Germany, is usually not a problem. It only becomes difficult if only one parent lives in Germany. In this case, it must be proven within the framework of the visa procedure that the parent living in Germany has sole custody. In addition, the law differentiates according to the age of the child: while children up to the age of 16 do not have to meet any further requirements, children from the age of 16 must be able to prove C1 knowledge of German in order to come to their mother or father in Germany.
In theory, a visa can also be issued for humanitarian reasons. In fact, however, such visas are only issued in drops and subject to high requirements. This usually takes place after a decision by the federal government to accept a certain number of refugees from a country - so-called quota refugees. For example, last year the admission of 5,000 people from Syria was initially decided and has now increased to a total of 20,000 people. As long as the quota is not exhausted, persecuted citizens from Syria can apply for a visa for humanitarian reasons. The visas are not necessarily issued to those who are most in need of protection. The reason for this is that further granting requirements usually also apply here. At the moment, the quota refugees must also have friends or family members in the federal territory who are willing to accept the applicants and pay for their livelihood. Anyone who has no financially strong family members in Germany will therefore hardly have access to a visa despite the well-spoken aid campaigns. For these people there is only the alternative of illegal entry.
8. What can I do about the rejection of my visa application?
You can remonstrate in writing against the rejection within one month. The word remonstrate It sounds bulky, but it means nothing more than contradicting it.
The diplomatic mission will then re-examine the case. With a little luck, the visa will be issued. Otherwise, the diplomatic mission abroad will make the final rejection decision in a remonstration notice. You can take legal action against this before the Administrative Court in Berlin within one month of delivery.
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