Germany has become an attractive opportunity for international scientists and researchers of various fields, luring them to engage on researches at different institutions located in the Western European country. Not by chance, the country is known as the land of invention and innovation among others, a gateway for all those who wish to discover the unseen of the mysterious world of science.

However, coming to work in the Federal Republic of Germany as a Scientist or a Visiting Scholar requires the completion of a whole process, like finding an institution where you can carry / participate in a research, as well as getting a visa (if you need one).

In this article, we have explained what international scientists and scholars have to do in order to obtain a visa, as well as how to find out whether they are subject to the visa regime or not.

Who needs a Germany Scientist / Visiting Scholar Visa?

Because of the entry policies and regulations of the Federal Republic of Germany, whether you need a visa or not, it all depends in your nationality / citizenship.

That is why, you must check whether you need a visa or not, before starting the application process for one.

Internationals that do not need a Scientist / Visiting Scholar Visa

Researchers and scientists who are passport holders of one of the member countries of the European Union, the European Economic Area or the European Free Trade Area, are not obliged to obtain any visa  to enter the country and participate in a study / research. However, if he or she plans to stay in the country for longer than three months, a registration at the local authorities is a necessary.

On the meantime, nationals of Australia, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Republic of South Korea, and the United States of America can enter the Federal Republic of Germany visa-free with only a valid passport. Nonetheless, they still need to register at the local authorities – the Resident Registration Office or Citizen Service upon their arrival, and obtain an employment permit in order to be able to work.

Internationals that need Scientist / Visiting Scholar Visa

As per the nationals of the rest of world countries, they will be required to obtain a visa in order to be eligible to enter and carry their research in Germany.

Germany Visa Requirements

The German immigration authorities have a list of the required documents for a visa, specifying the criteria each of them should fulfill in order for the applicant to obtain the visa. We have grouped these requirements for researchers and scientist into two groups, as following:

Commonly Required Documents for a Visa

  • Application form – which should be fully completed. Pay attention to give correct information and try to avoid any typos. Print the form twice, and sign both copies at the end.
  • Two identical photographs – full face, no busy background and taken within the last three months. The photos should comply with the requirements as set by the German immigration authorities.
  • Valid national passport – which has been issued within the last 10 years and with at least 12 months validity left after the scheduled return of the applicant. See this page for more details on passport requirements.
  • 1 copy of your passport’s data page (A4 size copy)
  • Health Insurance – you will have to submit a document that confirms you have purchased health insurance for Guest Scientists. The insurance must cover any need for emergency medical treatment or hospitalization for illnesses and accidents with a minimum of 30 thousand euros. It shall also cover repatriation in case of death.
  • Flight Itinerary – that can be a flight reservation, rail tickets, others. You can use the visa consultation services like this one or find one online.
  • Proof of accommodation for your entire stay in the Schengen area – which can be hotel booking or an invitation letter by a host, who is your friend or family member.
  • Proof of civil status: Marriage certificate, birth certificate of children, death certificate of spouse
  • Means of Subsistence – you will need to present documents that prove you are capable to cover financial needs. This can be a bank statement that shows you have enough money to financially fund yourself for the whole period you will be remaining in Germany, a contract with the company where you will be interning / training that shows how much, you are going to get paid, if you will be receiving any payment. It can also be a letter by a sponsor who confirms they will be sending you money regularly, accompanied by their bank statement, work contract and pay slips, in order to support their letter. It can also be a combination of all of them. As part of the financial funds you may have to submit the following documents according to your working status:
    • If employed: Pay slips of the past three months / employment contract
    • If self-employed: Certificate of Proprietorship or other proof of ownership (proof of land title, proof of income from agriculture (sales form) etc.)

Specific Requirements for a Scientist / Visiting Scholar Visa

  • Personal covering letter explaining the purpose of stay in Germany
  • No-objection letter of your local university / research institute, which confirms that you have contractual obligations in your home country that you have to and will return to.
  • Invitation letter from German university / research institute confirming conditions of your stay in Germany, including payment (scholarship)
  • Proof of academic qualification (academic degree certificate or mark sheets)

Please take notice that the German Embassy in your home country reserves the right to ask for additional documents if they see it necessary. Submission of the required documents does not guarantee that you will be granted with a visa. Submission of incomplete documentation or refusal to appear for a visa interview will result in the rejection of your application.

Application Process

If you need to obtain a visa then follow this step-by-step guideline which shows what one has to do in order to get a visa. The application must be submitted at the embassy or consulate in your home country that is closer to your home. In some countries, there are also visa application centers where you can apply for your visa and may be closer to you home.

It is recommended you apply for a visa at least 3 weeks before your travel date to meet any processing delays.

Germany Scientist / Visiting Scholar Visa Fee

All visa candidates will need to pay a fee in order for their application to be processed. A Germany visa fee for a long-stay visa is 75 euros as of 2017.  The applicants should pay the fee in euros or in their local currency according to the currency exchange rates approved by the embassy.

Please note the visa fees will not be reimbursed in case of the visa being rejected and the price is subject to change at any time.

Visa Processing

The embassy may take 10 to 15 days to process your application. The processing time may extend in cases when the embassy is receiving a lot of applications, or in other specific situations of the applicant. That is why you are highly recommended to apply as soon as you can. The earliest you can apply for a visa is 3 months prior to your planned trip and the latest is three weeks prior to your planned trip.

Can I extend my Scientist / Visiting Scholar Visa?

A Long-Stay visa for researchers or scientists in Germany can be extended, in many cases. The applicant should make an appointment at the foreigners’ registration office in the German city they are staying at least two months prior to their visa expiration.

On the day of the appointment, the candidate should show up at the foreigners’ office with the required documents. A cover letter of the reason behind the visa extension application is a must. You also need to submit a letter from the research university / institution that confirms they would like you to continue working on your study for a few more months. The renewal / extension fee for a visa is about 80 euros.

Can I bring my family over?

All those in living in Germany with a Long-Stay visa and participating in a research / study can bring their spouse and children over, if they wish to. However, there are some requirements, as following:

  • You must have enough room for more family members at the place you are living
  • You must show that you can financially support your family members that will be joining you
  • These family members must have at least basic German language knowledge
  • Your children must be underage and unmarried.

Also, your spouse will be eligible to work during his / her stay, upon receiving a work permit from the Federal Employment Agency in Germany.