How to Change Visa Status in Germany

Living in Germany, Move to Germany

Changing visa status can bring much hustle with it, such as organizing all paperwork and paying additional costs to this. The good news is that changing between different visas or residence permits is possible in Germany. In fact, it’s very common prozess foreigners need to go through while living in Germany. The bad news is that some visas and residence permits have restrictions and limitations when it comes to extension or change.

Generally, it’s possible to change the status of your visa in Germany if all requirements are met. However, tourist can’t change their visa, they will need to leave Germany and apply for an appropriate visa from their country of the residence.

In this post, you will find out when it possible to change visa status in Germany and when not, as well as all related to visa and residence permits information.

Opportunities to Change Visa Status in Germany

Living as a foreigner in Germany can be challenging, especially when it comes to visas and residence permits since they are strictly regulated and require a lot of paperwork.

As you might know, everyone who holds a passport of the non-EU country needs a visa to enter Germany and a resident permit to stay longer than 3 months. Citizens of non-EU countries also need a visa for entering Germany (with some exceptions see below).

If you already in Germany on one particular visa or residence permit and want to continue your stay or change the purpose of stay you need to be aware of some things.

Firstly the typical tourist Schengen visa can’t be extended or exchanged in Germany. It’s the most common case when people travel to Germany on the tourist visa and decite to stay longer, but there is simply no way for this.

In almost 100% cases they will need to travel to their home country and apply for another type of German visa. This process can take up to 6 weeks.

If you are staying on another type of visa (long term visa) authorities will need to examine all details related to your current and future resident permit.

They will check whether the residence title is still valid or can be extended, whether another type of residence title might be more appropriate and whether you fullfill all requirements.

General Information

To understand your opportunities we need to look at all possible residence titles which exist in Germany. There are just 5 of them:

  1. Visa
  2. Residence permit
  3. Settlement permit
  4. EU long-term residence permit
  5. EU Blue Card

They will be granted only if the applicant meets certain criteria. All types of visas usually have to be obtained in the German embassy in the home country of the applicant. Residence permits are available within Germany.

Each visa and residence permit has its the purpose of stay or status. You need to apply for a visa or residence permit which is related to your purpose of stay. This usually falls into one of the following 4 categories:

1. Family reasons:

marriage, children joining their parents or parents joining their minor children, family members joining other family members

2. Education or study:

e.g. school attendance, professional qualification or university studies

3. Compensated activities:

e.g. highly qualified, temporary or other employment, self-employment, research activities or intra-company transfers

4. Reasons of international law or humanitarian and/or political reasons:

asylum, subsidiary protection, any other protection or temporary suspension of deportation

So if a change in your visa caused by any of these reasons there is a very high chance that you can exchange your current visa/residence permit on the new one.

How You Can Change It

By far the most important requirement is that the conditions for the issuance of another residence permit are met. For example for the working residence permit, you will need a signed contract from the employer, or for a student permit, you will need an acceptance letter from the university. But of course, there is much more to the requirements than just that.

If requirements are met you can apply and receive new residence permit within Germany without even leaving the country.

In case if your previous residence permit or visa expires soon you will receive a Fiktionsbescheinigung which will allow you to stay up to 3 months in Germany without a visa.

In this Fiktionsbescheinigung worker of immigration office will write down your name, dates from and till when it’s valid, and which residence permit you have applied for. You can also travel abroad with Fiktionsbescheinigung.

Foreign Students Have Advantages

Germany tries to help the foreign students to stay and boost the local economy even more after they have finished their degree. In the last years, the country has been issued thousands of working residence permits for graduates with even self-employment permission.

Also, participants in vocational training have some benefits in Germany. They will receive a working residence permit for up to 2 years with possible extension after, the same period applies to university graduates.

Who Can’t Change Visa Status in Germany

Not always change in visa status is possible, even if all requirements are met. Some visas just could be extended or changed under no circumstances some have strict requirements and limitations.

If you are a non-EU citizen and fall into one of these categories then you can’t change your visa or apply for a residence permit in Germany:

  • Students of language schools/courses
  • Asylum applicants
  • Rejected asylum seekers
  • Schengen visa holders (tourists)

*Change possible only in exceptional cases. With that said your visa status still can be exchanged but under particular requirements and as part of more unusual cases.

Tourists can’t apply for a visa from Germany or change their tourist status on some other, the rule is strict and there are no exceptions. They always will need to go back home and apply at the German embassy for a national visa D if they want to stay longer than tourist visa allows (3 months).

Visa D has different purposes of stay in Germany, therefore you need to choose one which fits you (see purposes below).

Who Can Change Visa Status in Germany

These changes in visa status are generally possible. Some of them are allowed only under special conditions like if you are a student and want to receive a working residence permit you need to finish your studies first and get a diploma/qualification.

These changes are possible for the following categories of residents:

  • University students
  1. Woking permits after they have completed the study program in Germany and received qualifications.
  2. Residence permit for Research – completed degree is required, but not necessarily German.
  3. EU Blue Card – completed degree is required, but not necessarily German.
  4. Freelance work or Self Employment – completed a degree in Germany is required.

Usually, there is no problem for students to change their student permit after they have finished their study program, so they can stay and work in the country without having to leave.

If a student of the university wants to change his/her student residence permit for a residence permit with reason to participate in professional training (Ausbildung). It’s still can be possible, the only profession they want to go after must be in the shortage list.

  • Trainees/Participants in vocational training
  1. Residence permit for study
  2. EU Blue Card – completed degree is required, but not necessarily German.
  3. Working permit – after they have completed the study program in Germany and received qualifications, or in case they already have recognized in Germany diplomas and certificates as well as job offers.
  4. Freelance Work or Self-Employment – completed a degree is required.

In the same way as students, participants of professional training can change their permit to the work permit after they have completed the training and received a qualification.

  • EU Blue Card
  1. All above mentioned changes are allowed
  • Woking visa/permit
  1. All mentioned above permits are allowed
  • Freelancer visa
  1. Change to all mentioned above permits are allowed
  • Self-employed/Owner of the company
  1. Change to all mentioned above permits are allowed
  • Family reasons/Spouse

This residence permit is granted to people who move to Germany for family reasons, such as children and spouses of someone who is gonna or already working in Germany. As well as people who marry a German.

  1. Change to all mentioned above permits is allowed.

However, when changing from this visa status to any other mentioned above residents can lose some social benefits. For example, when changing to the student visa they can lose financial support from the government if they have been taking one or planning to take.

As you can see changes in visa status is very depends on your current visa/permit. Generally, if you are on long-term visa (type D) in Germany you should be able to change the visa status or your purpose of stay.

Read more in detail about changing between visa statuses in Germany here.

Who Can Apply for a Visa within Germany?

Usually, if you are from non-EU countries you need to apply for your first German visa from your home country. After you have stayed in Germany on that visa you can apply for a residence permit or change the visa status within Germany.

However, citizens of some countries have privileges when it comes to the first visa application – they can do it from Germany and not necessarily from their home countries (although it’s still possible).

1. The list includes Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and the USA. These nationals don’t need to have a visa to enter Germany and they can apply for a residence permit if they want to stay longer for a particular reason. But there must be the reason, you can’t just apply for a permit for staying in the country and doing your thing.

Moreover, for these nationals change between visas status is fundamentally possible, it doesn’t matter which status their current and future resident permit has.

2. Additionally, citizens of Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, and San Marino also have some advantages, they can apply for a residence permit from Germany even if they arrived on a tourist visa.

Also for people from these countries changes in visa status is in general possible, with the exception for working or vocational training permits, unless the profession falls into shortage list.

How to Apply for a New Visa for Germany?

Firstly you need to be aware that online application isn’t possible and you always need to appear personally in the embassy in your country or in the immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) of your city in Germany.

For every resident permit, there are different requirements but basics are that Germany wants to see if you have:

  • enough money to stay in the country for the length of the permit
  • you have health insurance (it’s a must in Germany)
  • you have a roof over your head

The financial stability can be provided in different ways:

  • bank statement with at least 10,000 EUR on the account
  • sponsorships
  • a working contract which outlines a salary
  • income, funds, property and the financial situation of the parents
  • scholarship

What about fees for visa application? Firstly a national visa it’s what you will have to apply from your home country and it costs 75 EUR. If it’s your first German visa you will need to apply for a residence permit within the 3 months after arrival in Germany.

Fees for the residence permit vary depending on the purpose of stay. It starts at 100 EUR and ends at 250 EUR. That is actually very affordable if you compare it for example with permits in the UK.

And also don’t forget that fact, that many residence permits are issued only for one year, so you will need to pay this price annually.

Conclusion

Change of residence titles and purposes is a common practice in Germany. Especially often foreigners change from a study residence permit to a residence or permanent residence permit for employment purposes, an EU Blue card, or a residence permit for family reasons.

Generally, if requirements for the next visa are fulfilled it’s possible to make a change even within Germany. Some groups of people are affected by limitations and restrictions on visa changes:

  • students
  • participants in vocational training
  • persons ongoing asylum procedure
  • rejected asylum seekers
  • Schengen visa holders

Also keep in mind that tourist and language course visas cannot be converted into a student visa by any means!

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