When the time comes to start planning your move to Bavaria, your future university will be able to give you advice about visas and residence permits. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Welcome Centers Are Here to Help

Whether you are a doctoral candidate, a postdoc, or a professor, your future university can help you with questions about visas and residence. All Bavarian universities have Welcome Centers or similar service units with a friendly and experienced staff that is ready to assist you in these matters, making the process as smooth as possible. Our university directory has direct links to the individual websites.

Who Needs a Visa?

Several factors are decisive in determining whether you need a visa and if so, what kind. Your nationality is the most important factor. The length of your stay can also be relevant—there are different visas and requirements for short- and long-term research stays. The type of visa you need will also depend on whether you are coming as a doctoral candidate, a visiting researcher, an employee, or some mix of the three. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees provides detailed information about visas for researchers, but the Welcome Center at your future university can help you sort out the fine print.

Researchers from the European Union, EEA Countries, and Switzerland

If you are a citizen of another European Union country, a country from the European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland, it is very easy to move to Bavaria. You do not need a visa at all! Like all residents of Germany, you simply need to register with the local authorities when you arrive.

Researchers from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the UK, and the US

Citizens from these countries do not need a visa to enter Germany. However, if you plan to stay for more than 90 days, or if you are going to be employed here, you will need a residence permit to be able to work. Visiting scholars with a contract will also require a residence permit before they can legally start working.

You can apply for the residence permit after your arrival. It will take some time to process your permit, so you should factor this time into the starting date of your new position. To speed up the process, discuss this with your Welcome Center well before your departure.

Researchers from Other Countries

The right visa for your stay

If you are a citizen from a “third country”, i.e. not part of the EU, EEA, Switzerland, or the countries mentioned above, you will likely need a visa to enter Germany. To get the right visa for the purpose of your stay, check with the German diplomatic mission in your country. They can help you determine the type of visa you need and the steps required to obtain it. Start the process several months in advance to make sure your visa arrives in time. You can direct visa questions to your future university’s Welcome Center and they can help you find answers.

Short-term mobility options

There are several options for short-term mobility. It is possible to carry out your research stay in Bavaria on a Schengen visa, which allows you to remain here for up to 90 days. You will need an invitation letter from your host research institution as part of your application.

If you are already staying in the EU and have a valid residence permit for researchers, you can come to Bavaria for a research stay relatively easily. You can carry out research at a Bavarian research institution for up to six months within a 360-day period, which can be extended. However, your Bavarian host institution must get in touch with the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees to make sure that they know you are coming. It is advised to apply for your stay at least 30 days in advance.

Several factors are decisive for the kind of visa you will have to apply for. Legally binding information can be found on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.

Residence Permits

When you arrive in Bavaria, you will likely need to obtain a residence permit. If you have applied for a visa before, this is a relatively easy process. If you are allowed to arrive in Germany without a visa but are obliged to apply for a residence permit, you should get in contact with your Welcome Center once it is clear where you will pursue your research. They can tell you what steps you need to take prior to departure, and what you will still need to take care of once you arrive. Residence permits are issued by the Foreigners Office (Ausländeramt) in your area.

Permanent Residence

Your residence permit will be valid for a limited period of time. The extension process is quite simple for doctoral candidates, visiting researchers, and employees. If you ultimately decide to settle in Germany, you can apply for a permanent residence permit after usually five years. Depending on your German language skills, on the pension contributions you have paid, or on the type of your residence permit (e.g. an EU Blue Card), it can be even less! 

EU Blue Card and Highly Qualified Workers

The EU Blue Card is a special residence permit issued to highly skilled workers coming from outside the EU. Generally, it allows you to work in Germany for four years and can be extended beyond that. The specific conditions depend on your contract with your employer.

In order to obtain a Blue Card you need a recognized university degree and a concrete job offer with a substantial salary. It is worth noting that even if you fulfill all the conditions for an EU Blue Card, it may not be the best visa option for you. We recommend getting in touch with your Welcome Center to discuss your options.

Details on the EU Blue Card

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