Visa and Entry
If you are planning to do research or to work at Bielefeld University, you should gather information regarding the visa regulations as early as possible.
All international citizens of countries that do not belong to the EU or the EEA require a visa, if they wish to stay, study, and/or work in Germany. Exceptions are citizens of countries that have made special agreements with either the EU or Germany.
In order to get a visa you will need to contact the German Consulate in your home country and apply for a visa to enter Germany.
Regardless of whether or not you need a visa to enter Germany, all persons staying in the country for longer than three months are obliged to register where they are living with the municiple authorities (Meldepflicht). In other words, after entering Germany you must report to your local residents' registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) within the first week. The same applies to family members traveling with you.
Types of Visa
When applying for a visa, you must give precise and detailed information on the intended duration of your stay and the purpose of your visit (e.g. employment, studies, research etc.). It depends on this information which type of visa will be granted.
Staying in Germany as an international scholar usually requires a national visa. This is usually issued for a 3-months-period. Before it runs out, you have to convert it into a long-term residence permit at the foreigners' registration office. The national visa gives you the right to stay in the country you applied for and has to be changed if you are planning to travel to other countries.
Visa for Researchers
Non-European Researchers who are planning to stay for more than 3 months
Please note: In order to apply for a Visa for Researchers/ residence permit under §20 German Residence Law you need to conclude a Hosting Agreement with Bielefeld University after your arrival. Please contact the Welcome Centre to learn more about the hosting agreement and its conditions. Please also inform your German mission abroad that you intend to conclude a hosting agreement while applying for a visa.
Under the following conditions the Visa for Researchers might be the right choice for you:
- For spouses of "Researchers": With such a visa there is no basic knowledge of the German language required to enter the employment market
- If travelling within the EU is part of your academic work, this type of visa will reduce the travelling regulation in these countries
- If you are funded by a scholarship the residence permit procedure will be much easier.
If none of the above-mentioned characteristics apply to you, you can of course apply for a regular National Visa for Employment.
Schengen Visa ("Tourist-Visa")
We strongly advise international scholars not to apply for a Schengen Visa, because it cannot be extended or converted into any other type of visa. A Schengen visa is granted for short-term stays in the Schengen area not exceeding 90 days in any six-month-period.
For more information please click here
If you intend to visit another Schengen country at the beginning of your stay in Germany, then you need to apply for a dual visa. This will allow you to make short visits (up to 3 months) to all member states of the Schengen agreement before being granted a residence permit for Germany.
You can apply for a visa at the German Embassy in your home country or a German consulate representing the area in which you are registered or usually live. You have to present the following documents and evidence in person:
- the application form obtained free of charge from the embassy or consulate
- a valid passport
- biometric passport photographs
- confirmation of a scholarship or an invitation from a German higher education institute or research institute giving detailed information on the purpose and duration of your stay, or a work contract specifying duration and income, or a declaration of intent from a research institute that they will employ you
- proof of a travel health insurance
After receiving all necessary documents, the German Embassy or Consulate will examine whether the visa you have applied for requires the consent of the foreigners' registration office in your future place of residence. This is generally not necessary for international scholars and their families, and, under these conditions, a visa can be issued within 2-3 weeks. Nonetheless, to be on the safe side, allow a longer period for your visa to be processed.
You can find further and more detailed information on visas under: