Change of Status for a Schengen Visa to a Residence Permit in Germany
All Schengen Visa applicants lodging an application file from the first Sunday of February 2020 and on, will be subject to the new Schengen Visa Code.
When living in Germany with a Schengen visa, the process to get a permanent residence permit can be cumbersome and time-consuming. However, if you know what to expect and have the patience and determination, it’s not so bad after all. If you’re planning to move from your visa to your residence permit in Germany, these are some things you need to know about the change of status process.
The Schengen visa allows free movement within the Schengen Area, a group of 26 European countries that have eliminated border controls between them, allowing you to travel freely from one country to another as long as you have your passport on you. To apply for the visa, you must demonstrate an intention to leave the Schengen Area upon its expiration. In some cases, however, it may be possible to convert your visa into a residence permit.
Ever since Germany opened its borders to the Schengen region, it has received one of the highest rates of immigration in Europe – and that’s saying something considering the variety of countries that make up the region. While there are many people who come to the country with a short-term visa, there are others who come looking to make Germany their new home, which may lead them to apply for a residence permit. Here is an overview on how you can change your visa status from a temporary stay to permanent residency in Germany!
Who can apply?
If you currently hold a valid Schengen visa, you can file an application with your local immigration office to change your status from that of a visitor who is coming to Germany for the purpose of travelling or tourism, as opposed to coming here for the purposes of studying, working, or staying here indefinitely.
You may be eligible if you have been living and continuously residing in another EU country and want to live and work permanently in Germany. You will need proof that you have been living and residing legally in another EU country.
Other requirements include:
- Proof that you are not an asylum seeker (such as an asylum certificate) or refugee (such as a passport stamp or refugee ID).
- No criminal record abroad.
Can I change visa status in Germany?
Yes, you can change your visa status in Germany. You will need to apply for a residence permit (the process is called Anmeldung) and you should also take care of any taxes or other obligations with the German authorities (such as your income tax). The process is not difficult but it does require some planning. First, you should visit the immigration office near your home and register there.
Then, you’ll need to find out what kind of residence permit you can get and how much time it takes to receive one. You can find out what kind of permit you are eligible for by checking the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge website. For example, if your family member has been granted asylum in Germany and you’re joining them, then that means that your own asylum request will be processed faster because this is considered a family reunion case.
I currently hold a German Schengen visa; am I able to convert this to a residence permit?
You won't be able to get a German residence permit if you have a Schengen visa in the vast majority of cases. In order to be eligible for a residence permit in Germany, you are required to have entered the country using a German national visa type D. Only if you satisfy all three of the following requirements will you be eligible to apply for a residence permit in Germany using your existing Schengen visa:
- According to the German Residence Act, you are entitled to a residence permit as a matter of law; and
- This legal right was established as a result of your participation; and
- The occurrence of the legal right took place within federal territory.
For instance, this would be the case if you gave birth in Germany during the time that you were in possession of a Schengen visa and became the biological parent of a child who was subsequently granted German citizenship.
This indicates that you do not have the right to convert your German Schengen visa into a residence permit if any of the following conditions are met:
- You tie the knot in a different country that is a member of the EU (e.g., in Austria).
- You have plans to remain because you want to continue your studies, get more training, or pursue economic opportunities.
- There is a birth of a child who will not be eligible for German citizenship.
Changing Over from a Long-Stay Visa for Germany to a Residence Permit in Germany
After entering Germany on a long-stay visa, you will be able to submit an application for a residence permit to the Immigration Office (Auslanderbehorde) in the city of Germany in which you intend to make your permanent home. The category of long-stay visa for which you applied will determine the terms under which the residence permit is issued to you. The following categories make up Germany's long-stay visas:
- This is the Student Visa for Germany is a visa that gives you permission to study in Germany if you are a student from another country. You are required to submit an application for a German student visa if you intend to study in the country for longer than ninety days. If this is not the case, then you will need to apply for a Schengen visa instead if you plan to attend school in Germany for fewer than ninety days.
- The Visa for the German Language Course is a category of educational visa that gives you the opportunity to enroll in a full-time program in Germany for a period ranging from three months to one year. The length of time for the language class that you want to take must be at least 18 hours.
- Visa for those looking for work is an excellent option for people who want to remain in Germany for a period of six months in order to look for work. During this time, you won't be able to begin working. However, if you are successful in finding employment within this time frame, you will be eligible to submit an application for a work visa in Germany.
- This is the Work Visa gives you the opportunity to live and work in Germany for a period of two years. If you are an intra-company transferee or a highly qualified individual, you may be eligible to apply for a work visa in the country in question. If you are a citizen of the European Union/European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you do not require a work visa to work in Germany.
- The Freelance Visa for German Citizens permits you to engage in independent contract work in Germany. This category of visa can be used for a total of three years. There are two different kinds of visas for independent contractors: the freelancer visa (German: Freiberufler) and the self-employed contractor visa (Selbstandiger).
- Visa for Visiting Scholars and Guest Scientists in Germany grants you permission to travel to Germany and participate in a variety of research activities there. If you need to stay in Germany for a longer period of time, you can get this visa extended. You are permitted to bring along not only your spouse but also your children and parents if you have a research visa for Germany.
- The Visa for Treatment in Germany for Medical Purposes is a category of long-stay visa that allows you to receive medical treatment in Germany provided that you can demonstrate that you have sufficient financial means to do so.
- The German Visa for the Reunification of Families offers the fantastic opportunity to bring your family with you once you have established yourself in Germany after you have moved there.
Costs and duration
- The costs and duration are based on the type of visa you currently hold, how long it is valid for and where you plan to live.
- If your visa expires before you have applied for a residence permit, you will be unable to stay in the country beyond your expiry date. It is important that you apply well ahead of time.
- A change of status application can take up to six months. If the application is rejected, an appeal must be made within one month or the applicant must leave the country immediately after rejection.
- The costs are approximately €200 per person.
How long do I need to stay in Germany?
If you are planning on staying more than three months, you will need to apply for a residence permit. Your initial temporary residence permit is valid for six months and can be extended up to two years. You must apply before it expires and there is no guarantee you will get it. You also need to apply again if you want the permit extended beyond two years or if your name or other personal details change.
Your visa will say how long you can stay. It is best to read carefully, as overstaying your visa could lead to trouble with immigration authorities. If you decide that you need more time than your visa allows, it may be possible to apply for an extension but there is no guarantee that it will be granted. You should also ensure that you have a return ticket in case you are denied an extension. Remember: if there’s even a slight chance that your application won’t be approved then it’s best not to come at all.
How do I extend my residence permit?
To extend your residence permit, you need to apply for the extension at least three months before your current visa expires. This means if your visa is valid until October 1, you should submit your application by July 1. When submitting the application, make sure it includes all supporting documents and pays the required fees. You'll be contacted if any additional information is needed.
The German immigration authority will then inform you whether or not they are willing to extend your residence permit within four weeks from the date of receiving your application. If granted, you will receive a letter that confirms this decision and indicates when it becomes effective: usually two weeks after receiving this letter.
What can I do if my visa expires before it is extended?: The German immigration authority does not always extend residence permits, even if there are no problems with them. This means that your residence permit may expire before your application has been approved.
If that happens and you want to remain legally in Germany, you must apply for a new visa based on an extension to your original one. However, if you have moved or will be moving outside of Germany during that time, then you may need to apply for a new visa at an embassy or consulate in your new country.
You may have missed the six-month window to renew your visa, but you can still make the change from a tourist visa to an employment permit. The process is lengthy and complicated, but it will give you more mobility. Get started as soon as possible so that you don't lose time with your job search.