Dealing with German bureaucracy may be one of the most daunting things a person can face. It may be worse than sitting through Gigli and Glitter back to back. Many people in the face of it, run away and give up. I honestly don’t blame them. After spending a few years in Germany, I’ve experienced the worst of it. So, here is some advice and tips on how to move to Germany temporarily and get a visa to stay on for a longer, and maybe even make a bit of money in the process.
- The first thing you should know is that your Tourist visa (that stamp they put in your passport) will last you for up to 3 months from your arrival. You are not allowed to work, but it’s a good basis to get your feet on the ground and get settled.
- An easy way to get a visa is a student Visa. You can apply to a University, see if your school has an exchange program, or apply for a scholarship. P.A.D. has some where you can work as an english teaching assistant in a school, Fulbright has many programs, and the DAAD in Germany has some scholarships. To obtain a visa you’ll need proof that you’ll be able to support yourself (a notarized letter from a parent or someone saying they can support you financially… I think the number is about 800 euros a month that is required), A bank statement showing you have the money, or proof of an income or scholarship. You will also need to register with the city (anmeldung) by the Rathaus in your Town or City. You’ll need to get an address to do this, and most likely a bank account. You will also need proof of insurance, and a passport picture where you aren’t smiling (I know.. it’s messed up).
- All of these things will take about a day or half day to do since you’ll be waiting in line or talking to bureaucrats. The order which you probably want to do this is 1) proof of income, get passport pictures 2) proof of insurance 3) find residence 4) Open a bank account 5) Anmeldung (or registration with the city) 6) Go to the foreigners office in your city or district and apply for a visa
- Tips for a student visa – Get a student ID asap. It’ll give you numerous benefits within Germany. Including a discount in a Bahncard 25, or 50, which gives you a huge price savings when traveling by train. You are allowed to work part time with the student visa. Ask them at the office how long you’re allowed to work. I think it’s something like 180 days in the year part time.
- To get a work visa. The easiest way will be to get sponsored by any company. You’ll have to go through all of the same steps as the student visa except you won’t need a proof of income since you’ll be (presumably) making money to support yourself. The easiest way to get a work contract is to apply for a Sprachschule. This is a private language school. What to do is type “sprachschule city or town” into google. Then look at the company listings. Spam these listings with your resume and you should get a decent amount of responses. Most of these schools look for some kind of teaching experience or certification, but you can usually find something somewhere since English teaching is pretty sought after. Once you get a contract from a school. Bring it to the foreigners office and you’ll be set.
- Tip for all visas: Bring all of your papers with you wherever you go and about 5 copies. It may seem excessive, but if you don’t have the right papers or documents and certain copies they’ll make you come back and start all over. This can take a lot of time.
Living and working in Germany is a cool experience once you’re beyond the bureaucratic stuff. I hope this helps.