We love helping expats from all around the world with their visa appointments – so we’ve gathered 7 common mistakes people make at the Ausländerbehorde/Landesamt für Einwanderung (LEA) in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt.
2023: this post is celebrating its tenth year anniversary! So we decided to give it a refresher.
1. Not registering your address before you go
You might not get very far if you’re not registered in the city. Register your address at the Bürgeramt (or the KVR in Munich) and do it before your appointment, or they will send you away. 2023: Yes, we know that the website says you can show up with your Wohnungsgeberbestätigung and your rental contract if you haven’t yet registered in Berlin. And yet we are constantly hearing of case workers sending applicants away because they are not yet registered. This might be beyond your control – we know how hard it is to even find a place in Berlin at which you can register … but if not, we strongly recommend registering your address before you go to the foreigner’s office. Need help? We can generally get you an appointment within 10-14 business days.
2. Not having the right type of health insurance
There are lots of different types of health insurance out there, so how are you supposed to know which kinds are accepted? Talk to a broker who knows what they’re doing (we love Emily from Archer Relocation). Their advice is free, so you have nothing to lose. Make sure the health insurance you buy is recognized in Germany and accepted by BaFin, and bring the certificate and all accompanying documents with you.
3. Showing up without an appointment
2023 – BERLIN LEA is operating by appointment only – don’t show up at all without an appointment.
4. Incomplete application forms
The application form is available in English and so many people forget to fill it out. If this happens to you, you’ll get a grumpy sigh or – worst case – the case worker will tell you to sit in the waiting room and fill it out, and they’ll call up your number again later …. at their convenience.
5. Not bringing a photo
This will set you back a few hours of waiting time. Luckily, there’s a photo booth in the building! I hope you brought cash to pay for them…
6. Expecting to get your permit on the spot
What a thrill when this happens, but don’t be distraught if something goes wrong or if there’s a processing time. Sometimes, they’ll want to see an extra document you don’t have with you, even if it’s not listed on your appointment information sheet. Sometimes, the rules change. And for some types of permits, the office has to send them away to the Federal Employment Agency for approval.
We know the feeling! It feels like your whole fate is hanging on this one appointment. Red Tape Translation has seen quite a few tears, shaking hands, and even a panic attack or two. Whatever happens, the police won’t come to the office and escort you into quarantine. You can always revisit the office and drop in a missing document or try for another visa type if things don’t work the first time around.