Every now and then, you fall in love with Germany. Or maybe it’s person who just happens to live in Germany. Whichever it is, time is running out and you want a way to stay as long as you can. You don’t even really care how, as long as it’s legal. Or perhaps you just need to buy some time between your Schengen Visa running out and you figuring out what happens next. I know the feeling very well, so this post is for you.
How long can I be a tourist in Germany?
If you’re on a Schengen Visa, you can stay in the Schengen region for 90 days out of a 180-day period. They don’t have to be consecutive. If you want to stay in Germany longer than 90 days, you’ll need a residence permit. I’ve also written another article about the Schengen Visa.
Will I have to leave and re-enter Germany?
There are a few “privileged countries” that allow their citizens to enter Germany and apply for a permit once inside the Federal Republic. These include the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the Republic of Korea. If you don’t belong to one of these countries, you can only apply for a long-term visa from outside of Germany. Contact the German consulate/embassy in your country of residence to find out exactly what you have to do.
What kind of permit will allow me to stay?
I’ll assume for the purposes of this post that you are a tourist from a privileged country, you’re already in Germany, you don’t have an employment contract or an academic placement lined up, you’re not engaged to a European citizen and you aren’t planning on birthing a baby who is a German citizen anytime soon.
A Freelance Permit could work if you have job offers from German companies, work experience, savings and health insurance. A freelance permit won’t work if you don’t have any work lined up in Germany or don’t really want to start a business and deal with all the red tape that comes with it.
A Language Learning Permit might work if you actually intend on learning German and don’t mind forking out for the classes in advance. It needs to be 18 hours a week at least, the so-called intensive course. This permit won’t let you do any sort of work.
A Residence Permit for Qualified Workers Wishing to Search for Employment might work if you have a university degree that is recognised as a German equivalent. But it’ll only buy you six months, and you can’t work during that time. Perhaps six months is long enough to convince someone who likes it to put a ring on it?
If you’re between 18 and 26, you could find yourself a German-speaking family looking for an au pair. But you need a contract and the family will have to jump through some hoops.
If the timing is right, you could get offered a place at a German university and get yourself a Residency for Study Preparation for up to two years. In some cases, you can also enrol in an Ausbildung. But you have to actually be willing to do it.
Most tourists who fall in love with Germany or a resident of Germany and need to buy themselves some time end up going for either a language course permit, a freelance permit (also known as an Artists Visa) or a residence permit for qualified workers wishing to search for employment.
What if I can’t get an appointment before my Schengen Visa runs out?
For the “privileged countries”, it is usually OK to book the first available appointment for your desired permit if you do it well before your Schengen Visa expires and you stay in the country until the date of that appointment. I wouldn’t be travelling outside of Germany, and I would not be missing that appointment under any circumstances, except with a medical certificate.
For your own peace of mind or to save the excruciating limbo, you can also walk into the Ausländerbehörde within their opening hours without an appointment before your Schengen Visa expires. Just be prepared for a long wait.
Feel like this is all just too confusing? Is your situation unique? I understand, in fact that’s why I started Red Tape. I’d be happy to help you through it in a more personalised way. How we can help…