Academics from non-EU countries who wish to undertake research in the Federal Republic of Germany will always require a visa before entering the country. Visas can be obtained from the respective German diplomatic mission abroad (embassy or general consulate) responsible for the official district in which the researcher has his / her domicile or habitual residence.The visa application form is available free of charge from the relevant diplomatic mission abroad. The forms can also be downloaded from the Federal Foreign Office website.
On arrival in Germany, the researcher will need to contact the relevant Foreigners Registration Authority to apply for a residence permit pursuant to § 20 AufenthG (German Residence Act) or to § 18 AufenthG.
Issuance of a residence permit pursuant to § 20 AufenthG or to § 18 AufenthG is in general contingent on
- the foreigner having entered with the necessary research visa, and having provided the relevant information required for issuing the residence permit as part of the visa application,
- the researchers livelihood being ensured,
- the researchers identity and nationality being clarified,
- the passport obligation being met,
- there being no grounds for expulsion or prohibition of entry.
The "researcher" residence permit is usually granted for a period of at least one year. If the research project is due to be completed in less than one year, the validity of the residence permit will be restricted to the duration of the research project.
The same provisions that apply to the granting of a residence permit apply to the granting of an extension to a residence permit.
PhD students who are writing their dissertations as part of a research project for which a hosting agreement has been made with a research organization are covered by the provisions of the Researcher Directive and may be entitled to a residence permit pursuant to § 20 AufenthG.
A full scholarship holder may also be granted a residence permit for researchers pursuant to § 20 AufenthG, provided that she/he is in possession of the stipulated minimum funds required for subsistence.