Visa requirements for international researchers

Baden-Württemberg offers many attractive opportunities to international scholars and researchers. International cooperation and exchanges are highly valued in the scientific community. Before you can start in your position as a researcher, guest scientist, post-doc or visiting lecturer, there are a few things you need to consider regarding your visa and work permit.

First of all, check the website of the German Federal Foreign Office and familiarize yourself with the most current rules and regulations. If you are from a country outside the European Union, the European Economic Area or the European Free Trade Area, you likely need a visa prior to entering Germany as a guest scientist or researcher. If you are from

  • Japan
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • Israel
  • Honduras
  • New Zealand
  • United States of America
  • Republic of South Korea

you may be exempt, but make sure to check the German Federal Foreign Office’s website in case the list has changed. Also consult with the German diplomatic mission, the consulate or embassy, in your country whether you need a visa and how to apply.  

If you are not sure where to start, a good place is the Quick Check by Make-it-in-Germany.com. A short questionnaire provides you with an overview which steps you need to take to apply for a visa.

There are different types of visas available, depending on whether you are working as a researcher or getting your PhD and on how long you are staying. The German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has up-to-date information on the visa requirements.

The EU Blue Card

If you have a foreign degree that is recognized in Germany and have a concrete job offer with a certain salary that is adjusted every year, you may qualify for an EU Blue Card. The EU website offers information on the application process and eligibility. Even if you don’t need a visa to enter Germany, you may still need an EU Blue Card to start working as a scientist, researcher, or lecturer. Check with the German mission in your country to apply for an EU Blue Card or another work permit that fits your situation.

If you plan to apply for an EU Blue Card or another work permit, don’t enter Germany on a tourist visa. A tourist visa can’t be changed to a work permit or EU Blue Card. You will save yourself some trouble if you apply for the correct visa from the start. With the EU Blue Card, you can work for several years in the EU. It also offers a path to long-term residency.

Residency and work permits

If you come from an EU, EEA, or EFTA state, you still have to register with the local authorities and obtain a residence permit if you plan to stay longer than three months. If you are from Japan, Canada, Australia, Israel, Honduras, New Zealand, the United States of America, or the Republic of South Korea, you have to register with the local authorities once you arrive in Germany. It is advisable to apply for a work permit prior to your travels if you plan to start working immediately after you arrive.

Because several regulations and exceptions exist for different scenarios, make sure you gather all the necessary information at the German diplomatic mission in your country, the German Federal Foreign Office and the International Office at the university or research institute of your choice well before your intended stay as it can take months for a visa to be issued.