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Faculty of InternationalSample Institute

Residence permit

Before your entry visa runs out you must apply for a residence permit at your local “Ausländerbehörde” (Immigration or Foreigners’ Office). If you are a national of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea or the USA and not only entered the country without a visa but intend staying in Germany for a longer period of time you also have to apply for a residence permit within 90 days of entering the country.

We recommend you to submit your application as soon as possible. You will usually have to present the following documents to the Immigration Office:

  • Completed application for a residence permit (available at the Immigration Office)
  • Valid passport (valid for the entire duration of the proposed stay)
  • Biometric passport photo (requirements by the Federal Foreign Office:
  • Fellowship award letter, employment contract or hosting agreement with the university (stating the amount of the monthly fellowship or salary)
  • “Meldebescheinigung” (proof of registration) from the Residents' Registration Office
  • Fee: 110 Euro
  • Proof of health insurance valid in Germany
  • For marital partners/children: certified German or English translation of marriage and birth certificate

“Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung” (Freedom of Movement Certificate)

If you are a national of the EU, the EEA or Switzerland and intend to spend more than three months in Germany you will need a Freedom of Movement Certificate. In some places this is issued by the Residents’ Registration Office, in others by the Immigration Office. In order to obtain a Freedom of Movement Certificate you will usually need the following documents:

  • Completed “Aufenthaltsanzeige für Staatsangehörige der EU und der EWR-Staaten” form (available at the Immigration Office)
  • Passport or identity card
  • “Meldebestätigung” (proof of registration) from the Residents’ Registration Office
  • Proof of activity (e.g. employment contract, fellowship award letter, certificate from the host institute)
  • Proof of health insurance
  • For family members: marriage certificate, birth certifcate
  • Biometric passport photo (requirements by the Federal Foreign Office:

Settlement permit

A settlement permit is an unlimited residence permit which allows the holder to pursue gainful employment. In certain special cases, a foreigner coming to Germany may be issued with a settlement permit if the applicant is highly qualified. As a rule, however, foreigners are only entitled to a settlement permit if they have spent five years in the country. The Immigration Office is the authority responsible. According to German immigration law the following people are defined as “highly qualified”:

  • Academics who are especially highly qualified or possess knowledge in a field of particular importance
  • Academic teaching staff in leading positions (e.g. chairholders and institute directors)
  • Researchers in leading positions (e.g. leaders of scientific projects or independent research groups)

If you fall into any of these categories you can apply for a settlement permit. There are no special forms, but you should submit the same documents you need for a residence permit. In addition, you will require a statement from the university confirming that you are a highly qualified academic, a copy of your tenancy agreement and proof of how much rent you currently pay. If a settlement permit is issued, marital partners are given a residence permit which allows them unrestricted employment opportunities. It is issued without recourse to the Federal Employment Agency which means that it is not necessary to check whether other people should be given priority on the employment market.


If you wish to obtain a residence permit please refer to:

Zentrale Ausländerbehörde der Stadt Köln

Abteilung: Arbeitsmigration

Ottmar-Pohl-Platz 1

51103 Köln-Kalk (Tram 9/Tram 1; 'Kalk Post')

Tel. 0221 221 93381

In case of further questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Welcome Centre staff - we shall be pleased to help you!