Working in Germany: the official website
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Visa for research

Are you looking to work in Germany as a researcher? If so, you will need to apply for a visa for research in accordance with Section 18d AufenthG (German Residence Act).

To find out whether you require a visa to enter Germany, see Who needs a visa?.

What are the requirements to issue a visa for research?

  • You have concluded a hosting agreement or a work contract with a research institute in Germany. 
  • The research institute commits itself in writing to cover your living and travel costs back to your country of origin, which could otherwise have to be covered by public funds. This commitment applies for up to 6 months after the research position has ended. This clause is not applicable if your research position is primarily funded by public funds. 

Do you fulfil these requirements? Learn about the procedure for the entry visa process.

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You are considered a “researcher” if you have at least a PhD or a suitable university degree enabling you to access PhD degree programmes (Article 3 of  Directive (EU) 2016/801).

Tip: Are you a highly qualified professional in the fields of science or research? Do you not fulfil the requirements for a research visa in accordance with Section 18d AufenthG (German Residence Act)? If so, the EU Blue Card could be an alternative for you. 

What opportunities does the visa for research?

The visa or residence permit for research is issued for at least one year and gives you many advantages:

  • With this residence permit, you can work at the research institute listed in your work contract or you can take on a teaching position. 
  • It is possible to extend your residence permit provided you fulfil the same requirements.
  • You can conduct research and teach for a limited period of time in other EU states (with the exception of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark).
  • After four years, you can receive a settlement permit in Germany. You must, however, meet the requirements for a settlement permit.

Once your research position has ended, you have up to nine months to find another position in Germany that is in line with your qualifications. You must then apply for a residence permit for job seekers in accordance with Section 20 (3) no. 2 AufenthG (German Residence Act) at your nearest Foreigners Authority.

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Doctoral students from third countries can obtain a residence permit for research. As a requirement, they must complete their doctoral thesis as part of a work contract with a research facility in Germany. If the research position is a component of the PhD program as a full-time program, only a visa for studying can be issued. 

Mobility arrangements for international researchers

International researchers from non-EU member states who are legally residing in EU member states may perform part of their research in Germany. In such cases, there are two ways that allow you to stay in Germany:

  • A residence permit for short-term research stays is not required: if you already hold a residence permit from another EU state for the purpose of research and you would like to stay in Germany for a maximum of 180 days within 360 days as part of a research project, you do not need to apply for a German visa or residence permit. The only requirement to fulfil is that the research institute in Germany for which you will be conducting research must inform the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) about the planned research. Go to the website of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) to find out what your research institute needs to inform the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees about, in addition to the procedure for doing so. 
  • Residence permit for mobile researchers: Are you planning a stay for research purposes that will last longer than 180 days and no longer than a year? If so, you require a residence permit for mobile researchers in accordance with Section 18f AufenthG (Germany Residence Act). The following requirements must be fulfilled: 
    • You must hold a valid residence permit of another EU member state for research purposes. This permit must be valid for the duration of your planned stay in Germany for research purposes. 
    • You must submit a copy of a valid passport or travel document issued in lieu of a passport.
    • You have a concluded a hosting agreement or a contract with a research facility in Germany. 

You must apply for the residence permit at your nearest Foreigners Authority at least 30 days prior to starting your stay in Germany. The application can also be submitted to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

Further information on career opportunities for international scientists and researchers can be obtained under the Research section.

At a glance: Visa for research (PDF)

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