Who needs a visa?

Holders of an EEA (EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Swiss passport do not require a visa to travel to, or stay in, Germany for a maximum of three months. Some other nationals do not require a visa for a short term stay in Germany.

Please contact our Global Immigration team for further advice.

Business Visa

Whilst in Germany, employees, who hold a Business Visa, are not permitted to work but can attend meetings and conferences.

Type of Visa

Business visitors normally apply for the Schengen Type C Visa.

Application Process

All applications will need to be submitted to the appropriate authority or German Consulate in the applicant’s country of residence. In most cases, applications are required to be submitted in person, by the applicant.

Processing time

The processing time for a Schengen Business Visa does vary depending upon the nationality of the applicant.  Business Visas processed in the UK are generally issued within 2 to 15 working days.


In most cases, the validity will vary depending upon the nationality of the applicant, the nature of the visit, and the length of stay in Germany. Visas can be valid for the intended trip only, or for 3, 6 or 12 months.

Work Authorisation

Nationals of new member EU states, including Bulgaria, Latvia, Czech Rep, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania and Poland require German work authorisation if they intend to work in Germany.

There are a number of different types of work authorisation, brief details of which can be found below:

Type of Visa

  • General Employment Work Permit
  • Specialist Professional Work Permit
  • Self-Employed Work Permit
  • Van der Elst Work Permit – this is the German version of an intra-company transfer.

Application Process

The process varies depending on the type of work authorisation being sort, but for a long term work authorisation application the process can be summarised as follows: –

  • In order to obtain work authorisation, a Work Permit application will need to be made. An official application form, accompanied by the required documentation, must be sent to the relevant regional Work Permit authority in Germany.
  • Once approval is granted, the original Work Permit will be sent to the local authority in the district where the employer is to be established.  The local authority actually issue the Work Permit.
  • In parallel and where applicable, the employee files for and applies for the Entry, Work or D Type Visa, in their country of residence.
  • Once the Work Authorisation has been approved, the appropriate visa will be issued. The employee may then travel to Germany.  Generally, within 8 days arrival, the employee must register with the local Town Hall in order to begin proceedings for the Residence Permit and, in some cases, a Residence Permit with Work Authorisation application. This can take from 1 day to 2 weeks to secure.

Processing time

Processing times for a full work authorisation application tend to vary, and can change without notice.

However, the following guideline can be used:

Work Permit Application                                                 6 to 12 weeks

(Non-favoured nationals) Work Visa                                 6 to 12 weeks

Town Hall Registration                                                    1 day

Residence Permit with or without Work Authorisation        1 day to 2 weeks


The period of validity is dependent on the type of visa. Short term Work Permits are valid for up to 90 days. Others can be valid for up to 1 year.


The immigration status of a dependant is reliant on the type of permit, and the status of the foreign worker. However, in most cases dependents also require work authorisation in their own right.

Penalties for Non Compliance


If the employer breaches the immigration rules, the Local Immigration Office can impose a number of sanctions, including, but not limited to:

  • Preventing the employer from sponsoring or nominating any employees for a specified period of time.
  • Cancelling the business sponsorship agreement.
  • Cancelling the visas of any employees and their accompanying family members.
  • Considering previous non-compliance when assessing any future sponsorship applications made by the employer, or by any other business operated by the same principals.
  • Imposing a financial penalty.


If the foreign worker breaches the immigration rules their work authorisation and visa may be cancelled and they will be compelled to leave Germany. Longer term work visas are issued for specified roles rather than on a general basis. A change of employer will require a new work authorisation and possibly a new visa.

Points to Note

  • The employee must meet the minimum salary and qualification criteria for specific offers of employment.
  • Absence of a degree, or applicable work experience may cause difficulties.
  • Dependents are likely to need to provide proof of basic German language skills.

The contents of this article are for information purposes only.  The information and opinions expressed in this document do not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal advice or a comprehensive statement of law or current practice.  Immigration rules and requirements frequently change without notice.  You should not rely upon the contents of this document but instead should seek appropriate professional and legal advice in the light of your personal circumstances.  No liability is accepted for the opinions contained or for any errors or commissions. Please contact our Global Immigration Team for further information.